The origin of music is imitation. Imitation is not simply a copy of natural objects or the actions of others. It is an experience in which the emotions felt are reproduced by dancing and singing in groups, and the emotions are transferred between people. Today, music has made its function clearer. People listen to music when they want to feel various emotions, such as when they are sad or happy or when they need comfort. The SMT reporter met 'danke,' a lyricist team that expresses comfort and with whom listeners can connect.
Before starting the interview, please give a brief introduction to SMWU students.
Hello, we're 'danke,' a lyricist team composed of three members of the same age. Since we debuted as lyricists in 2016~2017, we have been working as a team since 2018. We participated in writing 200 songs including BTS's 'Filter,' NCT 127's 'Highway to Heaven' and 'Kick It,' TAEMIN's 'Criminal,' Red Velvet's 'Good, Bad, Ugly,' TXT's '0X1 = LOVESONG (I Know I Love You),' ENHYPEN's 'TFW (The Feeling When)' and LE SSERAFIM's 'Sour Grapes.'
First, you decided on becoming a team after writing the lyrics individually. Please tell us the reason for forming a team.
We met as students in a class at a songwriting academy. During this period, we each debuted as lyricists and then worked as individual lyricists. A few months later, this studio life came to an end for bad reasons, but all three of us thought, "If we work together as a team, we will be able to create synergy in many ways." So, after our concerns were resolved, we decided to officially form a team together, named 'danke.'
We heard that the team name 'danke' has an ambiguous meaning. Could you explain it?
The word 'danke' means "thank you" in German, but the meaning of our team's name is a little different. When we were at the beginning stage as individual lyricists, we went through a lot of hardships together. Thinking about that time, it was very hard, but eating carrot cake comforted us a lot. After a hard time, we launched our team by eating carrot cake during the first launching ceremony. So, we decided to name the team 'danke.' But there are also other reasons too. When the Korean pronunciation of 'danke,' which stands for carrot cake, was written in the alphabet, the meaning of it in German took our fancy, so we chose this as the team's name with an ambiguous meaning.
Does each member have a role when making a song? If you write the lyrics together, we would like to know the role of your work.
Since forming the team, we have tried a lot of different methods in the process. Through trial and error, now we do not divide into parts to complete a song's lyrics. When receiving a demo song, everyone shares their opinions on the concept and theme together. According to our opinions, one person takes over and makes a draft of the lyrics that have been completed from beginning to end. After that, everyone revises the lyrics and submits it to the final submission. So, we can say that everyone participates in writing lyrics.
We think a high level of concentration is needed when writing lyrics. Do you have any routines when writing lyrics?
Wuhyun: Listen to the artist's previous albums and look for videos that might be helpful. I don't think it's a time to be idle.
Subin: I do simple and trivial things that have nothing to do with lyrics just before it is time to concentrate. There's nothing specific like suddenly organizing a messy desk or cleaning a dusty mirror. I don't know why this method works, but it seems to help as a warm-up exercise to gradually increase concentration.
Heejoo: I tend to check feedback while organizing the songs that have been released throughout the year. I compare it to the goal of the year and boost myself up by saying, "You have been doing well," or "I should do better next time."
We want to know what the most memorable song is among all the songs you have written and the reason.
We tend to think that all the lyrics that we write are meaningful rather than one song. But there are songs that deeply move us every time we listen. 'C'est La Vie (That's LIFE!),' a song from Girls' Generation's YURI's first solo album, is like that. It's a song that brought us back to the beginning of 'danke.' Moreover, it also motivates us to work harder and better especially, while watching the recent SMTOWN concert and listening to Girls' Generation's 15th anniversary album.
How do you want the public to feel while listening to danke's lyrics?
We want people to fully feel the emotions that the song is singing. If it's a song that talks about "The exciting beginning," we hope people listen to it and get excited together. If it's a song with a message that we'll continue to move forward without despair, we want people to have a strong will to move forward after listening to the song. We think that is what all the lyricists want the listeners to feel while writing the lyrics.
We heard that composers often work as a team, but lyricists don't. Are there any difficulties that you expected when you formed the lyricist team?
There were a few difficulties with teamwork. It has a lot to do with the motivation of the team I mentioned above, so we started to get to know a lot about each other together. We all live in the same space, and we solve problems together, so we know a lot about each other's work styles and ethics. Sufficient discussion and agreement were made regarding income. Also, it is important to hold a general meeting once a year and to express opinions on necessary discussions without holding back. When we formed the team in the beginning, our situation was not good, so it seems that the biggest driving force was the unity of comradeship.
