We welcomed 2 Swedish songwriters from one of our best partner RoastingHouse for co-writing session in Japan. Anders Grahn – talented songwriter which has cuts in US, UK, Germany and Korea, Emil Carlin – new comer songwriter who has now use his dance-pop band career for songwriting and producing. They just had a cut for Tohoshinki ‘s single “ANDROID” this year in Japan, you can find some good advice from their words.
—- What is your musical background before you started your career as a songwriter?
Emil : I’ve always been working with music in some way since I was a little kid. Playing classical piano and going to music school. I started producing at the age of 12. Mainly made a lot of club music, that’s my speciality. Now I’m here.
Anders : I grew up in a musical family as well, my father is a musician. I grew up listening to a lot of Beatles. I played in a Beatles cover band when I was 10 years old, singing and playing guitar. I’ve been studying music in college and high school and stuff, and making a living as a guitarist for other artists up until three years ago I started writing music for other artists.
—- Your latest cut in Japan is for Tohoshinki’s “ANDROID”. Have you seen any signs up for it?（* We had this interview at “ANDROID” ‘s release date.）
Anders : No, we’re going to go looking now. We’ve heard it’s gone pretty good!
—- What is the background of this track?
Anders : I originally wrote a song with Grace Tither who is a lovely songwriter and vocalist from England. We actually wrote it a while ago, and we heard that Tohoshinki wanted to cut the song and it needed some extra spice and fantastic production. Emil was asked to do the production of the song. He added his skills and his touch. The dance part is completely Emil’s production. I’ve always liked the song and we’re very honored that Tohoshinki wanted to cut our song.
—- The song is kind of two styles mixed together, how do you feel about that?
Anders : That’s a way of writing songs I think. Every songwriter has their own style and I think what we have in common, and Grace as well who wrote the song, is that we really want to try to mix stuff that maybe shouldn’t be mixed and see how it tastes haha. And sometimes it’s not so good! But actually you’ll find most of the time its really interesting and that’s what its about. To write new music of course you want to try to make something that no ones heard before and make something special.
—- How is it writing songs for Asian artists?
Anders : First of all you have much more freedom production wise. In Sweden and Europe western music is very repetitive and strict. You can only 4 chords throughout the song. Its very predecided patterns really. Its hard to go outside the box really. Compared to the Japanese stuff its so different. Its very fun to do Japanese music. You can really experiment and feel free. You can do crazy tracks that we could never do at home. Like you say in Japan “SAIKOU” which can be like “Psycho” or “Really really good.”
—- You write for Korea and Japan, is there any special point when writing for Asian artists?
Anders : As it is now we often have songwriting gatherings. Hide-san and Daichi-san has been over to Sweden a bunch of times. We write exclusively for the Asian market so I’d say a lot of time when we write is for the Asian market, but also since my musical background is pretty organic, guitar driven singer-songwriter style, that Beatles background sneaking up a little bit when I write, I tend to aim for the US and UK market as well. Its the kind of music I grew up with so I’m comfortable with that, but the Asian market is a lot of fun.
—- Emil, You’ve started to work for RoastingHouse as of this January, so have the opportunity to write with several Japanese songwriters. Have you found anything interesting in the experience?
Emil : Everything is very interesting, you learn a lot and get to push yourself and try new things that you wouldn’t in other scenarios. Its very fun and very creative to meet people from different cultures. Very interesting. Besides writing new songs you get to meet people you haven’t met before. In Sweden at least its the same culture and you know how things work, but when you write over borders where the culture is different it adds more flavor and makes the whole meeting much more interesting, and you can really extend yourself I think.
—- How do you use your dance music experience in pop music?
Emil : It seems today there are no more boundaries between music genres, its almost gone. You could hear a ballad with rave synthesizers. Its a good opportunity to mix stuff and have organic song and underneath you can mix and match and make very interesting tracks.
—- Both of you used to have your own band so is there a difference when you write a song for your band and when you write as a pop songwriter.
Anders : Yes, a big difference! It sounds wrong when you try to explain it, because when you are writing for yourself, you sit and think that this has to reflect me, and every song you write has to be a reflection of who you are as a person. Something you can stand for and say this is me 100%. When you write for other artists around the world you don’t have to think about that. You don’t know them so you can’t write anything based on their personality. You just have to do your best so that allows you as a songwriter to write so much more.
Emil : The spectrum of different kinds of music for me is the biggest because our own band is just club music, but when we work like this you could do a dubstep song one day, a ballad the next day, a heavy metal song another day.
Anders : Its great because if you’re a songwriter, every songwriter we know is a little bit insane so I think its a good way to let it all out. All your inner voices ha ha ha. Just to be clear, I’m not calling my friends maniacs. You’re not all insane, I’m insane!
—- Do you have a message for young Japanese songwriters?
Anders : Come to Sweden! Free your mind and think outside of the box. There’s no limits for what you can do. Basically I think if you believe in something do it.
Emil : Learn from the masters! Daichi and Hide…and come to Sweden ha ha.