You’re Gonna Go Far

I love writing dialogue. The best movies and TV shows have great dialogue spliced between the relationships of its characters. Even though I'm not a terrific writer, I try to make sure that the dialogue doesn't stay stagnant and keep the audience engage. Regardless, I hope you have a great time reading thus far.

“How did you end up getting a job at HYBE?”

The two newly acquainted individuals stood in front of one of the available elevators, watching the glowing red numbers go up in digits. Yunjin asked Farrell a question after the two of them fell into comfortable silence for a short while. She wasn’t sure about the man standing next to her, one hand holding his takeaway coffee and the other skilfully typing away at his phone, but it was quite rare for Yunjin to already feel at ease with someone she just met fifteen minutes ago. As if it didn’t matter if both of them were strangers prior to their conversation that started in line at a coffee shop. Not a single air of unease. It puzzled Yunjin, but it didn’t bother her; much rather have this than be around someone whose presence was dull enough to not cut through awkward tension but intensify it instead.

Farrell’s eyes were still fixated on his phone when he responded to Yunjin’s question with a simple, “Sorry, what was that?”

Yunjin scoffed, shaking her head and said, “Wow. I get that I like being invisible, but I’m not a brick wall, you know.”

“Hm? Oh!” Farrell hummed but realised soon after that another human being other than himself was present beside him. He quickly sent the message on his phone and shoved the device back in his jeans pocket, saying, “Sorry about that, had to reply to an urgent text.”

“Huh,” said Yunjin, suspiciously looking at Farrell before she continued, “Was that your girlfriend?”

Farrell shook his head and responded, “No.”

“Your boyfriend?” Yunjin stipulated further.

Farrell smiled and shook his head again. “No, but it’s cool to know that you’re cool about that sorta stuff.”

“Love is love. What can I say?” said Yunjin, shrugging her shoulders as she took a sip of her slightly diluted Iced Americano. “Speaking of love, is your partner non-binary?”

Farrell laughed at how persistent Yunjin was. Watching the girl say things in the most unintentionally funny way whenever he stumbled upon fan edits on his social media feed was entertaining, but even more so when she was saying these things in front of him, face-to-face, in real life. It was surreal for Farrell, to be able to talk to Yunjin at all in fact.

“I don’t have a partner at the moment,” Farrell admitted. “Not for a long time, no.”

Yunjin nodded but in her head, she pondered why. Because – “You don’t look too bad, though.”

Farrell blinked a few times at Yunjin before, “I don’t look too bad?”

Yunjin shook her head. Her eyes looked up and down Farrell’s appearance; he wore a Kathmandu puffer jacket with a grey sweatshirt underneath, blue slim-fit jeans and a pair of black Doc Martens. Accentuating his looks are a couple of accessories – a silver necklace, two silver rings on his ring and middle finger on his left hand and a brown leather watch wrapped around his right wrist. Yunjin then concluded by saying, “Yeah, you don’t look too bad. I like your fit.”

Farrell had to fight off every urge to run to the nearest hills when he heard Yunjin compliment his outfit. Calming down his heart rate for a second, Farrel replied, “Thanks… but looks don’t really matter when you’re dating someone, don’t they?”

A soft ding interrupted their conversation and the elevator door soon opened, the same jazz music playing from before could be heard from the inside. Yunjin looked at Farrell and gestured for him to go inside, but Farrell extended his arm out and gestured for the girl to enter the elevator first. Slightly bowing her head as a way of saying thanks, Yunjin walked into the elevator, followed by Farrell who pressed the number 10 so that the contraption would go down to the tenth floor.

“No, you’re totally right. I’m just saying, like, you look like the kind of guy that would be taken by someone. Not in the literal sense, I mean, like in a relationship kind of sense. Does that make sense?” Yunjin replied to Farrell’s rhetorical question, to which the latter hummed to show that he did make sense of what the girl said.

“It does, it does,” Farrell said. His right foot was lightly tapping to the beat of the soft jazz music playing through the elevator speakers as they continued their descent. “We’re getting sidetracked here – what was your question again?”

“Oh, yeah, I did ask you a question,” Yunjin said to herself, recalling what she asked Farrell for a couple of seconds as she put her hand on her chin. Once she remembered, she snapped her fingers and exclaimed, “Oh, right! So, how did you end up working here?”

The elevator door opened just as soon as the question left Yunjin’s mouth. Farrell did what he had done before and gestured for the girl to walk out first, to which Yunjin thanked him with a smile. Once Farrell stepped out, they both began to walk down the quiet corridors where all of the recording studios were located. The walls were covered in soft padded material to isolate sounds and voices from outside of the studios. The floor was carpeted in a greyish tone and the lights were bright enough to illuminate every inch and every corner but not too bright where it could blind those who would through the corridors.

