We hadn't worked for more than thirty minutes when Zoey said:
"I feel brain dead."
I looked at her and noticed her rubbing both sides of her temples with her eyes closed. This thing was really getting to her, and a lot faster than I thought. I had a feeling it was going to get to a whole lot of us too.
"Should I get you some water?" Jongup asked.
"Ya, I really need it," said Zoey as she dropped her hands.
"Stop getting so stressed out, Zoey," said Christine as Jongup got up from the floor and headed for the door. "We're all here to help each other out, you know."
"No, I think it must be the chocolate dip doughnuts," Zoey gave an embarrassing smile. "I must have had too many of them."
"Well, who loves doughnuts now?" Christine asked with her eyes fixed on me.
"You do," Daniel and I said at the same time. The two of us looked at each other and smiled.
Christine looked downcast and said nothing more.
"I thought you were getting stressed out for sure, Zoey," said Yong-guk.
"Nothing stresses me out that easily," said Zoey with so much enthusiasm.
"Really?" Himchan asked, looking up at Zoey from the paper he was holding in his hands.
"I wouldn't believe her so easily if I were you," said Mike.
Zoey threw Mike a look. Uh-oh. Now isn't the time to start arguing. It would just eat up time. I had to do something before Zoey utters a single word.
"Zoey, calm yourself," said Yong-nam, seated beside me, beating me to it. "Just ignore him."
"Ya, whatever," said Zoey, this time, calmly as she averted her eyes away from Mike. But I could still see that look. This was far from over.
I turned to look at Yong-nam and wondered how he was able to calm Zoey with only a few words. Zoey isn't an easy person to deal with. Even I've difficulty with her sometimes.
Yong-nam must have noticed my eyes on him because he quickly turned to look at me and I quickly looked at the paper in my hands, pretending to be going through B.A.P's lyrics.
Even though B.A.P's song is in Korean, Yong-guk and Young-jae helped translate it to English. And so far, the lyrics were well and good. But just like us, they were struggling to come up with more. This is why we were all here together to work it out.
A pencil lay in front of me on the table, and I took it, twisting and turning it around as I thought. Their song is an inspirational one, the kind that lifts people's spirits up and encourage them to move on in life no matter what they're going through. I had to admit, I hadn't written such in a long time. Coming up with these lyrics may seem easy, but it's actually a whole lot difficult.
"Any ideas, sis?" Daniel asked.
I looked at him and wondered why he said that. "Huh?"
He pointed at the pencil in my hand and I hadn't noticed that I was still turning it around with my index and middle fingers. I stopped and shrugged at him, still not getting what he meant.
"Whenever you do that, then some kind of idea is brewing in that head of yours," he said.
"Not quite," I said. "I just realised that I haven't written this kind of song in a long time."
"Well, that head of yours better be working," said Zoey with her eyebrow raised at me. "You don't want to go back to the hotel without any progress. Lee won't give us our reward."
I almost blurted out that the reward Lee was talking about is Daesung's invitation for a movie night; but I quickly stopped myself, knowing that I would only ruin everything.
"Oh, ya, the reward," I said trying my best not to sound annoyed by it and at Lee for somehow using it to her advantage.
"What do you think it is?" Young-jae asked who sat at the other end of the table.
"I don't know," said Mike. "I just hope it's something fun."
"I hope it's some delicious Korean cuisine we've never tried before," said Daniel as he quickly licked his lips. That sent everybody laughing.
The door flew open and Jongup came in with a plastic bag full of bottled water. I noticed him pause after he closed the door, looking on at us. He probably wondered why we were all laughing.
"Did I miss something?" he asked as he approached.
"Nothing special," Daehyun answered. "It was just to ease off the tension."
"Well..., I want to laugh along too," said Jongup as he took one bottle and gave it first to Zoey. "Here you go."
"Thank you, Jongup," said Zoey as she took the bottle from him. "You're a life-saver."
"I asked these guys what they think their rewards is," said Young-jae.
"And all my brother could think of is food," I continued.
"You're always such a hungry boy, aren't you?" Christine asked.
"Not really," Daniel said, looking up at the ceiling, trying to avoid everyone's eyes.
Jongup distributed water bottles to everyone else and he sat back on the floor next to me.
