2018 saw the rise of k-pop artists branching out into different genres of music to create something magical. One of my favorite songs of 2018 was “Lo Siento” by Super Junior and Latin singer, Leslie Grace. After playing the song on repeat for months, I decided to find out who had written the bop and where I could find more of their amazing work. I couldn’t have been more surprised when I discovered that the song was written by Charli Taft!
In 2017 I had the pleasure of speaking with hit songwriter Charli Taft after she released her single Love Like This on SM Station, a digital music project by South Korean record label SM Entertainment. A lot has happened since then, including getting married to fellow songwriter Daniel “Obi” Klein, so I wanted to catch up with Charli and find out what she’s been up to since our last talk.
Your husband is an accomplished producer that you’ve worked with in the past. Do you think your musical process will change now that you are married?
CT: Great question! Honestly, I don’t think anything will change in terms of our working process now that we’re married. We’ve been in so many studio sessions together over the years and we know each other so well at this point that I think it actually improves our efficiency when we work. We’ve been a couple for over 4 years and have written so much together during that time. I believe it’s made us both better, more honest writers.
You have an amazing voice so will we be seeing any musical collaborations from you two?
CT: Thank you so much! I’m featuring on a track called “In Touch” by Daul, a cool new Korean DJ. It’s actually out now so you check that out! Otherwise, I have a ton of new solo music ready to go this year that I’ve been working really hard on. Can’t wait to share it with the world and give back to fans who’ve waited so patiently.
I know your 2018 was very busy, but a lot of your fans are curious to know what your 2019 will be like? Will we finally get that Charli Taft album?
CT: I promise I won’t disappoint! I’ll be coming with several new singles and I’ll be putting out my debut EP during the first half of the year. It’s a great representation of my aesthetic and my signature sound! I’ve been working intensely on that for some time now so I’m just finishing up and getting everything ready at the moment. I’ve also set up my own label so it’s an exciting time for me to be putting out my first full project. Fans can keep checking my social media for updates!
You’ve written some amazing music in 2018 for K-pop, like Super Junior’s Lo Siento. Did you think that song would become such a hit?
CT: Thank you so much! We knew the song had real potential when we wrote it and everybody at the record label seemed hyped about it so we had a good feeling! Beyond that though, you can never really know how fans are going to react, especially in this case as “Lo Siento” was a multi-lingual, cross-over track. I was really delighted when it got such amazing feedback and charted so well! I kept seeing videos on Instagram of fans singing along in stadiums all over the world! That was pretty wild!
Will you be making more hits for Korean artists this year?
CT: I’m always excited to write for Korean artists so I plan to do more of that this year. There’ll be some cool projects coming for sure.
Is there a producer or another composer that you haven’t worked with yet that you’d like to? Perhaps in 2019?
CT: Of course! There are several producers that I’d love to work with and hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity one day. I’m a huge Rich Harrison fan so he would definitely be on my producer wish list. Also, it would be a dream to work with R&B legends Rodney Jerkins, Babyface and Jam & Lewis.
Do you have a favorite (or a few favorites) song you’ve written? How about something that you like but wish you could change “that one thing”?
CT: Of all the songs I’ve written that have been released so far, “Love Like You” is my favourite. I remember driving across the UK listening to an early demo and playing that song on repeat. When I first heard the rap from T3 of Slum Village for the remix version, it totally lifted the song to a new level and I was in love with how it turned out! Otherwise, I’m actually a fan of “Hush” and “Lips”. It’s always super hard to make your own new favourite song and it doesn’t happen too often. I’d still like those songs if someone else had written them.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to get the creative juices flowing again if/when you get it?
CT: I’m writing all the time so I can sometimes experience periods of feeling a little low on creative energy. It usually happens towards the end of a busy year, so I guess that’s natural. I try to take short breaks from writing and spend time with family and friends to experience the other, non-music-related aspects of life. It helps to detach and I can often quickly become re-inspired.
You’ve been creating music for so long but I’m curious if you weren’t a musician, what type of work would you be doing?
CT: That’s such an interesting question. I’ve been in music my whole life so I’ve never had another career in mind. I would probably branch into acting and use my performance background. I’m really inspired by interior design also so maybe that would be something I would explore.
For the past few years, a popular Korean entertainment convention in the States called KCON has been bringing music producers for panels on creating music. Would you ever consider speaking at a convention on how to become a composer and what it’s like? I feel like there are a lot of people who would love to learn from you and get a chance to ask questions one-on-one.
CT: I would totally love to speak at a convention like KCON. I’d be privileged to share my experiences and connect with people at an event like that.
If you could tell someone who was starting out as a composer one thing, what would it be?
CT: I would encourage anyone starting out as a composer to take basic steps to learn their craft; critically listening to music on radio or Spotify and breaking down the different instrumental components, understanding the basics of song structure, figuring out what makes a great hook, balancing melody and lyrics etc. It’s really important to listen to a wide range of genres too, not just trending songs. Some of the most amazing music ever made is behind us, so it’s super important to have the context of an extensive back catalogue to learn from and be inspired by when you start to create.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me Charli! I know this is just the beginning of beautiful music for you. Make sure you follow Charli on all social media to keep up with her new music and let us know which is your favorite song written by Charli Taft!