All visual and audio media courtesy of SM Entertainment and Charli Taft
By: Hannah Waitt
Charli Taft has written for some of your Kpop faves, and now, she’s stepping out on her own. The UK singer-songwriter just released “Love Like You,” a slick R&B girl power anthem complete with glossy production and a catchy, sassy hook. Having written hits for Kpop artists like Red Velvet, Girls’ Generation, Taemin, LOONA, and more for the past four years, Charli is now taking steps towards beginning her own career in the spotlight, beginning with the release of her SM Station track. Charli took the time to talk to us about her experience working with SM for her new release, her biggest inspirations, and working with Kpop artists.
How did you end up participating in the “SM Station” series?
I was in Copenhagen working on new songs when representatives from SM were in town visiting various studios. During a lunch meeting, one of the A&Rs from SM asked me if I wanted to be a featured artist on the new season of ‘Station’ and so I played them my new material straight away! They happened to love “Love Like You” and I was really excited about collaborating!
What’s the story behind your single, “Love Like You”?
“Love Like You” is a girl power anthem – it’s like a break up song with sass and sultriness. The musical elements came together first with this song, so I was inspired to come up with the lyrics and concept by the groove and the mood of the chords. The whole song has a lot of attitude and it’s about moving on from a bad relationship and feeling good about yourself again.
You’ve got an awesome ’90s R&B and pop vibe to your sound – who are your musical influences?
I’m totally inspired by R&B / Hip Hop from the 90s and 2000s. To me, it was a golden age of talent and skill and it honestly comes really naturally for me to write that way. Some of my favourite female artists are Faith Evans, Coko from SVW, Mariah Carey, Anita Baker, Brandy, Athena Cage, Karyn White, Aaliyah and Janet Jackson. On the production side, I love Babyface, Rich Harrison, J Dilla, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis – and Teddy Riley, whom I was also lucky enough to work with a couple of years ago!
Kpop music videos are part of what allowed the genre to really blow up all over the world. They’re known for being high in production value, vibrant, and over the top – what was it like shooting a full scale music video with SM Entertainment, one Kpop’s most prestigious record labels/production houses?
It was amazing! We had a one-day shoot in Seoul and I loved every minute of it. There was a great crew / styling team and a female director. I literally died when I saw the neon sign they had made for me – I really wanted to take it home!! I also love anything pink so that was perfect!
How did the retro gaming concept come about for the MV? As the artist did you feel you had control over the direction of the music video, or was it more like everything had already been prepared in advance and you just had to jump in?
I’d initially sent some ideas to SM about the kind of video I had in mind. I was lucky that they actually took my ideas and elaborated on them in their storyboard so I’d say it was collaboration. I was ultimately very open minded to have the full Kpop video experience, done in the SM way.
Did you come to Seoul to film? What were your first impressions of Korea?
I did travel to Seoul to film. I’d been in SM studios for a week working on new songs and I rounded off the trip with the video shoot! It was such a full and inspiring week! That was actually my 5th trip to Korea so I’m pretty familiar with how amazing and vibrant the vibe is over there!
What did you know about Kpop before you became a “Station” artist? Any artists or groups you’re a fan of?
I’ve been writing songs for various Kpop groups for about 4 years now so I try to keep up to date with what’s happening! I’m obviously biased in saying I’m a Red Velvet fan but I also like EXO & BoA. Outside of SM, I’m a fan of rapper E-Sens, singer Dean and I love the work of artist/producer Jinbo. I just think Korean music is really exciting and innovative right now!
What made you want to participate in the “SM Station” series?
I’d been checking out the project for a while and I was impressed at how cool and diverse the featured artists were each week. I thought it would be a great platform for my R&B sound, and a nice way to give something back to the fans who’ve been supporting my work as a songwriter!
It hasn’t been long since your video dropped, but have you found that you’ve gained more fans after releasing a single under SM? From a PR perspective, do you think you benefitted from participating in the “Station” series?
I’ve definitely received more attention as an artist! I feel like it’s been a great platform to reach people that were perhaps already fans of my work but couldn’t put a face to a name. That’s been so valuable!
From an artistic/career perspective, what did you learn after working with SM Entertainment?
First of all, I’m extremely grateful to SM for the opportunity! Fundamentally, I think I’ve learned that music is truly universal, regardless of race, age or culture.
You wrote “Time Slip” and “Automatic” (a known fan fave) for Red Velvet – any other songwriting/production credits we should know about?
I’ve been lucky enough to be included in so many great projects! For the Red Velvet girls I’ve written, “Cool, Hot, Sweet Love”, and “Something Kinda Crazy”. Other credits include “Ace” for Taemin, “Lips” for Girls’ Generation and recently “Hush” for S.E.S. I’ve also just written two singles for LOONA – “Eclipse” and “Puzzle”.
The weekly “SM Station” releases encourage collaboration between Kpop artists and non-Kpop artists from all over the world – if you could put together a collaborative single and MV with one Kpop artist in the future who would it be?
I would love to work on a duet with Dean – I think our styles would be a great fit musically! Also, I think a collab with Amber from f(x) would be awesome – she’s really cool!
In addition to “Love Like You,” you’ve also got a track called “Pieces” and a collab with producer/DJ team Blonde – can we expect more music from you soon?
Of course! I’m constantly working on new music so I’ll definitely be putting together an EP or a mini album for release this year. I definitely feel like it’s my time to make a mark on the industry.
You’re from the UK, but you’ve obviously already gained an Asian following with the release of “Love Like You” with SM – where will you be looking to promote your music in the future?
I’ll be learning from this experience and taking a global approach to releasing my music in the future – home in UK, USA and now Korea. I want my R&B sound to find it’s home, wherever that may be. I have so much more to give as an artist so I just want to reach as many people as possible and continue to do my thing!
Do you have a message for all of the Kpop fans out there who are now Charli Taft fans thanks to your “SM Station” release?
Just a big “thank you” for supporting my music and embracing me as an artist! I’m truly grateful to be able to contribute to KPop music culture and I’m so excited to bring you more great songs in the future!