David Choi is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/music producer who first gained fame on YouTube for his original song “YouTube A Love Song” in 2006. Since then, he’s paved the way for independent artists who are building a fanbase and making a living themselves by mobilizing social media resources. Choi wrote and self-produced all three of his albums Only You, By My Side, and Forever and Ever, which debuted at #97 on the iTunes top album charts, his songs have used in both American and Korean television shows, and his YouTube channel boasts close to a million subscribers and over 117,000,000 total video views.
You talk a lot about a moment in high school, where you went from hating practicing your musical instruments to being obsessed with composing music. What happened?
David Choi: Well, I didn’t know you could create music. Learning an instrument is not being creative. It’s just practicing someone else’s music. You can’t be creative when somebody is telling you exactly what to do.
Once I realized I could be creative with music, something just grabbed me and made me want to do this forever. It was weird. Maybe it was me wanting to succeed? I don’t even think it was that. I just really loved it. It’s like when you fall in love with somebody, and you want to spend time with them every single day. That’s how I felt about music.
Do you find that your good songs come to you very quickly, or do you have to work hard to rewrite, analyze the lyrics or the structure, and rewrite again?
David Choi: Now that I’ve been doing it for so long, it feels more innate. I will write a song, and what matters to me is not necessarily whether it sounds good, cool, or unique, but whether it’s honest. That’s the first part. Then the second part is sitting on it after I record it, and later listening back and being more judgmental. Here, I’m putting on my producer’s hat and looking at song structure etc.
There are definitely songs that I rewrite constantly but if I keep having to do that, often I’ll just let it go. I feel like it loses something after too much revision. But that’s just the art side of me talking, not the practical side. It’s about balancing the two.
Check out David Choi on the cover of KoreAm Journal’s December 2013 issue. Buy a copy to read the full cover story.
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