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After Romeo's Drew Ryan Scott Has Written Music For Everyone From EXO To Taeyang And There's More K-Pop Where That Came From [EXCLUSIVE]

By Tamar Herman | November 16, 2015 12:05 PM EST

What do SHINee's "Dazzling Girl," Taeyang's "Sinner," EXO's "XOXO," and Kim Hyun Joong's "Kiss Kiss" have in common? His name is Drew Ryan Scott, the founding member of American boy band After Romeo, and he is one of the K-pop industry's biggest secrets. With his hand in creating songs for many of K-pop's top acts, including Girls' Generation and TVXQ, the American pop star has become a staple in the Hallyu Wave. KpopStarz spoke to Scott about his career behind the scenes of K-pop.

KpopStarz: How did you begin working with K-pop acts?

Drew Ryan Scott: I started writing with this producer Stephen Lee. He's Korean, and he makes Japanese and Korean pop music. We started working together and we just kind of got songs cut. And he kind of introduced me to the whole market and I started writing a lot of songs. So it was just really awesome.

I had no clue actually [about K-pop]. I never knew anything about it. And then Stephen was like 'you have to listen to some of this stuff, they sell so many records.' I sent him some of the songs I had done and they ended up getting placed, so I sent him more stuff and more and more songs were getting made. It was really cool, so I started watching videos like SS501. So many acts just started doing my songs and I thought 'wow this is so cool.'

It started back with SHINee and their song called 'Amigo.' That was one of the first songs I ever did over there. And then I did a Taeyang's song called 'Sinner,' and then it kind of took off from there. I did more and more different Korean and Japanese, and Thai and Chinese, pretty much every territory over there.

KpopStarz: You've created music with a lot of Korea's top idol groups. What has that process been like?

Drew Ryan Scott: Basically, we get write-ups. People ask for certain kinds of song. They say they want a song that sounds like so and so, or this, so we make a song that has that vibe. Say someone wants a song like Chris Brown's "Fine China," like kinda funky. We make something like that and send it out.

The funny thing is when you make a song for an artist, typically the song gets placed with a different artist. It's really interesting. Like a few of the songs for Kim Hyun Joong, songs specifically for him, the sound didn't end up being like what he wanted. He was going urban for a little bit, and he actually switched to more of a live rock sound for his album, so the urban music went to another artist but I forgot who it is. I have to look, it's somebody's single right now.

KpopStarz: You worked with a lot of K-Pop artists. Could you give a bit of detail about what it's like working with Korean artists?

Drew Ryan Scott: I've actually never gone to Korea. I've been to Japan, but never to Korea. I'm working on doing a trip, a writing a trip. I do all my work out of here. I went to a great restaurant here in LA with Kim Hyun Joong, and I met SHINee. I met so many cause I go to the SMTOWN concerts, I go backstage and I get to meet everybody. It's pretty awesome.

Each band is a bit different, and not being over there you don't see the craziness that happens behind the K-pop stuff. I never get to see it, I just get to see what happens in America.

KpopStarz: Do you have any memorable stories from working in K-pop?

Drew Ryan Scott: The funniest changes to my songs are the use of 'sexy,' 'kiss,' 'girl, 'boy,' and random words like 'fantastic.' They'll be in the demo, but they change the lyrics and then you'll just be like 'wait, what?' because I don't understand what they're saying and then they leave the English word in and I think maybe I know what they're saying. It always makes me laugh, because I Google the translation or ask the person who translated what they mean by it and they'll explain it to me.

KpopStarz: Did you have any songs that surprised you with their success?

Drew Ryan Scott: There's a bunch. You know, it's actually the titles that surprise me a lot. We send a song with English lyrics, and then someone translates it, or rewrites lyrical content. And some of the titles are so interesting, I love it. Because, oh! Kim Hyun Joong. He did a song called 'Cappuccino,' but that wasn't what the original title was. But that's what they heard and it really did sound just like it, it's just awesome. I cannot remember what it was called originally, but it sounded nothing like 'Cappuccino' so it just made me crack up. I looked at the original and was like, 'oh, okay, that word I sing in the demo does sound like 'Cappuccino,' I see why they changed it.' It's really interesting how that always happens.

KpopStarz: What singers and companies do you want to work with in the future?

Drew Ryan Scott: I love EXO. I saw them for the first time in L.A. and I was like 'Who is that? I've never seen them before.' It was when they were first starting. They spend so much time on their choreography; their music videos are insane. So the first song I did was the 'XOXO' song, which ended up being their album name. So it was really cool that I got a song for them, and I'm just trying to do more and more songs for them because they're really awesome at performing. It was really cool to see them.

[Regarding companies] I love to work and do songs for people. Anyone who needs a song, you know, if they're cool and they're driven and they're talented, I'd love to do songs for them. It's kinda how I am. I'm not particular to a specific company or a specific brand, everyone needs good songs. I love to write songs. I literally write 10-12 songs a week. So, yea, I record them all. I've probably written over 4,000 songs.

KpopStarz: What upcoming projects, performances or releases are you the most excited about?

Drew Ryan Scott: There's a really cool [K-pop] reunion that's about to happen and I'm not allowed to talk about it...

I've had so many songs I've done for SHINee. I'm working on some new stuff for them right now, and a bunch of new acts right now.

And I'm working on my band, and we'd love to do a feature with someone in Korea, I think that'd be really cool. Cause we've done Japan, Germany, Europe, America, but nothing ever in Korea. It'd be cool to have a feature with someone from Korea. It would have to be a girl because there are so many guys in my band.

My group, we're working on our new stuff and we'll be releasing stuff in Korea as well, so stay tuned for us and follow After Romeo on FacebookInstagram, Twitter, YouTube everything. You can also follow me on Twitter, Snapchat, everything.

Listen to After Romeo's cover of Adele's "Hello" HERE

Tamar Herman is a multi-media journalist and the co-founder of KultScene. She is a freelance writer and copy editor, and has written for MTV Iggy, Noisey, and Paste Magazine.

Tagged :  drew ryan scott, interview, K-Pop

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