Kaamaakshi Bhat, Zirakpur, Punjab
First of all, extending our thanks to the hardworking and talented Swedish Songwriter and Music Producer, Chris Wahle who has worked in the K-Pop industry since quite a long time; for taking out time for this interview on behalf of our Hallyuism Team. Let’s take a look on the excerpt from his conversation with Hallyuism:
Could you please give a brief introduction to our readers?
Hi, I’m Chris Wahle. Songwriter and music producer from Sweden. I’ve been writing and producing pop music of all kinds most of my adult life. The last ten years with a lot of focus on the Asian market, especially the K-pop scene. I’m both what you call a topliner and a trackmaker. Meaning I both write melodies, and lyrics and make instrumental tracks.
How did you discover K-pop and how did you start songwriting in the K-pop industry? Please give an insight into how your journey has been so far.
I kind of stumbled upon K-pop by chance around 10 years ago. As an aspiring young songwriter, I wrote with loads of different people aiming at everything and anything, with varied success. My then-publisher put me together with someone who already had a foot in the K-pop scene and we wrote a song that ended up on VIXX’s album VOODOO. Which was my first K-pop release. I fell in love with the freedom and creativity of making K-Pop and never looked back!
I listened to Chup Chup by Moonbin and Sanha (ASTRO) and instantly it went to my repeat playlist on Spotify. Hence, I found your profile. Could you tell us more about the creation process of this song?
Sure! My friend Christian Fast asked me if I wanted to help him write a topline on this great track he had been sent by The Proof, which is a Korean production team. He played the track and I pretty much came up with the chorus melody right away. Then we wrote the rest of the melodies and English lyrics (which is later swapped for Korean) together and sent it over to The Proof and they loved it. I remember we thought “Chup Chup” had a funny ring to it so we kept it from my dummy lyric that I first sang to get the melody down and let it be the title.
You have worked with so many artists such as Moonbin and Sanha (ASTRO), THE BOYZ, CIX, Epex, VICTON, Taeyeon, TVXQ, Nam Woohyun etc. Do you have any memorable experiences with any of these K-pop artists?
Oh too many to list! I’ve not met all the artists that I’ve worked with but the ones I’ve met have all been super nice. But one guy that I really became friends with is Lee Jae-jin from F.T. Island. We wrote some songs together and he showed me around town and took me to his favourite eating spots, all while being super sweet to fans who came up to him. He’s a gem!
How and where do you find the inspiration to write your songs?
I’m one of those guys who don’t believe in inspiration per se, if you’re gonna do what I do every day. You just have to grind it, haha! Make sure you put the hours in and just work. I never sit around and wait for inspiration. If I don’t know what to do I try a bunch of ideas until something grabs my interest and then build from that. Also, surrounding yourself with other people you can work with is great cause it’s so much easier to come up with good ideas if there’s a person beside you who can instantly say if an idea is good or not, so you don’t have to be your own filter all the time. But, sure, I watch movies and play games, go out dining and wining with family and friends as much as I can. It’s important with downtime too.
Is there any music style/genre that you haven’t tried yet but would like to try in the future?
Hmm not sure really. I feel there are so many musical styles in K-pop already and I’ve probably tried writing for them all, so I get my fill from there. But I’d like to try writing video game music sometimes. That would be awesome!
Is there any artist you would like to work with, whether it be a K-pop artist or any other western artist?
I always really liked G-Dragon from Big Bang. Especially his solo stuff. They’re always so cool. And in the west, hmm.. maybe Ariana Grande…?
How do you usually spend your day when working on any songs?
It depends a bit on what I’m doing; either I’m doing a track, writing a topline or I’m in a session with other songwriters. But now days, I just became a father, so I try to work from home as much as I can. Which works pretty well but sometimes I really need to go to the studio and record or mix stuff. I try to mix up doing tracks, writing toplines and having sessions as much as I can, cause I get a bit bored if I do the same thing too much or too long. I like the different challenges each task pose. I also like to write on other people’s tracks since that will give me sounds that I would normally not come up with myself. But in general, whatever I do, it means long hours working on arranging an instrumental track or screaming into a microphone, or watching someone else do that, haha! I’m a pretty hard worker, so I try to not procrastinate if I can help it.
You co-wrote the 2022 Christmas song for C9 “Santa Knows That”. How was your experience writing this song?
It was an interesting one cause originally wrote it as only a female Christmas song and because of that it’s pretty high in range. All of a sudden I get notified that C9 wants to use the song but it needs to be a female & male duet. All my co-writers were away on trips without the ability to record, and myself, I was on vacation in Spain. But I had my computer with me and a mic so I re-wrote it so it worked as a duet. I didn’t know that there would be so many people singing on the song once it was finished but it worked out great!
If you could recommend one of your songs to a new listener which one it would be and why?
I’d say “Dancing Till We Drop” by THE BOYZ or “Just For A Day” by Jonghyun. I wrote both those myself without any co-writers so I guess they really show my tone and style of writing toplines as well as producing and arranging instrumentals. I also love “Unnatural” by WJSN so check that one out too!
What would your advice be to those who want to pursue the same career as you?
Find people you can work with, preferably who are better at things than you, and then learn and develop as a writer with them. Be prepared for long hours and most often unpaid hours. I was a bartender for a long time before I could live on my music. So try finding something you can combine with working in the studio or home studio. I also met a lot of people in the industry that way, which also helped a lot. But yeah, what is it, ten thousand hours to be good at something? Something like that.
If not in the music industry, what would you be doing right now?
Something else creative. I love video games so would have loved to work in that field somehow. Or movies. Like writing scripts.
What dreams do you want to achieve in the near future?
Be the best father I can be to my son while still being able to work with what I love. Also travel around the world more for work, which is kinda opposite of what I just said about being the best father, haha! But post Covid, it’s itching in my travel pants.
Could you please elaborate a bit on your upcoming projects in 2023? What can the fans expect?
I’m actually going to Seoul pretty soon so that’s gonna be great. I’ll meet a lot of industry people and have sessions with local writers. And the fooooood, looking forward to that. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to say what songs I’ve got planned coming out in Korea as they like to keep a tight lid on that, but there are some good ones in the near future for sure ! But in the west I’m working with a Spanish artist right now called Ruth Lorenzo and her coming EP which is gonna be great. Quite different from anything K-pop but check it out!
Hallyu Wave/Korean Wave is growing rapidly in India and there are many fans who love listening to your songs. Do you have something you want to share with your Indian fans?
I’m always grateful that people seem to like my songs and it’s also very cool that K-pop has such reach around the world. It has made me go places I never thought I’d work in. Maybe someday I can come to India and work, there seem to be a lot of talent in your country. Keep it up! Also a side note but “RRR” was one of the best films I saw last year. That’s a monster of a movie!
We would like to wish Chris Wahle very best for all his future endeavours!