– Nico H.
Red Velvet haven’t exactly been playing hard to get in 2017. In just this year alone, they’ve had three huge comebacks, starting with Rookie back in February, and The Red Summer in July. Now, the group has come back yet again, topping off their busy year with a bang.
Perfect Velvet is their newest release, and their second full-length album, following their first full-length album The Red in 2015. And like previous releases before it, the album isn’t complete without a new hit title track. “Peek-A-Boo” is a bombastic track with a modern production style and heavy, booming drums. The perfect foundation for Red Velvet’s personality and harmonies to shine through. Coupled with the haunted house concept of the music video, “Peek-A-Boo” sits comfortably among the K-Pop group’s already varied and unique discography.
And the team behind this instrumental is Moonshine, a duo hailing from Stockholm, Sweden. This is their first release for a K-Pop group, but they aren’t exactly rookies when it comes to the industry.
To get a better sense of the duo and the instrumental they produced, I asked Moonshine a few questions about their hit song, and what it’s like to have their K-Pop debut on Red Velvet’s second full-length album. Enjoy, everybody.
BD: Before we start, can I have you guys introduce yourselves?
Moonshine: We’re Moonshine, a producer and track-making duo consisting of Ludvig Evers and Jonatan Gusmark. We’re based in Stockholm, Sweden. And we’re 22 and 23 years of age, respectively.
BD: How did Moonshine come together, and where did the name come from?
Moonshine: We met each other while studying music. We were in the same class in a school called ‘Musikmakarna,’ which is a songwriting and production school up in the north of Sweden. We were about to have our first internship as producers at the same publishing label and kinda found each other and decided to do the internship together. We didn’t know one another before then, so it was really a wild shot but we got together perfectly. Our partnership started by making tracks and writing songs for minor national artists and took it from there.
Our name came about as a joke when we sent in a demo to our internship publisher with the team name ‘Moonshine.’ But then it kinda stuck with us.
BD: Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
Moonshine: We both come from a background in electronic music, but from different angles. Ludvigs comes from analog synth music and Hip-hop and R&B, with acts such as Kraftwerk, Röyksopp, The Roots, and Neo, while Jonatan comes from big room house and dubstep, as well as death metal, influenced by artists like Skrillex, Diplo, In Flames, and Meshugga. However, we both like pop music in general and feel really influenced by Swedish producers like Max Martin, and Bloodshy & Avant.
BD: Were you familiar with K-Pop before you were asked to make a song for K-Pop group?
Moonshine: Yeah, we started to write and produce K-pop about three years ago, shortly after we got together. And we both had listened a lot to K-pop long before we actually started to do it ourselves.
BD: What are your favorite K-Pop groups? Any particular songs you like?
Moonshine: We have a few actually, we really like Red Velvet – of course – with “Russian Roulette” and “Dumb Dumb” as our favorite songs. EXO is another favorite of ours with songs like “Monster” and “Ko Ko Bop.” Taemin’s “Danger” is amazing, as well as Dean who has a really amazing voice and musical style! But right now we’re crazy about “Cherry Bomb” by NCT 127.
There’s many more, but we guess that those would be our favorites for the moment, at least.
BD: How were you approached to work on Peek-A-Boo?
Moonshine: We got a brief from SM about writing for a female girl group, so we, Cazzi Opeia, and Ellen Berg got together for a whole week to make songs for the brief and that was when Peek-A-Boo was born.
BD: Is this Moonshine’s first song made for a K-Pop group?
Moonshine: This is our first released song for a K-pop group, but we’ve made lots of songs before Peek-A-Boo came about.
BD: What was your process when making the instrumental for Peek-A-Boo? Who worked on the different parts of the instrumental?
Moonshine: Jonatan actually started really briefly on the general chord progression – heard in the intro and verses – on the train to the session. Then we thought the rough idea had something special about it, and we started to produce the rest of the instrumental, while simultaneously writing melodies and lyrics. Often when we produce we’re involved in everything together, so it’s really hard to pinpoint who did what.
BD: Was there a specific sound or style you were trying to go for with Peek-A-Boo? Or did it happen to come about naturally, in the process?