"Okay, guys, let's get back to work," said Yong-guk with a smile on his face. "Anyone come up with an idea yet?"
"We should be the ones asking you that question, hyung," said Zelo. "You're the song writer."
"And I'm lucky that I'm not the only one."
I felt people's eyes on me and I tried not to look back at them as I twisted the pencil around with my fingers.
"I'll admit, this is starting to wear me down," said Zoey after she drank from her bottle and placed it on the table.
"You aren't the only one," said Zelo as he lay back on the floor, but soon sat up again.
"Well, this is disappointing," said Daehyun as he ran his hand through his face.
"Hear, hear," said Christine.
I started to tap the end of the pencil on the paper in my other hand. I wasn't even aware of it until Yong-nam held my arm.
I turned to look at him, surprised.
"Are you okay?" he asked. "You look like you were about to murder that paper with the pencil."
"Oh." I must have spaced out a little, thinking of lyrics. "Sorry, I guess the song is getting to me too."
There came a long silence as we all nervously looked at each other. We all just sighed.
"This is awful," said Zelo as he fell onto the floor like before.
"Tell me about it," said Christine as she slumped in her seat.
"What are we going to do?" Himchan asked. "It's not like we can go on a break or anything."
"Can we?" Zoey asked.
"Well, am your time keeper and I can surely tell you that you guys haven't even worked for half an hour," said Yong-nam.
I saw Daniel and Mike give Yong-nam depressed looks.
"Are you kidding me?" Mike asked raising his arms in frustration. "I feel like we've been at it for an hour."
"You know what, a break sounds very tempting right now," said Daehyun. Then he turned to look at Yong-nam across the table with a pleading smile. "Don't you think so?"
The whole room fell silent, and this time, we all had our eyes on Yong-nam. He didn't say anything as he first looked at his watch, then at the rest of us.
"Fine, five minutes," he said.
The rest of us all sighed in relief, and those seated on the couch easily slumped back, trying to relax. Some of us seated on the floor joined Zelo, sleeping our bodies down.
I lay down with my eyes closed and for a moment, I felt like I could easily drift off to sleep. But then, something jolted my brain and my eyes flew wide open.
I quickly sat up and Jongup seated beside me looked concerned.
"Hey, are you okay?" he asked.
"Ya, I'm fine," I said as my eyes flew to the recording booth. I looked at Jongup and asked, "do you guys have instruments in there?"
My finger pointed towards the booth as I asked. Jongup didn't have to look.
"Ya, we do," he said. "Do you need one?"
"Okay, let's go," he said with a smile.
He quickly stood up from the floor and before I had the chance to stand, he held out his hand and I took it. He helped me up and we soon headed for the booth.
"Hey, what are you two kids up to over there?" Zoey asked.
"Just relax," I said as Jongup opened the door to the booth. "We aren't doing anything suspicious."
"Oooh, suspicious," said Christine, obviously mocking me.
Jongup led the way in and I followed. The lights in the booth were on and there were a whole range of instruments all lined up along the walls. The recording microphones and headphones were in the middle of the room.
Jongup stood while I went around looking through the instruments until I found exactly what I wanted.
I pulled out an acoustic guitar by the neck and I put the strap over my shoulder and held it in position.
"You wanted a guitar?" Jongup asked.
"Ya, it's my favourite instrument," I told him. "I play it really well, actually."
I slowly strummed the strings of the guitar and I felt my body relax as I took a deep breath in, and slowly out. I hadn't noticed that I was smiling until Jongup did the same at me.
"What?" I asked him.
"Oh..., you were smiling at yourself and seem quite relaxed," he answered. "For a moment you looked like you were in your happy place."
I chuckled. "I was. Come on, let's go back. I've a feeling Zoey and Christine will say something about us being in here."
Just after I said that, Mike and Daniel came rushing into the booth, and by doing so, the two almost got jammed into the door, wanting to enter at the same time.
"What are you doing here?" I asked them.
"We've been given a five minute break so we wanted to come in the booth," Daniel answered as they got through.
I gave them a straight look, not wanting to know what they were really up to.
"Anyway, don't break anything," I warned. "Collins won't hesitate to cut out from your paycheck."
"We're not five year olds, Sam," said Mike. "We're very responsible."
