LDN Noise, aka Greg Bonnick and Hayden Chapman, have worked with a lot of artists over the years, including Chris Brown, Nick Jonas, and Nathan Sykes, but it’s in Korea where the pair have really shone as songwriters.
K-pop by way of Europe and America is nothing new nowadays with many Korean artists working with international producers and songwriters. But LDN Noise, pronounced “London Noise,” has created some of K-pop’s biggest hits since 2015, including SHINee’s “View,” f(x)’s “4 Walls,” EXO’s “Monster,” and Red Velvet’s “Dumb Dumb,” shaping the sound of each group and the K-pop industry as a whole.
After a friend introduced them to EXO’s “Growl” a few years back, the pair recall being “blown away” and knowing that they had to pursue K-pop because of the music’s immense potential. “It’s so open, it can go anywhere,” Chapman told Billboard while in New York City.
The pair ended up first placing Red Velvet’s “Oh Boy,” which they thought was going to be a title track. They then landed songs with other artists, including GOT7 (“Just Tonight”), Shinhwa (“Sniper”), and SHINee. The success of the latter’s “View” proved to the pair that they had found a niche that matched them. “Once we got the confidence after how successful ‘View’ was, we trusted our own instincts to try not to overthink it to just be natural and let the work flow,” added Bonnick.
Like several other foreign producers, the pair works closely with SM Entertainment, and have written hits for many acts under the label, including SHINee (“View,” “Married To The Music”), EXO (“Monster,” “Lucky One,” “Lotto,”), f(x) (“4 Walls,” “All Mine”), and Red Velvet (“Dumb Dumb,” “Zoo”). They’ve also worked on songs for NCT 127 (“Fire Truck), EXO CBX (“The One),” and soloists under the label, like Taeyeon (“Why”), Jonghyun (“Moon,” “Dress Up”), and Taemin (“Guess Who?”).
Bringing the influences that they grew up with into K-pop has helped LDN Noise create music that they describe as “different but similar,” with songs incorporating elements of U.K. garage, drum ‘n’ bass, funk, ‘90s house and whatever else inspires them while they’re in the studio. “The majority of the time, the ones that we’re doing that sound like what we grew up on come pretty quickly,” said Chapman. Along with their personal music tastes, the duo looks to the world around them for inspiration, even TV shows; SHINee’s “Shift” has some elements inspired by the soundtrack of Stranger Things, according to Bonnick.
Though they’re writing for other artists, the British duo’s unique style is audible in their music, bringing some sleek quirkiness to K-pop’s ever-changing sound. While they haven’t had a single out in the past few months, in July EXO’s The War album featured their groovy trap track “Forever,” LDN Noise’s ninth track with the boy group, and Red Velvet’s The Red Flavor featured the animal-sound sampling “Zoo.” (Chapman reportedly does a great elephant impression.) “We worked hard on [“Forever] for a few days going back to it with [co-songwriters] Kenzie and Adrian [Mckinnon] making sure it was right,” Bonnick said. “EXO is always challenging but it came out great. We are really proud of that song.”
?Though they’ve seen many successes, it’s not all easy going for LDN Noise. They’ve had songs written for one artist and given to another, like “4 Walls,” and weren’t sure if some of their songs would see the light of day. Even “Monster,” which won the group their first No. 1 on the World Digital Song chart, wasn’t something that clicked initially but ended up coming out of some older ideas the pair had.
“The staff of SM was under extreme pressure to get the next [EXO] song really good, and so we were under pressure,” recalled Bonnick. “We were there for 10 days and it was already the fifth or sixth day and we hadn’t done anything. Some of the sounds of “Monster,” the intro sound and the baseline, we had those for a long time as part of old projects. The idea of that riff just stuck in our heads and when it came time we were like “Okay,” and just stuck some effects on it just to give it that kind of gritty sound that was cool.”
LDN Noise’s career in K-pop has been short, but they envision themselves in it for the long run. “That’s where we’re wanted at the moment and that’s what people want from us,” said Bonnick, who said that they would also like to release their own EP featuring Korean artists, and have even toyed with producing a group. “We love scouting talent so to find a group like that one day and put our energy be behind it, that would be amazing.”