[POPSEOUL! Exclusive] Wheesung and Lena Park in Los AngelesPosted: June 20, 2009
POPSEOUL! was direct at the scene for Wheesung and Lena Park‘s press conference for their upcoming ‘Global Pop Act’ concert taking place on June 19th.
Having arrived earlier, Wheesung seemed to feel a bit awkward in the beginning, sitting alone with all eyes on him, but he was able to lighten the mood with his humor and killer smile (which actually resurrected the little fan girl in me, HarHar).
Now for the interview!
Q: When did you arrive?
Wheesung: As soon as we landed, we came to the hotel right away, got ready and came down for the press conference. I couldn’t sleep on the plane *laughs* so normally I’m a little, just a little prettier but I was attempting to cover up (signs of fatigue) so I was a little late. Sorry. But It seems that all of you that came to interview me today look chicer than I do. *laughs*
Q: Just asking, since Lena Park isn’t here at the moment but what do you think/feel about performing with Lena Park? A truthful answer, please.
WS: *laughs* It feels as though I have to answer that I’m an anti (of Lena Park). When Lena Park first debuted I was still a dancer, so I was just dancing at the time. I still remember the time when Lena Park had her first debut performance on a certain cable show, as I was watching her rehearsal from the stance of a dancer I felt, “Wow, a really amazing singer came out (debuted)”. That’s what we had said amongst us dancers. But now that I became a singer and am able to sing and perform together, its like…a while back I had one opportunity to do a duet performance with Lena Park and I was in awe, even now I still can’t really believe it.
Q: This isn’t the first time you’ve performed with Lena Park, is it?
WS: No. A while back for a celebration concert at a college music festival we performed together, but the both of us were so busy with everything at the time. This is the first time we’re performing together for such a big concert like this, so this time it feels as though it has bit of more meaning than before.
Q: Then for this concert will the two of you have a duet stage performance?
WS: I wish that there was (a duet) but I think noona(Lena Park) is busy. She does a lot of duets with other artists, but she won’t do one with me. *smiles* This was a dejecting question for me so I was actually hoping no one would ask.
Q: So for this concert you guys don’t have any performance together?
WS: That’s what I’ve been informed for now. We’ve actually been practicing separately. We’re both using the same band though. The band is the same, but we’ve proceeded with practicing separately, so unfortunately we don’t. I think maybe I don’t have enough talent right now (to do a duet together). *laughs*
Q: How do you feel about performing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall?
WS: Well for me, truthfully on a personal level, I wish I was the first artist (Korean) to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but I heard Fly to the Sky had a concert here before me. I don’t know what reaction they brought out (from fans) then, but I…it’s a magnificent stage so I want to put on a performance that will make the stage shine even more. I hope people wouldn’t come to the concert expecting too much though because I’ve been imagining to myself that everyone will be amazed and in awe, when I surprise them with the performance I had planned and set for this stage. I’m honored and find it a great opportunity to be able to bring my own band and hold a concert at such a prestigious concert hall. Sorry for giving such boring replies. *smiles*
Q: Is there a special show or segment that you plan to perform for your foreign fans?
WS: Well, I have a broad genre of music so there’s some songs where I have to dance, while for some, I have to rap and others that I have to serenade very quietly while drawing out a sorrowful mood like Radio Head’s song, ‘Creep’. My songs, itself, tend to draw out a dramatic mood so I tried not to be too greedy by adding any special performance because I thought it would interrupt with the flow. So I’ve selected a variety of songs that compliment each other as a whole. Still, I tried to select songs that portray more of my Korean style (of music) . I actually have a few remake songs of artists like Phil Collins, but I thought if I inserted these songs too randomly, it would ruin the flow.*laughs* So I just chose to stick with the songs that can strongly show and appeal my style of Kpop.
Q:How many songs will you be singing?
WS: Me? 10 songs.
Q: Do you mind telling us the name of the songs?
WS: Ah. Should I tell you the titles ahead of hand? The song ‘Insomnia’ I recently promoted, ‘Love is Tasty’ (사랑은 맛잇다)…should I tell you all 10?
Q: How about just a few more?
WS: I’m also singing ‘Is it not possible’ (안되나요), ‘With me’ and ‘Incurable Disease’ (불치병). To start off I’ve selected my most popular songs and then the rest are songs that will help me set the mood I had planned.
