[Exclusive Interview] Ryan Curtis on Working with NCT DREAM, Luhan, Louis Tomlinson, and More

Multi-Platinum Award-winning Scottish singer/songwriter/vocal producer Ryan Curtis moved to Los Angeles in 2016 after signing his first publishing deal. He’s now signed to Kobalt Music Group & One Hit Away. Ryan has cuts and has been working with SM Entertainment, Universal, Republic Records, Columbia, Warner Music Group, and more with upcoming songs coming out in 2023.

Ryan has used his talents to craft music worldwide for many notifiable artists. In fact, artists and collaborators have praised Ryan's lightning-fast engineering and vocal production skills, as well as his passion for vocal comping and songwriting. Being a singer himself, he has a unique ear for vocal production and comping. Combined with his melodies and lyrics, he plays a crucial role in any recording session.

KpopWise spoke with Ryan about his music and his recent success with his recent songs including NCT DREAM's recent single album "Candy" in which he participated in the making of 'Take My Breath.' 

Firstly, can you introduce yourself to the audience? 

Thanks so much! My name’s Ryan Curtis, I’m a multi-platinum award-winning songwriter, singer and vocal producer from Scotland, UK living in Los Angeles. I write all kinds of music from the US pop scene to K-Pop, C-Pop, and J-pop. Since moving to LA I’ve written and worked with people like, Louis Tomlinson, Bryce Vine, Bazzi, NCT DREAM, Taemin, LuHan, Tate Mcrae, BabyFace, TBHITS, etc.

What inspired you to get into music? 

Music runs in my family. My parents Grainne and Steve were always in and around music. Whether it was music management or music production. My dad owns a studio in Scotland so I was always around gear, sessions, and shows nonstop. I really locked in on music when I was around 16-18, I lived in the countryside so I was bored away from friends but it really enabled me to hone in my abilities and learn my craft.

Where do you gather inspiration for songs? 

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can be personal, it could be from a movie, an image, a quote, a friend's story or a dream. It comes in many forms. It’s always different everyday depending on so many things. If it’s my personal inspo usually ends up being a song for me to release as an artist. I’ve been releasing music since 2020 and have a new single “Nose Dive” coming out on the 24th Feb!

What is your creative process like? 

It usually ALWAYS starts with a melody. For anybody that knows me, I am melody crazy. My main focus is getting that catchy hooky melody that everybody can sing. This is why I dabble in so many music worlds, because to me a good melody can work anywhere. I am lucky that my voice works in lots of different genres too.

After we’ve locked in the melody we’ll tackle the lyrics and record all the final vocals.

You have worked with a variety of Western and Asian artists. 
Who are some artists you have worked with? What are some memorable moments? 

I’ve been writing in LA since 2016 so I’ve been doing nonstop sessions since then every day so there’s quite a few. Some of my favs have been working with Louis Tomlinson from One Direction, vocal producing, and engineering. Then working with people like Bazzi, Madison Beer, and Tate Mcrae in their early days, they were so talented then and now. I have a single coming out with Bryce Vine called “Gold Rush” on Warner Music Group. I’ve worked with artists like: Peach PRC, King Princess, Ant Saunders, SYML, Rei Brown, NCT DREAM, Taemin, Henry, LuHan, Cai Kun and loads more.

1 insane memorable moment would be seeing “LuHan” perform our song “The Moment” to over 60,000 people in China. It also won best pop song of the year award over there and smashed so many chart records. It was amazing!

Lastly, when the NCT DREAM “Candy” album hit over 2 million sales, that was an incredible moment. Also #1 in 19 different countries.

Is there a Kpop artist who you would love to work with in the future? 

There is so many! I’d love to get a song with Black Pink, Red Velvet, or Itzy. I love their music, it’s so good.

Since you've moved to LA, how has it influenced your artistry? 

I think just being around so many talented people really influenced me. I learnt so much from doing non-stop sessions since 2016 and honing my writing skills. I really dove in. I used to live in Scotland surrounded by farms and greenery. So it was a huge flip moving out of my parents for the first time living alone surviving off of music.

Everyone is insanely talented in LA, so you have to step your game up haha!

What is a moment you've felt very proud? 

I think I mentioned it above, but to dive further in, the NCT DREAM album hitting over 2 million sales was a big milestone for me. The Luhan song winning best pop song in China, seeing it being performed to 60K people. There’s so many moments that will always live with me. I am forever grateful for my team, friends, and supporters.

What is some of the best advice you have received or would tell a budding musician? 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. I literally started in a small town in Scotland in the middle of nowhere now i’m in LA living my dream. I networked on Twitter and Instagram and really grew my network. Still to this day it’s an invaluable tool. Don’t be afraid to follow up either. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but that’s the music biz for you, expect A LOT of no’s, alot of no replies but be your biggest fan. Grow from the nos, and prove them wrong. I’ve had countless rejections, no replies, ghosting, you name it. Those who come into your life are there for a reason, biz and personally. 

I remember an A&R once told me not to sing on my demos. Now people pay me handsomely to sing on their major releases, even K-pop releases, sometimes I’ll do backing vocals. Singing as well as writing is my full-time living, imagine if I listened to that A&R? Point is to believe in yourself and power through. This industry is tough, so you gotta be tough back and not let anyone interrupt your future vision.

What can we expect from you next?

Lots more K-pop, more US cuts, and more songs from me as an artist.

Check out the Ryan Curtis Playlist Curated for KpopWise!

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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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