EXCLUSIVE: Gaho talks about Fireworks, BLACKPINK covers, Park Seo Joon in Itaewon Class & more
Visceral. Introspective. Time and again. Kang Daeho, very well known by his stage name Gaho, has often offered magic in a matter of minutes through his music. Now, taking another step into shaping his illustrious discography, Gaho has dealt despair in a way that further highlights his relentless musical competency in his first full album ‘Fireworks’.
“It's always exciting to start over. Like you're gonna get through everything,” says Gaho in his masterstroke delivered in one of his most popular tracks, ‘Start Over’ that acts as an OST for the immensely popular K-drama ‘Itaewon Class’ starring Park Seo Joon and Kim Da Mi as leads. A song that carries the essence of the drama itself and helmed impeccably by Gaho’s voice, has brought the much-needed fame to the 24-year-old singer. However, it's his finesse in delivering the tiniest of observations over songs like ‘FLY’ and ‘Home’ that are usually skimmed over, one finds relative comfort and unbound freedom.
Establishing himself as a connoisseur of unending vocal range, Gaho can also be spotted lending his genius to KAVE, a band that has covered multiple K-pop songs with the man himself, transfiguring them into knockouts, leaving you unaware of their original sound. As he boulders through the world of K-pop, with his sweet smile and a refreshing self-confidence that rides on unmissable skills, one can only wait for the treasure that unfolds with the rise of Gaho.
Congratulations on releasing your first full album ‘Fireworks’! This marks a milestone in your career as a singer. How do you feel? How has it been monumental for you personally?
Gaho: This is a little funny for me to say myself, but I have been also congratulating myself. It’s my first full-length album release, so I thought I would be nervous but in fact, I am not really nervous. I’d like to think I made an album without any regrets, so I will be grateful if many people can check it out.
I am very much looking forward to it and this release also means a lot for the people in my company including those around me who are doing music and our company members and staff who really worked hard on this album. I did my best as well. I hope with this album, I can take a step closer to you all.
‘Fireworks’ has 12 songs that are each said to narrate different feelings of the youth. How would you describe this album, an amalgamation of these feelings, in one sentence?
Gaho: It would be ‘Like it’, as it implies, I like it a lot. I guess talking about the different emotions of youth is an interesting topic.I feel the emotions of youth can be similar to many people so I am working on music by telling the stories that I can and the perspectives I have at this age and to be able to do this, I feel grateful and it’s a happy notion. I hope that people can also feel and receive my energy from this album so ‘I like it’.
Where did the idea of using keywords to express the nature of youth come from? Are these the emotions that you have personally dealt with?
Gaho: If you check the titles of 12 songs in the album for example, the song about friends would be ‘Friend’, if I’m going crazy in bliss would be ‘High’. Let’s advance forward this instant, let’s go somewhere right now that would be titled ‘Right Now’. Like this I tend to write titles in a simple way.
So these keywords are not supposed to be packaged by songs in a cool way instead, they are the raw emotions you feel from the word. I tried to melt (add) these (emotions) into the song. Therefore in a way it was a difficult process. To express the raw feelings that the word evokes on your music - was actually more difficult since the people have to feel that straight away. I worked harder on the lyrics.
The title song beholds a deep sentiment of being touched and yet is named ‘Right Now’. Do you believe that this very moment is your best? If not, how do you wish to change it?
Gaho: I never thought this moment is best, but I think it’s one of the best moments. I’m working on music as I hoped, and I am doing this interview right now talking about my music and letting people know about it. I do feel like I am doing what I envisioned. Also, I am trying to slowly prepare to work on my next albums and songs so I feel like I need to work hard to keep feeling ‘my current moment is the best’.
Check out the ‘Right Now’ music video that involves a feeling of lost love, liberation and desperation, all in one.
We spotted ‘Rush Hour’ and ‘RIDE’, two pre-released singles making it to your album. Why did you think they were the right fit? Were there any more singles that you wished would make the cut but did not?