Q: Recently you held a concert called, ‘The Man’, would you say that this concert will be similar?
WS: No. I wouldn’t say that this concert will be similar to my recent, ‘The Man’ concert. For instance with ‘The Man’ concert, I was able to use all of the stage to it’s maximum capability, but I’ve never seen the Walt Disney Concert Hall yet, so I would say that it would be different for this concert.
*Lena Park enters the press conference*
LP: Hello everyone. *laughs*
Q: The two of you were selected to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, what positive factor(s )do you think played the most important role for the two of you to be chosen?
LP: Our personal thoughts? Umm…well, I suppose we could have have been selected so that it would help the two of us to get more exposure to those living in the states. I’m not sure what the main reason they selected us was, but I’m very thankful that we were selected. *laughs*
WS: *laughs* As for myself, I’m just really honored that I have the opportunity to share the same stage with a sunbae I respect. *laughs* But like I may have stated before, even though I may be singing a slow ballad song, I’m not just simply singing a ballad song, I feel that I’m capable of expressing emotions beyond that when I perform, through visuals that are video like. I’m not trying to say that I’m good looking *laughs* I think we’re both just capable of portraying many different styles. I think perhaps we stood out in that area, which I think is why we were selected. Don’t you think? Well, that’s why I think we were selected.
Q: As for Lena Park, you’re actually a native here, so I think your feelings of performing here may be different, how do you feel?
LP: Well, actually its been 10 years since the last time I’ve performed in Los Angeles (not including her recent Hollywood Bowl performance), so I feel that the meaning is different being able to perform here again, after 10 years. Also, since all of my family resides in Los Angeles, I’m happy that my entire family will be able to come and watch me perform. And, I’m also looking forward to it.
Q: Where did you perform 10 years ago?
LP: I had a solo concert at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre.
WS: I wish I could have one (a solo concert) soon. *laughs*
LP: *laughs* You will be able to have one. *laughs*
WS: Perhaps in a few years I’ll be able to.
Q: Lena Park, do you think you could name a few of the songs you will be singing at the concert?
LP: First of all, since its not often that I have the opportunity to perform in Los Angeles, I’ve selected a few songs (title songs) that I’ve received a lot of love for like, ‘P.S. I love you’, ‘In Dream’ (꿈에) and other songs. Other than that, I also chose the Walt Disney Mulan OST I sang and other songs that aren’t so famous but that I personally like. Also, I called my little sister who actually lives in L.A. and asked to do a duet together, not only because she sings well but because I wanted to boast about her. Also, this isn’t an opportunity that comes often so I prepared a duet song.
Q: So, when will the two of you be leaving?
WS: Ah, you’re leaving really soon.
LP: Yes, I’ll be leaving soon. Will you be leaving a little later?
WS: Yes. I’m actually going to be staying here for a month to work on my next album with producer, Lee Hyun-do. Member of the old group Deux, just in case some of you may not know who he is unless I mention Deux.
Q: Lena Park, how do you feel about being able to perform together with a hoobae like Wheesung?
LP: First off, we’ve actually had the opportunity to perform a duet together before so personally I’m happy.
WS: *laugh* So dull (in regards to the answer to question).
LP: *laughs* Was it dull?
LP: How should I have answered?!
WS: *laughs* No, it’s alright noona.
Q: In comparison to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, the two concert halls are very different, as a singer I suppose you may feel different about performing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Is there anything in particular that makes you feel different about performing here?
LP: Well, since I was raised in Los Angeles, I know what sort of history stands behind the Music Center. So personally I’m very honored to be able to perform here. I’m really honored.
Q: Where did you live when you were younger?
LP: When I was younger? Here and there. I moved around so much I can’t really choose a certain city I can say I’m from. During high school, I went to school in Downey and then I went to UCLA.
Q: Has it been a while since you’ve been here in Los Angeles? If so, is there anything you wanted to do or any place you wanted to go, once you got here?
LP: No. I actually came here last month for the Hollywood Bowl Concert. Also, since my family resides in Los Angeles, I actually come back once or twice a year when I’m free.
Q: Then for Wheesung is there anything you wanted to do or any place you wanted to visit, when you came to Los Angeles?
WS: Yes. I want to eat at Pink’s Hotdog before I leave.
