[Exclusive Interview] Ryan Curtis on Songs for IVE, EVNNE, ENHYPEN, and Personal Goals

Ciera Reeves

Ryan Curtis is a singer-songwriter and vocal producer who has been carving his way through the K-pop industry, working with many of the beloved artists of today. 

Through Ryan's busy schedule from being in the studio kicking out new hits, as we head towards the end of 2023, we caught up with him to catch up on what he's been up to lately. 

Hello Ryan, welcome back to KpopWise! You’ve been super busy since the last time we’ve spoken.

You recently worked on IVE’s first EP Album “I’VE MINE” can you tell us about your experience creating the song?

Hey guys! So nice to be back here. Thanks for having me. YES! So I got the whole squad together for our song “Payback” -- I wrote it with some of my favourite people ever. Madalen Duke + Willie Weeks. We’ve been making music for many years. Also a big shout out to my publisher Obi Mhondera & Cecilia Mortzell @  Innerv8 Musiq and my good friends Ryan Jhun and Kevin Baek @ Marcan for making this one happen.

So to answer your main question, the experience was the best. When you’re working with people you’ve known for many years and made countless songs with the process is always the most fun experience. In fact, I think there was only 1 week between us writing and recording the song and it being confirmed for IVE’s next EP. It was one of the fastest cuts I’ve ever gotten.

Sometimes songs take years to find a home but this was one catered for the girls and it ticked all the boxes for what the label and the band were looking for… and in 1 week we had the stars align and we got it confirmed! :) I think it’s my favorite girl-band song I’ve ever written.

You also wrote ‘Your Text’ off on EVNNE’s debut mini album “Target:ME” which I’m sure is relatable for a lot of people. What was the inspiration for this song?

Also really love how this song came out, another fast cut. Maybe 1-2 months between when it was created to when it came out. Shout out the producers HUMBLER for their amazing production on this. I just wanted to make a song that sonically would make you feel good. Originally it was called “Feel This Way” and it was about just being so obsessed with the way someone made you feel. It was really simple and sweet then the guys and Korean lyricist took it to the next level with the “Your Text” concept. 

I’m obsessed with the boys version and how it turned out.

What are three of your favorite songs you have worked on? Have they changed?

'BILLS' by Enhypen will forever be in my top songs, I just got back from seeing 25,000 people live in Los Angeles singing it. The whole stadium went crazy. It was a surreal experience and It’ll forever be in my top 3 haha.

Next will be IVE - 'Payback' just because it’s my first major label girlband kpop cut.

It’s hard, but lastly probably Taemin - 'Under My Skin'. But sometimes my 3rd option will change and I’ll be listening to NCT DREAM, Luhan or EVNNE more. It’s a hard choice!

K-pop groups often have a unique image and concept. How do you tailor your songwriting to fit the concepts of different K-pop groups?

My main focus is melody and making sure what i'm singing connects to the music and amplifies the right vibe. Alotta time these English lyrics are being translated or completely changed up to fit a theme the band is going for. This is super common in kpop. For me, as long as the melody and the vocals are on point I’m super happy. I am melody crazy and obsess over the details on the vocals.

Can you share some behind-the-scenes stories or fun anecdotes from your career as a K-pop songwriter so far?

The funniest thing is i’m just writing songs I genuinely love to listen to. I don’t even really think about “genre” when writing. Whether Kpop or US.  I’ve always been this way. Sure now because I’m more zoned in on Kpop, I’m thinking of adding extra melodies and sections, but sometimes not. Sometimes the song you think wouldn’t go for KPOP just hits. My song Bills by Enhypen was originally written for Post Malone's album.

All of my biggest kpop songs were just me writing to write. I love all music and I really hope that it radiates through my songs. I still pinch myself that music has been my full-time job for almost 10 years.

K-pop has evolved and diversified over the years. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and innovations in the industry these days?

It comes back to my love for music. It’s not a job for me at all, it’s something that runs through my veins and my style, my voice, my writing is constantly moving in different directions and styles. It’s important to be flexible and versatile in music. Put me in with a DJ one day, the next day put me in with an indie artist, then next a kpop act. I love it all and that’s it, I naturally evolve as music evolves.

In your opinion, what is the future of K-pop, and how do you see the genre evolving in the coming years?

I think it’ll continue to appeal to the global market more and more and specifically the US. I keep seeing kpop songs dominate New Music Friday and the fact that Enhypen had a stadium filled with 25K fans is incredible. It’s going to take over and be as popular as ever.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time away from music?

I love cars, I love anything tech, a little tennis and basketball here and there. My time is shared between those things, my girlfriend and dog Harry.

Lastly, what are your personal goals and aspirations as a songwriter in the K-pop industry? Is there anything you still hope to achieve?

In the kpop industry specifically my goal this year is to hit 10M sales. If my projections are correct I might just hit that by the end of year. I have another big cut coming that nobody knows about yet. You guys will have to tune in next time to talk about it.

What can we expect from you next? 

The unexpected. I wanna get cuts people wouldn’t expect from me. Like I said above, music is in my blood. Put me in any music room and I’ll put in my best work.

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