Ahead of his Instagram takeover on the 26th August, we caught up with ADN Lewis to hear more about his K-pop projects, musical inspirations and dream collaborations.
For those who don’t you know, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Adien (pronounced like the letters A-D-N) Lewis, I’m a producer/singer-songwriter, originally from the DMV (DC, MD, VA) and I am based in LA now. I work a lot in K-Pop, notably with BTS, Taemin & SHINee, NCT Dream, Yuri/Girls Generation, etc.
How would you describe your style?
I think my style tends to shift a lot depending on my mood and the project, but I mainly make Electronic R&B and Pop vibes. Generally with my own music, I like to find the happy medium between light and airy and a full-on bass attack.
Who are your musical influences?
I have a lot. Way too many to list them all, but to name a few: Michael Jackson, Usher, Brandy, Imogen Heap, Pharrell, Ryan Tedder, Kanye, Rihanna and Jon Bellion.
How did you first get into music? How long have you been doing this?
I’ve been making music since I was in grade school technically. But professionally, I’ve been at it about 10 years now. My mom always had me in some kind of musical program from a young age (piano lessons, band, choir, church, etc.). After graduating high school, I moved to San Francisco to go to college for animation and vfx. I needed an outlet for my musical ideas, but I didn’t know anyone else who made music and had no connections at all. So I started a YouTube channel and began making covers to songs I liked. It turned out to be a great tool for learning production and songwriting because I could just sit down and analyze and pick apart all these songs and find out how to reproduce them in my own way. Eventually, my covers started gaining popularity and other YouTubers took notice and began hiring me to make songs for them. I would be flown down to LA for a weekend to work on music, then I’d fly right back to SF for the next week of classes. After doing that for a few years, I met industry vets Curtis Richardson and Reynold Martin (who now manage me), and we started writing and pitching songs to actual labels. My first major label placement was with Taemin from SHINee on SM Entertainment in Korea.
What does your songwriting process look like? Where does your inspiration come from?
I can get inspired from anything, really. It’s usually something happening in my life, my friends’ lives, or world events that sparks the initial lyric idea. I really enjoy metaphors and I try not to get too literal when I write lyrics. But to be honest, I’m a melody guy first and foremost. When songwriting, I pretty much always start with a melody (scratch vocal with gibberish words). Once the melody is strong and I can vibe with the arrangement, I’ll start adding lyrics and thinking of where I want to take the story.
Does your creative process differ when producing your own tracks compared to writing for someone else?
The process does differ slightly if I’m writing for someone else, but the goal is always the same: to make the best song I can at that moment. When producing for other artists, it’s important to me to try to capture the essence of that artist and what they’re feeling in that moment. It takes a lot of listening, and talking about feelings, etc. I like to play chords while the artist is updating me on their life as a way to feel out the emotion of the moment. When working with labels, they will generally send out a “brief”, which is basically a sheet that tells producers/writers what artists are looking for music and what type of song they need. In that situation, I would try to stick as close to the brief as possible, while adding my own unique flavor. It’s a very hard line to walk, and definitely not my favorite way to work, but putting limitations on yourself can drum up some amazing results because it forces you to get creative. When producing myself, it’s basically no holds barred, anything goes. I like to use myself as a test dummy for new sounds and styles, and I’ve made some of my favorite songs that way.
You’ve worked on projects for several Korean artists so far. How did you first discover the world of K-pop?
I’ve been a fan of K-Pop since I was little. I first discovered it back in middle school, I think. It was sort of a result of being an anime/video game nerd. In the early days of youtube, fans made these things called AMVs which was basically a bunch of anime clips cut together with a Jpop/Kpop song. I discovered J-Pop artists like Gackt and Ayumi Hamasaki that way, and eventually stumbled into the amazing world of K-Pop when I discovered BoA and SHINee.
One of the tracks you are most recognised for working on is ‘Move’ by Taemin. Did you expect the song to blow up like it did?
Never in a million years! I made that song with Curtis Richa and Angelique Cinelu as a demo in honesty. It has grown so far beyond anything we ever imagined for it. It’s the true dictionary definition of a “bedroom song”, in that it was literally made and recorded in my room. We didn’t initially intend for it to be a K-Pop song, but I seriously can’t imagine anyone else doing it but Taemin. He brought such an irreplaceable energy and vibe to it that nobody else on the planet could have brought. Then you couple that with the insane response from fans, the cultural impact and the awesome cover from other K-Pop Idols as well. It’s just too big for me to comprehend and I’m so thankful any time I even think about it.
Any dream collaborations?
So many! Literally all of my influences. Rihanna, Beyonce are my top dream pop collabs. I’d love to get in a session with Jon Bellion on a production level. His style is so eclectic and he always finds interesting production quirks that I admire. The Weeknd is one of my favorite artists and I think our styles would mesh great together. Kehlani, HER, Tinashe are some of my favourites in the R&B space. Dawn Richard and Woodkid are two of my dream indie collabs. And I have to put Flume and Galimatias at the top of my dream Electronic collaborations.
Imagine you were playing the middle slot in the gig of your dreams next week, who would you be supporting and who would be opening for you? Where would you be playing?
I’m playing Coachella, supporting The Weeknd and my opener will be one of my many many talented friends.
What artists are you listening to at the moment? Have you got a go-to playlist?
I’m not big on playlists, there’s so much new music dropping every day that I tend to just listen to go through Release Radar and cherry pick the ones I’m interested in and play them from my library. But as far as what I’m really vibing with right now, I’m an album person so: The Weeknd’s album, Giveon’s Take Time EP, Brandy’s new album, Chloe & Halle’s album, WurlD’s AFROSOUL album, Raleigh Ritchie, Dominic Fike, BTS are some of my current obsessions.
What can we expect from your live performance on our Instagram on Wednesday 26th August?
I’ll be performing a mix of a few of my original songs, stuff I’ve written for other artists and a couple covers of some of my favourites.
For anyone that wants to check out more of your work, where can they go?
Thank you to anyone who’s read this far and is still interested! You can find all of my music on streaming services, just search for “ADN”. You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and SoundCloud.