Umu: Hello, thank you so much for agreeing to be featured on my channel, please introduce yourself. U: And like, talk about how long you’ve been writing songs, and what instruments you play. My name is Andres Oberg. I’m a Swedish songwriter, producer, and guitar player. A: I started out as a musician, playing a lot of jazz and blues and fusion; and then over time I became more of a songwriter and producer. A: And I found the K-Pop market and also the J-Pop market; I’ve been doing a lot of songs for Japan and Korea during the last couple of years. A: I find it very inspiring to work with all these artists and try out all these different genres. Umu: Fantastic. And so now we’ll start off with the questions that I’m sure a lot of people are wondering. U: First, do you think it’s more important to make a number-one hit, or write a song that you are personally most proud of? A: When I started within the jazz world, It was all about just creating, you know, interesting music that I really love myself, A: And I wanted selected group of people to really like it, of course. A: I didn’t want it to be too commercial, or have any of that kind of pop music impact. A: But then over time, I kind of realized I wanted to create music for the masses, but do something with quality too, you know? A: Like you can bring in cool chords to something musically that also has the quality of pop, with catchy hooks and simple melodies as well too. A: So I would say these days I want to, you know, make big hits but also do stuff that has musical value and quality. Umu: Fantastic. U: And then when writing a song for a company and an A&R (Artists and Repertoire) comes in and says, “Oh change this up, we don’t want this.” U: Do you ever feel that they ruin a song? A: Yeah, that has happened. But it’s all about personal taste. A: And most of the time I think they know what they’re doing, and there are some cases where songs actually turned out amazing from their feedback. A: There was one A&R at SM who actually came in when we wrote Red Velvet’s song called Sunny Afternoon. A: And she wasn’t happy with the chorus, and we kind of liked the chorus. A: But she said “No, I want something different”, then she had some ideas, and then we started writing a different chorus. A: And in retrospect – I mean that chorus was – the second chorus we created – was so much better than the first one so. A: It’s always good when the A&R’s know what they want. A: Especially in Asia, they’re musically trained, some have perfect pitch, they know about music, and they know what they want too, which is great. Umu: Awesome. U: And what is your favorite K-Pop song that you didn’t take part in writing? A: Well, there are a few – you know, there are a lot of great songs, A: But there are a few, you know, when I heard them I thought, “Okay ow, this is – I wish I was part of this”. A: One is actually Spellbound with TVXQ. Very cool song. A: And another one, a little bit maybe more unexpected one, it’s a song my my friends Caesar & Loui wrote. A: A song with TTS called Stay. A: It has a very cool the key change for the chorus, very unexpected. A: I was like, “Wow I wish I would have thought of that.” Umu: And what’s your favorite genre to compose it? A: I like a lot of the funky, jazzy R&B. A: Stuff where you can go a little bit crazy on on the chords. U: Yes, that’s my favorite, too. U: And what K-Pop artists have you been able to work with in person? A: I’ve been writing with BoA. A: The SM camps with Amber from f(x) and Siwon from Super Junior. A: Eric Nam. A: Henry, former member of Super Junior. A: It’s always great to write with these artists and especially the ones that are active writers, and they have a lot of ideas and they have a vision for what they wanna do. Umu: Awesome. And then what is your favorite section of a song to write, like is it the chorus?
A: Yeahhhh. A: When you get the chorus right it’s always a great feeling, but personally I like pre-choruses. A: Because that’s where you can go even more slick on the chords, and and do some really –
A: Unexpected stuff actually. A: So I love the pre-choruses too. Umu: Fantastic. U: I can tell. Umu: What was the most difficult K-Pop song to write? U: Like whether it was difficult to communicate with the other composers, or you just couldn’t come up with any ideas. A: We did a song on on the Lee Dongwoo album. A: The original title was Broken Wall. A: And I think Once There Was A Love is the title.
(U: Yeah.) A: It took a long time to write. We were trying different chords, going back and forth. It was a ballad, so. A: And one of the writers, a Korean writer who didn’t speak much English, we tried to communicate. A: It took a long time, but it’s a song I’m very very proud of, the outcome of that song. A: It’s not a typical K-Pop song, more like a jazz ballad., but it’s a song I’m very proud of. Umu: Do you see improvisation ever playing a bigger role in pop music? A: Hopefully, you know? A: A great thing is when you find that balance between improvised elements, and then more like structured, thought-out ideas. A: For instance in the verse, it can be more like R&B urban, it can be more of an improvised flow. A: And then the hook could be a little bit more structured for people to be able to grasp it and sing along with it. Umu: Right. And when writing a song do you ever think of a group’s international audience, instead of just writing for like maybe Korean ears? A: Well, yes, since the lyrics for the demos are made in English. A: We always try to have like catchphrases and lyrical content that could also work in the West. Umu:: When writing a melody for a specific group, do you assign vocal parts based on their “jobs” AKA main vocal or lead vocal? U: Or do you study their voices and give high notes to someone and fast notes to others?
A: Yeah, it depends on I mean – A: Some groups I worked a lot with, like for instance Shinee, so I know the different sounds, you know, of the different voices. A: Some groups I might not know exactly all the members and how they sound, but I try to listen and see if something stands out. A: You know, if there’s one singer that has a really like, high-pitched voice or something, that you can like use and take advantage of when you when you write melodies. Umu: Right, and are there any artists that you would like to work with in the future that you haven’t worked with yet? A: Yeah, of course. There are quite a few, especially solo artists. A: More that – I’ve worked with a lot of the idol groups, but it would be interesting to work with some of the solo artists in Korea. A: There are a lot of great ones, like IU and Heize. A: They’re doing their own stuff composing and working with a group of people, I think their friends and co-writers. A: But it would be fun to try doing something for those artists as well, and not just to those – the bigger idol groups. Umu: And do you ever draw from your classical music theory knowledge when writing pop music, or do you more draw from your jazz theory knwoledge? A: More from the jazz theory knowledge, and I try to not overthink too much, you know? A: And go follow my ears and what I’m hearing. A: But it’s great to have the theory and know it as a tool. A: So I can actually, you know, know why something doesn’t really work, and vocal arrangement for instance. A: And I also, since I know the theory, I have a lot of colors available, a lot of sounds that I can use for the different extensions from each chord. Umu: What are your favorite songs that you’ve composed? A: There are many, it’s so hard for me to choose. A: But like One of These Nights with Red Velvet, I really like that song. I’m proud of it. A: Did this song for SHINee called Romance that I really like myself too. A: Like it has kind of a Stevie Wonder- Ferrell kind of vibe. A: Did another one for them in Japan called Wishful Thinking, that’s another song I’m very proud of. A: There are so many it’s hard to choose, but those were just a few. Umu: What artists or group do you like writing most for? A: I would say SHINee because I’ve done so many songs for them. A: I’ve done 13 songs for the band both in Korea and Japan, you know, combined. A: And then I’ve done two for Taemin, and then one for Onew together with Lee Jin Ah. A: So 16 in total, so I think I have a history with that group and I met them a few times. A: I like how they sound, I like their use of the vocal arrangements and their voices, and how they bring my ideas to life. Umu: Fantastic.