The Korea Herald


‘K-pop should try mixing genres for global appeal’: US producer

4th Seoul Music Fair kicks off on themes of new technologies, markets

By 박형기

Published : Oct. 6, 2015 - 14:15

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Although K-pop has garnered attention worldwide especially across Asia, Korean pop songs still lack international appeal.

In order to further boost K-pop globally, Korean producers and artists should try mixing different genres such as hip pop and jazz whose sounds are appealing in other parts of the world, a prominent U.S. music producer and artist said.
Nate “Danja” Hills, American music producer, talks about music production in the digital age ahead of the Seoul International Music Fair in Seoul on Tuesday. (KOCCA) Nate “Danja” Hills, American music producer, talks about music production in the digital age ahead of the Seoul International Music Fair in Seoul on Tuesday. (KOCCA)

“Maybe, it could combine musical elements around the world. I have used R&B, hip pop, Bollywood sounds and Asian sounds -- anything that triggered a somewhat different culture,” said Nate “Danja” Hills at a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday.

“I think that is what it is. We have to make it worldly. Maybe that is how to get the K-pop sound worldwide.”

Hills, a record producer and artist who has worked with singers including Britney Spears, Whitney Houston and Justin Timberlake, was invited as one of the keynote speakers for “The Future of Music Production” at the 4th Seoul International Music Fair 2015, or MU:CON, at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul.

Over the next two days, global and local musicians, artists and producers will gather not only for business exchanges but also find ways to use technology and innovate to attract a greater number of music audiences in emerging markets such as China and Indonesia.

Under the theme of “Key to the Global Music Gate,” MU:CON 2015 will hold forums on music licensing, digital music markets and emerging technologies such as virtual reality and holograms.

“We aim to create a new culture through this conference by tearing down boundaries through music,” said Song Sung-gak, president and CEO of the Korea Creative Content Agency, the host of MU:CON 2015.

Entertainment companies such as CJ E&M and SM Entertainment, and professors from KAIST and Catholic Kwandong University will hold forums and seminars. MU:CON will showcase performances of some 50 artists, including alternative bands Hyukoh and Kiha & The Faces, and K-pop groups B1A4 and GFriend.

Hills said old, new, big or small music artists and producers should embrace new technologies, which can help not only to create music cost-effectively, but also make quality sounds at home equivalent to those made in large studios with special equipment.

Technology has enabled people to “cut a lot of corners,” and learn tools and software programs on their own to create quality music on the Internet via various streaming platforms.

“I can produce quality sound in front of you guys right now, and mix and master in 15 minutes. Technology has allowed us to do it, and put everyone on the same playing field -- big or small are competing at the same level,” he said.

“It can be difficult for those really talented to shine through because untalented people can learn technology to create music.”

Despite technology enabling music production and accessibility, Hills said musicians should ultimately seek to create expression, and producers should help artists translate musical expression for global audiences.

“Music is expression. They make music differently in London, U.S. or in Asia. I can’t say one is better than other. I heard great music in Asia, stupid in America. There is no right or wrong, or better or worse. It is ultimately artists’ expression,” Hills said.

“Producers are the gateway. I like to translate what artists bring. My job is to translate music internationally.”

By Park Hyong-ki (