After 6 years, Yangpa back with ‘Windows’

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After 6 years, Yangpa back with ‘Windows’

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Known as Yangpa, Lee Eun-jin, above and left, is back with her fifth album, “The Windows of My Soul.”

After a six-year hiatus, Lee Eun-jin, 28, known as Yangpa (meaning onion in Korean), is back.
With her return to the public eye with her fifth album titled, “The Windows of My Soul,” Yangpa has a tight schedule with her album at the top of the music charts ― both online and offline.
Yangpa holds a music degree from the University of California at Berkeley and made her debut in 1996 as a teen musician. She rose to stardom with hits, mainly ballads, including “The Greenhorn’s Love” and “Addio.” At that time, she was often was called the “Queen of Ballads.” A few years after her debut, however, she disappeared from the music scene in 2001, partly due to trouble with her agency.
Now, Yangpa says she has more to share.
Of the 12 songs on her fifth album, “What is Love?” is the first single.
Overall, the album has been well-received, although some critics say it is too melodramatic.
“It’s true ― it is melodramatic,” said Yangpa. “However, is that bad?”
She mentioned that different forms of melodrama in plays and novels have existed since the Shakespearean period. She emphasized that her songs are about melodies openly expressing love and sorrow.
“If these songs bring out people’s emotions, isn’t it something good?” says Yangpa. “For those who are disappointed with my new album, I want to ask them for more faith and patience.”
Yangpa said old-fashioned ballads may have lost some popularity among today’s K-pop, but she hopes to revive the genre.
“I do admit that compared to other singers today, my way of singing and tone are quite different,” she said. “I believe that I am a musician with expressive vocals.” She said melody that comes from deep within a singer’s heart remains in the heart of the listener as well.
As the spotlight returns to an older Yangpa and her new album, many in the music industry talk about the “Yangpa syndrome” of her teen idol days. Asked about the syndrome, Yangpa said, “I believe that people in my generation have a nostalgic and romantic feeling for the music from that era.” She said some fans still thank her for providing good memories through her music.
Yangpa also said her new agency’s marketing has helped with the popularity of songs in the new album.
Behind the scenes, however, Yangpa faced struggles over contract issues.
“Those who had hoped for more experimental elements in this new album will be dissatisfied,” she said.
“Initially, I was not confident and displeased with this album,” said Yangpa. “I wanted to bring back fans with a different style of music.”
She experimented with sound and conceptual themes during the six-year gap.
The discontent she felt led to conflict with her agency that is responsible for this album. The company had given a contract to Yangpa, acknowledging her popularity.
“However, what I wanted to pursue was being a true musician, not popularity,” she said. The conflict with the agency delayed the release of the album, which took two years to make.
“This album had to be a hit in order to continue my career,” she said.
When Yangpa first started music, she said she was complacent about her work.
Looking back, Yangpa said, “I was vain and foolish.”
With the new album she tries to introduce a new Yangpa.
She is still pursuing her individuality, and hopes to create her own brand of rock and electronica, which she has been refining during her six-year seclusion.
Asked about the hiatus, Yangpa said, “I don’t want to blame anybody ― it was a result of me being narrow-minded and dissatisfied. I was exhausted with music.”
The problems with her agency took a toll.
“The fact that I wasn’t able to sing anymore made me mad. My eyes were often bloodshot and I had fevers. I stayed home all the time.”
She regrets that she wasn’t able to record while experiencing her emotional roller coaster ride.
Her recent struggles, however, have given her a new and deeper appreciation for her work.
“I was happiest when I sang. Amid the hardship, music was always there for me. To tell you the truth, I can’t be happier than I am today. I’m a lucky girl.
Yangpa also thanked her fans.
“Even though I am still a novice as a singer-songwriter, I will continue experimenting and try to make songs that people enjoy,” she said.


By Jung Hyun-mok JoongAng Ilbo [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
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