– By Nico H.
K-Pop producers are, in large part, unsung heroes. They are a crucial factor in whether or not a K-Pop group succeeds. The idols themselves can only take their groups – their careers – so far, they need to be backed up by good production, good music. Otherwise, a fanbase will be hard-pressed to grow, flourish, let alone maintain. A lot of credit deserves to be directed toward those producers.
Enter Caesar & Loui, a duo that is responsible for plenty of recent songs, plenty of recent hits. Hailing from Sweden, Daniel Caesar and Ludwig Lindell are the masterminds behind a handful of jams that were released this summer. LOONA’s “Singing in the Rain,” Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor,” and Girls’ Generation’s “All Night,” the third being particularly momentous, due to the song being one of two title tracks celebrating the group’s tenth anniversary.
With their varied, yet layered and focused, production, Caesar & Loui has made a name for themselves within the K-Pop industry as consistent and solid producers. There’s a reason why companies keep coming back to Caesar & Loui for songs.
I recently had the chance to ask Caesar & Loui a few brief questions about their musical careers and how it intersected with the K-Pop scene. Enjoy, everybody.
BD: May I have you two introduce yourselves?
Caesar & Loui: We consist of two members, Daniel Caesar and Ludwig Lindell. We met when we were 6 years old, and we were both born in 1990, in Sweden.
BD: How did you two get started in making music?
Caesar & Loui: We both studied music in high school together, and then after in different music schools as well. We were interns at our current label “The Kennel” through a music school called “Musikmakarna.” After the internship, we got signed as songwriters.
BD: Who are your musical influences?
Caesar & Loui: All the way from old classics like ABBA, Queen, The Beatles, to modern groups like Green Day and One Republic. We also take a lot of influences from just modern hit songs out there. A lot of Max Martin’s work is, of course, a great inspiration.
BD: Did you listen to K-Pop before you started making music for K-Pop groups?
Caesar & Loui: No, actually we heard K-pop the first time for like, four years ago, and since then we have been sold.
Now we listen to the new songs and so on. We love the whole music industry in South Korea, and Japan.
BD: You guys aren’t new to the K-Pop producing game, but everyone has to start somewhere. What’s the story behind the first K-Pop song you ever produced? Were you familiar with K-Pop before you were asked to make a song for a K-Pop group? What were your expectations going into it?
Caesar & Loui: One of our first releases we ever produced was Vixx’s “Hyde” in 2013. We wrote it during the summertime, and we were very into electro style songs mixed with urban organic beats.
We took a lot of Michael Jackson inspiration on “Hyde,” and the song was actually called “Criminal” as a demo.
We were very new to the K-pop world when we wrote this song, which made it very exciting to write, it was a whole new sound for us! And our expectations were just that we thought it would be – a lot of fun – which it was!
BD: You’ve also produced “Swing” for Super Junior M, and “Stay” for Girls’ Generation TTS, among so many others. Is producing songs for K-Pop groups different than producing for other groups?
Caesar & Loui: Yes, a bit different, actually. Usually, there is more melodic parts in K-pop songs, so as a songwriter you have to keep that in mind. It’s not always the case though, of course. Also, they usually have a rap part.
With the instrumental, K-pop can be a bit different than other groups, but not too much. They are actually getting more and more close to each other in sounds and so on.
BD: So you two have a lot of credits in the K-Pop scene in such a short amount of time, producing a lot of songs for a lot of groups. Did you ever imagine that your musical careers would be so intertwined with the K-Pop scene?
Caesar & Loui: We always knew we wanted to write music for the international market but we had no idea that we would have the opportunity to work in South Korea and Japan. We feel very grateful to have this job.
BD: How has producing K-Pop changed your own musical process over the years? Are there any musical theory tricks or production techniques that you learned as you kept making songs for different K-Pop groups?
Caesar & Loui: I think our musical taste and width has increased a lot during these years.
