Chung-Ang Herald had the pleasure of interviewing the popular music composer Kwak Tae-hoon who graduated from The Department of Music majoring in Composing at Chung-ang University. He invited us to his cozy recording studio. When CAH arrived, Kwak was working with As-one sang his newest album’s title ‘Love is coffee’
CAH: Original Sound Track(OST) plays a very important role in movie and TV drama. What do you think is the most important thing when you are working on OST?
Kwak: First, OST has to go with the plot of the show, and of course it has to be related to the scene too. Second, singers of OST are also very important. For example, my latest work ‘Crazy in love’ by Lee Jung which was the OST of ‘Vampire prosecutor’ doesn’t really relate to the drama’s plot, but Lee Jung’s voice matched the agony of the vampire who couldn’t fall in love. Therefore, the voice of the singer is also very important.
CAH: Is there an episode while recording that you want to share with Chung-Ang University students?
Kwak: Actually there’re two episodes. One episode is about Lee Jung. When he was recording ‘Crazy in Love’, the air conditioner in the studio broke. Since it was very hot summer, it was very uncomfortable to work without air conditioning. However, he worked till the end staying positive. It was really impressive to see a singer singing so positively with a lot of sweat on his face. Second one is about Song Ho-bum (a member of One two). He was only featured on my album, but he helped me a lot with melody and the concept of the song. He worked with me as if it was his own work. I was touched by his activeness.
CAH: If you ever have a chance to create your own TV drama, what would it be the story? Who will be the cast? Who will sing the OST?
Kwak: I especially love the spring season. Therefore my storyline would be a bright girl enjoying the spring atmosphere in the spring rain. It would be like a kid’s fairy tale with triangle love. Triangle love story is so obvious but everyone loves that. I would like to cast Ku Hye-sun, Lee Min-ho, and So Ji-seob as the main characters. The OST will be sung my all-time favorite singer Lee Seung-chul. His voice is loved by many people regardless of trends.
CAH: Currently, singing competition program such as MBC’s ‘I’m a singer’ became popular. If your song were chosen to be one of the songs of the competition, what would you like it to be, and who do you want to work with? How will you arrange the song?
Kwak: Umm, I want my song ‘Crazy in Love’ sung by Lee Jung to be in the competition. I would love to work with him. Since I like simple arrangement, the song will be arranged with only one instrument such as piano or guitar.
CAH: Also, recently composer Yoon Il-sang, Yoon Jong-sin appear on TV and take an active part in various shows. If you were to be on the show like them, what show would you like to be on?
Kwak: I would love to be in TV shows. Especially audition programs like ‘Superstar K’ or ‘K-pop star’, I would like to be on those shows as a mentor or a judge. Or the program that I can raise potential singers or performers would be great too. When I watch such programs, it is so amazing watching those people sing, and I want to work with some of them. (CAH: who to be exact?) You know the girl who sang ‘Rolling in the deep’ on K-pop star, yea, Park Ji-min, I love her voice and I want to work with her on my next album. Also, I would like to be a radio DJ.
CAH: Composing major in CAU provides a program that student can work with various composers who are mostly graduates. Have you ever participated in that program? If not, what kind of student would you like to work with?
Kwak: Unfortunately, I haven’t participated in the program yet. If CAU asks I would be honored to participate in the program and help students. If I participate, I would like to work with a student who is full of passion and energy but doesn’t know how to compose or work with music. I think I can be very helpful to those students.
CAH: When and how did you start composing music?
Kwak: Since I was a kid I did many activities related to music such as piano, vocal, and choir. Maybe I seemed talented to those who suggested me to become a music teacher. As entering high-school, I wanted to succeed and recognized by society, but I didn’t have aptitude on studying. That’s when I started to think about my talent, and aptitude. I thought that I will succeed in music composing business, and I was the happiest when I did music, so I started to compose music when I was a high-school sophmore.
CAH: Composing new music seems really hard. Where do you get your motivation? Do you have any know-how of your own?
Kwak: I call myself a movie freak because whenever new movie comes out I go to the theater to see it. Most of the time I go by myself, so I can concentrate on the movie. I feel relaxed and happy watching movies. I can say for sure that movie is my best motivation. The movie I was most motivated by was ‘Art museum by the zoo’. The movie’s color, storyline, and music were very impressive to me. I still get motivation from that movie. (CAH: So, that’s why most of you songs are so calming and lovely.) Right, right. Songs like ‘Love is coffee’ or ‘Lovin Ice Cream’ which are very pretty and juicy are mostly motivated by the movie ‘Art museum by the zoo’. I also go on a trip whenever I have time. Traveling can be really helpful not only on my composing but also on my life. I think about and plan my future. My know-how on composing… ah I guess I’m not afraid of people’s comments about my songs. That’s what students who want to be composers to do. They shouldn’t be afraid of thoughts of others about their work because those can be very helpful in your future.
CAH: Do you have any song suggestion to CAU students? Or any words to CAU students?
Kwak: I suggest two songs – Zac Brown Band’s ‘Free’ and Seal’s ‘You get me’. Those songs’ lyrics are amazing. The songs send us a message that we should challenge ourselves, and not give up. Frankly, I want to work with great singers like In Soon-e creating songs that can motivate youngsters like those two songs. Words I like to give to CAU students… is the quote that chairman Jung Joo-young said, ‘When there’s no road, you have to create one.’ I want CAU students to remember this quote every time they face difficulties in their lives. I want all of CAU students to be pioneers, not followers.
CAH: What’s next for you?
Kwak: In February, my newest album called 4th Kwak Tae-hoon project will be released. Title song of the album is called ‘Love is coffee’ sung by As One and Kang Kyun-sung from Noel. This song was originally on 1st Kwak Tae-hoon project, and also remade and released as title song of Taiwanese female singer Chou Heui’s album. Now it is loved by all over China and Taiwan. Therefore I decided to arrange the song again and release it with new singers. In a few years, I hope to get the Composer of the Year award. Also, I have lots of interest in foreign markets. Thankfully, last year SBS Drama ‘Lie to me’ exported to Japan and other Asian countries and is loved by many. By default, the main title in the OST ‘Lovin Ice Cream’ which I composed was loved my many as well. This song was arranged and sung by many singers from China, Taiwan, Hong kong. I plan to keep this trend and go further. Also, I’m training apprentice so that I can contribute more to the Korean music business. I’m working really hard in my things so I hope you all watching my works and love them.
Even though Kwak was busy with his recording with As One, He was pleased to interview with CAH. CAH also had a chance to observe part of the recording and saw Kwak’s professionalism through that. Kwak who is professional yet ongoing challenger will someday be a world renowned popular music composer working with great singers like Mariah Carey or Beyonce. CAH is looking forward to seeing his bright future path.
사진에 쓸 약력
Department of Music majoring in composing at CAU(01)
Established Hwa-rak entertainment in 2009
Composed ‘Lovin Ice Cream’-OST of SBS Drama ‘Lie to me’ 2011
Composed ‘Crazy in Love’-OST of OCN Drama ‘Vampire prosecutor’ 2011
Composed ‘Bum Bum Bum’ sung by Girl’s day and Song Ho-bum 2011
Worked with Big-bang, Tei, Lee Ji-hye, Ez-life, Baechigi, The ray , etc
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