Melanie Fontana has emerged as an in-demand pop songwriter who is getting singles and cuts with a wide range of artists. Since co-writing a song for Justin Bieber in 2011, Fontana has co-written songs for such artists as Britney Spears and the Chainsmokers, and she co-wrote a song (“Good In Bed”) on Dua Lipa’s hot new album, Future Nostalgia.
Notwithstanding these fine achievements, Fontana (who is based in Los Angeles) is perhaps best known for her songwriting collaborations with superstar K-pop group, BTS. Last year (2019), she co-wrote their worldwide hit “Boy With Luv,” which reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Then two weeks ago (March 2020), Fontana scored another hit, co-writing BTS’ new song “ON,” which debuted at #4 on the Hot 100. She has also co-written other songs for the group.
Interestingly with BTS, Fontana works in a different way than most collaborations in the studio. She and her husband (writer/producer Lindgren, who also co-wrote “Boy With Luv” and “ON”) receive music tracks from BTS and their management team at Big Hit Entertainment (which is based in South Korea), and then they write melodies, hooks and lyrics to accompany the tracks. Upon making their writing contributions, they’ll send the song back to BTS & Big Hit, who will complete the writing, record their vocals and finish the production.
After contributing their writing on a BTS song, Fontana & Lindgren will move on to other projects, while they wait weeks or months for the potential release of their BTS cut. Then suddenly, they will receive good news, that their song is being released by BTS, and in some cases the song has been selected as a single. On top of this, BTS frequently attracts other top artists to sing on their records, such as Halsey singing on “Boy With Luv” and Sia singing on “ON.”
Fontana first caught the attention of BTS and Big Hit in 2018, when she co-wrote the song, “Euphoria.” Since then, it’s clear that BTS values her songwriting skills (and Lindgren’s writing, too). It’s a unique relationship that has led to international success, while still allowing Fontana & Lindgren to write for many other artists.
Besides co-writing songs for the artists listed above, Fontana has co-written songs for Daya, The Band Perry, Aaron Carter, Drake Bell, Illenium, Girls’ Generation, Koda Kumi and other artists.
In addition to her songwriting, Fontana is a singer who has been featured on cuts by other artists. She also sings & writes songs for TV shows, and she does voice over work. Fontana is managed by Justin Garza, who is founder of the media company, The Dream Adopters.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Melanie Fontana. She tells she got started in the music business, and she discusses her cuts with BTS and other artists.
DK: I read that you’re from Connecticut, and you used to live in New York. How did you get started as a singer and songwriter?
Melanie Fontana: I grew up in Connecticut, which is in-between a few major cities. I’m about an hour-and-a-half from New York City, and an hour-and-a-half from Boston, so I always felt like the entertainment industry was never far out of reach. I’ve been singing since I can remember—my mom told me before I could talk, I was singing melodies to songs in the car. And always knew that in my gut, I was going to do music. That was my path.
So when I was 18, I moved to New York City. I ended up lucking out and meeting the right people at the right time, that catapulted me into songwriting. At first, I sang demos for other people…I would go to studios and get hired to sing other songwriter’s songs, so they could pitch these songs to record labels and artists.
I started to realize that songwriting could be lucrative, so I tried to transition into writing on these sessions. I’d say, ”Hey, I write songs…do you want to do this together?” And then, some of the producers I’d been working with took chances on me, and that gave me experience. Then that experience sort of ping-ponged me back and forth into writing with great, incredible songwriters who I consider to be my mentors. Then I ended up moving to L.A. to pursue an artist career and more opportunities.
When I was in L.A., I was signed to this producer who was well-connected, but he had absolutely no idea what to do with me (laughs), so it flopped. But because this producer was well-connected, I utilized the connections to get me into different, great songwriting rooms after our relationship dissolved. So that’s how it started—it was one part luck, and one part being able to show up and do my job.
Here’s the video of BTS’ hit “Boy With Luv” (feat. Halsey), which
was co-written by Melanie Fontana & Lindgren.
DK: When you were in L.A., what was your first big break in the music business?