“It was an interesting process, for me at least,” said Farrell as he began to tell his story. “To give you context, I’ve never taken any lessons or courses related to songwriting or music production. Those two things have always been a passion of mine ever since I was a kid, but as what typical kids go through, they have to shove it all in the backburner and focus on what’s realistic. In my case, I didn’t want my parents to spend all their life savings on a university degree that guarantees nothing but potential unemployment, so when I finished high school at 17, I went and studied Accounting and Management in Australia for three years. After finishing my final exams, there was a time when I had to decide to go back home to Indonesia or stay in Australia and work there until who knows when. That is until I saw HYBE posted – I think it was on Instagram Reels or something – that they were shortlisting 10 people to come and do a two-year crash course on songwriting and music production. So, I was like – wait, sorry, am I boring you at all, Yunjin?”

Yunjin was listening to Farrell intently, almost captivated by how he told his tale of dreams versus the crushing reality because she felt the exact same feeling when she pursued a career path in the brutal industry of Korean pop music. A feeling that kept her awake during lonely nights when she felt homesick, being so far away from the States, and from her family and childhood friends, just to see what was behind the shiny, golden door and the red curtains that may uncover a potential future of being a singer-songwriter. Yunjin knew both her parents spent a lot of their hard-earned money to provide for Yunjin, which is why she felt obligated to pay them back by being as successful as she could be in her line of work.

He's from Indonesia, huh, Yunjin thought. That explains why he doesn’t look the slightest bit Korean.

When Yunjin realised that Farrell stopped talking due to fear of the latter losing interest in the conversation, she shook her head frantically and spoke, “No! Not at all. Farrell, please, I was really getting into it. Keep going, seriously.”

Farrell chuckled. He still couldn’t believe he was pouring his heart and soul into someone who he often saw on his phone screen. The universe must have liked him a lot to let fate roll a number 20 on a D&D session because this whole interaction felt incredibly surreal to him. Almost too good to be true.

And so, Farrell continued his story. “Alright then, where was I? Ah, right – I saw the post on Reels saying that they’re looking for people to come join their camp and found out that it was a two-year contract. So I was like, ‘I’d be so stupid to miss out on this’. I’ve been making music for quite a while even before starting university, and since I had to upload at least 2 demos, the hardest part was choosing the right songs to impress whoever was the hiring manager for these sorts of things. Anyway, I did it and waited for two gruelling months filled with anxiety and doubt, but I eventually got in. I started in June of this year and I’ve been here ever since. Tadaa!”

Looking like a movie theatre audience who finished watching an Oscar-winning movie, Yunjin stared at Farrell in utter astonishment. She soon began applauding, clapping her hands lightly so as not to make too much of a ruckus. “Oh, my God, yes! We love a happy ending!”

Farrell followed suit with the applause, “Yay! It’s giving dreams come true!”

Yunjin chimed in by saying, “We love that about you!”

Farrell added, “How many letters does ‘Farrell’?”

Both Yunjin and Farrell shouted in unison, “Ate!”

Both of them started laughing loudly at the fact that they shared the same brain cell. Yunjin couldn’t help but feel relieved; relieved that they were able to get along just fine within the first thirty minutes, relieved that she was going to let Eunchae know to stop the endless teasing, and relieved that it was Farrell, out of all the people she had to strike up a conversation with today, it was someone who felt like she knew from one of her many past lives.

Once the laughter died down, Farrell pointed at one of the doors that led to an available studio room. Then, the latter spoke, “We’ll just use this room here. My colleague and I were doing a one-on-one session with a producer the other day about audio engineering. There should be a guitar and a keyboard if I’m not mistaken. Here, let me get the door for you.”

Farrell reached out his hand to the doorknob, grabbed a hold of the handle and pushed it down. He walked in first, then stepped aside to let Yunjin in the studio. It was like any other recording room that Yunjin had ever been to in the HYBE building; the room had enough space to fit a decent-size white leather couch, a long coffee table to place belongings and mountains of takeaway food on, a couple of comfortable looking chairs lined up next to each other and the digital audio workspace, or a DAW as most people tend to call it, that’s connected to all sorts of interfaces that Yunjin has yet to learn the real usage of the equivalent of an aeroplane’s instruments panel as each button and knob is used for different things during the recording and mixing process. Next to the two giant computer monitors were equally large speakers which Yunjin remembered during her time recording her parts in her group songs to be crystal clear and can easily detect any work audio anomaly in the mix, such as giving too much lower end on the EQ or compressing the vocals to sound the way it should on the final product. A see-through glass window acted as a barrier between the producer side of the studio and the actual recording side where artists can record their vocal parts in peace. A high-quality mic and a music stand stood in the middle of the booth, awaiting a human being to project its vocal cords onto the little, sound-proof room.

