Tell us about the creation of your first K-Pop track with Ian Kim, "Up In the Air" which is out now on Lacuna!
I've always wanted to work on a K-Pop track but just never knew where to begin. I consulted a few friends about this, and thankfully, a good friend of mine, who goes by FIXL, said he had someone in mind. I took a listen to Ian's old works and immediately fell in love with his ability to craft beautiful choruses, hooks, and small verse melismas. I immediately began crafting an instrumental and sent it over to FIXL, who acted as Ian's communicator and manager since I don't speak a word of Korean.
When I got back Ian's amazing vocals, I busied myself with re-working the instrumental start-to-finish to better encapsulate the emotion his voice conveyed. Beyond the fact that I love K-Pop, I found myself enthralled by the idea that someone on the other side of the world - who doesn't even speak the same language as me - can work with me on something as magical as a song.
You've been working with former CocoSori member, Sori on a collaborative project. What can you tell us about your work together and where the funding from the Kickstarter will go towards?
What advice and guidance would you give to prospective college students who also have a passion for music? What factors should they take into consideration when deciding whether to invest their time and money into schooling or straight into their desired career?
I think the biggest piece of advice I can give is to just try and learn as much as possible about the business-side as you do with the music-side. A lot of times, things also cost money so do be mindful of what you need vs. what you don't. For example, don't shell out $800 for a vocalist when you're just starting out, because nine out of ten times, you won't be able to recover that financial loss. The same goes for music equipment. My personal rule of thumb is: only buy it if it will increase the output quality in a necessary manner. If you aren't ready for it, then wait it out till you are.
In regards to education, I would consider myself a bit of an anomaly. Beyond producing music in my bedroom, I'm also a full-time student at New York University studying Music Technology. This past semester, I just finished a Joint Mathematics & Computer Science Minor and am working towards an Entertainment Business Minor. Partially due to my upbringing around very academia-focused people, I've come to value school and music as if they are my right and left-half of the brain. While there's nothing wrong with being a totally left-brain person, I find myself driven to be accessible and knowledgeable on both halves. As my parents have always told me, it's better to create opportunities than it is to eliminate them. I don't consider myself successful enough to neglect the career paths that my studies can also lead to, so I don't.
Also, I'm most motivated when I hang around people who are just as motivated, if not more so, than me. In school, my friends are those that work hard, but in a smart fashion. I don't like the phrase "work smart, not hard" because it implies that working smart requires little to no effort. That's not the case at all. In school, you have to work smart because of multiple time commitments, but you also have to work hard because a large portion of courses are on a curved grading system. You meet a lot of different people and find yourself in many different situations, and are required to just grow on the spot from it. I notice too many amateur producers stray away from school because they have premonitions on how it would never help them. My advice is: go to a school that actually is conducive of learning, but make it educational on your terms.
When you first decided to start producing, how did you go about finding your own sound?
It's an interesting story! I started producing music in the summer of eighth grade when I found out through a Google search that I shared the same birthday, September 8th, as Avicii. At the time, I had no idea what EDM was or anything about it, but I soon became obsessed with house music and the stuff that was being played at festivals around the time. As time progressed, I grew out of the house music production realm and began experimenting all over the place, finding myself feeling more attached to future bass and trap.
Before I debuted under my Folded Dragons alias, I actually spent a solid two years just producing various genres of music. I started out in house, but tried hip hop, dubstep, trap, trance, and others. While I was experimenting, I also thought about what my alias name would represent and what the design would be. I have to thank my friend Ruth for helping me come up with the name "Folded Dragons." Similar to how the name's story is of my childhood love for folding origami and dragons, I wanted the music made to be representational of my roots in classical music.
What can you tell us what you've got planned for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
I've got a lot of music planned out to release in 2019, and am working on a multitude of collaborations with other producers! Also, for Korean music fans, there is a song in the works with a good friend of mine who goes by the name Grazy Grace!
Thanks to Folded Dragons for taking the time to answer our interview questions! Be sure to follow him on social media using the links below!
Chris W. Lao
Writer, DJ, and Student.
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