One of the main ways K-Pop producers leave their signature on their works is through an audio watermark or producer tag. You may recognize these at the beginning of the songs they produce. While some are subtle enough to escape notice, others have become iconic identifiers of the talents behind the music. Here are 8 of the most iconic audio watermarks belonging to some of the best producers in K-Pop. Some of the stories behind them may surprise you, albeit pleasantly.
JYP or J.Y. Park (JYP Whisper)
One of the pioneers of K-Pop, responsible for establishing one of the biggest K-Pop companies in the industry, was a superstar ever since his debut. Breaking gender norms with his stage costumes and going against the “normal,” J.Y. Park was set on paving his own path. As a matter of fact, JYP was rejected by SM Entertainment's Lee Soo Man, but the founder of SM Entertainment apparently sought him out to buy the music he produced. It was then that he probably realized the importance of having an identifier of his works. J.Y. Park’s trademark is him whispering/declaring “JYP” at the beginning of his own songs or the songs that he has produced. From Wonder Girls and Rain to miss A and GOT7, this trademark perfectly makes its place in their music.
GRAY’s iconic signature sound, which is included in all of his own songs, as well as those produced by him or featuring him, was actually recorded by the legendary Zion.T. The sound is simply Zion.T saying “Gray,” and it is owing to this simplicity that it sticks and never even sounds out of place or forced in any song. Fans have even admitted to looking forward to GRAY’s producer tag in a song because it just sounds that good.
It is common knowledge that Suga is undoubtedly one of the most prominent producers in the K-Pop industry. His signature producer tag, which is also him whispering his BTS stage name “Suga,” is evidently very important to him. Right from the early songs of BTS to the latest tracks produced by or featuring him, Suga has retained this tag. There’s quite a funny anecdote where Epik High’s Tablo once divulged that they had to remaster a track that Suga had produced for them because he had forgotten to add his signature sound. When Suga remembered that he had forgotten such an important thing, he apparently was quite distressed since the track was already mastered.
Brave Brothers (Brave Sound)
A second generation master producer of K-Pop, Brave Brothers or Kang Dong Chul has always included his signature tag saying “Brave Sound” in the music he has made. Brave Brothers has produced music for After School, Sistar, 4Minute, T-ara, Son Dam Bi, Big Bang, Brown Eyed Girls, and more. For fans of K-Pop who have followed these groups from their very debut, this signature sound had become an equivalent to the fact that the song was going to be a hit.
GroovyRoom (Groovy Everywhere)
Prominent figures in the K-Hip Hop scene, GroovyRoom is an incredibly popular producer duo signed to H1GHR Music. Their audio watermark is actually different from their name and is instead a reference to it. Recorded by a non-Korean child, it says, “Groovy Everywhere,” and the sound was actually paid for! Fans have often said that their producer tag is one of their favorite parts of their music.
Cha Cha Malone (I Need A Cha Cha Beat Boy)
K-Hip Hop and KR&B fans have probably heard the signature tag “I need a Cha Cha beat boy” in all of their favorite songs. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if non-fans were also familiar with it because this is one of the Korean music industry’s most famous audio watermarks. It belongs to producer Cha Cha Malone, a close collaborator of Jay Park and songwriter/composer/producer of AOMG. Netizens almost always associate this producer tag with super-hit bops, and Cha Cha Malone always delivers.
Giriboy (G R Boy)
Another pioneer of K-Hip Hop, Giriboy’s producer tag is just as iconic as his music. The tag he uses is “G R Boy” in a woman’s voice. The same sound is used in all the songs he produces or features in and it has truly become a trademark of quality. Giriboy is an immensely talented artist and his choice of a tag is a memorable identifier of the same.
LDN Noise (London Noise)
Finally, the producers responsible for some of K-Pop’s biggest hits, LDN Noise, have a distinct producer tag associated with their music as well. Hailed as the “hidden heroes” behind K-Pop, LDN Noise has composed/produced songs for K-Pop’s most popular acts such as SHINee, Red Velvet, Girl’s Day, ASTRO, and NCT. Their signature watermark sound is a nod to their homeland and their own name, “London Noise.”