"I'll agree if you stop acting like little kids all the time. You'll find us with the others."
Jongup and I left the booth. Just when we stepped out, I noticed Zoey, Christine and Yong-guk by the multi track console. I stopped to look at them, and so did Jongup.
"What are you guys doing?" Jongup asked.
"Relaxing," said Zoey as she looked through the window on top of the console, into the booth. Mike and Daniel were going through the instruments.
"It doesn't seem like it," I said as I walked away. Jongup followed.
"Oh, you got a guitar," said Young-jae.
"Yep," I said as I settled on the floor with the guitar on my laps. "Playing a little eases off my stress."
"I would like to hear you play," said Zelo as he sat up from the floor.
"Okay," I said, smiling at him.
I strummed the guitar strings and started to play a simple melody. It's one of the melodies I love to play especially when I'm trying to relax after a stressful day. It calmed me immediately, and for a moment, I got lost in the tune. It's like everything around me suddenly vanished and I was in a calm, serene place of my own. That's just the power of music. It always takes you places, to a utopia in your own mind.
As soon as I was done playing, l looked up from the guitar and found the other B.A.P members looking at me. I couldn't read their faces, so I got confused.
"Umm...., was it that bad?" I asked. I don't know why, but I felt a little embarrassed.
"That was wonderful," said Jongup who sat beside me. I looked at him and the look in his eyes made my cheeks blush even more.
"Tha-thanks," I stammered as I looked away.
"You really are good with the guitar," said Daehyun. "That melody you played took me places."
"Like I said, I love to play when I am under stress." I chuckled as I scratched the back of my head.
"Well, its relieved us as well," said Zelo.
"Well, your five minutes is almost up," said Yong-nam now seated on the couch. "I really wonder what those guys are up to over there." He turned his eyes towards those who were by the multi track console and in the booth.
The rest of us by the table followed his eyes.
"Okay, guys, time is almost up," said Zoey telling my brothers in the booth, "so let's make this quick."
I saw Daniel give Zoey the thumbs up through the glass window. I noticed that he had a guitar strap over his shoulder and Mike was standing right next to the mic. They both had headphones over their ears. What were they up to?
"Are you guys ready?" Yong-guk asked as he worked around the console, seated in between Zoey and Christine.
"We were born ready," I heard Mike say. "We're going to light this place up, believe me."
I raised an eyebrow. Now, I didn't want to know.
"Okay, go," said Christine as I saw her press the record button on the console.
What came next was a loud high sound coming from the guitar Daniel was playing. It was then that I realised that he's playing the electric guitar and Mike on the mic started to scream.
"What the-" Himchan just like the rest of us couldn't understand what's happening.
"Is he trying to sing rock and roll?" Jongup asked.
That's definitely it. I slowly shook my head as I looked at my brothers. Mike sang just like a real rockstar with his voice going deep like a growl and raising his voice as he screamed. Daniel worked that guitar, playing the instrument like he owned it. It never really occurred to me that he's that good with it since he's so good with the piano; organ or digital.
As much as they were having fun, I couldn't help but smile. I had to admit, at first it felt embarrassing, but now, alI I can do is applaud them.
When they were done, Mike removed the headphones and was breathing heavily. Singing like that takes a toll on a singer, I know because I'm a fan of rock and there are times when I try to sing like that too.
"You were amazing, Mike," came Zoey speaking to them through the mic outside the booth. "And Daniel that was some mad guitar skills."
"Thanks," said Daniel with a smile on his face.
"Looks like Daniel might surpass you with guitar playing, Sam," Christine said as she turned to look at me.
"No doubt about it," I said as I stood up from the floor, leaving the guitar on the table and joining the others by the console. "You two were amazing, by the way."
"Thanks, sis!" my brothers replied with wide smiles on their faces. Yep, they still looked like kids to me.
"You guys are really talented," said Yong-guk.
"Ya, they're awesome," I agreed.
"I also mean you, Sam." He turned around on his chair to look at me. "We all heard you play just now. I liked it."
"Oh...," I felt my cheeks heat up again. "Thanks. But my brothers are the ones who've put up a hell of a performance. They deserve all the praise."
"Don't leave yourself out of things, Sam," said Mike. "You're way more talented than the rest of us."