Gaho: Oh yes, there were many, 8 or 9 songs that did not make the cut. I’d like to think that ‘RIDE’ and ‘Rush Hour’ songs connected the line leading to my current album release. I also wrote those songs thinking about that very aspect, so that’s why they are in the album.
‘RIDE’ and ‘Rush Hour’ have quite a rock sound but my album has more of a pop sound so I thought ‘RIDE’ and ‘Rush Hour’ were a good connecting element to the songs in the rest of my album.
Your song titles often have a story relating to time behind them, they speak about a journey, is that a conscious effort?
Gaho: Yes, it was precisely a conscious decision. I think a lot about the concept of time. I think time is the only thing that makes everyone equal. No one can rewind time and time passes by in the same tempo to everyone so how one would use time and spend it happily doing what they want I think that can determine one’s life. So I aim to use my time wisely and I have to treat time precisely, I hope even after time passes, I still hope I can still have this attitude and value of time. I feel like nothing is fair like time.
We have to mention ‘Start Over’, it was widely loved all over the world including India and has become a staple in our ‘Inspirational songs’ playlist. What would you like to say about the fame it has received?
Gaho: The drama ‘Itaewon Class’ was a big hit and the actor Park Seo Joon’s acting played a big part. My music was simply in that show, but I feel like a lot of people gave my song lots of love. I feel perhaps I am undeserving of it, so it makes me more grateful and makes me want to strive for better. I heard that this song was listened to around the world, but I wasn’t able to really feel it and notice it personally which is a shame. But I noticed that this song was loved by many, I noticed that much which makes me very grateful and want to make a great soundtrack that can be continuous of its success.
A large part of being Gaho has become the covers that you do. Which song or artist do you wish to try next?
Gaho: I have done many covers of BLACKPINK so I think I will likely cover more of their songs because when you think of K-pop girl groups, there are lots of bright and refreshing vibes in the music. But BLACKPINK’s music has a more hip and slightly darker vibe. I feel like I can more easily digest this type of music so I personally like their style of music and I think I will cover more of their songs when they have a comeback.
As an artist with such a wide range to your voice, what does your producing and composing journey look like?
Gaho: Since I produce and write my own music, I take many things into consideration when making music. As I am giving myself the music, there is a sense of comfort because I can do how I feel but I need that much objectivity while making music which is difficult. So I try to be more objective if I become idle, basically my music becomes idle. I try to not lose objectivity, so I sometimes spend more energy on objectivity than making the song. I’m trying to deepen my thoughts and even be fit physically.
You were particularly happy on receiving the YouTube Silver button and did a headstand. What are your plans for the Gold button (1 million subscribers)?
Gaho: If I get a Gold Button, well nothing I can’t do I guess. I’d be so happy I feel like I’d do anything. I want to make a fan song, a song for the fans not a song for me, that expresses my gratitude to them. I have been thinking recently of doing that and releasing the fan song. I will try hard for it.
You used to train for becoming an idol in the past. What do you remember from your trainee days?
Gaho: It wasn’t exactly going through idol preparation and training but yes when I was younger, I thought I could not be a singer unless I became an idol. So I had many opportunities to audition and went around to check for audition opportunities. I also learned to dance and sing and even went to centres where they would train idols. One time I almost had the opportunity, I got a great audition opportunity but I declined the audition offer and decided to become a singer-songwriter - and I remember this the most. I was just going to my senior year of high school then.
With your rising popularity, what is next on the list? A tour? Hopefully a visit to India? Please share a message for your Indian fans.
Gaho: I need to go to India, without wearing a mask (meaning after COVID-19). My first aim would be to go to India to meet lots of people and have a concert but I would especially love to walk around for several hours in the streets of India and have some good food. I hope for that day to come soon!
Well, I do hope Gaho’s wishes come true soon enough, for myself and the rest of his fans await more wonderment at the expense of the ‘Fireworks’ singer.
Watch the full interview below.