[Exclusive] Interview with Producer and Songwriter Daniel Kim of Melogram

Ciera Reeves


Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us! Can you briefly introduce yourself and (some of the many) activities you’re involved in?

I’m Daniel Kim a producer/songwriter based in Seoul & Taipei. I’ve been working with many major Kpop artists such as Monsta X, Chung Ha, EXO, TAEMIN, SF9, TWICE, Cravity, THE BOYZ, GOT7, LOONA, MCND to mention a few. I’m also running my own music production/publishing company called Melogram.

Chungah 'Bicycle' MV

When did you know that you wanted to produce music?

I’ve always wanted to work in the creative industry when I was a kid. My very first childhood dream was to become a movie director until I came to discover Michael Jackson and heavy metal music in my teenage era that got me stuck in a musician’s dream ever since but I didn’t really know about producing music in the first place. Instead, I just started to learn how to play guitar to pursue my rock star dream and tried to become a metal guitarist for many years until I realized I was not really built as a band-man in my nature. That was when Kpop just started to rise in the market so I gave a shot writing some songs in that particular style, and it worked amazing. I was very lucky to find my real talent in a right place and a right timing.

What is your creative process like?

I mostly starting from finding a great hook doesn’t matter if it’s an instrumental riff or vocal melody. The most of my judgements are made based on very simple question - is it simple and memorable? I don’t believe in things that are complicated especially when the genre of music that I’m working on is still in pop area so it has to be simple and straightforward. If I have a solid melody or hook then I build the rest of the song around it. Mostly the rest of the procedure should be going very smooth and fast if my fundamental idea is great enough. Otherwise I just throw it away and start from the scratch again until I find a better idea.

What are things that give you inspiration?

I get inspirations from many things. Sometimes it’s from my dreams, sometimes I get it from the conversations with the others or even from just a cup of water. For me inspirations can come from everywhere if your ears are kept open.

We’re sure all of your songs are your babies, but what are some favorite songs that you have worked on?

Well it is a hard one! If I have to answer it in 5secs I may go for - Follow(Monsta X,  Bicycle(Chung Ha), Now or Never(SF9), Famous(TAEMIN). These are my personal favorites as I think they all came out great both musically and visually. Most of all, each of these songs are carrying very strong characters. I love songs with distinctive characters.

Taemin 'Famous' PV

Are there any artists that you haven’t worked with that you would love to?

I think my melodies would work very well with IU or Hyun-a although the both are in very different styles. Hyun-a is more of a fun vibe which is a style that I enjoy a lot when writing because it usually involves a lot of sparking ideas, great jokes and laughs. IU is more in a cool and melodic style which I think is one of my biggest musical strength. Let’s see if I could have some chances to work with them later.

- We hope you get to recieve this chance as well!

If you turn your music player on shuffle what is the first song that plays?

I honestly just listen to ANYTHING that comes into my ears because I don’t want to have any bias toward certain artists or genres. All musics are great to me.

What do you think are some of the major differences (if any) between the sound of K-pop music and Western music?

Modern Kpop musically shares the same fundamental with the Western music of course but the critical difference that Kpop has is that it is built around the visual performances. I think many musicians (even the Koreans) misunderstand its nature and try to comprehend it with a very narrow outlook. It is a form of art that isn’t complete without the visual composition including the videos, choreography, fashion and even the individual images of the members of the each bands. So if you’re trying to become a successful Kpop songwriter or a producer you need to learn how to optimize your music to support better of such non-musical elements. I think Kpop is a wider concept than just a genre of music for that reason. Think about it, Michael Jackson’s music is one of the best thing happened in 20th century but the King of Pop isn’t the one we know if he doesn’t have his iconic dance moves and the spectacular music videos. We need to have it all to complete the King of Pop’s image and his legacy. I think Kpop is almost like that too, it needs to contain more elements than just music to complete this particular genre. The duty of a Kpop producer is to support such trait of this genre well in a musical way, it will take a slightly different skill set to achieve it.

- I believe this is a very insightful explaination with a perfect example. Defining "Kpop" is a hot discussion these days. People tend to have their own meaning, because its difficult to simply regard it as Korean pop music, epecially when it incorporates many genres, and extensively focuses on building concepts. 

What is the best advice that you have heard?

“The last survivor is the winner”. This means you need to grind over and over and not give up. I’ve heard it from a teacher when I was studying in Tokyo and I think this is very valid advice until today. The competition was real from the day1 and it will be there forever so we all need to keep on grinding to get better and better everyday.

Outside of music are there hobbies or activities that you enjoy?

Not many but I like cooking and trying gourmet food. I don’t know if I’m a good cook but at least my wife likes it. Recently I enjoy reading books too. I’m quite into humanities and history studies at this point. This maybe sounding very boring but I think it is a good balance as my job is quite of an exciting one. I work almost 16 hours every single day, sometimes this could go on for a few months without taking a break. When I get burnt out of such intense workflows, I try to turn all my gears off, kick back on a sofa with a cup of good coffee and start to read.

What is a compliment that you like to hear the most from people?

Although it’s nice to see the excitements from the audience when a song is out but it’s best for me to see my songs delivering the warmth to the people’s heart. Dance tunes are hard to get such comments but sometimes some of my ballad songs get to have those reactions. This makes me feel like I’m contributing to the people in a very good way.

Is there something you want us to anticipate? 

SF9’s new album is coming out on 5th of July, I can’t open up too much details yet but I can say that the songs are amazing the band's performance is even greater as always. Hope everyone could enjoy it!

Check out the Music Video for 'Tear Drop' 

Highlight Melody for SF9's 9th Mini Album [Turn Over] 

Daniel composed the title, tracks 2 and 5. 

A special thank you to Daniel Kim for participating in this interview with us! 

Follow Daniel Kim 

Instagram @danielkimmusic

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MelogramCoLtd/

Melogram Instagram @melogram_music 

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