|The teaser for singer Young K's new album, "Letters with Notes" / Courtesy of JYP Entertainment|
DAY6's Young K releases 1st solo studio album
By Dong Sun-hwa
Hardly anyone doubts that Young K, the bassist and vocalist of boy band DAY6, is one of the most versatile musicians in the K-pop scene. The gifted singer, who wrote a string of hits like "You Were Beautiful" (2017) and "Time of Our Life" (2019) for his group, has about 160 songs copyrighted under his name.
One of his most successful works is "Rose Blossom" (2023) by girl group H1-KEY, which grabbed the top spots on major music streaming platforms like Melon and Hanteo. The lyrics penned by Young K played a vital role in the song's success, with many listeners saying they are reflective of H1-KEY's musical journey. The lyrics show the determination of the rookie group to bloom against all odds, just like roses that grow between towering buildings in a grey city.
However, despite his compositional prowess, Young K still puts more emphasis on his singing career.
"It is a big honor to be recognized as both a singer and a composer, but I am happier when I am praised for my singing skills," the 29-year-old said during a media interview at a cafe in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, Aug. 30. "I am wearing multiple hats right now, but I think I should put my singing career first."
Young K is scheduled to roll out his first solo studio album, "Letters with Notes," on Sept. 4. It is his first release since he was discharged from his compulsory military service in April. He is the first K-pop idol to join the Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) for his military duty, which recruits only about 2,000 men every year.
The JYP Entertainment star only had about four months to gear up for his album, but he still managed to include 11 songs that he describe as "letters."
|Young K of boy band DAY6 / Courtesy of JYP Entertainment|
"My mentor, composer Hong Ji-sang, always tells me that I have to make an improvement or at least a change," he said. "So I took a stab at many different things this time, trying to pull off diverse genres of music, while writing more metaphorical lyrics."
The album's lead single, "Nothing But," starts with the lyrics of his 2021 release, "Guard You." Another new tune, "Let It Be Summer," likens people's lives to different seasons.
"The lead track is a story about a man who cannot let go of a past relationship," he explained. "After hearing from Hong that I am not good at giving up on things, I thought I could write about this in my new song."
According to Young K, "Letter with Notes" does not impart a specific message. But he says he hopes it can deliver diverse feelings and sentiments to listeners.
"It will be great if it can bring comfort, joy, or something else that they can resonate with," he said. "If they can feel something from my music, then that will be enough."
Young K is on cloud nine these days as he can perform on stage and interact with his fans as much as he wants.
"While I was fulfilling my military duty, I was worried that people would forget about me," he recalled. "So I wanted to return to the stage as soon as possible and let people know that I am back. Now I am truly thankful because so many people are welcoming me."
Shortly after his discharge from military service, Young K reassumed the role of a DJ for the radio program, "Kiss the Radio." He was the DJ for the show from Nov. 2020 to Oct. 2021, but had to quit it to join the KATUSA.
"I never imagined that I would take on this role again," he said. "Since the production team told me that they trust me, I have been striving to do my best for the show."
He now feels like he can push his envelope, the singer added.
"I had the opportunities to challenge my limits when I was in the KATUSA," he said. "So now, I am more willing to tackle fresh challenges."