Kaamaakshi Bhat (Zirakpur, Punjab) & Sriadita Emani (Hyderabad, Telangana)
Mr. Appu Krishnan is an Indian-origin LA based music producer, composer, and songwriter who has also worked with several K-artists and groups from South Korea and has contributed immensely to the K-Pop Scene. Take a look at our interview conducted with him:
We are always humbled to have you on board with us sharing and talking about your music. It is always a pleasure. Please tell us how have you been lately? In 2021, you had a virtual fan meet in an online Summer Camp organized by KHIGH and had a chance to talk to some of your fans directly. How was that experience?
Thank you and you know the feeling is mutual. Life and music has been good since the world is opening up slowly. Yes the KHIGH fan meet was excellent! I made some great friends and hope to continue our interactions though social media etc.
In your last interview with us, you had talked about working on a fun summer song “Now or Never” with the APRIL Girl Group. Fans have really reciprocated that song well. Please share with us how was your overall experience working on this song? Also, what kind of themes you keep in mind while working on a fun summer song?
Yes “Now or Never” was a fun one. My producer friend Sushi and I had a rough skeleton of a track. I really liked the guitar parts he had. But, I felt like the chorus needed to be different and kept trying out ideas until I landed on the Horns. I thought that was cool and sent it to Mayu Wakisaka to write. Once she wrote the chorus melody, I altered the horn line to fit it, finished the mix and 72 directed final vocals. April performed it flawlessly. So, it was all very easy on this song.
Usually, I try to keep up-tempo songs simple. That said every song needs to be unique. So, on the track side, I experiment with unusual instruments as long as they fit and don’t get in the way of the groove. We keep the lyrical themes simple like party, feeling good, beach, love, friends or whatnot. Topics everyone all over the world can relate to.
Recently, you released “Chinatown.” What is the story behind this song taking shape? Please share your experience with making this song?
I’ve been a big fan of Jack Antanoff (Bleachers) since “Fun” and all the Taylor Swift records he made. When he had the Bruce Springsteen version come out in 2020, I had it on repeat and started playing piano along just for fun. Before I knew it, I was recording percussion, experimenting with Tablas, Gunzheng samples etc. The eastern treatments really fit the song’s vibe. Since, I was already planning to release original music in 2021, figured why not pay respects to your heroes and start with a cover. I also got obsessed with video editing and animation last year. That led to doing the lyric video mostly to teach myself 🙂 I am really looking forward to more music collaborations with visual artists!
We know you are always experimenting and exploring different musical styles and genres while working on any song. Previously, you shared with us how coming up with ideas, melody, and lyrics are all part of putting together a song. Keeping this in mind, what are you looking forward in 2022 regarding your musical pursuits and upcoming plans? Your fans are curious about it as you always give a hint to us for your next projects.
Definitely, a big part 2022 will be the loudboyproject. I’ve been writing original music since late last year. There is going to be features with some of my favorite artists and songwriters who are also good friends in life. Like you mentioned I love all genres of music. This was a fun way to experiment and see what cool stuff we can all cook up. Cant wait to share it with you! And of course as always stay tuned for new K-Pop too:)
You had been writing songs for Western artists such as Christina Aguilera, Jordin Sparks, and The Jacksons. How has your experience been so far working and making music in L.A.? What do you cherish the most over the years?
LA has taught me so much. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s best in this town. It really pushes you to the limit but changes you for the better. Folks from all over the world brought their talent to this city and eventually form their LA families and social circles. I think that’s what I cherish the most over the years. Having friends who were born in a different continent or culture who I can feel at home with. As to the artists mentioned above, I would say working with The Jacksons was probably the most emotional.
The 2nd week or so I came to LA, I hopped on a train to go all the way to Santa Barbra (few hours away) to see Michael Jackson. I got totally lost but somehow made it on time to where he was supposed to show up:) Got to see MJ up close with very few fans around. I still remember that cold morning and how nice he was to all of us. Fast forward a decade I got to work with Jermaine, Tito and Jackie. They were the first clients in my new (then) studio and wow what a great way to start! I’ve never met anyone more talented, professional and polite than The Jacksons. Real superstars, who make you feel like a million bucks when you are around them. As we were recording, having lunch, talking life etc., all I could think of was that cold morning in Santa Barbra. Full circle. That’s the kind of stuff LA gave me 🙂
Earlier, you told us that the biggest difference between working with Western artists and K-Pop artists is that in the latter it is mostly working through online collaborations due to pandemics and working through translations to get across English to Korean lyrics. Have there been any changes in this workflow recently? What else has been changed regarding your working style in past years? And how do you adapt to these changes since you have been working with so many K-Pop groups for a while now?
