We know what you’re thinking – with all that aegyo and charm, hit K-Pop girl group TWICE are already an unforgettable bunch! But without their catchy tunes and addicting melodies to match, would they stand out as much?
Meet David Amber, a long time music producer who is no stranger to K-Pop. While we currently love him for his recent creative contributions to TWICE’s “Yes or Yes,” David holds a long time track record of working alongside insanely popular artists while making songs that propelled their fanbase.
Outside of K-Pop David developed J-Pop songs for Korea artists such as AOA, GFriend, EXO-CBX, B.A.P., fromis_9, Hyoyeon (Girls Generation), Up10tion, NCT, and Oh My Girl! Now, David took a moment to share his process, thoughts, and love of K-Pop in our interview down below!
1. What was the first K-Pop group you listened to and felt, “I want to be a part of this?”
“SNSD’s “I Got a Boy” was pretty mind-blowing to me. That song really made me think, “Wow, they really let the writers do whatever they want!” I mean, it’s so crazy. It’s like the “Bohemian Rhapsody” of KPOP. So it was probably around that time that I started trying to get involved. It took probably almost two years before SM picked up one of my songs, which was Hyoyeon’s “Mystery”. So it was pretty cool that the first artist I worked with was a member of the same group that got me into writing for KPOP.”
2. When producing, how much of the process do you have control over or even contribute to the song? Do you only construct melodies or chorus-based lyrics?
“Everything’s a collaboration, but I like to be involved in as much of the song as I can. In almost all cases, I’m the guy handling the tracks, which includes all the instruments and how the sections are mapped out. Once I create the track, I’ll work with a topliner to write the melody and lyrics (in English). We’ll record the full song and off it goes to the label! Once they decide to cut it, a Korean lyricist will come in and either adapt our lyrics, or they’ll do something completely new.
For example, “YES or YES” was originally titled “TLC.” So that was Eun-jee’s idea and she ran with it. The group will then record the song. Unfortunately, since I’m in LA and they’re in Korea, I haven’t been able to be a part of the final vocal recordings, but that is a goal of mine in the future!”
3. How did you become more renowned around Korea that larger companies like JYP (TWICE) picked you up?
“For me, it was all about finding the right songwriters to work with, and also going over to Korea many times on my own dime to meet with the labels face to face. Once they got to know me and saw that I was consistently sending them good songs, they started taking me seriously and I started getting cuts. The thing I love about KPOP companies is that most of the time it really is all about the song. If you send good songs, they will get heard!”
4. Although an artist must love all of his creations, which song did you feel was your favorite and most personalized?
“Ahh, that’s a tough one because they’re all my babies! But if I had to choose, I’d say “Heart Shaker.” It’s got everything I want to hear in a pop song. Electric guitar, upbeat vibes, explosive chorus, and overall it just makes me feel good. I want to feel happy when I listen to music, and that’s what I want when people listen to my songs.”
5. Was there a K-Pop song you worked on and thought it would be the most popular song but shockingly wasn’t?
“I wouldn’t say I’m shocked that it wasn’t more popular, but I think “Love Bomb” kind of flew under the radar. To me, it has all the elements of a hit and at the same time, it’s bursting with unique personality. It definitely got recognized and I think it helped raise fromis_9’s profile a bit, but it would have been nice for that song to go higher up the charts!”
6. Have you ever worked directly with or met any artists? Was there some enjoyable memory with a group you can talk about?
“The only artist that I’ve directly had a chance to work with was Hyolyn when she came to LA a year or so back. That was a great experience. I knew her SISTAR hits, but I had no idea how incredible of a vocalist she was. Her, Sean Alexander, and I wrote a song together, and I remember thinking that I wasn’t sure if the melodies we were coming up with were that ridiculously good, or if they just sounded amazing because everything she sings sounds amazing. So I had to double check and sing through the song myself to make sure! I’d love to do more sessions like that down the road.”
7. How do you feel about the overwhelming success of TWICE’s “Yes or Yes” ?
“It feels awesome! I mean, this is pretty much what any songwriter works for, to have their songs heard and loved by millions of people. Personally, it is a motivating factor for me to want to continue and push even harder. Because there’s nothing better than when a song drops, and everyone’s hearing this song for the first time that I’ve listened to it probably a million times and to get that real-time reaction is just everything. To see how it comes together with the group, the visuals, the choreography, and all the promo and live performances is very special. I feel very blessed that I’ve had this experience with “Yes or Yes” and hopefully I can have more like it in the future.”
8. Is there anything you’d like to say to fans of K-Pop music and what is your favorite K-Pop song lately?
“I think Kpop fans are seriously the best and most passionate music fans in the world, and I’ve been around a lot of different kinds of music fans. So I want to say a big “Thank You!” for supporting your favorite artists and their songs because without you there is nothing. One of my favorite songs from last year was (G)I-dle’s “LATATA.” Just a great hook and killer song overall. Looking forward to seeing and hearing more from them!”
We hope you enjoyed the interview! Don’t forget to check out our other exclusive interviews with music producers such as Melanie Fontana and even artists such as Justin Park and Grazy Grace! Find our YouTube Channel for more video content and shoutouts from the artists, too!