[Exclusive] Interview with Hit Songwriter Ronnie Icon

Ronnie Icon is a songwriter who has been making waves in the K-pop industry with hard work and dedication to his craft. He is multi-platinum certified with credits on songs by NCT127, VICTON, GWSNTWICE and more.  He also has credits on songs by Japanese artists such as King & Prince, KAT-TUN and SixTONES. His most recent credit is writing on "MAVERICK" by The Boyz, released on November 1, 2021. KpopWise was able to have an in-depth conversation with him about his career thus far. Find out more about Ronnie Icon here. 

Hello Ronnie Icon! Thank you for taking the time to interview with us, it’s an honor. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello, my name is Ronnie Icon. I am a songwriter from The Netherlands and I have written for many artists including TWICE, NCT127, TOMORROW X TOGETHER, and The Boyz.

When did you know that you wanted to write music?

As a kid, I had my bedroom walls completely filled up with posters of any and every pop artist out there at the time. Besides Pokémon, I had the Backstreet Boys, Hanson, the Spice Girls, you name it! I used to pretend one side of my bedroom was a stage and the other side was the stadium audience I was performing for. That’s when I wanted to be a pop star.

Fast forward to when I was about 15 years old and I discovered FL Studio, which is a type of music production software. I started experimenting with beats and I started dreaming of becoming a DJ and playing my self-made beats for people.

I entered music college when I was 22. As part of my curriculum, I had to seriously start considering how to make a living with my music. Within the span of 4 years, I went from videogame composer to pop producer, to K-pop-inspired artist/ Youtuber. 

One thing led to another after college and eventually, I started writing songs to pitch to artists. Once I saw that labels were starting to show interest in these songs, I figured out that after all of these different shapes my dreams had taken over the years, this could actually be the one that I could stick with and turn into my main profession.

What are some things that give you the inspiration to write songs?

Inspiration for melodies usually comes from the tracks that producers send me. Inspiration for concepts can really come from anywhere, but I like to find a good title first. I view the title of the song as another selling point of the song, maybe just as important as the melody itself. When I get stuck, I just start reading random bits of the internet, looking for words. I’m not actually reading, I’m just looking for words that look cool and that I could combine with one another.

Sometimes there is no special spark of inspiration at all and that is also completely fine. In these moments I just lean on my instincts to take over for me and go from there. Sometimes you just gotta start working as if you’re building a house. You start with one brick and then lay another on top of that. This idea of a eureka moment might be a bit dramatized if you’re writing music every day.

What is your creative process like?

I start by loading the track into my software, press record, and go from there. After a round or two of singing whatever melodies come to mind, I listen back to what I just did and I start highlighting the bits that I like and cutting out what I don’t like. A lot gets cut out and moved around in this phase. I would rerecord certain melodies to flow better, combine different elements etc. It’s all about finding good individual parts, but then the trick is how to make the song flow well from one part to the next. Which part is more important? Which part goes well after this other part? Sometimes you need to "kill your darlings" as they say, in order to better accommodate the flow of the song.

When is the moment you've felt the proudest? 

There have been many different moments. The first time I was waiting at Stockholm airport for my flight back home to The Netherlands after a K-pop songwriting camp, I teared up. The first time I heard that a label wanted to move forward with pre-production of a song I had worked on (which was NCT127!!) made me super jumpy and excited for the future. The first time I saw TWICE perform while sitting with the industry professionals in Seoul made me feel like a boss. These are just a few off the top of my head and I’m sure I’ll have many more moments like those in the near future! :)

What is a challenge you've overcome?

When covid first hit in early 2020 and it started dawning on me that life would not go back to normal for the foreseeable future, I felt very lonely at times. Writers that I knew and had worked with found their individual successes one by one, while I struggled to find my own that year. It felt like I was getting left behind. I was very eager to prove myself after the previous successes I had. This was a very frustrating time of my life, even more so living in lockdown. Eventually, I met the right people, though. I ended up working with Innerv8 Musiq, a team I am fortunate enough to be a part of still today. And I lived happily ever after, haha.

What is your life motto?

I don’t think I really have a certain motto. If you would ask me how I live my life, I’m very centered around my career. I love my fellow K-pop writers, I think there are a lot of absolute gems of personalities out there and I would support them on every success they achieve. That being said, I am extremely driven and competitive and I want to be the absolute best, haha. I want to keep improving my craft and I want that to translate to number one records. I think this attitude can be both a curse and a blessing. There’s no golden rule. All I know is that my drive has gotten me this far, so I must be doing something right. As long as I keep my heart in the right place and keep reflecting, I can rest assured that even bigger things will show up on the horizon.

When it’s not music, what else do you enjoy doing?

I am a huge gamer, have been since forever. I grew up with the first PlayStation and owned nearly every console that came out since. I think part of my fascination with Asian music came from those early days where I played Japanese video games. 

When I take breaks from music mid-day, I like to go out for a walk or a bike ride in the neighbourhood. I also enjoy working out in the attic of my house. It makes me feel productive when I’m not being productive in music. And then I try to maintain a semblance of a social life, haha.

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

B.I! I’m a big fan of his tone, his musical style, and knowing that he’s very involved in his own writing makes it even more of a dream to share a studio with this guy! Other than that, there are also a ton of artists outside of K-pop that I could see myself writing for.

What can we expect from you next?

Wellllll, The Boyz have just dropped their single MAVERICK, which I was blessed to have written with two of my favourites; Kyler Niko and Ludwig Lindell. I also have a couple of other dream releases lined up for the upcoming months (which I can’t spoil, of course ;)). I always want to keep expanding my horizons, look for fresh opportunities and work with interesting and creative people that bring something special to the table and I hope I can also continue to be that person for others when they collaborate with me.

Listen to The Boyz "MAVERICK" below! 

Special thanks to Ronnie Icon for interviewing with us! We can't wait to see more from him in the future. In the meantime please check out The Boyz' lastest album. 

Follow Ronnie Icon

Ciera Reeves

Ciera is the founder of KpopWise. She has been a fan of Korean pop culture since 2005 and writing about it since 2009. Her bias groups are VIXX and OnlyOneOf. She is a 2nd-3rd generation K-pop fan, but she is actively keeping up with the current artists. twitter instagram

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