Then, since you worked as a team instead of individuals, what were the advantages of being different from other lyricists?
I think the speed and number of songs we can work on are the advantages. When two or more different ideas come to mind after listening to the requested song, individuals often must choose one because of the limitation of the deadline. However, we have three team members, so we can complete various drafts. Likewise, we can complete a song on time as much as possible, even if we are getting close to the deadline.
Comparing your first work with the recent work, the style and popular trend that the company and artists want to have probably changed a lot. What is the biggest change?
Just as there's a saying that trends come back around, the trend of lyrics is similar. When we started the team, there were a lot of conceptual and abstract lyrics. But recently, people prefer more natural lyrics. For example, there are daily life lyrics that seem like talking to a friend or a lover daily. Also, the other big change that I can mention is "a confident expression of oneself." In recent lyrics, there are many speakers who lead their lives independently and do not hesitate to express themselves.
You've tried a lot of concepts. What kind of concept do you want to try in the future?
We really want to write the lyrics for a heartbreaking ballad. Since we mainly focus on idol songs, we didn't have many opportunities to meet the genre itself. In addition, trot, which has recently caused a sensation, is also very interesting. Also, it would be great if all the members could collaborate with hip-hop artists who enjoy rap work.
You communicate the process with fans on your YouTube channel, "danksdanke," and do various things as well as write lyrics. Do you have any further plans or ultimate goals you would like to achieve?
Our goal was always simple. Survive as long as we can in this industry at our current output. That's why we started the YouTube channel, "danksdanke." We thought that if we could promote our existence even a little more, we would be given a wider range of opportunities, and that would help maintain our team. Anyway, the first goal remains the same. Even when we turn 40 to 50, we will survive as lyricists who work in the field, and we will continue to maintain our present concentration and output.
Is there a book, movie, or any special tip you can recommend to students who want to become lyricists?
I think it's better to consume as many books, movies, exhibitions, or travel as you can. You are young people in your 20s who are ready to accept anything. Various stimuli are accumulated in various forms within yourself. However, it does not immediately replace the idea or inspiration of the songwriting. For those who dream of becoming songwriters and want to achieve more practical results, I recommend that you start examining the new albums released every day and the discography of the major artists under the major labels. It is also essential to have a deep interest in popular culture, including music. It's at the forefront of the industry. This is because issues that seem to have nothing to do with lyrics are reflected in them. Implication issues are a case in point. In some cities in the United States, there are shooting incidents, so it might be requested to avoid words reminiscent of that in the lyrics.
People often say that it's hard to find a job that one likes. Is there any advice you want to give to people who think a job is an obligation and are worried that they might hate it?
When we are at a crossroads between doing or not doing this job, we have to rely on our determination. The moment you get to work, you cannot expect only positive things that are fun and rewarding, but rather, you might inevitably suffer more and more because you love it and want to be very good at it. Apart from our love for K-pop and love for writing lyrics, this has become a job, so we sometimes fall into a routine, where we don't want to listen to any songs. But you have to continue because it's your job and your livelihood. Rather than thinking that your love for it will disappear, you should approach it more realistically.
We heard that you've written 200 songs since 2018. What were the last four years like?
To put it briefly, we think it was a tough time with a stressful atmosphere. All three of us worked really hard making writing lyrics the priority over everything else, including putting in time and effort. Also, emotionally, we think it's a time when we've grown steadily, working hard mentally together just like Antarctic penguins help each other when they're tired, and amplifying our ambitious energy together many times over when we're happy. We don't think that feelings and attitudes will change much in the future.
Lastly, are there any final words you would like to leave for Sookmyungians?
Please try to engage with anything. Especially, don't be afraid of going out of your comfort zone. We started writing lyrics at a late age, so we were scared. We felt that we were being forgotten even though other people had settled down stably. However, we felt that we were right in choosing what we wanted without becoming stable at that time. Even if you do a job and fail, it will be a foundation. Therefore, we hope you become women who don't hesitate to be ambitious.
- The K-pop lyricist team (2018~)
- Composed of Kim Subin, Park Wuhyun, and Lee Heejoo
- Wrote a total of 200 songs
Kim Seol Yunha / Culture Section Editor
Lee Gayun / Reporter