FTISLAND frontman Lee Hong Gi released his first solo album FM302 recently and Hello Asia editor Johnny Au spoke to Hong Gi about the making of the album.
As the driving force behind the successful Korean pop/rock band FTISLAND, Lee Hong Gi has had a wide and varied career so far branching out on projects such as acting and fashion designing. We speak to Lee Hong Ki about the process behind the making of his debut solo album FM302 and the latest fashion styles from his SKULL HONG fashion label.
Lets talk about the lead song INSENSIBLE from the album. Can you describe the song to me please? On first listen it’s a very emotional ballad?
I have been thinking about what music I could express as a solo singer rather than the music I could show as the vocalist of FTISLAND. Rather than a powerful band sound, I chose ‘Insensible’ as my title song which expresses a deeper depth of sound in melodic ballad style.
You wrote 5 songs for FM302. Which one would you say was your favorite and why?
I think my first solo album contains a wide variety of music styles that I can express so it is very hard to pick one favorite song. I’m also in the process of creating tracks that express a different music style other than the tracks in this album. In the future, I plan to keep creating music of different styles for my fans.
What is your songwriting process? I speak to other musicians and everyone has their own style. What is the style of Lee Hong Gi?
I think my style is very spontaneous. One of my songs for this album, ‘In the Rain’ was written very spontaneously. On a rainy day, when my song writing process wasn’t going so well so I was drinking with some friends. Then suddenly I thought of the melody for the song and on that spot, we all composed parts of the song with a guitar and went back to the studio and finished the song.
Can you tell me the meaning of the album name FM302?
The album title is a combination of the radio terminology FM (frequency modulation) with my birthday, March 2nd. Just as a radio plays different music depending on the frequency, I created this name in hopes to show that the wide range of music in this album would resonate across the world.
How is your solo work on FM302 different from your work on FTISLAND? Were there things you could try as a solo artist that you couldn’t do in FTISLAND?
I have never imagined myself as a Lee Hong Gi without FTISLAND. While preparing for this solo album, I hoped that my solo album would do well so that FTISLAND could gain strength from it.
Musically, I was able to show different genres as a solo compared to a band sound but without the other members, I found myself being really lonely. My members monitored my album creating process and they all came to my showcase to cheer me on. Through their support I gained a lot of energy while preparing for this album.
Let’s talk about the Music Video to INSENSIBLE. How much input did you have in the MV concept? What emotions was the MV trying to convey?
Without any hesitation, my friend, Park Shin Hye, was willing to be the main actress for my music video. Together, we acted as a couple in the music video. Depending on the person, the music video can be interpreted in many ways. The guy, as the girl suspects could be cheating on her, or the girls over obsession with the guy could make her be hallucinating. I will leave the interpretation and meaning of the music video up to the viewers.
What was it like to work with Park Shin Hye on the INSENSIBLE M/V? You both showed great chemistry in the M/V.
Acting as a couple was embarrassing for us as we’re such close friends. We always laughed during the filming. There’s a scene where I kiss Shin Hye’s cheek but that was originally meant to be Shin Hye kissing my cheek. We changed the scene to me kissing her cheek because she said that she will be teased for 100 years by me if she kissed my cheek.
I believe you are going to be hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live Korea soon. Are you excited to be on the show? Does Lee Hong Gi think he is funny?
I’m not sure under what concept the show will be filmed, but I think it will be fun to shoot. Whenever I make an appearance on a variety program, my seniors always create a good atmosphere so I’m able to film without pressure. I thank my fans who view this fun side of me think well of it.
How is your fashion label SKULL HONG coming along? Do you have a favorite item from SKULL HONG fans should definitely check out?
The label has gained a lot of love and the offline shop has been launched. There’s a lot of people who find it hard to be called as being “fashionable”, but the SKULL HONG items are charismatic in the way that you’ll be able to have a unique but comfortable look.
Talking about fashion, how is your nail art? Are you working on anything new? What’s trendy this Korean winter for nail art?
I’m currently not doing nail art during the promotions of ‘Insensible’, but it’s always a field I care for. During our FTISLAND ‘Pray’ promotions, I took the other members to a nail shop and cared for their nails myself but I wasn’t very good at it. It’s important to consider the season for your nails but also choosing a color or design which shows your personality is the most important point.
You also have your first solo concert coming up in January. Any special surprises you are planning for the concert?
Since it’s my first solo concert, there’s a lot of things I had to think of. I’m going to create a fun concert for the fans who come see me. I’m preparing my hardest. You can expect that it will be a good concert.
What’s next for Lee Hong Gi? What are your plans for the near future? Will we see you acting in dramas again? And when will we see you in Australia?
Since I have shown myself as a solo artist, next of importance is to show FTISLAND’s musical capability. For FTISLAND’s next album, we’re always creating new music and hope to show fans that we have grown musically.
If the opportunity comes, we as FTISLAND want to reward our Australian fans with a strong and bold performance. I want say thank you to all our fans.
Lee Hong Gi first solo concert 2016 Lee Hong Gi [LIVE 302] In Seoul will be held on the 9th and 10th January 2016 at Blue Square Samsung Card Hall. Tickets from Interpark.
FM302 is available on iTunes Australia