[Interview] Laura Brian, the composer/songwriter of Oh My Girl’s “Closer”

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Today we have something special for all the readers, which is an interview with Laura Brian, the composer and songwriter of Oh My Girl‘s “Closer.

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Hi, could you please introduce yourself to the Asian Junkie readers?

Hi there! My name is Laura Brian. I grew up in a small town on the Central Coast of California, where I currently still reside. I’m married to my high-school sweetheart, Matthew, and I’m a new and very proud mommy to Daxton.

How did you come across writing a song for Oh My Girl?

I originally planned on trying to become a singer, so I contacted a studio in Burbank and sent them some vocal demos. They responded back and told me that their talent manager wanted to work with me. It was through that that I started working with Sean Alexander, who worked at that studio at the time. We originally had started on another song other than “Closer”, but after several sessions and 16+ hours, I just wasn’t “feeling it” — at least as far as singing it myself went.

I came in to the studio one day and told him I wanted to start over … and that’s when “Closer” happened. Once we started writing, it’s like it just was flowing out. It was a really cool experience, because the song felt so natural — it was definitely a “muse” situation. I knew, from the start, that I wanted the song to have a dreamy feel– something beautiful, but also slightly eerie. So I gave Sean the chord progression I wanted to use, and also wrote the piano hook used in the song. Once we had the chord progression, we just sat in the studio playing it on repeat, humming out tons of different melodies that could fit. We went section by section until the song was finished. The song originally had a different feel (more of an R&B beat) because I was going to release it and try to shop it here, in the American song market. However, I decided that, as a 26-year-old, my chances of becoming a pop star were slim to none.

So I e-mailed him and said “let’s sell it.” He changed the instrumental and made it more upbeat to fit the K-pop market, then sent it to all of his contacts in the Korean entertainment industry.

Did you know much about the group before writing/selling the song to the group’s company? As in, the concept they were going for and all that?

I honestly knew nothing about the group beforehand. I had heard the song “Cupid“, but didn’t really follow at that point. Because of the song “Cupid”, I would have thought they would go for a more “cutesy” style for their second single, so I was really surprised when I heard that they had bought “Closer”! I had absolutely no idea what concept they were using with the song until the first teaser poster was released. I’m a Disney freak, so it made me 100 times more excited that they were using a fairy-tale concept.

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Once the song was out did you ever think it would become such a fan-favourite amongst the international audience?

I had no idea what to expect. I initially forced myself to not look at any of the comments or reviews at first. I’m not sure if it was because it was something that I wrote, and I’m naturally critical of myself, but it was my worst fear to see a bunch of bad comments on something I worked so hard on. But once I finally started reading the feedback and comments, I could breathe a huge sigh of relief. My favorite ones were those mentioning how different and refreshing the song is, and that it doesn’t sound like typical K-pop nowadays. That is my goal as a songwriter: to write music that is beautiful and artistically different. I really didn’t expect it to get the attention it did, so it’s pretty trippy to think that people all over the world are singing something that came out of my (and Sean’s) head.

Would you write for Oh My Girl again? If so, would it be a similar sound to “Closer” or would you challenge yourself with a different genre?

I would write again for them in a heartbeat! What I love about Oh My Girl is the sweetness of their vocals, which makes it easy to give them delicate, aesthetic melodies. I’m so excited that they’re building on the mysterious/fairytale feel. I’m really excited to hear “Liar Liar“! Personally, I would love to be able to write songs for any genre, but not get so sucked into the genre that it sounds like everything else. I really love listening to songs that are able to combine different styles to create something new.

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Moving on to more about you, how did you get into singing/songwriting in general?

I started singing at three years old, and started piano at seven years old. I spent my childhood training in classical piano and opera, so music is definitely something I’ve always had a major interest in. When I got to college, I decided to major in English so that I could become an English teacher. I definitely would have majored in music, but I was always under the impression that music doesn’t make money, and even if it did, I wouldn’t be good enough anyways. Now, I look back and kick myself! Hahaha. So, really, it just started as a hobby on YouTube making covers, and now miraculously it’s ended up here!

My writing process is a little all over the place. Generally, I start with a stylistic idea … then a “word” that goes with that style. For instance, I’m currently working on a bluesy-pop song … I chose the key word “oops” as my working title, because it’s cute and sassy-sounding. It helps me a lot, during the writing process, to keep the key word in mind, and keeps me from straying onto different sounds and subjects. Then, I come up with a chord progression, and play out the entire song in just chords. From there, I put each section on repeat and come up with five or six different melodies for each section. After I’m done, I go through the entire song and narrow it down to three melodies per section. Then two … then one … then that’s the actual melody used! I also have an app on my phone that allows me to record song ideas if they pop in to my head.

I would link some of my other songs, but they’re currently all out for sale! So for now, I have to keep them hidden.

I’m taking a wild shot here, but, I’m guessing you’re a fan of K-pop? When did you start listening to K-pop? Who are your favorites?

I am a huge fan of K-pop, and I first heard K-pop around 2011-12. I was playing an MMORPG called Aion, and ended up in a legion that was made up primarily of people who spoke Korean (I, obviously, did not!). They would play K-pop via voice-chat while we were doing raids and bosses, and that’s how I first heard about K-pop. SS501 is the group that got me sucked into it, but then I started listening to other groups such as Big Bang, 2NE1, and BEAST. I really love groups that experiment musically and mix genres. For example, 2NE1 mixes reggae style with pop sounds, Big Bang likes to mix 90s hip-hop style with current hip-hop style, and I like BEAST purely because of my inner fangirl.

Talking about inspiration, who inspires you daily as a musician/composer/songwriter?

My biggest inspiration and support would have to be my husband. He views songwriting as a true career and talent, and is constantly pushing me to keep going. There are so many times where I want to quit (because it really is tougher than it seems), but he is always telling me that I need to “make it happen.” In November, I had a baby boy, Daxton, who is now a huge inspiration as well. I want him to be able to look up to me and realize that, with enough work and patience, succeeding in your dream career actually is possible. Lastly, my biggest lifelong support has been my mom. She’s always seen something in me that I somehow was never able to see in myself. She’s always told me, “Laura, you can do anything. I wouldn’t just tell you that if it wasn’t true.” I always assumed that she was only saying it because she was my mom and she had to, but it really did give me the kick-in-the-butt I needed to get this whole thing rollin’!

Finally, any new or old idol groups you would like to work with in the future? Any companies that take your fancy working alongside with?

I would love to work with Oh My Girl again! I would also love for f(x) or SNSD to do one of my songs. As long as my song fits the group well, it would be awesome to work with any company. But, of course, YG Entertainment would be my number one pick, and SM Entertainment and CUBE Entertainment are up there on my list as well. I have quite a few songs going out for sale in the next couple of months, so it will be interesting to see what happens with them!

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Laura Brian: SoundCloud

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Betsy
Asian Junkie's resident boob demon & IATFB's favourite unnie.