Some of you may know that one of my other hats is as an author. Today’s post will give you a little glimpse into what I’ve been listening to for my latest Kdrama inspired novella series and my writing process as it relates to music.
Music is a huge part of my writing process, not only while I write, but to truly understand my main character I usually have to figure out what type of music they listen to. Then for the duration of writing the book, I tend to listen almost exclusively to that type of music. I even forced myself to listen to country music for three months because that’s what my character liked. This process has also added some very interesting channels to my Pandora and Spotify and introduced me to some amazing music I might never have listened to. Did you know that SiriusXM radio has Canadian stations that are exclusively in French? Unfortunately, they still do not have a Kpop station.
Since this series is about Kpop, I should probably talk mostly about my latest books series and the music I’ve been listening to. The first book in the series is set in the past and this one was a bit tricky since dance music doesn’t really evoke the feeling of historic Korea. My go to soundtrack is actually not Korean. It happens to be from one of my favorite animated series that is heavily influenced by many countries in Asia. Avatar the Last Air Bender and The Legend Of Korra were both animated by a Korean based company and the creators went to great lengths to infuse the show with customs and characters that were unique but also based on the cultures of China, Korea, Japan and others. Part of that came from the soundtrack. The moment the music comes on, I’m able to pull from the music and it helped me create some semblance of Korea in the past. The instruments they use make it so that even if you haven’t see the show, the music evokes a sense of Asia’s past.
This wasn’t my only influence for creating a fictional Korea where my main character had to pretend to be a boy and become king. A recent show that captured my heart and did so by using a phenomenal soundtrack was Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People. Not only do I think the songs were almost a character all by themselves, but when I write to this it convinces me that my characters could conquer the world.
I also just love the sound of older Korean songs. They speak to my soul.
In book two of the series we move from Korea to a present day boy group. For this I really had to be careful about what I listened to because writing and wanting to stop and watch the MV is too tempting. Usually I would just put on my Kpop station and let it play. Then their were times I needed to find visual inspiration and that’s when I’d give myself a little break and watch a few MVs. The first one helped me with the right concept for my boy band’s MV. My main character is from the past so he’s more comfortable with a sword or fan in his hand then a mic and I felt like VIXX’s Shangri-La had a beautiful visual with the fans. Plus, their fan dance mesmerizes me.
One hard part about writing about a boy band is describing the dance sequences. And I had a girl group dancing with the boys, which does happen in Kpop but not usually with the girl being equal to the boy. Then I remembered a group that I’d heard on my Kpop list and found one of summer favorites in K.A.R.D.’s Don’t Recall. Their songs are so much fun and I really love the mix of women and men in the same group.
Like I said, I have a girl group in my book and thankfully I discovered a new love for BLACKPINK. Their music is super catchy and the girls are adorable. I also like the visuals of this MV.
The third book follows one of the boy group members as he finds himself in a girl’s body about to enter into a contract marriage with a hot chaebol heir. For this one I really needed to explore the idea of the image a label creates for an artist vs their true identity. And this character was hiding a lot behind the idol mask. This is hard with Kpop because the labels put a pretty tight rein on their groups and don’t let them show who they really are most of the time. But one group that I feel tries to talk about real issues with their lyrics and show who they really are is BTS. Out of them, Yoongi aka Suga is the one that seems to not really like the idol game as much as the rest. In lyrics from a current song, he talks about always having to wear makeup just to make fans happy. My character is also the rapper of the group so when I saw that Yoongi put out a mixtape under the name August D, I had to check it out. This song talks about his success as an idol and the haters that made fun of him because he’s a rapper who does the whole idol thing, but I still felt like it helped me see the different sides of idols.
Last, this song just came out, but I also think it’s a glaring example of an idol who has an image that their company made for them and them branching out and showing their true colors. EXO has a tumultuous story when it comes to their Chinese members and the path that each of them have taken to freedom from SM. Lay is the last standing Chinese member in the group and it seems he’s come to an agreement that allows him to still be in EXO, but not really that active with them. I’ve liked the few solo songs Lay’s come out with over the last year or so, but this last one was just bursting with individuality and a personality from him that I’ve never seen. I hope that in the future, we get to see a lot more of the China Sheep.
These are just a few songs and things I do when I write. What things do you do in your life that require a soundtrack? Maybe it’s going to the gym, and the only thing that gets you to stay on the treadmill for one more mile is your favorite Kpop group. Or maybe your an artist that paints to the beat of BtoB. Who inspires your everyday life? Leave songs or groups in the comments. It doesn’t have to be Kpop either. Who knows, my next character may love Moroccan music for all I know.
Until the next comeback,
Drama Geek out!
Drama With a Side of Kimchi