Images courtesy of SAARA
The original version of this interview was posted August 24, 2015
By: Hannah Waitt
Finnish singer SAARA is a viral YouTuber who has transitioned into a viral hit-maker. SAARA made a name for herself in 2014 when she uploaded her “What Languages Sound Like To Foreigners” video to YouTube, garnering over 18 million views and drawing attention to her vocal talents on her other YouTube videos.
Now, she’s breaking into Kpop, gifting Girls’ Generation with their latest single, “You Think.” We caught up with SAARA to talk about the “You Think” songwriting process, working with Girls’ Generation, and her new single, “UR COOL.”
How did you end up working with Girls’ Generation?
I did a normal studio session like always. First of all, the song was supposed to be for me but after my manager Johannes talked with my A&R, at that time my music and sound was little different from the style of “You Think,” so Johannes got it through his connections to Korea and SM Entertainment.
Can you tell us about the song you wrote for the group, “You Think”?
The song is about a person who you thought was your friend but is actually not and has been talking a lot of shit behind your back, and the chorus just basically says that: “You think you’re real cool, but you’re not.”
What was the songwriting process like? Were you working directly with any of the members of Girls’ Generation?
No, I wasn’t directly working with any of the members in the studio but I actually met all the girls at their dancing class and Stephanie (Tiffany) personally. In LA before flying to Korea I also [met some staff] from SM Entertainment and they are just fantastic people!
You got your start on YouTube doing gibberish impressions of “What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners.” Did you try out any Korean gibberish on Girls’ Generation?
No, I didn’t. When I saw them at their dancing lesson we just casually said hi. And I think Sunny mentioned she liked my manager’s jewelry lol.
On a more serious note, what was it like working through the Korean-English language barrier?
Not hard at all; the people who we worked with have great English, and Stephanie was talking really fine.
You obviously have an incredible voice and you’re used to singing solo, which gives you a lot of flexibility as to what you can sing. What was it like writing for 8 members, each with their own vocal color and skill level?
It was something I kept in mind the whole time. In the second studio session when I wrote the rap and the bridge I tried to keep that in mind with the harmonies as well.
From wheels down in Seoul to wheels up to go home, what was the most challenging part of the entire “You Think” process?
I would say it all went quite nicely.
HELLO SEOUL! I love you. #seoul #southkorea #smentertainment #gg #girlsgeneration #snsd #exo #songwriter #SAARAdoingthings #coolthingshappening
A post shared by SAARA (@helloimsaara) on Jun 30, 2015 at 4:06am PDT
The most fun part of it?
Meeting the girls and traveling to Korea, seeing the music video and hearing it in the Korean language for the first time.
Do the lyrics of the Korean version of the song convey the same meaning as the original English version?
Pretty much, they’re a bit different but the idea is there for sure.
Which members of Girls’ Generation were you most impressed by while you were writing and recording?
Like I mentioned, I met them briefly but Stephanie was like my sister!
When you got the call to fly over to Seoul to work with them, were you aware of how massively famous the group is?
Yes, I knew that.
In the same way that YouTube kick-started your career, YouTube is also largely responsible for facilitating the spread of K-pop all over the globe. After experiencing it firsthand, what do you think it is about K-pop that people all over the world love so much?
I think the happiness, energy and innocence. They have great fans!
Girls’ Generation is known to joke around a lot when they’re all together; do you have any funny stories from being in the studio with all of them?
Well in my English version of the song, the last word from the bridge doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s gibberish lol, A Korean person changed it to the real word afterwards hahahaha! I couldn’t come up with anything so I just sang something random there when we recorded.
Are there any other K-pop groups that you would like to work with if you had the chance?
I’m doing songs already for many of them, would love to meet EXO and Red Velvet.
songwriting is so awesome. brings you to new amazing people everyday! 💡 #exo #suho #henrylau #SMentertainment
A post shared by SAARA (@helloimsaara) on Oct 23, 2015 at 3:23am PDT
Lastly, is there anything that you want to say directly to Girls’ Generation and to their fans?
Keep fighting, you are great!! Also go check my video “UR COOL”!!!
Check out SAARA’s new single “UR COOL” below, and be sure to stick around moonROK for more exclusive interviews like these.