PREP is incredibly busy. You may not know it, but the band are coming off of a tour of Asia and the US as they round off a successful year of touring and joint projects. Consisting of four Londoners, there’s not much you can find out about the guys as a collective. Individually, they leave a long trail of incredible credits behind them. While Llywelyn Ap Myrddin, Guillaume Jambel, Dan Radclyffe and Tom Havelock head back into the studio to work on the follow-up to their 2018 EP Line By Line, we managed to grab a little time to chat.

Lead singer Tom tells me that despite their individual careers as a house DJ, a hip hop producer, a classical composer/electronic producer and a songwriter, they all share a love for Steely Dan. This naturally led to the birth of PREP. For those not in the know, the group describe themselves as “City Pop - but made now, in London.” One of their latest releases, Don’t Look Back, includes the surprising feature of Shownu from Kpop boyband Monsta X and So! Yoon! Of Korean rock band Se So Neon.

-----------

Hey PREP! How’s it going? One of your latest releases is ‘Don’t Look Back’; what’s your creation process normally like?

We’re good thanks!

The way we tend to work is that the others make instrumental tracks - pretty much complete songs, but with no singing. Then I listen to them and write over the top.

I was at Dan’s studio over the summer and when he played me the ‘Don’t Look Back’ demo, the atmosphere was so strong it took me straight away into what the song should be. Sometimes there can be quite a long process of feeling around until you find the right line or phrase to hook the song on, but this one was there before I’d finished listening to that first run.

How did So! Yoon! and Shownu fit into the picture?

We met So! YoON! at our first ever show in Seoul. We went out afterwards, she played us some of her music, and we were blown away by her playing. She’s got such an incredible touch on the guitar and her solo brings this whole extra dimension to the track.

And Shownu - we know someone who knows him, and she’d told us he was a big PREP fan. We were invited to his show with Monsta X in London earlier this year, and we went to meet him beforehand and people were saying half-jokingly “you guys should do a track together.” Then we heard him sing ‘Versace on the Floor’ on stage and he was doing this really great soft RnB thing with his voice, and in the next few days the chat about a feature started to get a bit more serious, some emails went back and forth, he had a couple of hours free in his crazy schedule, and then a week or two later we suddenly had this verse from him for ‘Don’t Look Back’. Which sounds sick.

How was the Monsta X show?

It was amazing. Completely unlike any other show I’ve been to. The room was just buzzing. They started with two or three songs, incredibly high energy big pop productions, and then they suddenly switch into this relaxed chat with the audience, joking around with each other, and it goes on for about 20 minutes before the music comes back and they suddenly snap back into the tight choreographed moves and you feel like you’re watching a $100,000 music video. Plus, there are these whole sections where you’re looking at segments from one their TV shows on the big screens at the back where they’re cooking some soup in their flat, then they’re suddenly back on stage in different costumes tearing it up again. It was pretty incredible. And they have an unbelievably close relationship with their fans. A lot of love in that room.

I know you’ve also worked with DEAN. Could you tell us more?

We’ve worked with DEAN, yes, and we’re massive fans. He was a big part of us starting to get noticed in Asia. There was a crew of DJs in Seoul who we knew were into our first single, ‘Cheapest Flight’ - someone spotted this footage of them playing it at a huge festival in Seoul and the whole crowd was singing along with their phones in the air. We couldn’t believe it. Then DEAN posted about us a couple of times and we really started to see things take off.

What do you think of your growth in Asia?

I think even the first time we went over to Asia, it was a bit of a mystery to us how all this was happening - incredibly exciting, but a mystery. Then we started to get a better feel for a lot of the music that’s big over there, this very smooth sound a lot of it has, and particularly this real love for old school City Pop, which I think people were associating us with, and it began to make more sense.

Any other future collabs in the pipeline? You collab with a big mix of artists. We all know that Snakehips ‘All My Friends’ remix.

Yeah, that remix was a big one for us. We’ll do more of those, I’m sure, but the way we approach it - using lots of real instruments, proper horn arrangements and all that - takes a lot of time, so the supply has to be pretty limited. 



We’re always up for collaborating with artists we like. I think that’s a big part of the kind of music we make, coming out of that world of LA session players in the late 70s / early 80s who were always jumping on each other’s records.

We’ve got a couple of other features on this EP, both sick guitarists - Cory Wong from Vulfpeck, who’s a ridiculously good player, and Paul Jackson Jr, a real legend who played on Beat It and a lot of other Michael Jackson records.

Any ideal artists you want to work with both in Kpop and out of it?



We were actually talking about this last night. I mean, there are so many. From back in the day we’d jump at the chance to work with someone like Tatsuro Yamashita. And from people who’ve come through more recently, I’d love to hear Tyler, the Creator do something on a PREP record. Or Crush. He’d be great.

And as a final word, any songs from your discography you want to recommend as an intro to people who might not know you?



I’d start with ‘Who’s Got You Singing Again’, followed by ‘Cheapest Flight’. If you’re into the Korean angle, ‘Don’t Look Back’ is the one. Then hopefully you’ll be drawn in, and up for the deeper cuts like ‘Futures’.

-----------

Take a listen to ‘Don’t Look Back’ below and make sure to give their other singles a listen. PREP have been incredibly open with us and their city pop inspired singles are ones to check out.