Embark on a journey through emotions with Lee Seok-hoon
It would take quite some time to list all of Lee Seok-hoon’s accomplishments. The artist, who debuted in 2008 as a member of SG Wannabe, has done radio (he has recently started a new program called Lee Seok-hoon’s Brunch Cafe), theatre (he just finished playing Monty Navarro in the musical comedy A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) and has managed to become a successful television personality, participating in various shows as either a performer or a guest judge.
Lee Seok-hoon is now ready to release his first full album as a solo artist. Customary Place takes us on an incredible journey through emotions, spacing from one genre to the next, an art he finessed while creating many successful OST for popular k-dramas.
Panorama.it had the chance to have a chat with the artist about his new album and his future projects.
I want to start by asking you one of the most simple yet complex questions: how are you?
I think I am spending my time like I always did. Listening to songs, practicing and making them. As a result, an album came out.
Customary Place is your first full album, can you tell us more about it?
In this album, I made 10 songs with various stories and emotions that I can express. I've been preparing since last fall, and I've finally made it. It's probably my first full album, so I couldn't help but put a lot of weight into it while preparing it. It is an album that contains a bit of everything. Those who love and support Lee Seok-hoon’s music will be able to feel the emotions contained in the songs while listening to them.
You explore a lot of genres in this album, from ballads to modern rock and jazz. Which was the most challenging part in realizing Customary Place?
Even though it's been quite a while since I started making music, I still feel new every time I sing each song. To that extent, I think the answer “Nothing was easy!” is the most appropriate for me rather than picking out the difficult points of making an album.
Ten tracks and each of them tell a story. Let’s start with the title track: 사랑은또. Sick Love. How did you choose it as your title track for this album?
As it was my first full album, I wanted something different. I also needed it. I was looking for a song that was perfect for me who was thinking about something new, and I think Love Sick was the most suitable for me. It is characterized by a very vintage sound, so it is a song that puts a lot of effort and thought into expressing an expression that suits it. As the first track, I think it is a song that greatly increases the concentration of the album.
You participated in both lyrics and composition of 우리가우리가아닌지금 (We're Not Us). How was working on this song?
It's actually a song I made a long time ago. I don't remember exactly when I wrote it, but when I hear the song, it reminds me of those days. The narrator who feels boredom in Now We Are Not Us is very different from me now. Still, I can feel that feeling at least slightly. I think that's the power of singing and music. It's about conveying emotions.
The same goes for 용기 (Brave). Both songs are intense and able to reach the heart of those who are listening to them. Which was the most challenging part of creating them?
This time, there were composers who were working together for the first time, and there were also songs in a style that I sang for the first time. I think the “first time” itself was meaningful work. I sang a lot of songs and released a lot of albums, but there is still ‘firsts’ that I’m new to. It's not hard and it's always fun. Maybe I’m trying something new for the next album as well?
지붕 (Shelter) has a profound meaning. Can you tell us more about this song?
I feel the weight and presence of my mother in every part of my daily life, and I try not to forget that she always seems to protect me. Shelter was born with that mind in the background. Since this song was made for my mother, I also received a lot of comfort while working on it. The reason why it is included as the last track of this album is because I want you to share the affectionate feelings contained in the song until the end. I think those who have listened will probably feel it.
You debuted in 2008. Do you remember what your thoughts were back then?
At that time, I was already very familiar with SG Wannabe's songs. I was excited as much as I joined the team that sang the songs I enjoyed listening to and loved, but I think it made me nervous as well. It's so far-fetched that was already 14 years ago. From that time until now, it's a new surprise that I've been singing with my own voice.
The Hallyu Wave is now a global phenomenon. What do you think is its power?
I think that “music” plays a very large part in the culture that led to the Korean Wave. As a musician, I am very grateful that Korean music is recognized and loved all over the world, but on the other hand, I also promise not to lose awareness of its weight. It must be that I am not the only one who has such a feeling, and I think that all musicians are forming unspoken solidarity. Wouldn't that have been the source of Korean music's special charm and, furthermore, Hallyu culture's love?
You also worked on a lot of musicals. What’s the main difference between when you are on stage as an actor and during a concert?
Musical is a genre that completely combines acting, so it makes me worry a lot about expressing it. Concerts are more familiar to me than musicals, but every time I sing, I feel like I want to empathize with a little bit more of the audience. Both are fields with their own charms, each with its own difficulties. As such, I have a lot of desire to continue to do better.
You are the voice of some of the most beautiful k-drama OST, from Moon Lovers to Chicago Typewriter and Rookie Historian. Is singing an OST in some way similar to performing in a musical?
OST is a genre with a fixed story and character, and the mood and emotions of the song are, in a way, a set genre. It has to be conveyed completely through the voice as it is. As a result, I think I started singing while thinking about how to sing, what kind of character would fit this theme and a lot of different dimensions. If it's similar to a musical, that's it. To make you think about new things.
You are a well know tv shows personality. is there some kind of program you would like to take part in?
There have been many good opportunities, so I have been able to greet you on many variety shows. Rather than having a program that I want to appear on in particular, I am always grateful if you call me, and it is good wherever it is. I think there is a reason why they called me, so I am trying to do my part in my own way. I'm grateful for it.
Being a well-trained artist, is there some advice you would like to share with the rookie and the artists planning to debut?
I hope you love music a lot. And I want to continue to love it. If I choose this path, that heart will soon become my will, and I think that will determine what kind of singer I will become. I also remember trying not to break my heart while I was a rookie. Whatever is in the end, please protect yourself and keep feeling happy through music.
Is there any new artist you are looking at with interest, or would you love to work with?
If there is an opportunity, it would be great to have an experience with various artists, but in fact, I want to show more stories with our team, SG Wannabe. There are still so many songs I want to sing with SG Wannabe. I keep talking with the members about the next album and the next song from time to time. I want to greet you with good news as SG Wannabe again someday.
Can you leave a message to your fans?
Thank you for loving and listening to my music for a long time. I want to become a singer who always repays and gives gifts with music, but I think the people who bring me closer to that ideal are the fans who listen to my songs. I will continue to sing for a long time in the future. Please give a lot of love to this album and Love Sick. Thank you!