The air-conditioning was blasting hot air throughout the room and Yunjin knew that if she kept wearing her black leather jacket, she would start to sweat immensely. As if on cue, Farrell, who was taking off his puffer jacket and setting it up on a coat rack placed near the entrance, said to the girl, “Here, let me get your jacket and purse. I’ll put it over here for now.”

Yunjin did as she was told, not forgetting to say, “Thanks so much.”

Farrell shook his head and replied, “Don’t mention it. Make yourself comfortable; grab that guitar over in the corner there and we can get started.”

Yunjin went for the acoustic guitar that was propped next to the keyboard in a corner of the studio. Noticing that there was a tool missing to complete the ensemble, she asked, “Hey, Farrell? Do you know if we have a capo lying around somewhere?”

Farrell, who had just thrown away the empty takeaway cups into the small bin next to the coat rack, turned to Yunjin and nodded, pointing his finger towards a shelf underneath the DAW. “Yeah, it’s just in there, top drawer.”

Yunjin opened the first drawer of three and found the capo that she was looking for sitting on top of an A4 notebook. Thinking that she might need it to write her ideas down, she grabbed the notebook as well as a random black pen before closing the drawer shut. Yunjin made her way to the couch, threw the notebook and pen on the coffee table and sat herself down on the comfortable piece of furniture. Placing the capo on the second fret, she began to fingerpick a random set of chords, trying to paint a blank canvas without a of a cohesive theme in mind to aid her in writing a song.

Farrell sat down on the producer’s chair and wheeled himself closer to the coffee table so that he could be sitting across from Yunjin. Watching the girl mindlessly play an unnamed tune, he said, “Sounds like you’ve already got a hit right there.”

Yunjin shook her head as she continued to play the guitar, and replied, “I honestly don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Yeah, but it sounds good, which is still better than nothing,” said Farrell, reassuring Yunjin. “Let’s go back to the drawing board and start from the beginning. If you got the green light from your label to officially release a body of work, what is the theme of that body of work?”

Yunjin strummed a D major chord before stopping completely, having a quick think about it. To pinpoint a concept for an imaginative single or better yet a full-length album. She had so many ideas running through her densely populated brain that it was difficult to categorise them in one neat compartment and mark them distinctively based on their mood, genres and meanings. It overwhelmed her quite a bit. Answering Farrell’s question, Yunjin said, “I… don’t know how to put it into words. It’s like nonstop traffic. Too many things in one small space.”

Farrell nodded, understanding how Yunjin felt as writer’s block was not an exclusive phenomenon that applies only to Yunjin. “That’s okay. It’s not instant like ramen. Think of it like a Texas-style slow-cooked beef brisket; you gotta let it cook for a bit to let the seasonings marinate.”

Yunjin laughed at the metaphor Farrell gave. “That’s such a weird analogy, but yes, I get it.”

Farrell smiled at Yunjin, proud of coming up with that metaphor on the spot, and said, “I’m glad you get it because I want to make you understand that it’s not a bad thing to not know what you want to write. It’s not meant to be a stress-inducing process, although it may seem like it sometimes, that’s because we tend to pressure ourselves to put out something that you and those who listen to your music would enjoy and feel proud of.”

Farrell reached for his phone in his pocket, opened the Notes app and continued, “Now, let’s start with something easy. Something that you could grab a hold of at this moment. For example: how are you feeling?”

Yunjin thought about it, and answered, “I feel pretty good today.”

Farrell chuckled and said, “That’s good to hear, but let’s go more specific than just ‘I feel pretty good’. How was your morning? What did you do when you first wake up? What did you do after you woke up? What emotions were going through your chest when the day started? If you feel a certain kind of emotion, what would that be and why?”

Yunjin recalled the events of this morning, and just like that, she remembered a mental note she had forgotten about when she came to the HYBE building. That funny feeling on the inside of her stomach when she stared at her body in front of her mirror in her bedroom. Not knowing if she should tell Farrell about her experience, Yunjin replied, “I remember something. It was quite weird, actually. I don’t know how to make of it.”

Farrell leaned forward from his chair, perking up both of his ears in interest and asked in a gentle voice, “Do you mind sharing it with me? If you’re comfortable, of course.”

Yunjin shook her head, smiling at how incredibly nice and soft-spoken Farrell had become. It made her feel appreciated and taken care of. She replied, “No, not at all.”

Yunjin cleared and set the acoustic guitar on the side. Her hands were intertwined with one another as she leaned back into the couch and explained what happened. “It was a pretty average morning: I woke up refreshed knowing that I had a whole week off so I thought I’d do something productive. But, as I mentioned before, I had no luck writing not even a single word of verse. Then, Eunchae came and told me she made breakfast, which I don’t know if you’ve ever met Eunchae before, but her making breakfast is the equivalent of a solar eclipse: it rarely happens and when it does, it amazes me that she’s able to do such a thing.”

