Hong Jin-young hopes to become the Empress of Trot
While doubts have crossed her mind in the past, trot singer Hong Jin-young says she will never, ever, think about quitting singing again. Now the CEO of her own label IMH Entertainment, Hong released her new single “Never Ever” on Nov. 2.
Hong wrote the lyrics herself, while singer Hwang Chi-yeol, known to be her close colleague, composed the song.
“Until Hwang let me hear his song, I didn’t even know that he composed, but as soon as I listened to it, I liked it so much that I said I would write the lyrics,” Hong said during a recent interview with Ilgan Sports. “The melody itself was very mournful, but I already have a lot of songs dealing with breakups, so this time I wanted to sing for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.”
Having tried various trot genres including retro trot and EDM trot, this time she chose the ballad genre.
"Trying ballad trot was a great challenge for me because I had to change the way I sing. Hwang told me to lessen the vibration in my voice as much as possible so I reduced a lot of my trot technique for this song.”
Hong said that when a new song comes out, she usually sets the promotional schedule for two to three weeks, but this time she only set it for a week because the song is so hard to sing.
“The key of the song is very high. When recording, Hwang asked whether I should adjust the key if it's too high, but my pride didn’t allow it.”
Although she has never experienced bereavement, she said she could partially relate to the emotion of those who have lost a loved one by thinking about if she were put into a situation where she could never sing again.
In June last year, Hong surprised the public by announcing that she would be nullifying the contract with her former agency Music K Entertainment where she had worked for 10 years, saying that she lost trust in her agency after being forced to overwork and not being compensated properly. In October, the dispute was settled and she launched her own label, IMH Entertainment.
“Last year was the toughest time of my entire life. I thought of leaving the entertainment industry every day and was planning to open a coffee shop, but after the dispute with my former agency was settled, I decided to make the second floor of the coffee shop the office of my own agency.”
The company name IMH stands for “I’m H [Hong]." She said she wishes to recruit celebrities with surnames that start with H, such as comedian Huh Kyung-hwan, and singers Hwang Chi-yeol and Huh Gak.
Hong has dreamed of being a singer from a young age. She started out in 2007 as a member of girl group Swan, but it disbanded just two months later after failing to impress K-pop fans. Yet she bounced back by transitioning from a former girl group member to a trot singer and releasing “Love Battery” in 2009.
“I made life goals in a 10-year span, and it feels great to accomplish my goals one by one. I made a plan to become a composer before reaching 35, which I'm doing now.”
As a composer, Hong goes by the name Godttery C. It’s a combination of her nickname, Godttery, and C from Vitamin C, expressing her desire to be an energizing vitamin in the industry. Some of her work includes song “Ring Ring” sung by comedian King Young-chul and “I Kicked My Luck Away” sung by comedian Kang Ho-dong.
She says her next goal is to mentor a rookie trot singer before she reaches 40.
"Trot singers must have talent beyond just knowing how to sing well. Stage presence is also important. One has to be a little crazy, too. I think a combination of these traits heightens the chances to grow as a successful artist.”
As a CEO, Hong said she wishes to create an environment where employees can enjoy working.
“I wish my employees feel at home when they are at the office. Just like a family, I will listen and try to reflect on the artists’ opinions. There are a lot of artists around me who are suppressed under their agencies, but I want my artists to do what they want.”
Hong plans to release new songs twice a year, every spring and fall.
“The advantage of being a CEO is that I am free to do what I want to do. I can release a new song whenever I want, and I am just glad to be able to continue releasing new music amid the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic. My voice will change in five years, so I want to sing a lot before then.”
Hong’s long-term dream is to become a long-running singer just like 73-year-old Na Hoon-a, who is dubbed the Emperor of Trot.
“I watched singer Na Hoon-a’s television concert that was aired during the Chuseok holiday and thought that I want to be that kind of a legendary singer. I don't even wish for another hit song like ‘Love Battery.’ Instead of hitting No. 1 on the chart, I hope my songs will be listened to and sung for a long time.”
BY HWANG JEE-YOUNG [email@example.com]