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A pianist and an idol star. It is a rather unfamiliar combination. They pursue completely different music. A classic musician and a pop idol star. There are men who closed the gap between the two. They are MBLAQ’s G.O and pianist Yiruma.
The two men collaborated for the title track of G.O’s second solo album ‘Play That Song’. Yiruma wrote the song and G.O sang it. It is early to jump to a conclusion, but the result seems to be good for both of them. G.O took one step closer to a vocalist through the Yiruma-style ballad song. Yiruma is ready to meet the public with sweet piano melodies.
In fact, G.O is one of the most excellent idol singers in the K-pop world. He received much interest from his senior singers. He showed his presence by doing collaboration with many different singers such as Yim Jeong-hee, Je-a from Brown Eyed Girls, Outsider, and NassuN. In addition, he proved his singing ability by winning the singing competition on the Kim Su-hee & Yun Si-nae episode of KBS-2TV’s ‘Immortal Songs’.
The collaboration with Yiruma paved the groundwork for G.O to grow up into a ‘vocalist’. ‘Play That Song’, an R&B pop song characterized by a groovy beat and a sentiment from 1980s and 90s, is a perfect container of G.O’s sorrowful sentiment. It is his customized music given by Yiruma.
On November 12, G.O and Yiruma met again at a studio in the Gangnam area. They came together to share behind-the-scenes stories of ‘Play That Song’ with the readers of ‘Naver STARCAST’. They talked about how they felt and asked and answered questions.
▶ Q. G.O: I am an idol singer. There are many other excellent singers out there. Why did you give the song to me?
A. Yiruma: I have always wanted to work with an idol singer. Plus, I hoped that young people would listen to my music. In fact, there is a prejudice that I do only serious music. Then, I accidentally saw ‘MBLAQ’ perform on stage. I thought that MBLAQ was underestimated due to the fact that they were idol singers. Particularly, I heard a lot about you from many people in the music world. It was then when ‘J.Tune Camp’ asked me to write a song for you and I did not hesitate to accept the request.
☞ Q. Yiruma: It is my turn to ask a question to you. I could not ask this kind of question while working together. How did you feel when you recorded ‘Play That Song’? Did you have any trouble? I was wondering.
A. G.O: I was worried a lot. I might have disappointed you. I felt comfortable with singing my own song. It took less time to finish recording because I tend to sing as I feel. But, with you, I think that I talked with a lot with you while recording. Some composers do not care much about whether a singer sang well or not. A singer gets disappointed in that case. But you were so thorough that the most ideal result came out.
▶ Q. G.O: The first one that you wrote me was an upbeat song. In fact, I have wanted to try singing a calm and quiet song as a solo singer. That is why I asked you to give me another song and a perfect one came out. I was really surprised. What inspired you when you wrote ‘Play That Song’?
A. Yiruma: I created a composition team called ‘Mind Tailor’ with composer ‘2FaCE’. ‘Mind Tailor’ means that we will read your mind and make a song tailored to you. In other words, we wrote songs in line with a singer’s style. I concluded that G.O would be able to do a soft but powerful shouting. That is why I inserted a retro-style melody and easy lyrics. I let ‘Miles Showell’ from UK’s Abby Road Studio do the mastering. You know the studio used by The Beatles, right? Showell said that the blue-eyed soul of the 1980s and 90s is really good. He even said, “I love this song.”
☞ Q. Yiruma: I was surprised to know that you wanted to do quiet music. Honestly, if you consider your ranking on a music chart, you would prefer an upbeat song.
A. G.O: To be honest, I was obsessed with rankings until just a while ago. I thought that music ranked high in major music charts was good one. That is why I tried to make songs of an upbeat with strong lyrics. I think that I was obsessed with making it big. I wanted to do correct such things as a solo singer. I realized that a really good song is a song that can be enjoyed anytime, a song that can give comfort to listeners. In that sense, ‘Play That Song’ was closest to what I had imagined. You were a big help.
▶ Q. G.O: I like the English chorus part of ‘Play That Song’. We have many concerts overseas and English lyrics are good for international fans to sing along with us. You even considered that.
A. Yiruma: As you said, the chorus of ‘Play That Song’ will be easy for international fans to sing along. “Gonna Play that song without you.” I think that MBLAQ is a global artist. I know that you are very popular in Asia and South America. You cannot do music only in Korea. I hope that you can be with international fans through this song.
☞ Q. Yiruma: This is my turn again. What is your song-writing style like? I tend to choose right words for melodies created by ‘2FaCE’. It is how ‘Play That Song’ was made. I am wondering about your style.
A. G.O: I am shy to talk about my song-writing style before you. First of all, I record melodies in my head on a mobile phone and I review it when I am home. I cannot deal with a real session yet. I keep in touch with other song-writers. When the others make me a track, I start to work on it. This is how I save time. These days, I practice writing lyrics first. I write lyrics like a poem and turn on a track. And then I sing the lyrics to the track. I get almost all syllables right. I like this way since I can convey a clear message.
▶ Q. G.O: May I ask you about your personal life now? As far as I know, you were married when you were in the military. I am wondering how you decided to marry. I want to get married early like at the age of about 35. I want to have the most common marriage. Please share with me.
A. Yiruma: I went to the military and I felt very anxious to leave my girlfriend alone. I even told her to quit her job. I joined the military in July, 2006, and I proposed to her right before it. She was about to turn 30 years old and I did not want to make her feel anxious. Come to think of it, now, I feel sorry to her. She got married and may have spent lonely days. Being in the military was the toughest time of my life. Now I try to be good to her. That is why I am not as good at networking with other people as before. Well, I am against G.O’s marriage. You should remain an Oppa forever to your girl fans, right? (laughter)
☞ Q. Yiruma: A personal question, too. You are always busy. How do you control your mind or manage yourself? What do you do in your free time?
A. G.O: I am not good at self-management. I have a sore throat now. I have an irregular life. I lose and gain weight frequently. Mind control is not easy. I had a hard time promoting ‘Smoky Girl’ because of rankings. My hair started to shed for the first time. A circle as large as a 500-won coin was created on the top of my head. I am fine now, but it was terrible at that time. About my free time, I hang out with the other members. We watch TV and eat fried chickens. We tend not to hang out outside. It is fun to hang out in our room and write music to me.
▶ Q. G.O: I am sad that this is the last, but not the least question. What affects you when you do music?
A. Yiruma: People. I am affected by people like ‘2FaCE’. He does black music. He is good at R&B, too. He has a strong black beat. He became a little softer after working with me. I was affected by G.O and ‘Play That Song’ came out. I am inspired by books, films, and recital albums. I made music out of a scene from ‘The Great Gatsby’.
☞ Q. Yiruma: A simple question. What kind of singer do you want to be?
A. G.O: This is a very exemplary answer, but I want to be a singer who sings with a heart not with a head.
▶Check out the exclusive video here.
Are you curious about me singing with Yiruma, everyone? I will release a video of ‘Play That Song’ through ‘STARCAST’ for the first time. Please enjoy!
Did you like it? It is the first time to release this video. Finally, I prepared a hand-written letter for you to express my determination to always do good music for you. I wish that you would love it.
Written by Kim Su-ji (Dispatch)