A couple of weeks before EARS I went through the list of speakers at the event, trying to figure out who I should try to reach out to in advance. Reading through the descriptions, it seemed like I could learn a lot from Deekei, a Korean executive producer and A&R. Unfortunately, he was very hard to find. There was no link to a website, no real name, not even a photo. Mysterious guy. Luckily we happened to have a together friend on Facebook who kindly introduced me to him and he agreed to meet up with me.
A little tired after the first conference day and a fun night at Maria Start-up hub opening party I arrive to the hotel fifteen minutes early. “Call room 440 in case if I don’t respond to your email” is the last thing I’ve heard of him.
After a while an Asian looking guy with a face of a model comes down to the lobby. He wears a whole black outfit that could be borrowed from a fashion photo shoot. The guy just radiates coolness. I smile at him and he greets me back but doesn’t seem to be waiting for anyone. So at eleven I get to make a call.
Deekei steps out of the elevator, also wearing black and carrying designer glasses. It turns out the first guy was one of his artists, Flowsik, who also attends EARS.
When we start talking about music business, Deekei uses the word “cool” a lot. Well, that is kind of the core of the whole business, especially in Asia.
“Fashion is a big part of K-pop. People don’t only hear music, they see it.”
That is why music videos and artist’s appearance are very important. People are interested in what their idols wear and which products they use.
Still, Deekei firmly believes in talent and skills when he looks for a new artist project. He believes that talents are different but they all seem to have a certain amount of artistic characteristic. Deekei uses our together friend as an example:
“You know how she is. In the middle of a session she can just zone out. She doesn’t care what other people think. She just thinks if she needs to, to come up with a new idea”.
Then he starts to sketch a small square with his fingers against the wooden table between us.
“You see, these are the boundaries most people have for how they think and what kind of ideas they are open for”, he explains.
“And this”, he continues forming a larger square, “this is the space she has in her head. Artistic people of course have boundaries too, but they think broader”.
As an executive producer Deekei’s job is to organize artists creative ideas into understandable and marketable packages. And of course from the marketing point of view this also means that the artist needs to be cool. No doubt this guy has a pretty good idea of how to make it happen. He seems to be the definition of cool himself. Deekei still doesn’t believe in pretty faces, but actual talent.
“Of course, if the talent happens to have a good face, I don’t complain. But in the end it is about bringing up the cool in the person. Everyone’s got something”, he explains.
“And often artists also “grow into the style”. If you look at famous artists’ early appearances, they look very different from how they do now.”
Combining real talent with cool really seems to work. His artists have tens of millions of views on YouTube. When looking for new talent, Deekei doesn’t limit his search for certain areas or music styles. He believes in individuals across genres or geographical boundaries, and currently follows several musicians around the world.
Music Finland has brought Deekei to Helsinki to have sessions with local artists and speak at EARS. He tells how he has enjoyed his stay in the Nordic capital and gives credit to the peaceful surroundings and friendly people.
“Look at him”, Deekei says and points on Flowsik who sits peacefully outside on the terrace smoking a cigarette.
“He cannot do that in Korea. People bother him all the time for photos and autographs. There are fans camping outside his house. He cannot go anywhere alone without a security guard.”
This is not Deekei’s first time in the country. Finland has become a special place for him. He describes how the calm environment offers great circumstances for developing new ideas and concentrating on making music.
“I want to make Finland my secret music lab. I want to continue bringing my artist here and working with local talents,” he adds.