WS: Yes. It’s actually to the point where I’m in love. It’s so good.
Q: This concert hall is actually a place where basically only those with talent are given the opportunity to perform.
WS: Ah, is that so.
Q: Because, unless you have a strong voice the sound won’t be able to spread (through out the hall). So, I’ve actually heard that the two of you were selected with this factor in mind. Do you agree with this thought?
WS: Like I said before, even though we may be singing slow ballad type songs, unless we have power and depth in our voice to show the audience, we can’t touch or impress them. Truthfully in my opinion, in terms of these factors, I think that Lena Park is the best. Also, since I somewhat strive to meet these factors, I think that I’m capable of appealing even though I sing soft ballad songs. Even for those that don’t understand Korean, I think they are able to feel the energy through my performance. Or at least that’s what I think, but I could be wrong. *laughs*
Q: Could I ask you a question in English?
LP: Yes. Absolutely.
Q: One of our members wanted to know, after you quit UCLA, how did your parents react to that 10 years ago? And, how are they reacting to you presently?
LP: They have always been very very supportive. Me leaving school to go to Korea to do music was a family decision. Absolutely. I would never have gone without my parents blessing and they’ve always been supportive through out the years.
Q: For Wheesung, after making Insomnia, the remake of Craig David’s version, were you able to talk to him and get his opinion on it?
WS: I didn’t get a chance to personally meet or talk to him because I had a broadcast (taping) scheduled, so it was hard for me to go all the way to the UK. But, I did get a call from the composer that wrote the song for Craig David. He said that he wanted to make a song for me and work on it together, so if it was possible for us to do a collaboration. So were actually working on getting a meeting scheduled.
PS: I heard you’re going back to school to get your degree. I was wondering if you had any plans for after graduation, will you be returning with an album? Or will you be working on an album in between (semesters) or not at all?
LP: I am going to be working on music in between. I’m also probably going to take my winter break as an opportunity to go and prepare a winter concert in Korea. So going to school is not a complete hiatus from my musical career at all, by any means. I’ll probably be recording while I’m going to school as well and I’m still planning projects in the upcoming future. I only have about two semesters left so I thought that it might be do-able. So, its a challenge but it’s something that I’m willing…that’s the plan right now.
PS: So do you feel burdened that you’re going back to school after such a long hiatus?
LP: Umm, not really. Not burdened. I think that’s the great thing about the states, that you can go to school when you can. That you can really make the experience what you want to make it. So, I’m just gonna take an advantage of that and not think too much into it.
PS: This question is for Wheesung. For your upcoming album that you will be producing together with Lee Hyun-do, I’ve heard that you will be working on a style of music, different from your previous title songs, ‘Love is good’ and ‘Fading Star’. What style are you going for, for this upcoming album?
WS: In the case of ‘Love is good’ and ‘Fading Star’, both were the results of my first attempt of depending on a producer (other than myself) to produce my songs. Because of those songs, I was able to reach and receive love from a large number of fans that I wasn’t able to reach myself, so I gained a large number of fans. But for this upcoming album, I want to go back to my original style of music that my original (previously existing) fans have been thirsting for. For example, I want to go back to the ‘With me’ or ‘Incurable Disease’ (불치병) sort of style with a more modern twist and also incorporate a hip-hop feel. I think (for my upcoming album) I will be able to show a stronger performance in many aspects.
Q: Is there one word you would like to say to fans that have been looking forward to your performance?
WS: Do I have to say just say one word? *laughs* I think I can do really well.
LP: I think you will do well too.
WS: I’m grinding my teeth. Really. I’m keeping my jaw clenched really hard and practicing (with extra effort). But I wish they wouldn’t expect too much, I wish they’d come with lower expectations and then really feel that I did an excellent job after watching my performance.
LP: I also, want to use this as an opportunity to comfortably introduce good Kpop music to everyone including those that don’t know about Kpop. Even if this is the first time people are being introduced to Kpop we’d be really honored. I think this will be a good event so please come to watch us.
PS: There are so many Korean artists that are trying to break in to the U.S. market today. Do any of you have any plans in the future to try and enter the U.S. markets?
LP: I don’t have personally any set plans in the future as of now. I still have so many projects and so many things I want to do in the Korean market and I just love what I’m doing right now. But yeah, absolutely if there’s an opportunity in the future and its an opportunity for me to expand myself musically, then its definitely a chance that I would be willing to grab.