Moonshine: We always like to mix multiple genres in order to find a unique sound. When we started producing it and choosing sounds we had an idea of a ”haunted house” vibe from the chord progression, so we wanted to take a spin on that theme soundwise, while still keeping it up-tempo and pop.
BD: With Peek-A-Boo, there’s definitely elements of tropical house in the instrumental, which is a trendy sound nowadays. How did you try to make this instrumental unique, and stand out among the rest?
Moonshine: Many people have said the song has key elements of tropical house, this wasn’t really our intention. However, the drop and chorus is, as we said before, a combo of multiple genres, that’s what we feel really makes the production unique. We also made all the sounds from scratch in order to not sound generic.
BD: Another part of the song that immediately jumped out at me were those booming drums. How did you manage to get that particular sound?
Moonshine: Honestly we just squeezed it with compressors and distortion. A great way to make things pop immediately (lol).
BD: Did you know that you were making a song for Red Velvet, or that it would be the main single off of their second full-length album?
Moonshine: The brief wasn’t really intended for Red Velvet, but when the song started to take the form, we realized that it would work really well for Red Velvet. Actually, we’re big fans of RV and we felt like this song had the same kind of quirky vibe as our favorite song by them, “Russian Roulette.” So we changed direction and aimed it more towards RV.
BD: What does it feel like to have your first song with a K-Pop group be on their second full album, and was there any pressure to have the song live up to any perceived expectations?
Moonshine: It feels amazing, when we first heard about Red Velvet wanting the song we didn’t know that it’s was going to be the title track or that it would be on a full-length album. So we got super excited when they told us! But we absolutely felt pressure, RV has made a lot of really good songs made by amazing songwriters, so we wanted Peek-A-Boo to live up to that.
BD: When the music video dropped, it surpassed 3 million views in less than 24 hours. How has the reception to the song been for you guys?
Moonshine: Honestly, we’re blown away by how much people seem to love the song but at the same time the girls really made the song perfect, so we’re not surprised. Also, the music video has the ‘spooky’ concept the song was intended for from the beginning and we think that really glues the video and music together.
BD: So, now that the song is out, what was your reaction to hearing the full version? And seeing Red Velvet dance to your instrumental?
Moonshine: Hearing the song with the Korean lyrics was so strange at first. We’ve been listening to a lot to our English demo so it took a while to get used to the finished song. But of course we’ve been freaking out watching the performance.
BD: What was your favorite part of the instrumental, and do you have a favorite vocal performance?
Moonshine: We don’t really have a favorite instrumental part since we made it, it would be bad if we didn’t like everything about the instrumental right (lol).
Regarding the vocal performance, it’s a tight race between Yeri amazing rap in the second verse! Wendy’s ad-lib into the last chorus and the ‘peek-a-boo’ hook in general, they make it sound so good!
BD: Was your experience producing for a K-Pop group different from producing for other acts, or for yourselves?
Moonshine: To be honest, we always approach making music in the same way. But the fun thing about writing K-pop is that you can do a little more of everything. Especially when it comes to sounds, chords, and harmonies.
BD: What was the most important thing you learned in this process? And how will you take what you learned going forward?
Moonshine: What we take away from “Peek-A-Boo” is that a K-pop song needs a good concept. You need that “thing” to make the whole song come together.
BD: Are there any other K-Pop groups you’d like to work within the future?
Moonshine: We would really love to take a crack at NCT 127 as well as Dean. But honestly, there’s a lot of amazing acts in K-pop, so there’s many more.
BD: And, I’d love to know, what’s on the horizon for Moonshine? Are there any other projects that we can look forward to?
Moonshine: Right now we’re doing a lot of really cool stuff. But we really love to write K-pop, and since we got serious Korean BBQ cravings, we’re hoping to spend more time in Seoul next year.
BD: Now, for my final question. Do you have any words for fans of Peek-A-Boo and your work? Also, if there’s anyone you’d like to shout-out, feel free to do so now.
Moonshine: Thank you so much for listening and dancing to our song! It’s amazing for us to see you guys enjoy something we created, 감사합니다!
And we really want to thank our publisher Ekko Music Rights, as well as SM Entertainment for all the amazing opportunities you’ve given us!