"Ya, we just did all this because Zoey challenged us to," said Daniel.
"I did it all in good faith," said Zoey as she turned to look at me with one hand up and the other on her chest to show that she meant no ill intention.
"Something tells me that I don't want to know about it in detail," I said. "Come on, break time's almost up."
I turned around and headed back for the table as I heard the others get up from the chairs at the console and the door to the booth draw open.
"When we get home, I suggest we do a rock song," said Zoey as I sat back down on the floor.
"And Mike will be the lead," I said.
"Sam will do it," said Mike as he and Daniel joined us.
"I can't scream like you did just now." I raised my eyebrow at him as he settled on the couch with Daniel.
"I bet with a whole lot of practise, you'll do just fine," said Yong-guk.
"Okay, now that you've had your fun," said Yong-nam as he joined me on the floor, "let's get back to work."
"Has anybody come up with anything yet?" Himchan asked.
We were silent, each of us looking at the other. It's pretty evident that we still hadn't come up with anything.
"We're so screwed," said Zelo as he leaned his head back, looking up at the ceiling.
"Yep, screwed is definitely the word," said Young-jae as he scratched his head.
I bit my lip as I thought for a second, then said, "do you think it will be okay if I know the tune of the song? Sometimes it's a bit easier for me to come up with lyrics that way."
"We've the instrumental recorded in the multi track console," said Daehyun. "Will that help?"
"It will help a whole lot, actually," I said as I quickly stood up and went over to the console. I sat on one of the chairs by the console and turned to look at the others.
"Isn't anyone going to help me out here?" I asked, my question directed to B.A.P.
"Oh..., ya, sure," said Jongup as he quickly stood, almost stumbling to the floor, but managing to keep his balance. I turned away quickly to face the console, trying not to burst out with laughter. I found that almost amusing.
He came to sit right beside me, settling himself by drawing out a breath before working on the laptop connected to the multi track console in front of him.
"Here it is," he said as he turned to look at me and I drew my chair close to look at the laptop.
"Play it," I said.
Jongup pressed the space bar on the laptop and soon the track started to play. The music was great and as much as the song is inspirational, the beat in the track made it feel like pop; one that you could easily dance to. I couldn't help but move my head to the tune. I love it.
I pressed the space bar, pausing the track. I turned to look to the others behind me.
"This track is amazing," I said with a smile.
"Yong-guk produced it," said Zelo.
"Wow, when people say you're good, you're good," said Mike, complementing Yong-guk.
"Thanks," Yong-guk said with a smile.
"Now, do you've something, Sam?" Christine asked.
"I guess so," I said as I snapped my fingers in quick succession. "Yong-nam, may you pass me the paper and pencil, please?"
Yong-nam took the pencil and paper I left on the table and brought them to me. I set the paper on the console and started to look at the lyrics.
"Well...?" Yong-nam asked, shrugging his shoulders.
"I need someone to sing the first part of the song for me," I said, looking both at Yong-nam and Jongup.
"Don't look at me, I don't sing." Yong-nam shook his head.
"I'll do it," said Daehyun, as he stood up from the floor, "I'm more of a lead singer."
"Don't forget there is me too," said Young-jae.
"Fine, both of you get over here," I said as I beckoned to them.
They both did, and pretty fast too. While standing beside Yong-nam, the pair sang the first part of the song for me with the instrumental playing on the laptop. I finally got how the lyrics flowed with the tune.
"Okay, stop," I told the two just before they got to the chorus. I also stopped playing the track. I turned back to look at the piece of paper, flipped it over and started to scribble.
"Can you translate these words for me?" I asked Yong-nam, looking up at him.
"Ya sure," he replied as he bent his head to look down at what I wrote. He got the pencil in my hands and started to write down the translation.
"Tell me you thought of some genius lyrics," said Zelo.
"I hope so," I replied.
"They seem pretty good to me," said Yong-nam as he put the pencil down. He had already finished.
"Let me see," said Jongup as he quickly took the paper to see for himself.
"Don't be so selfish, Jongup," Daehyun complained as he came to stand behind him. "I want to see too."
"Don't fight yourselves over it," I said.
"This is great," said Daehyun as he looked at me. Jongup's eyes were still on the paper.
