Yang Yo-seop's first solo album is like a box of chocolates

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Yang Yo-seop's first solo album is like a box of chocolates



Yang Yo-seop is more than a member of boy band Highlight. He has now debuted as a solo singer with the release of his first full-length album “Chocolate Box” on Sept. 20.  
It is his first solo album since he debuted as part of Highlight 12 years ago, and his first music since being discharged from his mandatory military service in August last year.  
“Whether it is a single or an album, unveiling a new song to the public is always a heart-pumping and nerve-wracking experience,” said Yang, in an interview with the Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily.  
“I have been preparing for this album even before I got discharged from the military, so there wasn’t any big difficulty to make it happen.”
The name of the album “Chocolate Box” comes from the famous line in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump.”
“Since life is a lot like a chocolate box — you won’t know what’s in it until you choose a piece — I wanted people to think more that ‘Oh Yang Yo-seop does this kind of music as well’ as they pick a song out of the album to listen to,” said Yang.  
“I’m still in the middle of searching for my own colors and style, so I want to continue to try different things to shape my voice more.”
Q. What is the concept for your new album?
A. Just like the name of the album, it really is like a box of chocolate. I really put a variety of songs in the album. I wish that those who listen to my music don’t get tired of listening to it and can try out every song in the album. I really worked hard on it because I wanted to show a different style in each song.  
What is the lead track “Brain” like?
The song is pretty fast. It really feels like the song whips things up and the choreography for the song really fits the vibe. So it will be fun for people to actually see the performance as well. Since it is fast, it was difficult for me to sing it live and dance at the same time in the beginning. To get myself used to controlling my breathing, I practiced singing while I jumped rope.  
The cover of singer Yang Yo-seop's first solo album [AROUND US ENTERTAINMENT]

The cover of singer Yang Yo-seop's first solo album [AROUND US ENTERTAINMENT]

Have you found your strength in music?
That’s something I have been thinking about since I debuted, I still have not found the exact answer. I think I really am in the middle of the search for my own color. I tried many different styles of songs as I put this album together and I liked the fact that my voice can be more versatile. I’ll continue trying new things to find my own voice. I think I have learned how to make my voice more appealing than when I was younger. As time goes by, I get to experience more, and those experiences helped me understand songs in different ways and gave my voice a little more depth. I think more about how to put more emotions into the songs and how I can move someone else’s mind.  
What kind of singer do you want to be? Is there any role model whose footsteps you want to follow?
I have mentioned this a couple of times before, I have so much respect for singer Park Hyo-shin. When I was restless, I got the greatest comfort from listening to Park’s song “Li-La” (2016). I wish I could be someone who can give others a sense of consolation.  
What’s the most important thing you consider when making your music, and from where do you get your inspiration?
When I make music, I usually get the most inspiration from my daily routines. A dried flower that I find as I clean my room, the messages fans send me, the memory of me standing sentry in the middle of Gwanghwamun Square in the freezing-cold winter, or books and movies that have remained in my memory from some time ago are all my inspiration.  
What are the things the members of Highlight have told you after they heard “Chocolate Box?”
They really cheered me on. Du-jun and Gi-kwang had heard the songs I made even from the times when we were still choosing what would be on the album. Dong-woon also told me that the song fit me after he heard the completed version of the lead track. Ever since the first teaser of the album came out, all of them have been so active in talking about the album on social media. I feel their strong support.  
How have you kept going for the past 12 years as a member of a group and as a solo singer?
All the members and I, we have never considered working in the music scene as something that is easy to do. We are [sincere] when we sing. We can say that with confidence. We, as singers, have met many fans and we still do that. The medium that delivers our thoughts and ideas is our songs, so we should not take singing for granted. All the other singers may feel the same — singing a song is still very difficult and is something we need to continue practicing. Thankfully, many still cheer for us as we try to make things work, and remember how hard we have tried to get better. And thanks to that all the members and I are still so loved and able to work as singers.  


What’s your plan with the release of the solo album?
Through a lot of different content other than music shows, I really want to present more songs from the album besides the lead track. I feel so regretful that it isn’t possible to meet fans in person due to the pandemic.  
Is there any goal you want to achieve?
I wish, a passerby randomly got to hear my song and think that the voice singing the song is nice and they want to continue listening to the voice. I wish those who don’t know me get to know my voice and think that this singer really works hard to sing well. I wish they think that Yang Yo-seop is such a good singer.  

BY KANG SANG-WOO [kjdcultue@joongang.co.k]
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