Musical producer

Korean Producer 250 on Creating His Debut Album ‘PPONG’ and Producing

While most artists use clever lyrics and metaphors to convey story and emotion, 250 relies on melodies and sounds.

Whether it’s an intricate piano sequence or a simple combination of chimes and whistles, the Korean producer digs deep into the past to create an instrumental album that takes us through the winding roads of the 80s and 90 through the prism of his own childhood.

“It was a challenge to create an instrumental album with almost no vocals. I wanted to tell mine through sounds that really tugged at the heartstrings, sounds that evoked feelings and images,” 250 on his debut album recently got out, PPONG.

This is 250’s first solo release in nearly four years, during which he produced for some of K-pop’s biggest stars, including BTS, ITZY, and NCT 127.

Following the release of PPONG, moving train met 250 to talk about producing and creating for himself and other artists.

Hi 250! What have you achieved recently?

I just released my album, so right now I’m going through a lot of emotional ups and downs.

Congratulations on the release of your latest album ‘PPONG’! Could you explain to us the vision you had of the record and what story it tells?

Thanks very much. The vision for the album was to take a trip down memory lane, taking me back to when I was a kid in the late 80s, early 90s. I would come home from school and watch the TV until my parents come home. I tried to remember what it must have felt like when I was a little boy, sitting in front of that TV; all alone, calm and motionless, heart beating. And I wanted to retrace these memories and make an album of them. So I started chasing nostalgia-triggering sounds from the past and tried to reimagine them through a modern lens.

How was the creative process of working on your very first album?

It was a challenge to create an instrumental album with almost no vocals. Unlike rappers or singers who tell their stories through words, I wanted to tell mine through sounds that really tugged at the heartstrings. Sounds that evoke feelings and images.

The process of finding sounds with this impact wasn’t easy, to be honest. I dug deep into my childhood and accessed those subconscious memories. I tried to remember sounds from a time when I wasn’t even aware of music or consciously taking in music. At times, this process became emotionally draining and challenging, having to dig in and gently brush away long-lost childhood emotions.

One of the most memorable moments during the making of the album was the first time I heard Kim Suil sing “It Was All a Dream”. The way his voice echoed in this room, I was stunned. I managed to break the record on the spot because I wanted the moment to last somehow. The voice you hear in ‘It Was All a Dream’ is exactly how Kim Suil sang in that room that day. No tuning, no polishing, nothing at all.

It’s also your first solo music in four years, did you have any worries about releasing new music again after so long?

I worried if the vintage references I was using and pulling from were presented in a way that would live on in today’s modern sound space. Other than that, the only other concern I had was whether the audience would be able to accurately interpret and resonate with the emotions I was trying to convey throughout the record.

What things have you learned in the past four years that have helped you PPONG?

PPONG gave me the blueprint of what ‘250 solo album’ should look like. I know where I am now and I have a better idea of ​​where I need to go.

Beyond your own music, you’ve also produced a bunch of tracks for bands like BTS, ITZY, Masta Wu, NCT 127, and more. What is it like working with these acts?

Kpop acts have their own regulated and coordinated system with a clear division of labor. Each individual has their specific role and responsibility. As long as I play my role as a producer to the best of my abilities and trust that others will play theirs, the rest will take care of itself.

Working with rappers, on the other hand, is relatively cooler. There is more room for open discussions and the free exchange of ideas. It is a more relaxed and comfortable process.

Does your creative process differ in any way when working on your own music and producing for other artists?

I have a lot more creative freedom when it comes to my own music. There are fewer compromises. The downside is often, it’s just me. There are not many opportunities to rely on other co-authors or collaborators. So there comes a time when I have to be hard on myself, which can sometimes be mentally damaging. But considering how the album was built, it’s definitely worth a look.

What are your plans for the year?

I stayed home most of the time I worked on this album. The Covid lockdown didn’t make things any better. That’s why for the rest of the year I just want to go out, travel, see different places and enjoy life as much as possible.

Listen to 250 PPONG here.