As far as musical theory there is a lot of that in K-pop and J-pop so we’re very happy we took those classes back in the day (lol).
We have learned a lot by co-writing with other producers and writers. So yeah, we have a little book of secrets when it comes to tricks and so on (lol).
BD: Now, I’d like to ask about some of your more recent work. How did the creation of Red Flavor’s instrumental come about? Were you asked to capture a specific type of vibe or sound, or did it just come about naturally?
Caesar & Loui: With Red Flavor we actually had a clear picture of what we wanted from the start. It all came naturally we would say. We felt inspired to create something special with the drums so therefore we put a lot of focus on that part to make it feel very uplifting and energetic. Then, the rest just fell into place.
BD: What was the process in creating the instrumental? How did you two put the song together?
Caesar & Loui: We started with the drum pattern. We wanted something really up-tempo and uplifting. Something that would steal your attention.
After that we came up with the chorus melody and synth chords together. Felt really cool with having chords coming in and out on the track like it is in the final version as well.
Then we wrote the rest of the melodies in about 30 minutes actually and also the rest of the track came together really fast.
The lyrics was the hardest part on this one, but that’s actually not there anymore since they have changed into Korean (lol).
BD: What was your favorite part of the song to work on?
Caesar & Loui: The melodies and drums, especially in the chorus. It was fun to put those pieces together.
BD: What did you think about the song when you heard it for the first time? Was it what you would have expected it to sound like?
Caesar & Loui: It was even better! Super happy about the result. SM Entertainment always releases great sounding material.
BD: Now that the song’s out, what’s your favorite part of the song? Do you have a favorite vocal performance?
Caesar & Loui: The rap part is really cool! But also the chorus sounds smashing!
BD: One part of Red Flavor that really stood out to me was the heavily edited vocal sample that plays throughout the song. Was that added in by you guys, and if so, who is it?
Caesar & Loui: Great question (lol)! This is actually Louis’s voice that we tweaked and played around with.
BD: Another song you’ve had a hand in was “All Night” by Girls’ Generation, and it’s gotten a great reception. The song has two music videos, and both got over a million views in such a short amount of time. And it’s an important song for the group, too, especially with it being one of two title tracks off of their 10th anniversary album. It must be a big deal, to have produced a lead single for one of the biggest K-Pop groups of all time. How does it feel to be a part of that project?
Caesar & Loui: This song means so much to us. One of our goals when we started writing K-pop was to have a Girls’ Generation single, so we are very happy right now. It’s a great honor to have the lead single of this album.
BD: Going back to your catalogue as a whole, what’s your favorite song you’ve produced for a K-Pop artist or group?
Caesar & Loui: Actually, it’s Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor,” (lol)! Love the energy in the song, it makes you happy.
BD: And, what’s was the most rewarding song you’ve produced?
Caesar & Loui: I think “Hyde” was actually one of the most rewarding ones for our career. It was a breakthrough for VIXX, and also for us. Our name became popular in South Korea, so we got to travel there and so on to write with other writers and artists.
BD: For your next collaboration, is there a specific artist or group you’d like to work with the most?
Caesar & Loui: EXO would be amazing to work with!
BD: Do each of you have any favorite producers in the K-Pop scene?
Caesar & Loui: Will Simms is an amazing producer and songwriter who actually was one of the first producers we heard in the K-pop genre with Girls’ Generation’s “I Got A Boy.” We have actually worked with him a couple of times and he is an amazing guy!
Also, the producers behind EXO’s “Growl” are amazing! That track is crazy good!
And also Ollipop, who is our great friend makes sick beats! You can always tell when there is a “Ollipop” track pumping through the speakers!
BD: And for my last question, is there anything you’d like to say to fans and supporters of your work? Anyone you’d like to mention and shout out?
Caesar & Loui: Thanks to all the fans that keep listening and dancing to our music, it means so much to us. And none of this could be possible without our amazing, amazing family “The Kennel,” which is our label that we’re signed to. Keep it groovy folks!