Gaho first album is a «Fireworks» of emotions
He is the mastermind behind some of the most beautiful and intense K-drama OSTs. One example? Itaewon Class’s Start Over, which topped South Korea’s Gaon Digital Chart and won in 2020 as Best OST at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. There is no doubt that the first album of this 25-year-old genius singer and composer was one of the most awaited of the year. And “Fireworks,” that’s the name Gaho chose for his first-ever studio album, doesn’t disappoint. Twelve tracks, each one of them related to one specific emotion, a great show that puts Gaho on the list of the most promising under 30 singers of the K-pop industry.
Panorama.it interviewed him exclusively for the Italian public.
Let’s start with your first solo album, Fireworks. The release is a massive step in your career. How do you feel?
«It might sound a little funny, but I’d like to congratulate myself. This recent album also has a lot of meaning to our company and so lots of people helped out, so I’d like to say thank you to all of them. This album contains various emotions felt by young people including me, my friends and colleagues. I hope this album can be the starting point of hope for many people who are spending their youth, the most sparkling times in life. I also hope this album helps me one step closer to my fans».
The name of the album is Fireworks. Can you tell us more about it?
«I am 25 and I thought ‘Fireworks’ is a word that can represent the 20s. The fireworks go up high into the sky and for a brief fleeting moment bursts glamorously. I also thought your 20s is a moment in life when you are shining the brightest. I thought I am also in such a time where I am in the chapter where I am going up into the sky. As it’s an official album there are 12 songs and they all have different genres of music».
Your album contains 12 tracks that correspond to a word that is also a feeling. There is, of course, love, hope, excitement but also worry, obsession, emptiness. It’s a profound concept that is the reflection of the youth with all his ups and downs. How did you get to choose this concept?
«I don’t really have a hobby and often work on songs. So, because of that, I tend to often think about what themes and topics to choose for my music. And often, I tend to get inspiration from listening to my friends and people around me about their everyday life stories. That made me think about the 20s youth and I thought it would be interesting to express these thoughts through music. Now I am in my mid 20s and I was hoping that I and others can in a way heal and gain hope from their worries through my music».
The title track is Right Now. Why did you choose this song as your single, and what is the feeling related to this track?
«I think that there aren’t many days when a person can feel a strong, heavy emotion and that motivated me to write the song. I hope that people can feel that strong moving emotion through this song. I think feeling moved during a special moment is one of the precious emotions. So I hope this song can be the initial stage to open many young people to hope».
Let’s talk a bit about you. Your real name is Kang Dae-ho. Gaho was your nickname while growing up. Do you remember who gave you this nickname? Why did you choose it as your stage name?
«Actually there isn’t one particular story on how the artist name ‘Gaho’ was made. I got that nickname when I was in school. During winter times, all the other students wore padded coats but I wore a leather jacket on top of my student uniform. Other students made jokes saying I was ‘holding on to 가오(Ga-Oh , pride)’ [editor note: holding on to Ga-Oh means to bluff or pretend to be cool]. And as a student I often sang and danced at school festivals. During those times my students would cheer me on with pickets and signs that said ‘Gaho’. Starting out, that became a noticeable artist name. Basically they combined my name ‘Kang DaeHo’ with ‘Ga-Oh’ and it became ‘Gaho’. Even when I think about it now, I don’t fully understand why my friends kept calling me Gaho but now it grew on me. So I guess I subconsciously thought that if I become an artist, I will use the artist name ‘Gaho’».
You wrote some of the most beautiful OSTs in the K-drama scene. From “Come to Me” of “While You Were Sleeping” to “Start Over” of “Itaewon Class”. Which is the difference between composing a song for a drama and creating an album?
«I think joining a project where the song is produced has an attraction that’s the opposite of writing my own song. As a singer songwriter, I do the music that I want to pursue as ‘Gaho’. For working on OSTs or joining an outside project, I think of it as me playing as another character. For the music with thoughts I want to express, I can work on it and I have a prediction on how to finalize it. On the other hand OST contains the clear intentions and thoughts of other people who produced the song when you look at the melody, lyrics, and arrangement. So my number 1 priority is to sing the song according to their intentions. Also, additionally I try to add most of my vocal tones and flavors into the song. So since I can’t predict many of these parts, in some ways, it has its own brand of fun».
You are part of the OST of the drama Jirisan along with BTS Jin and SNSD’s Taeyeon. Can you give tell us something more about this track?
«The song that I am part of (OST Part.2 ‘Memories’), the electric guitar and drums are quite memorable. The lyrics are all in English and I tried to sing it in a refreshing breezy way. I feel like the flow will suitable for a scene when the atmosphere of the mountains changes or when the scene changes».
Both in interpretations and writing, you range from the soundtrack to indie to pop. Among other things, you focus on your extraordinary voice, on the numerous live performances, and never on choreographies. An original and almost unconventional approach for a young Korean artist. How do you position yourself in the world of k music, and where do you want to go?
«When I work on music, I often feel like I pursue the music that I want and that can lead my music to be more unrestricted and unique. However, I think that can alienate the public music listeners so I try to melt more mainstream elements into my music. I might sound arrogant but since I write my own lyrics, compose and produce - I think I am an all around musician. So even if I don’t do group choreography or dance, I think perhaps filling my performance mostly with music can perhaps be my unique point. I’d like to be my own type of artist that can show my own unique colors».
I have to ask about Fly. We all love it and it’s one of your signature songs. Can you tell us the meaning of it?
«I was inspired by ‘Fly’ when I was on a PLT Europe tour and I looked out the plane window. During those days, I had many struggling people around me so I was hoping to be of comfort to them. So I have the lyrics “벗어나 저 구름 위는 어떨까? 상상 속 내게 날개를, 저 높은 하늘 위로 fly~” (‘What if I break free to above and beyond the clouds? Wings to me in my imagination To high above the sky fly~’) to convey a feeling of breaking away from reality and gain confidence».
If you could describe yourself right now with a K-drama, a food and a color, which would they be? And why?
«It’s not because I was involved with this show, but I think I have similarities to Park Sae-ro-yi from Itaewon Class. Like his characteristics and the way he is facing challenges in life. For food ‘Udon’. My mom once read to me the book ‘One Bowl of Udon’ [editor note: the book ‘One Bowl of Udon’ is from Japan, titled ‘One Bowl of Kakesoba’ in English. However, when the book was published in Korea, they changed the title to ‘One Bowl of Udon’ instead] and after that I loved udon. So nowadays, due to the chilly weather I am thinking of udon these days. Lastly, I think ‘mint color’ represents me well. Mint as a flavor or color is often loved or hated by many people. In that regard, there are those who love my music but there are also people who think my music can be a little weird. So I feel like I am similar to mint».
Who is Gaho right now?
«In the anime ‘Dragon Ball’ the main character is ‘Goku’. He is on a journey to collect all 7 dragon balls and going on many adventures for that quest. I feel like there is a similarity with me who is going through my own challenges and trying to advance to be the best that I can be».
Global PR and Marketing Strategy by MJ TONZ
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