Farrell chuckled in response, trying to imagine what life must be like being in a K-Pop group with different personalities running about the shared living space.

Yunjin continued, “After I had breakfast, I went back into my room and as I came in, I noticed myself in the big mirror. I didn’t realise that I was staring at myself for a long time until my face and body became unrecognisable. It was like looking into a weird, distorted version of myself. So distorted, so out of place, that I thought it wasn’t me anymore. She was a stranger, harbouring the same dreams, fears, memories and physical attributes. As I got changed, this weird feeling never left and I just kept staring at myself, thinking about many different things: the way my stomach looked weird, the way my waist looked weird, the way my orange hair looked weird, the way the gap between my thighs looked weird, the way my knees looked weird. Then, I started thinking of how felt it was to be in my own body.”

“Then, I started to think about Eunchae, Chaewon, Sakura, and Kazuha, and how for the longest time, I wondered what it was like to be in their shoes because I had never come across four perfect-looking people in my life and now that I have them as my bandmates, that feeling never left; it only intensified. Then, I started thinking about how they have a much wider range of people adoring them and looking up to them as individual members than I do, which is ridiculous to think, I know. It sounds egotistical and wrong, but I can’t help it, you know? It’s like I’m saying to myself, ‘Hey, you’re great but you know who else is much better than you? Your girls.’ And… I don’t know. I just felt so lost and hurt and confused, even though I know better than to drag myself down like that.”

Farrell kept his mouth shut as he listened to what Yunjin was sharing with him. It saddened him to think that this was what the girl sitting next to him had been feeling recently. He had to erase the fabricated image of Huh Yunjin in his mind; an image of a strong, witty and outgoing girl that he often sees in short video clips online. He reminded himself that she was just any other girl going through the stages of adulthood; dazed and confused, and often unsure of the meaning of her existence.

After spewing all of her heart out, Yunjin felt her face warm up. Using both of her hands to shield her face, she let out an embarrassed groan and said, “I’m so sorry you had to hear all of that. It was sooooo unnecessary.”

Farrell shook his head, saying, “You don’t need to say sorry. Especially after being vulnerable like that.”

Yunjin’s hands fell from her face, uncovering flushed cheeks and a small pout on her lips. The girl responded, “I know, but I just feel bad for you because, well, you just met me and it seems like too much information to give out to someone who I just met.”

“It’s not too much information, and like I said, you don’t need to feel bad for me,” said Farrell in a reassuring tone. “I asked that you would tell me how you’re feeling and you did. So, thank you.”

Yunjin sighed, raising her head to the ceiling as she tried to calm herself down.

Farrell started typing up something on his phone and said, “That was a really good start. I’ve jolted some things down so that we can circle back later, but this is what I’m talking about. It’s meant to be a therapeutic process. It’s not something that you should shy away from. I mean, you’re an artist, for crying out loud; more specifically a songwriter. That’s the price you pay for being in this industry: you have to be transparent with yourself to fully understand what you want, what you stand for and how you feel. I’ve listened to your songs before and they’re all fantastically written. You know your voice more than anyone else, so let’s harness it and give it the gasoline it needs to drive the whole mile. You get what I mean?”

Yunjin nodded, pulling her head down to face Farrell and said, “Yes, a hundred per cent.”

Farrell nodded back and replied, “That’s great. Now let’s pull apart the layers of what you just told me and we can go from there.”

Happiness is a word that is often misinterpreted by many people, but Yunjin felt like the word was a perfect summarization of the warm feeling in her chest. Smiling widely, Yunjin replied, “Sounds good.”

Farrell smiled back and said, “Okay. Now, can you pass me that guitar, please? I think I’ve got a vibe going here. It’s giving Special by SZA but with more of a Huh Yunjin twist to it.”

Yunjin couldn’t help but laugh at Farrell’s description. She passed the guitar to the man, who took it out of her hand and placed the capo on the fourth fret. Farrell started playing all sorts of barre chords in weird hand positions, piecing together a musical puzzle that Yunjin had trouble finding someone to help her with until now.

As Yunjin watched the man in front of her playing beautiful melodies, she said, “Farrell?”

Farrell raised his head from the guitar to Yunjin and asked, “Hm?”

Yunjin wholeheartedly said, “Thank you. Just… thank you.”

Farrell shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I like helping out people.” There was a pause in his sentence before he continued. “I like helping you. You’re much more interesting in person.”

Yunjin clicked her tongue, crossed her arms around her chest and said, “I wasn’t interesting before?”

Farrell grinned. “You were. But you’ve got my full attention now.”

Like this story? Give it an Upvote!
Thank you!


You must be logged in to comment
No comments yet