Since the pandemic was still going around, unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to visit Asia. That said we have been working with some amazing K-Pop songwriters and producers in Europe. Sugarhouse Publishing in Finland is making all of that happen. So grateful for everyone there and the amazing talent they represent. Together, we are also collaborating with companies like Sound Graphics and top writers in Asia like our “Prism” collaborator Daniel Kim. So our creative circle has expanded a lot last year. Loudboy family has also grown with many talented producers and writers like Mike Norris (who co-wrote “Prism” and many more upcoming releases). My focus now is building our LA team and streamlining more collaborations with our overseas families till we can travel.
You have worked with so many K-Pop groups such as GOT7, Wanna One, The Boyz, April, N.Flying, and JUS2 (sub-unit of GOT7). Which of these projects has been the most creatively challenging to work upon? Also, which projects’ process has been a lot smoother than you anticipated?
Since I am a musician first, the writing/producing part is always natural to me. But mixing poses a different set of challenges where you have to make another producer’s vision come to life without changing it. So from the list above I feel that the JUS2 project had some challenges. I mean the producers did a great job and it was performed very well too. I loved the song but since it was a close deadline and with time difference added on top, we all had some long nights 🙂 At the end of the day it was just a matter of getting the feedback and making changes in time. Not much of a creative challenge I guess, more of a race against time challenge. But, we got through and the record sounded great in the end. So it was all worth it. The smoothest one from the list was probably April. They loved the song the way it was and we literally had to just send files 🙂 April’s performance and their mixing was flawless. Mix version 1 sent back to me is the version released. Its rare that happens.
Your musical journey has been an inspiration for many. There are so many young fans who wish to pursue a career in music and songwriting as well. As we know you have graduated in Mechanical Engineering. How did you go from an engineering graduate to becoming a songwriter and producer in the music industry?
If I were to do it all over again, probably would have opted for a history or arts major:) That said college did give me amazing lifelong friends and the discipline to finish what I started. I always knew at some level making music and playing in bands was the only thing that consistently made me happy. Back in 2005, the only way I could think of to do something in the international music scene was to travel to an entertainment city like LA. There was no social media or YouTube. So I convinced my folks to allow me to attend an audio engineering course for 6 months 🙂 Then it was just a race against time to meet talented people, make music and get better. 16 years later, still doing all the same stuff really! Environments and tools have changed, but I still just wanna do cool stuff with cool people and get better. That’s it! In 2022, the world is online and much smaller. The challenges are different. So its best to plan accordingly.
For a newbie who lacks an educational credential in the music field, and yet wants to pursue a career in songwriting and producing music; what would you like to advise them? Based on your experience, what are some of the ways to improve in this direction and to work on a lacking skill since the industry is very competitive?
I don’t think educational credentials matter much in the creative world. Knowledge and skill sure does. There is a wealth of information online for anyone who is curious. I am not at all saying that music school is bad. I even teach at a production school here in LA. We have a great community to network, build friendships and even business relationships. Its one way to get your feet wet, be on a schedule to create and improve. You might even find mentors. But, that certificate alone doesn’t get you very far in my opinion. Art is not about a credential, its what you build out of that environment.
That said, if traditional school or online school is not your choice, there is still so much you can do. The best way to learn songwriting or producing is to do it. Fail, learn from your mistakes and do it all over again. I learned that way. Here’s a few things I believe you can start with:
1. Get a DAW and basic computer set up. Any software you can afford or comes free is a good start. There’s so many videos online to get started on how to use it, where to get sounds etc.
2. Make a playlist of your favorite songs and artists. Analyze them. If you need music theory or technical knowledge, go online. I still do it.
3. Now structure your first song like one of your favorites. Trust me you will learn to create your song structures very soon. We all have to start somewhere.
4. Make music everyday and repeat for 3-6 months. You will get better naturally. The biggest challenge is to be consistent.
5. Create your own YouTube channel, SoundCloud, social media etc. in the mean time. Build your brand and start posting your progress. Get your peers, artists and fans curious. Interact with them and look for potential collaborators. A good collaborator is someone with a complimentary set of skills like a singer or lyric writer if you don’t do those. Make sure they have a similar work ethic to yours or they can slow your progress too.
6. Release your songs. Don’t wait on the world to come help you. You can always write more songs later. Repeat this process no matter how frustrated you get. Evaluate your progress every few months or so to see if you are hitting your goals. If not, figure out why and improve on that. The best case scenario is you starting a music career or placing songs with a big publisher/label. Even the worst case is- You having an amazing catalog that you are proud of. Now, anyone like myself or someone else in the industry can hear your work and see if its a good fit to work together. You might even find an incredible new artist who wants to use your songs. There’s no downside to working on your dream and improving. If you keep waiting, its just going to stay a dream 🙂 All the best!
Lastly, when are we going to see you in India? We do really wish we could have a face-to-face fan meet. Do you have any plans for that?
I really hope to make it there soon. I would love to see y’all in person too! Let hope the world allows for it.
Lastly, on behalf of our entire team, we would like to extend our gratitude to Mr. Appu Krishnan for accepting our request for an interview and to KHigh for helping us coordinate with this interview.