"That's the power of listening to music." I smiled.
"Let me see that," said Young-jae, snatching the paper away from Jongup.
"Hey, I was still looking at that," Jongup complained.
Young-jae's eyes scrolled through what was written and a smile slowly appeared on his face.
"Before we kill each other over that paper, let's go to the others and show it to them," Yong-nam suggested.
"I agree," I said as I took the laptop, unplugging the USB port from the console. "We don't have much time. The sooner we make progress, the better."
When we all went back to the table, the rest couldn't wait to get their hands on the paper.
"I wanna see, I wanna see," said Zoey, holding up her hands up to get the paper.
"Chill, Zoey," said Young-jae as he went back to his seat, holding the paper far away from everybody else. "We'll all get to see it."
I settled the laptop onto the table. "Now we just have to see if the lyrics will fit well with the song," I said.
"Why not use the guitar?" Mike asked. "You don't have to use the laptop."
"I haven't mastered the tune. It's best we use the laptop since the instrumental has already been done." I turned to look at Young-jae who still kept the paper. "Aren't you going to pass that around?"
He looked up at me and quickly said, "oh, ya, sure."
He passed it on to Yong-guk who sat right beside him. Yong-guk read through the lyrics. He slowly nodded his head and a smile appeared across his face as he quickly passed on the paper to Himchan.
"The lyrics sound promising," he said. "Let's see how it will go when we sing it."
"It will be great," said Daniel. "Sam never disappoints."
"We'll see, Daniel." Yong-guk had a smirk on his face.
Himchan passed the paper onto the other side since Jongup who sat next to me had already seen it, so did Yong-nam and me. Zoey and Christine looked at the paper together. After they were done, they passed it on to my two brothers who later passed it on to Zelo who was last.
"So, what do you think?" I asked, looking at everyone.
"I personally think it's great," said Himchan. Mike and Daniel quickly nodded their heads, agreeing with him.
"Now all we need to do is trial and error," said Christine.
"Where we try to sing out the lyrics with the tune playing to see if the words will go with it?" Daehyun asked.
"Yep," Zoey answered. "Sam came up with it."
"I didn't come up with that," I said raising my eyebrows at her.
"People have said that several times, Zoey," said Daniel.
"No, I'm pretty sure Sam came up with that," said Zoey.
"I only say that because our producer said it first when we started to work with him," I said, giving Zoey a look. I wasn't ready to play whack-a-mole, but Zoey was really tempting me right now.
"Okay, before you start to argue, can we continue?" Yong-guk asked.
"Gladly," I said and turned to look at Daehyun and Young-jae across the table. "You two will sing like before on those lyrics while the instrumental is being played. Does that sound okay?"
They both agreed. I took in a deep breath, looking at the laptop in front of me. This is usually the hard part of songwriting. For some artists who both write and compose songs, some would start with writing lyrics. Creating a melody or tune comes later. Others find it comfortable to work on the lyrics while playing a tune that you've already come up with. In that way, you can alter the lyrics to suit the tune or somewhere along the way, alter the tune to suit the lyrics. I'm one of those who do the latter almost all the time. And that's what we plan on doing right now.
Daehyun and Young-jae got the paper from Zelo and when they were ready, I played the instrumental from where we left off, entering into the second verse. The two sang the part out perfectly and it suited the tune too. Shortly after they were done, I paused the track.
I looked at everybody else. "Well...?" I asked. "Does it sound okay? It sounded perfect to me."
"That's why you're my best friend, Sam," Zoey said happily. If I were seated next to her, she would've hugged me. "It sounds awesome."
"I love it too," said Yong-nam as he looked at me. "You're simply a music genius."
I nervously laughed. I would've told him to stop giving me so much praise and that was simply nothing, but I couldn't find the courage to do so.
"Now that Sam has broken the deadlock, I think I've an idea with what comes next," said Mike.
"Are you thinking of a rap?" Yong-guk asked.
"Good guess," Mike gave him a huge grin.
"I also had that in mind. I've a few lyrics of my own too."
"Then lets work on it."
"Make sure it sounds good," said Zelo. "Something tells me I might rap that part."
"You're not the only rapper here, Zelo," said Jongup, playfully throwing a crumpled paper at him across the table. Zelo dodged it by a few inches, moving his body to the side.
