The songs of K-pop singers, including Cho Yong-pil, BTS Jungkook, Red Velvet, Twice, EXO, Monsta X, filled the air of Stockholm, Sweden. From Swedish songwriter duo Lewis Frieg Sven (age 28) and Maria Marcus (age 42).
Your reporter met with Sven and Marcus in a cafe in Gangnam, Seoul. Invited by the Swedish Embassy to Korea, they performed four songs at the Swedish National Day event held at Gabit Seom in Seocho-gu, Seoul on June 7, including a Korean song they had written themselves and ABBA’s Thank You For The Music. It wasn’t the first encounter with Marcus, though, as your reporter met with her in 2017 for covering the local music industry at the invitation of the Swedish Royal Court. She had created Cho Yong-pil’s Hello and Red Velvet’s July 7, a song in commemoration of the Sewol ferry.
“Just five years ago, my Scandinavian colleagues weren’t really interested when I mentioned I wrote K-pop songs. Now they keep asking me how to get connected with K-pop work,” said Marcus. I’m pretty busy giving lectures on K-pop production in Finland, Denmark and the UK. Naturally, this means more competition as well.”
Driven by BTS and Black Pink, K-pop and K-drama are in high demand in Scandinavia these days.
Sven, 14 years we younger than Marcus who started off his career as an intern at Cosmos Music, where both songwriters are affiliated with, became the perfect duo. Marcus’ strengths in verse, melody, rap and editing combined with Sven’s creating main melodies helped the duo become the ABBA of K-pop. Both said that BTS Jungkook’s Stay Alive (launched in February this year) was their best so far.
“SUGA’s production and Jungkook’s singing were both perfect,” said Sven. “What makes K-pop so appealing is that the singers always deliver our drafts in perfect visual and audio outcomes.”
Sven is learning Korean these days after falling in love with Korean culture since starting K-pop songwriting. He dreams of moving to Korea permanently. “Korean dramas and movies such as Parasite and Squid Game have a twist in the plot, and characters have vivid personalities and expressions. K-pop systems move with elaborate planning and schedule. I fell in love with how friendly Koreans are and how they work,” said Sven.
“I believe global appreciation for Korean culture has just begun,” said Marcus. “We, coming from two small cities in Sweden, feel overwhelmingly rewarded to be part of his wave.”