WS: Truthfully, there are so many artists in the U.S. that were born in the U.S., exposed to American music and just used to portraying certain emotions and styles. Today, American music is widely recognized as the standard world wide, so as an artist that has been performing in a small country (Korea) in Asia, I just can’t compete with trying to show the same emotion and style through my music (as those in America). So, even when I had to study foreign languages, I chose to study Japanese or Chinese instead. But, if those in America were willing to open their ears to a new style of Asian pop/music, then I would even be willing to risk my life to enter the U.S. market. I’m not sure if this answered your question. *laughs*
PS: There’s some questions that your fans on our blog wanted to ask you (Wheesung).
WS: Oh, I have fans here?! *laughs*
PS: *laughs* Yes. Actually, you do. In a recent interview you stated that you were previously a back-up dancer. How did you go from being a dancer to a singer?
WS: Umm…I was told that I didn’t have the right form and didn’t look so great as a dancer because I was too short. *laughs* Really, this was actually one aspect. I really did my best and tried harder than anybody else and if I tried a little bit harder then I probably would have gone down a path (as a dancer) that I wouldn’t be able to turn back. But, then I joined a group called, A4. The other members were 3 guys from Orange County and all 3 were rappers, so there was nobody to sing. Compared to them I sang a LITTLE bit better than they did and I mean REALLY little at the time. Among the 3, there was a guy that was very good at talking (persuasive) and he tried to convince me to be a singer for 4 hours, saying that his company was the best. He told me that if I signed with his company and released an album, I would be able to make a lot of money.
PS: So, in the end it was because of money.
WS: *laughs* There were so many reasons that followed the reason of being able to make money. At the time, my family was really poor and suffering from poverty, so that’s how I ended up becoming a singer. After, when things didn’t work out so well for me (as a singer), I couldn’t go back to being a dancer because people kept their distance from me. So, I practiced singing as if I was in a life or death situation and eventually got to where I am today.
PS: I heard that your nickname was “Real Slow”, how did you get that nickname?
WS: During the time when I was really into practicing singing, I was obsessed with “black” (style R&B, etc.) music and happened to hear a song by KCand Jojo where they had an adlib part saying, “real slow”. It came on to me as being really sexy and with lots of emotion, so it drew me in and made me think, “I wish I could be a singer”. So from then on, I adopted the nickname, “Real Slow”. Others didn’t call me by that name first but I actually introduced myself with that name so people slowly started to adopt the nickname as well. A lot of people seem to be very curious about this.
PS: Yes, it seems that way. Is it okay if I ask you another question?
WS: You can ask me a lot more questions. I would like for you to show more interest in me. *haha*
LP: Go ahead and ask 2 or 3 more questions. *haha*
PS: *haha* How did you end up working with Lee Hyun-do for your upcoming album? Did you propose to work with him first or were you already acquainted with him and just happened to work together?
WS: Well, we actually worked together before on slow jam track called, “We’re not crazy”, we both enjoyed working on it and were very satisfied with the results. The lyrics were a bit erotic so the album didn’t sell very well but I felt very good (recording the song) and was a total Deuxist at the time because I was crazy over Deux when I was in school, they were like a legend to me. But at the moment, he’s not really active and for me it’s sort of like i’ve met an obstacle in my career as a singer I need to overcome it and make a great comeback and I really wanted to make a comeback with an artist I really loved. So, I just sort of asked (to work together) without too much expectations but he accepted my proposal right away, as if biting the bait I threw out. *haha* And he said, “Sure, let’s try it”. I asked if it was okay even though it was a ballad album and he said it was fine.
-End of Interview-
Wow, the interview was longer than I thought. Hopefully you guys took the time to read the entire interview because both artists were kind enough to be very informative and were really enthusiastic to have fans that were reaching out to them and interested in their music.
Also, I’ve included a short clip of Wheesung and Lena Park which includes a segment of Wheesung singing Insomnia live at the press conference! Sadly, it wasn’t a recording for POPSEOUL! but it’s a great clip! Thanks to David from S Radio Club for allowing me to link the video to POPSEOUL!
There’s also word that Wheesung will be having a special event in Los Angeles later this month, we’ll be sure to update you, once we get official information regarding the event. So stay tuned!