Mike stood up from his seat to join Yong-guk on the other side to work on the rap. The rest of us waited and contributed where necessary. They didn't require much of our assistance as they came up with it quicker than we expected.
"Okay, I think we're done," said Mike as he was the one writing down the lyrics. "Now you can translate it and test it."
Yong-guk did likewise and he read out the lyrics; first in Korean then in English. We all gave out our opinion, and so far so good. Now all we had to do is trial and error.
Yong-guk suggested that he should rap out the part. Zelo also wanted to do so, but some of us thought Yong-guk should test it out first since it wasn't such a big part anyway.
"No fair," said Zelo, as he folded his arms. From where I sat, he looked like an angry five year old. An adorable one for that matter, as he pouted his lips. "I also want to do something too."
"Your time will come, you big cry baby," said Jongup.
"What did you call me?"
"Now isn't the time to fight," said Yong-nam. "Remember, we don't have enough time."
"I would listen to him if I were you," said Christine as she turned to look at Jongup, then at Zelo.
Zelo still didn't look pleased and I wondered if he only complained just to joke around. I wouldn't blame him. He is the maknae after all.
"Don't worry, Zelo, there's plenty more time for you to do something," I said.
He smiled back and that's when I realised that he was only playing around.
We went straight to what he had to do and Yong-guk rapped out the part. We made a few minor changes here and there, and in the end, the rap turned out great.
From then, working on the lyrics wasn't much of a problem that at some point, almost everyone had an idea on what lyrics to put in. Not everyone's ideas could be written on paper, so we had to choose the best ones that suited the song. That was a problem because when we did our trial and error, we had to either alter the lyrics or just simply discard them and bring out others.
Time must have flown by, because when we were working on the third verse, Yong-nam announced that we only had thirty minutes to go.
"Huh? Really?" I asked as I looked at him.
"I am your time keeper, aren't I?" he asked as he returned my look.
"Time really has flown, huh?" Daniel asked as he scratched the back of his head.
"I guess we were enjoying ourselves that we forgot to keep track," said Himchan.
He's right. Not only were we enjoying ourselves, we had made a tremendous amount of progress. I turned to look at my own group members and a worrying thought crossed my mind. At some point, fatigue might just kick in. From the time we had our last break, we hadn't had another. I worry that when we start to work on our piece, we'll break down for sure.
"I think we can end here," Yong-guk announced.
"What?" Christine and Zoey asked at the same time.
"But we aren't done yet," said Young-jae.
"Well, I feel we're good with only a few lines left," said Yong-guk. "Let's not forget, we've The Toxins' piece to work on too. It won't look good if we don't try to rest, then work on it when we're already tired."
I let out a huge sigh of relief that everyone turned to look at me. "Thank goodness you brought that up," I said. "I was just thinking the same thing."
"Then we can take a nice good rest," said Yong-nam as he raised his arms upwards and stretched. "I'm now starting to feel tired too."
"Goodness, do I really feel this tired?" Mike asked as he sat on the floor. He hadn't gone back to his seat after he went to join Yong-guk.
"Like Himchan said, we were enjoying oursleves that we didn't notice how time flew and how tired we're," I said.
Zoey leaned back on the couch. "Oh ya," she said as she closed her eyes. "We're so beat."
"Totally," said Zelo as he slept on the floor.
"Just make sure you don't end up falling asleep," said Daehyun.
"While we rest, I can go and bring us refreshments," said Yong-guk.
"I'll join you," I said as I slowly stood up. I realized that I had been seated with my legs folded for so long, that I now felt pins and needles. Giving my body a good stretch and walking will do me good.
"Are you okay?" Jongup asked when I held his shoulder for support.
"I'm fine, just pins and needles," I answered after holding the same position for a while, feeling the warm blood rush through my legs. Afterwards, I was able to stand upright. I took a few steps forward with little struggle, my legs still feeling a little numb.
"Can I join you two, too?" Christine asked. "I think I need to use the rest room."
"Sure," said Yong-guk as he stood up.
The three of us headed for the door when Yong-nam said, "make sure you don't take too long."
"Don't worry, we won't," said Yong-guk as he opened the door and went through with Christine and I following right behind him.ns 22.214.171.124da2