For years now, Monsta X has been one of the hottest names in K-pop, and then in English-language pop, as the group released a highly successful full-length for the American market not too long ago. Just when it seemed like everything was looking up for the group, controversy struck. One of the members stepped out after drug allegations were raised online, all of which turned out to be entirely false.
For some performers, leaving a highly successful band might be too distressing for them to continue in their music careers, and it could be the end. Thankfully, that’s not the case for Wonho.
The singer, songwriter, producer and dancer wasted no time making a name for himself apart from the group that gave him his start, and less than two years since he left Monsta X, he’s already released two EPs and made his mark on the World Digital Song Sales chart: at one point earlier this month he occupyied 20% of the entire Billboard ranking.
Wonho was a star while he was in Monsta X, and he’s definitely a star on his own. I recently spoke with the multi-talented figure (through a translator) about his new music and how it feels to start a new chapter in his career during a global pandemic.
Hugh McIntyre: It’s only been a few months, but your solo career is going amazingly. How does it feel to be out on your own?
Wonho: I’m so excited. Mainly, I’m so happy, and I’m really having a great time with my fans. Everything is really going well, and I’m really satisfied and happy with it.
McIntyre: You just released the second Love Synonym EP. How many will there be in the series before it’s over?
Wonho: This will be the last in the Love Synonym series and then there will be an album.
McIntyre: So the next project will be a full album or just the start of a different series?
Wonho: At the moment, I don’t know. I’m not sure whether it will be a full album or a single. I need some more time to create the full album, but I’ll be really happy to make it because that will give me more time to interact and communicate with his fans, if I make the full album.
McIntyre: What’s the focus of this series? What does “love synonym” mean?
Wonho: For the performances and for this series, I tried to put forth more strength and intensity. I tried to put a lot of messages to convey to the fans.
McIntyre: What kind of messages do you want to convey to the fans?
Wonho: I tried to up the emotional factor that I have for my fans. An appreciation, a sincere message. The message is “Let’s be together.”
McIntyre: I really like “Ain’t About You” with Kiiara. How did you come to work with her?
Wonho: I was looking for an artist, a vocalist, who could fit their voice well with the track. Meanwhile, I heard the voice of Kiiara and I thought, “Okay, oh this could be the right and the suitable voice that could fit really well into the track.”
McIntyre: In your solo career, obviously a lot of the music is in Korean, but you also translate some of the songs into English. Is that to try to reach English speaking fans? Is it just for fun? What’s the thinking behind that?
Wonho: It was definitely for my fans. I want to deliver more music to them directly.
McIntyre: I cover the charts, that’s what I do. I’m happy to see your music arrive on the Billboard charts and perform so well. Do you care about the charts and sales and numbers? Is that important to you?
Wonho: I’m not really into focusing on the charts, the results of them. I feel really grateful that a lot of fans are really loving his music. So when I debut high on the chart, I just think about his fans who will be really proud of it. I feel really grateful that many fans are listening to my music. That’s everything for me.
McIntyre: Is it difficult launching a solo career while the world is pretty much shut down?
Wonho: I really want to meet them in person. I feel really kind of sad and uncomfortable. Because of the pandemic situation, I can’t meet the fans in person. And also this interview! I’d feel great if I could meet you in person!
McIntyre: I love that you’re so involved in writing and producing all your solo music. How does it feel having more creative control over your art now?
Wonho: It’s really a meaningful process to be able to deliver these messages, to actually communicate and deliver the full message to my fans.
McIntyre: How does your new music differ from the music you made as a part of a group?
Wonho: Well, it’s not an easy process to add my own colors when making tracks for albums, but since I think about the kind of message I want to convey to my fans when making music, I fully enjoy every moment of the process.