Back in February, MONSTA X released their first-ever album recorded entirely in English: All About Luv. Combined with all of the albums they’ve released in Korean and Japanese over the years, the group has quite a bit of experience catering to fans of different cultures.
Earning a VMA nomination another year in a row, they sat down for an interview with MTV News‘s Dometi Pongo to delve deeper into the different creative processes behind their music—especially those of their Japanese and American releases.
Dometi specified how well MONSTA X are at maintaining their signature sound yet adjusting it to fans’ cultures, going far beyond merely translating their lyrics into another language. Naturally, he asked if the group focused on different aspects when making music in other languages.
I can tell you guys really think deeply about the culture of the market that you’re really going to and how your fans may receive it. Because it’s not just as easy as translating one language to another. Sometimes the sound is different in a different country. How do you guys approach the creative process when you think about how the Japanese fans may want something different than your American fans, than your Chinese fans?
— Dometi Pongo
I.M revealed the main aspect that was the guiding light. It was essential to choose the right words to convey their message, “Especially, we were trying to concentrate on the lyrics.” He then gave examples by laying out what they keep in mind when creating music specifically for Japanese and American fans.
With their English songs, they could be more straightforward, “Like, in the States, we were trying to explain the lyrics very honestly. In a very easy way.”
Making his members and Dometi laugh, I.M pointed out how the lyrics could be sexier. He referenced their track “Misbehave”, “Like, ‘Straight up in the bedroom / After we fight.’ Something like that. For example, I know you like that.”
MONSTA X flipped it when it came to writing Japanese lyrics. Instead of being so straightforward, they took more of a symbolic approach to paint magical stories. “For example, in Japan, we try to make the lyrics kind of smooth and very artistic. Like a fairy tale or something.”
Even though Monbebes love all of MONSTA X’s music, it means more that they take the time to focus on the details.
See I.M break down the types of lyrics they focus on to cater to fans’ different cultures here.