Putting Together My Will Simms Interview
I interviewed Will Simms about composing and producing Exo’s “Wolf” as well as SNSD’s “I Got a Boy,” and I wanted to write a little about the process of putting together the interview. I always like reading about others’ work processes, so I wanted to give it a go for this piece.
The whole process was spread out over four days, from start to finish. Research took longer than usual because I didn’t know that Simms worked with SM on as many tracks as he did, and I gave all of them a listen again. I got distracted when I accidentally wandered over to a Shinee website where a bunch of fanatic Shawols were yelling at Sean Kingston for “stealing” Shinee’s “Ready or Not.” Anyway…
The interview with Simms lasted about an hour, and it was a really interesting conversation, I learned a lot. Simms was ultra animated and excited about his own work process and how the tracks came together, which allowed me to throw all kinds of questions at him. He was game to answer pretty much everything I asked, which is awesome because it gave me the opportunity to unleash my curiosities.
I didn’t do anything with the recording of the interview for a day, and then gave it a listen while I was headed home yesterday. I don’t usually re-listen to recordings, I usually transcribe them cold, but it was helpful particularly for this interview because I knew there was a lot of jumping around in our conversation, and giving it a fresh listen let me craft a narrative, it allowed me to create some flow and transition.
When I usually transcribe my interviews, I do it very detachedly because honestly, interview transcription is horribly boring and one of the least fun aspects of the journalism process. (I do, however, recommend transcribing an interview at least once in your life. It’s a good exercise because you learn how disjointed some people’s trains of thoughts are when they try to communicate verbally, and how being a good speaker is an art. [Bless you, Yoochun.] Oh, and people speak really fast.)
Through transcribing this time around, however, I got more out of it than I usually do, since giving it a once-through before transcribing allowed me to hear how the conversation glided in real time. I know now that I could have done the interview a lot better. I got to hear good answers to questions that I asked, but the process could have been cleaner. I could have reacted in different ways, and that would have given me more room to explore some answers further.
What you read in the final version has gone through a lot of rearrangement, since the chronology of the original conversation is not as it appears in the final draft. I’m happy with how it turned out, mostly because I got to learn more about a subset of an industry that I know very little about. Simms was patient when I asked tangentially-related questions, and he was articulate and passionate about his work.
Doing interviews can be kind of a crapshoot sometimes, and I lucked out that Simms was a good talker and easy communicator. Sometimes people are too boastful during interviews, too ready to promote their newest gig that they’re preoccupied with rushing to the part where I ask them what they’re up to. Sometimes people are just not good speakers and take forever to get their thoughts out, go around in circles, lose steam, and then have to re-motivate themselves.
Sometimes … people are just not thoughtful. I did another interview with a preeeeetty important behind-the-scenes person working in K-pop a while ago and the interview was so awful that I couldn’t use it. The interview subject wasn’t as willing to talk since they were kept on a really short leash by The Company (cough), but in all honesty, that’s not a big deal, I can work with that, I’ve been in K-pop long enough to know to expect less-than-stellar answers about the deeper workings of any company. That interview turned out to be a bust because the subject wasn’t thoughtful, seemed to never have considered any of the things I asked and all of their answers were variations of, “I have no idea. I don’t know. I didn’t give it thought.” Those sorts of interviews really bum me out and I was so excited to talk to this subject in particular.
Anyway. I hope you got a chance to read the interview and got to learn something from it. I always like working behind-the-scenes and talking to people working behind-the-scenes more than I like the glitzy stuff, so I hope you enjoyed it too.