Redefining the Studio Experience: The Style And Process of Acclaimed K-Pop Producer Alawn
"A clean, modern and aesthetic place is essential for me; it allows me to fully free my mind and lose track of time when writing music"Alawn is a multi-platinum producer with more than 21 Billboard #1 chart entries to his name, who is one of the most in-demand producers/writers globally.
Crafting award-winning musical scores in any genre requires inspiration, discipline, and the proper equipment. However, what more does it take in a genre that spans across cultures, time, and styles of production? In a recent interview with K-Pop producing icon, Alawn Music, we dove into the process, unraveling a colorful story of Alawn's musical journey, his workspace, and wisdom he imparts to those desiring to pursue production.
Over the past decade, Alawn has worked projects for
the name-brand musical powerhouses, produced Billboard #1 albums around the world, was nominated for Arranger of the year at the Asian Music Awards 2021, and joined the Les Paul Foundation alongside an advisory board of Rock n' Roll legends. However, all journeys begin with a single step. Alawn began his career at a young age, falling in love with music while attending concerts with his father.
This love grew into a passion. Alawn began teaching himself the instruments necessary to create his own musical scores, like piano, bass, guitar, and drums. After establishing a strong foundation in the art of music, he began his professional career as an Artist/DJ, signed to divisions of Universal Music, Sony Music, and Ultra Records while producing and mixing records for artists such as Flor Rida, Snoop Dogg, Jasmine V, Jacob Latimore, Gucci Mane and Carl Thomas to name a few. Over the years, Alawn continued to refine his skills, and the effort paid off. Universals, Hollywood Records, MTV, Dreamworks, Warner Chappell, and Sony ATV commissioned Alawn to create scores, leading to a trip to Seoul, South Korea in 2019 for a SM Entertainment writing camp.
It was during this time Alawn discovered a calling to produce within the genre he currently excels: K-Pop. A global phenomenon, K-Pop has delivered a ground-breaking style of music, dance, and presentation that has transformed the industry. K-Pop enjoys a dedicated fanbase, designs avant garde music videos, and invents viral dance trends. However, the sensation boils down to one vital element: the music. Experimental combinations of cross-genre anthologies offer a challenge to even the most skilled producer.
Throughout his tenure in the genre, Alawn won "Song of the Year" at the 4 biggest Award Shows in Asia and received a nomination for “Arranger Of The Year” at the Asian Music Awards.
"I have been heavily involved in K-Pop for almost 4 years now and have had so much fun working on so many different projects. It’s incredible to witness the global reach of K-Pop and it’s impact worldwide," Alawn noted. "Musically, it differs quite a lot from Western music. I often describe it as being '10 songs in 1.' It’s so much more dynamic and diverse, often mixing different genres within the same song through it’s unique and different sections, modal changes and elaborate, perfectly crafted toplines."
What does the creative process look like for a top K-Pop producer? We were curious as well. While distilling his process into words, Alawn remarked "it usually always starts with a simple melody that I hear in my head. I will go through sounds while playing this melody on the keyboard until I hear something that really grabs my attention and sounds unique. From there I will build the full structure of the song (verse, pre chorus, chorus, bridge...)" After he establishes the outline, Alawn works back and forth with the artists to integrate the vocals, refine the score, and release the songs for the mainstream.
Even with a sound understanding of a topic, experts must dedicate themselves to the innovation and evolution within a subject to stay abreast of emerging trends. When we asked Alawn how he stays current and at the forefront of his field, he responded, "I try to always renew myself by using new sounds I haven’t used before and constantly listening to the music that comes out every week to stay up to date with what’s current and trending," reflecting the sentiment that pros must continually refine their skills to progress alongside their work.
Although any professional must tailor their working style to suit their specific craft, there are universal factors that apply to all skilled endeavors to achieve a state of flow. When contemplating his own creative process, Alawn reflected, "I think it’s very important when creating to be able to get each melody, idea or sound in your head down into your DAW as easy and fast as possible to not loose your creative flow. So knowing your tools really well and how to use them is very important, knowing which one to go to for each specific sound."
Here at Hexcal, we strive to understand, craft, and perfect the ideal workspace, so we have a natural curiosity about the effect the design a setup has on the outcome of work. So, we investigated the importance of Alawn's own desktop. He noted that "I also spent many years perfecting my recording studio and shaping it into a place I can really feel comfortable to create, both visually and practically. A clean, modern and aesthetic place is essential for me; it allows me to fully free my mind and lose track of time when writing music."
In our mission to learn more about the workspace and support creatives in their effort to refine their craft, we partnered with Alawn, providing him with a Hexcal Studio to assess and utilize to improve his setup. When asked about the Studio Effect, he commented that "it's sleek and modern look has visually improved my space and, more importantly, helped so much with cable management, which is crucial to me. I love the fact that I’m able to connect all my hardware devices into the back of the Studio Hexcal and being able to wirelessly charge my phone is an amazing addition."
Alawn remarked that the "cord storage chamber was an absolute game changer for me. I pay so much attention to cable management and keeping a well organized working space that this allowed me to do just that while being so aesthetically pleasing." Our engineers at Hexcal were estatic, as one of the fundamental dilemmas we sought to resolve when designing Studio was the frustration, time, and clutter attributed to cable management. Our creatives spent many hours and significant investment in our previous setups drilling holes into expensive desks, haphazardly concealing with tape out of sight, or simply living with the distracting mess before Studio's inception, which is why we set out to eliminate this annoyance once and for all.
Alawn provided additional insight on his method to design a home studio that enables and sustains his creative energy, noting "with the advancement of technology it is becoming more and more easy to create a great space to create in, and it’s a beautiful thing. All your need nowadays is a laptop, a midi keyboard and a pair of speakers/headphones. I will say that the most important thing if you are using speakers is the treatment in your room. Investing into acoustic panels makes an invaluable difference and will make your mixes so much better."
We know that the path to greatness in any field can be daunting, so we strive to inquire about proven strategies from successful creatives whenever we have the chance, both for our followers, and for ourselves. In regard to advice for aspiring music producers, Alawn imparted the following wisdom: "When starting out, I used to try and recreate my favorite productions and have them sound as close as possible to the originals, it’s a great exercise that will teach you many techniques and sound design tricks. Of course, networking and connecting with others is so important. When you feel ready and happy with your material, don’t be afraid to reach out to creatives you love." What wonderful advice, and if we can support the endeveors of any of our follows here at Hexcal, please feel free to reach out!
With K-Pop producing exciting and captivating music more than ever, Alawn has a full plate of exciting projects for us to look forward to. "As always, a lot of very exciting K-Pop releases are coming very soon with new artists I hadn’t worked with before. I’m also very excited to be performing live again after such a long break. Stay tuned for the announcement of my upcoming shows!"