As a fan of music in general, it’s hard not to be a fan of HaHaHa Production. Based out of Bucharest, Romania, I’ve never seen a group of people so excited and passionate about doing what they love and sharing it with the world. While I’ve covered some of their crazy, fast-paced production antics in the past, I recently got a chance to sit down with one of their producers, Serban Cazan, and chat about just what goes in to creating a finished song, what it’s like writing in a language that isn’t your native tongue, and what his favorite songs are right now. I’m super excited to share our conversation with you, so without further ado: let’s get to it!
Manda Collis: Hello and thank you for taking the time to chat with me! For any readers who are not yet familiar with HaHaHa Production, could you give us a brief introduction of who you are, and who I’m speaking with?
Serban Cazan: My name is Serban Cazan. I’m a music producer at HaHaHa Production. I’ve studied piano for 10 years and canto classic for five years, but at a point in my life I discovered music production. I started playing with some production software and from that moment on I was sure that production was the path I wanted to follow.
MC: HaHaHa has a pretty impressive line-up with a wide range of performers, from big names like Smiley to former Vocea României contestants (that’s Romania’s version of The Voice, for my American friends!) and a number of talented behind the scenes folks who all have different styles and different experiences in the music industry. As for your personal experience, when did first know you wanted to be a musician or work with music? What made you want to work with HaHaHa?
SC: I inherited the talent and the desire to become a musician from my father. He played in a band, so I used to listen to a lot of music at home and to go with him to rehearsals. I practically grew up surrounded by music. Later on, I started taking piano lessons, because my father’s wish was to become a pianist. I fell in love with this instrument myself and things followed their natural course.
Music was the one that brought me to HaHaHa Production. I used to play in a club, where I met CRBL, who was Smiley’s band mate. At the time, they were both playing in a band called SIMPLU. He told me he had a studio and he needed someone there to work with. I started working with CRBL and this way I met Smiley. He was on the point of setting up his first studio and one month after he opened the studio, he asked me to come to HaHaHa Production. I’m glad I was given this chance because here I’ve learned what a real friendship is and what it’s like to work in a great professional environment.
MC: Back in May, you all did a crazy #MaiMusic campaign where you released a new track every day for an entire month. Obviously this was a feat of strength, but on average about how long does it take to produce a new track from start to finish, writing to recording? What sort of work is involved to achieve a sound that is ready for the radio?
SC: I think “crazy” is good word to describe #maimusic. It was beautifully crazy. What we managed to accomplish back in May is so amazing that we want to do it again next year. I can hardly wait for #maimusic 2016.
Going back to your question…working on a song is an entire process. You have to take several steps in order to have a great song that is ready for the radio. The first step is writing the music and the lyrics and, thank God, we have a lot of ideas. I can actually say this is the easy part :). Afterwards, we work on the production. The path we take at this level depends on the style of the song, on the artist, on what we decide with the writers…The production of a song is the most difficult and time-consuming part. The main struggle is getting the most simple and clean version of the song. You have to find four simple elements that together make a hit out of your song. That’s what you need. It’s hard to say how much it will take. It can take from one day to one week. If we really want to, we can even finish a song in one day. It’s not impossible! We have enough experience.
Check out some of HaHaHa’s #MaiMusic tracks in the playlist above!
MC: HaHaHa produces a variety of songs in Romanian, but also quite a few in English. Have you encountered any difficulties in working with languages other than your native tongue?
SC: It’s a bit difficult, because you have to think things through. They don’t come as naturally as they do when we work on a song in Romanian. As a producer, my job is easier from this point of view. I think the songwriters are the ones who experience these difficulties more.
MC: Do you feel any pressure to keep up with the English speaking music industry, such as the big name artists coming from the United States? What do you do to address this pressure?
SC: If we talk about the music level, there’s a big competition and a certain pressure, especially because we are trying to bring our music, our production techniques (which I realized that are very different) to the States. However, music is a common language. I had the chance so far to work with Babyface and other songwriters and producers from the US and, what made me really excited, is that these people, quite reserved at the beginning, turned out to be really impressed with what we had to show and expressed their desire to work with us again.
We can really talk about pressure if you are a really good musician and you know you can get more out of a song, you can produce it in a complex manner, because you have the skills to do it, but you are forced to adjust it to the level of the music market.
MC: We Americans seem to have less exposure to music that is not in English or Spanish, whereas in Europe it seems like listening to “foreign” music is much more common. Do you have any advice or suggestions for how to enjoy or appreciate music in a language you do not understand?
SC: I believe that a hit is a hit no matter the language of the lyrics. The best example is Stromae, a French artist, who is really famous in Europe. He recently begun to be known in the US also and there are people who love his songs although they don’t understand the words. If you work with music, as I do, things get a little bit different. When I listen to a song I pay attention more to the way it sounds, I go beyond the lyrics. For instance, I listen to many Israeli artists, although I don’t know the language. Music is a universal language, after all.
MC: If you could collaborate with any artist or producer, who would it be?
SC: My dream is to write a song with Alicia Keys. She is a great artist, we are both pianists and I believe that we could do a great job together. I know that sooner or later this is going to happen.
MC: What is your favorite song right now?
SC: At the moment, I really like Naughty Boy ft. Beyoncé & Arrow Benjamin – “Runnin’ (Lose It All)”
MC: What’s next for HaHaHa Production? Do you have any projects or upcoming tracks that you can talk about that fans should be looking forward to? What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
SC: We have many projects going on. For instance, Sore just released a new track and in November DOC & Smiley will come with a new song. These are just two of our upcoming releases.
For more than a year now we are also taking steps towards producing music for artists in the US. We had several writing sessions in the States; we had American songwriters who came to Romania…so far we have over 160 songs with this precise destination. Sofia Reyes is an artist who has already released a song produced by HaHaHa Production, but we discussing with many more artists, like Aston Merrygold, Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande, Natalie La Rose or Trey Songz.
Sore’s “Cand vremea e rea” is one of HaHaHa Production’s newest releases.
Thank you so much to Serban for taking the time to chat with me, and I hope you all enjoyed reading along! You can say hello or follow Serban Cazan on Facebook, or if you’d like to keep up with HaHaHa Production and their latest releases, you can find them at hahahaproduction.com, or they are also on Facebook and YouTube.