Fontana: In 2012, a friend of a friend introduced me to (hit songwriter & artist) Nasri Atweh. At the time, Nasri was mainly writing for other people (before he formed his band, MAGIC!). He was writing for Justin Bieber, JoJo, Jason Derulo and Kelly Clsrkson. Nasri told my friend, “Hey, I’m looking to add a female songwriter to my team.” So that’s when I met Nasri, and then he and his brother took care of me on the management side for about four years. So my first big break was when I met Nasri, [and he got me] my collaboration with Justin Bieber.
DK: Then in 2016, you got a cut with Britney Spears (“Mood Ring”). Was that when you were working with Nasri?
Fontana: That was actually after my time with Nasri. Nasri decided to go full throttle on being an artist, so he didn’t have time for taking care of me (as a songwriter) anymore. But because we had so much respect for each other, we parted very amicably. I was like, “Go do your dream and I’m going to do mine.” So after that, I co-wrote “Mood Ring” for Britney Spears, and [it also turned out to be] a cut with the Chainsmokers called “Setting Fires” (because the Chainsmokers had created the beat).
DK: In the past few years you’ve had an excellent collaboration with BTS. Did it start when you co-wrote their song, “Euphoria”?
Fontana: Yes, “Euphoria was the first time I collaborated with Big Hit Entertainment or BTS. I was lucky to get pulled in on the song, which was co-written by this incredible producer named Candace Sosa and her writing partner, DJ Swivel. I happened to have a day off, and DJ Swivel asked me, “Do you want to come by my house? I’m working on this song that could be for BTS or a male pop star like Justin Bieber. And we’re looking for that hook. Can you help us write the chorus?”And I was like, “Of course.” So I came in and we did some editing on the verses, we made sure the pre-chorus was tight, and we wrote a chorus and a bridge.
Here’s the video of BTS’ hit “ON”, which was co-written by
Melanie Fontana & Lindgren.
After that, the record label (Big Hit) ended up reaching out to me for other things. I like how Big Hit came direct to me; they have no time for playing around. They just go straight to you…if they love [a song] they say so, and if they don’t like it, they’ll tell you. And that’s my favorite part about working for Big Hit…it’s just the honesty that you get.
DK: After you co-wrote “Euphoria,” is that when they asked you to write for “Boy With Luv”?
Fontana: Yes. The record label initially reached out to me on Instagram, but because I’d also had some fans of BTS reaching out to me, their message fell into a folder of general messages, instead of a folder for important messages. So I didn’t see their message. And then finally, BTS’ head of A&R Nicole (Kim) found my email address and wrote me an email.
DK: So how did you co-write “Boy With Luv” for BTS?
Fontana: They sent us an empty track, and then Lindgren and I, we filled it up with our melodies, and then BTS came in and they wrote lyrics on top of it, and then they changed the parts they want to change. My husband, Lindgren, does lyrics and melodies, but I feel his bread and butter is music production. He’s a phenomenal music producer.
DK: For the new BTS song, “On,” how did you co-write it?
Fontana: Same exact thing. We got an email, and it said, “We’re looking for a single; here’s the track that the boys and the producers have come up with. We have a theme…it’s called ‘On.’ So you guys, just have at it. It has to be emotional and big.” With Big Hit, they sometimes chop up different toplines to make the song. And on “On,” our melodies are included in the first verse, and in the chorus. The rest of the song is written by the BTS guys, who are extremely involved in the songwriting process.
You know, it’s like a satellite collaboration. They’ll make suggestions, and we’ll go back and forth until it feels perfect for them. Then after it’s finished, we usually won’t hear anything for a few weeks. And then we’ll hear, “Hey, it’s the single (laughs). And by the way, Sia is on it. Or by the way, Halsey is on it.” It’s always like this great surprise.
DK: Besides your recent BTS cuts, do you have other cuts or singles coming out?
Fontana: Yes. We’re excited that we have a song out on Dua Lipa’s new album. It’s called “Good In Bed.” It’s a really fun number that we wrote with a great friend of ours, called Upsahl. She’s a songwriter and she’s an artist who’s signed to Arista Records. We’ve also got two songs coming out with Cheat Codes, and a couple songs with DeathbyRomy; she’s an artist signed to Capitol Records.