The path to becoming a warrior of music: Wassily Gradovsky talking about his first successful music production credit in Japan, the single “Warrior” by boyband 100%
Born in Ukraine, raised in Germany, making music for Japan. Sounds unusual? Let’s ask 24 year old music producer and composer Wassily Gradovsky how a combination like this came together.
First of all, congratulations on your first big cut, which made it to number 8 on Billboard Japan. How does it feel to have your music played by a major boyband?
Oh, it feels like a breath of fresh air. I already feel how hard it is to finally get your music out there. This type of job is rarely rewarding, making you spend years and years in failure, doubt and pressure. But as soon as you get that one reward and get positive feedback from a large audience, you remember why you love making music! With that said, thank you, I feel very happy and relieved!
You were born in a country with very little economical perspective, did it influence you and your craft in any way?
I think so. I spent 7 years of my childhood in a relatively poor neighborhood in Odessa, Ukraine. I think this was a factor that made my parents consistent about giving me piano lessons, kinda trying to get me “out of there”. This definitely shaped me in a positive way, although it was a hard time back then.
What changed when you moved to Germany?
After my parents and I moved to Germany, I started taking a different path, showing more interest in songwriting and producing Pop and R&B and ending up studying that in a music college. This is not what my parents expected from me and I would have definitely taken another direction if I would have stayed in Odessa. Probably becoming a professional jazz pianist like my father, who knows. But it is what it is, the western world made me take a western approach in music and I love it! My parents support me now.
How did the jump into Japanese pop happen? Sounds pretty strange considering that you never went outside of Europe during that time?
Yes, indeed. During my studies I participated in a K-Pop camp that was organized by my college. The guys there really like experimenting, setting up camps for the US, Asian pop, obviously German pop -so for that K-Pop camp we had a guest writer by the name of Albi Albertsson, who lived in Berlin. Soon I realized that he is one of the biggest writers and producers for Korea and Japan! The song that I produced during that camp impressed Albi and he accepted me as his intern one year later.
Sounds interesting. What did this internship consist of?
For a period of 3 months, most of my duties had to do with music production: editing and tuning vocals that Albi used for his projects, helping out with arrangements, and mostly creating instrumentals. It was very challenging. I used to always consider myself a perfectionist, but Albi was an even bigger perfectionist with countless experience, which really pushed me to my limits, and while working with him, I developed a great understanding in music, which I am really grateful for. One of the first instrumentals I made during that internship was “Warrior”.
What was your process of creating that instrumental? Did you start with the rock guitar pattern first?
Exactly. I had a certain energy in mind and I was trying to give it shape using that rock guitar/bass synth hybrid. I think it made a pretty epic and catchy intro, that ended up spreading across the whole instrumental arrangement. Soon I played the chord progressions which seem a little unusual for western music here and there, but very usual for Japan. This is also one of the things I learned while interning for Albi, the signature of Korean and Japanese pop genres.
Did you write the topline for it, too?
No, the topline was written by the very talented Justin Reinstein, one of Albi’s writers. He was as always very quick and good, delivering a high class vocal topline which we instantly used for the instrumental. We finished the song and sent it out to various labels in Japan, finally it was cut by the boys of 100% as their single. It was pretty cool, because they also released a music video for it!
Are you working on more Asian projects at the moment? What is your plan for the future?
Yes, I am working on more K-Pop and J-Pop and have more amazing stuff coming out soon! My plan for the future is to make more US music, though. Everything I create is heavily influenced by American Urban music, and this is where I wanna end up eventually.
This sounds exciting, good luck with this plan! Can’t wait to hear more of your upcoming releases.