K-Pop Boy Band EXO’s Latest Album The War Breaks Records -Music Producer Wassily Gradovsky In An Exclusive Interview

If you take a look into the eastern side of the world’s music market, you won’t find many bands that are more iconic and trendsetting than EXO. They are constantly selling millions of albums, and their latest work The War is no an exception. The album broke records on the Asian music market, selling over 800.000 copies in pre-sale surpassing the million mark soon after the release. The War topped the iTunes charts in 51 countries and held on to the number 1 spot on the US Billboard World Album charts for 2 weeks. One of the songs on the album, Walk On Memories, was produced by German newcomer Wassily Gradovsky.

First of all, congratulations on this release with the legendary EXO! What is it like being part of something that millions of people listen to?

Thank you! It is a truly fulfilling and exciting thought! Having worked many years on planting this seed of music, it’s very satisfying to see it grow to amazing results like this. I would have never thought that a million people would ever listen to a song that I had created. I’m basically living a dream now and excited about the further steps that await me in my career as a producer and composer!

How long did it take the song from being first recorded as a demo to making it to a released EXO album?

Oh, it actually took ages! Shortly after the demo was finished, EXO seemed to show interest in the song. But there were no further updates on this for another two years or so… me and my co-writer Justin Reinstein kept being told that the song was supposed to be on their new album, but it was never confirmed. So up until the end we didn’t know if it would actually be on the album! Then, EXO finally announced the album, releasing video teasers for each album song, one video per day. They had released teasers for each song except ours, and there was one last video teaser to go. So Justin and I were very scared that our song wouldn‘t make it. The next day, I clicked on the final teaser, and a snippet of Walk On Memories started playing. It felt like winning a lottery, haha! Justin already joked that they probably teased us on purpose.

Sounds like a Hollywood Movie scenario, indeed! Tell me about the creation of Walk On Memories!

It started like most of the K-Pop songs that I was part of. At the time of creation, I was very lucky to do an internship at Mussashi Publishing in Berlin, Germany, working with  legendary K-Pop composer Albi Albertsson. He was just starting to teach me about K-Pop and J-Pop because I have rarely done anything in this genre. On one of my first days of the internship, I started making this instrumental, which was based on a piano loop that I recorded on my phone. I layered the recording with an electric piano and build some simple drums around it. It turned into a very relaxed, pretty and dreamy R&B track. The chords were a little bit Jazz-flavored and I topped the arrangement with a nice little modulation in the final chorus, taking the track to a different key. All in all, it became a laid back K-Pop ballad track, which Albi instantly liked, and sent it to Justin, whom he recently signed for Mussashi Publishing at the time. Justin quickly came up with an amazing vocal top line, that perfectly fit onto the instrumental. Albi and I loved it, and shortly after the song made it’s way to EXO’s label.

Wow, so it seems that everything came together really quickly?

Yes, exactly! From my experience, the songs that are finished the quickest, end up being the best ones. Because you are just able to capture the feeling instantly without overthinking for weeks and weeks. But it probably depends on the situation.

It’s not your first cut in Asia, you were also part of 100%’s single Warrior. Any further plans for your future in K-Pop?

Absolutely. I am still working with Mussashi Publishing, Albi and Justin, and I’m sure that more songs will see the light of day soon!

What about the US market?

The US market is definitely my ultimate goal. I’ve always been listening to US music and even the K-Pop tracks that I make are highly influenced by american urban and R&B artists. At the moment I’m working hard on connecting the right dots in LA and getting the best out of my songwriting sessions there!

Good luck with that! Hope to hear more of your music soon!

Thank You!

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