Interview with Melanie Fontana, the Prolific Songwriter behind BTS’s “Euphoria”
Recently, The Kraze had the wonderful opportunity to interview Melanie Fontana, a songwriter originally from Newington, CT who began her music career at the young age of five. After participating in school productions, local theaters, and Manhattan nightclub gigs, Melanie pursued a career in writing music. Currently under Universal Music Publishing Group and known as the “swiss army songwriter,” Melanie has written for major acts including Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, The Chainsmokers, and Aaron Carter, as well as many of the K-Pop groups we know and love. Her song credits for K-Pop spans a wide range of groups including f(x), I.O.I, AOA, FIESTAR, Rania, and Melody Day. She also co-wrote BTS’s “Euphoria” as well as worked with soloists Minzy, Tiffany, and Hyolyn. Check out our interview below!
Q. You've worked on projects for several Korean groups so far. What has been your favorite project for a Korean artist thus far?
A. Wow! It’s hard to pick my favorite K-Pop artist that I have worked with since all of them bring so many different delicious plates to the table, you know?! I will say, working in the studio with Hyolyn was extra magical: she sings and writes well in both English & Korean. I, of course, was blown away by her vocal ability. She sings with such fervor.
Q. How did you feel after hearing the finished version of "Euphoria"?
A. I felt SO grateful & beyond satisfied. Not many people know this, but most songwriters have hundreds, if not thousands, of unheard songs sitting on their hard drives & iPods. To have one go & then shoot off like “Euphoria” did is often times a very unique & triumphal moment for a songwriter.
Q. One of our editors commented that "'Euphoria’ literally sounds euphoric. I can't imagine it sounding any other way." Where do you get inspiration for how a song should sound, the instrumentation or melodies that the song is built on?
A. If I am writing a more heroic sounding beat, such as “Euphoria” has, I always just imagine a huge crowd singing it. I always ask myself, “Could a crowd sing along with this melody in unison?”
Q. If you were to work on a solo song for just one BTS member, who would you like to work on a song for?
A. Well Jungkook sang the actual crap out of “Euphoria,” so I would certainly not mind hearing him on another one of my songs. I also think J-Hope & I would mesh well in the studio. I love that hip-hop/rap style!
Q. Are there any Korean artists you'd like to work with next? What sort of style would you like to work on?
A. I would love to work with CL again. We wrote together once, but we ended up running into (then talking for hours) with Will.i.am about life in The Black Eyed Peas & being a pop icon. (It was a night to remember!) I’d also love another single with Girls Generation. I also have my eye on BLACKPINK; they’re really bringing a Western flavor to female K-Pop. “DDU-DU DDU-DU” has an infectious & genius sound.
Q. What is your creative process like when working on a song? Does it vary a lot from song to song?
A. My process definitely varies from song to song & co-writer to co-writer. If I’m writing alone, I normally start with a title or a lyric first, then I let the emotion of that word or lyric drive the notes I choose to sing. When I’m with a collaborator, anything goes! Sometimes we start melody first, but I prefer a cool title to kick things off.
Q. What's usually the most enjoyable part about songwriting? The most challenging part?
A. The best part of songwriting is having that “ahh-ha/breakthrough” moment. When you’ve been dancing around an idea in your head for a bit & you haven’t quite found the right melody/lyric then: BANG. It clicks! Once that happens, it’s smooth sailing. The hardest part of being a songwriter is dealing with the music business politics. When there’s only 4-5 very popular writers writing 70-80% of the songs getting placed with artists, it’s often times hard to be heard & get songs into the right hands. It reminds me of that fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” A lot of these well-known writers are writing subpar music, however, because they’re popular, all of the little townspeople (a.k.a. A&Rs, executives, & co-writers) are scared to tell them they’re standing outside naked. Haha. Read the story “The Emperor's New Clothes”; that’s kind of what it’s like to be a songwriter.
Q. You've had a successful and prolific career thus far—what has been your most memorable moment?
A. Honestly, it was life-changing seeing BTS perform my song live at the sold-out Staples Center here in LA. I’ll also never forget getting the call that Britney Spears had recorded “Mood Ring.” I was in my friend Jurek’s studio in Helsinki, Finland & I was so happy (& jet lagged) I nearly fainted. Britney was my childhood idol.
Q. If you could work with any artist, producer, or songwriter, living or deceased, who would you choose and why?
A. I’d kill to work with Skrillex. He completely changed the face of pop music. He’s who melded EDM & pop together for this amazing recognizable pop radio sound we have today.
Q. Lastly, what words of advice would you give to anyone aspiring to get involved in writing music (or other creative fields)?
A. Say yes to everything until you know in your heart you’ve earned the right to say no. There’s someone out there willing to work harder than you. Remember, working hard always gets you farther than just being talented.
You can find Melanie on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.