Forestella share their secret to success : Group member Bae Doo-hoon says he wants their upcoming album to include a gugak song

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Forestella share their secret to success : Group member Bae Doo-hoon says he wants their upcoming album to include a gugak song


The four singers with very distinct voices are the winners of the second season of the JTBC audition show “Phantom Singer,” as a crossover quartet Forestella. [JOONGANG ILBO]

Forestella is the winner of the second season of the JTBC audition show “Phantom Singer,” which transcends music genres as a crossover quartet. The band’s name comes from the word “stella,” meaning star, to signify a star rising above a forest.

Coincidentally, the winning team of the first season of “Phantom Singer” also consisted of four crossover singers - Ko Hoon-jeong, Kim Hyun-soo, Son Tae-jin and Lee Byeo-ri - under the name of “Forte Di Quatro,” and they seemed to have passed on the baton to the members of Forestella.

Forestella consists of a tenor, Cho Min-kyu, 27, and a base, Goh Woo-rim, 22, who both majored in vocal music at Seoul National University, as well as a musical actor, Bae Doo-hoon, and an amateur singer, Kang Hyung-ho, who is a researcher at a Busan-based chemical research lab.

In a recent interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, the mother paper of the Korea JoongAng Daily, the four said they could not really foresee who would win, because all the contestants in the final round did so well.


A scene from the show “Phantom Singer,” where the quartet Forestella won first prize. [JTBC]

They said all of them were shaking so much until the final score was revealed that they broke down crying when they realized that we were the winners.

In the first part of the final round, they ranked second place by only one point, but they managed to capture the audience’s attention with their bold selection of songs such as “Come Un Eterno Addio,” a tango number, and “Il Mirto E La Rosa,” an Italian ballad.

Although in the early stages of the contest they were seen as the likely winners, they seemed to struggle to keep up as the contest developed, and at one point almost dropped out of the show. However, they were able to rise to the top mainly due to their strategist, Cho.

“I usually analyze factors behind the popularity of new hit songs on Youtube and streaming services,” Cho said. “If a pop song receives about ten thousand hearts [likes] from listeners on Melon, there is a high probability that the song has received them from mania fans, but is not well-known to the public in general.”

He added that analyzing popular songs became a habit of his when he became frustrated with his relatively thin voice as a leggero tenor. Instead of just accepting his limits, he tried to develop the talents he had to fit the tastes of listeners, which became a breakthrough in the war of selecting songs between the contestants on the show.

The four distinct characteristics of the singers gradually led to more experimentation during the course of the show. Kang’s strong points came from rock music, as he continued to play in his band PITTA, which he established when he was a student at Pusan National University. Bae, who majored in acting at Korea National University of Arts, likes to adapt any kind of music into his performance, such as performing as a member of the gugak (Korean traditional music) fusion band Aux.

“Since I lacked the various kinds of experiences that other team members had, I did receive lots of discouraging remarks, but they did help me to set certain standards about how I should perform,” said Goh, the youngest member of the team. “Our team’s secret to success was that we criticized each other very severely during the practices, regardless of age gaps.”

“It’s funny to see how things turn out, as early this year at a friend’s wedding, I sang in the choir while Son and Kim congratulated the newlyweds as the group Forte Di Quatro,” said Cho. “I never would have believed then that I would become the next winner of the show. Although Forte Di Quatro and Forestella are both crossover quartets, I believe that the former has a classy aura while our team possesses more individuality.”

Then what are the future plans for the team? Kang said he is planning to take a break from his job as a researcher, and that he wants to focus on the TOP12 tour, which will be starting on Dec. 3. Bae said he wants to put at least one gugak song onto their album, as he did not have time to try such a song during the contest.

“Gugak is the classical music of our country, right?” Cho asked. “We want to properly study and research the genre to create a gugak song that contains our own personal tastes and interpretations. We also have big dreams to make a debut abroad with that song. As for the prize money, we are discussing ways to use it as means to make our own company or so that the four of us can continue to pursue the kind of music we love.”


별로 뜬 포레스텔라 “국악 크로스오버로 해외 진출할래요”

숲(forest) 위에 뜬 별(stella), ‘포레스텔라’. 음악의 경계를 허무는 크로스오버 4중창단을 만드는 JTBC ‘팬텀싱어2’에서 우승을 차지한 2대 팬텀싱어다.

서울대 성악과 선후배 사이인 테너 조민규(27)와 베이스 고우림(22), 뮤지컬 배우 배두훈(31)과 화학연구원 강형호(29)로 구성된 이들은 지난해 우승팀 ‘포르테 디 콰트로’(고훈정·김현수·손태진·이벼리)의 뒤를 이어 크로스오버 열풍을 이어갈 예정이다.

6일 서울 상암동에서 만난 이들은 “누가 1등을 해도 이상하지 않을 만큼 다들 잘했기 때문에 발표하는 순간 긴장이 풀려서 눈에서 홍수가 쏟아진 것 같다”며 우승 소감을 전했다. 결승 1차전에서 2위와 1점 차로 올라온 포레스텔라는 탱고곡 ‘Come Un Eterno Addio(영원한 이별처럼)’와 라틴풍의 ‘Il Mirto E La Rosa(은매화와 장미)’ 등 과감한 선곡으로 승부수를 던지며 최종 우승을 차지했다.

경연 초반 기대주로 떠올랐으나 대진운이 나빠 탈락 위기에 놓이는 등 고전을 거듭했던 이들이 모여 반짝이는 별로 거듭나게 된 데는 전략가 조민규의 공이 컸다. “평소 신곡이 나올 때마다 음원사이트나 유튜브를 보면서 인기요인을 분석하는 편”이라는 그는 “팝의 경우 멜론 기준 하트가 1만 개 정도 되면 매니아층은 있지만 대중은 아직 잘 모르는 노래일 확률이 높다”고 설명했다. 목소리가 얇은 레제로 테너로 성악 무대에서 한계를 느꼈다는 그의 아쉬움이 낳은 취미가 선곡 전쟁에서 빛을 발한 셈이다.

네 사람이 지닌 각기 다른 매력은 더 많은 실험을 가능하게 했다. 부산대 화학공학과 재학 시절 만든 밴드 ‘피타’로 직장인 밴드까지 이어오고 있는 강형호는 록에 강점이 있었고, 한국예술종합학교에서 연기를 전공하고 국악밴드 ‘억스’로 활동해온 배두훈은 어떤 장르도 소화할 수 있는 넓은 스펙트럼을 지녔다.

‘팬텀싱어2’에서 우승한 포레스텔라는 1년 동안 2대 팬텀싱어로 활동하게 된다. [사진 JTBC]

시즌1 우승자인 1대 팬덤싱어 손태진과 같은 교수 밑에서 배운 고우림은 “형들에 비해 경험이 부족해 잔소리는 많이 들었지만 방향성을 잡는 데 큰 도움이 됐다”며 “연습할 때만큼은 위아래 없는 디스전이 우리 팀의 성장 비결”이라고 밝혔다.

조민규는 “올 초 동문 결혼식에서 저는 합창단으로, 태진·현수 형은 포르테 디 콰트로로 축가를 불렀는데 우리가 그 뒤를 잇게 된 게 신기하다”며 “포디콰가 클래식한 명품 느낌이라면 우리는 개성 강한 디자이너 제품 같은 느낌으로 차별화를 꾀할 것”이라고 덧붙였다.

그렇다면 이들의 다음 목표는 무엇일까. 롯데 비피화학연구소에 재직 중인 강형호는 “일단 직장은 휴직을 생각 중”이라며 “다음달 3일부터 시작하는 TOP12 전국투어부터 잘 마치고 싶다”고 밝혔다. 배두훈은 “경연 중에 국악곡을 시도해보고 싶었는데 제한된 시간 안에 도저히 완성할 수가 없었다”며 “앨범에는 꼭 한 곡쯤 넣고 싶다”고 말했다.

“국악이 그때로 치면 클래식이잖아요. 제대로 연구하고 만들어서 포레스텔라만의 해석이 들어간 한국곡으로 세계 진출을 하고 싶어요. 음반이 전 세계에 동시 발매되는 만큼 불가능한 꿈은 아니라 생각하거든요. 상금은 4명이 함께하고 싶은 음악을 꾸준히 할 수 있도록 회사나 재원을 만드는 방안으로 논의 중입니다.”(조민규)

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