In Korea, artists don’t come much more legendary than Gummy.
Since Gummy debuted in 2003 with It’s Different, the soulful vocalist has sold well over 300,000 copies of her five albums in her homeland. Gummy then expanded into the Japanese market with the release of two warmly received mini albums there, before refocusing on the Korean music market with soundtrack contributions for several popular Korean drama series. It was a genius career move, with this re-brand and Gummy’s heart-wrenching ballads earning her the title of ‘OST Queen.’
Despite being established for such a long time, 2016 saw Gummy‘s career reach unseen heights with the major popularity of her raw, heartbreaking ballad “You are my everything” (Gummy‘s personal favorite) for the hit K-drama Descendants of the Sun. “You are my everything” went on to snatch a much-deserved number one position on iTunes in ten different countries, as well as infiltrate the top ten in the US and Vietnam. An English version of “You are my everything” was promptly issued to capitalize on this global popularity, and has so far racked up 2.2 million streams on Spotify. With almost 11 million streams of “You are my everything” on Spotify, the massive hit introduced Gummy‘s flawless vibrato and crystal clear vocals to a brand new audience while solidifying her status as Korea’s undisputed ‘OST Queen.’
Following the success of “You are my everything,” 2017 witnesses Gummy celebrating her 15th anniversary as a legendary entertainer in Korea with the release of her fifth album, STROKE. Fusing funky soul sounds with Gummy‘s signature emotive ballad style and heartfelt vocal delivery, STROKE has been streamed well over 270,000 times on Spotify since it was unleashed back in June and reminded audiences just why Gummy is recognized as Korea’s ‘soul queen.’
Read on to find out just what STROKE means to Gummy, her gratitude for the world’s warm embracing of Korean culture, plus the one K-pop chick she’s super keen to collaborate with…
What did you hope to portray with your newest album STROKE?
As we all know ‘Stroke’ conveys the meaning of embracing and drawing something. I would like to perfectly digest different genres for this album, being as an artist. I have been singing songs that tell love and sorrow of parting after love, as time goes by, I would like to sing a song that just embody our routine lives. I hope lots of people could sympathize with this album.
What is your favorite song from STROKE?
It’s “I I YO.” It tells some kind of hope and cheering for people who wants to fly for their dream.
How did you like working with Unpretty Rapstar winner Cheetah, for STROKE‘s song “Stop Talking”?
She wrote the lyrics as well as featured for the song. I have been [hoping] to work with a powerful hip-hop rapper like her, it was great experience to be with her.
You trained for 6-7 years before you could debut – what do you remember the most about being a trainee?
The overall environment of the training system in Korea has been changed a lot. I used to practice by myself before my debut though. I have tried to absorb different kinds of artists in domestic as well as international. It was helpful so much.
‘Ballad queen’, ‘soul queen’ and ‘OST queen’ are just some of the titles you are known as in Korea – which title is your favorite? Which title would you give to yourself that nobody has given to you before?
It is hard to choose just one song among them. I just feel so blessed and appreciated. [I] think getting the title ‘OST Queen’ means a lot [to] me.
As one of Korea’s top ballad queens, what do you think is the recipe for the perfect ballad?
The most important thing would be the emotional expression. Especially, regarding ballad genre, how much the singer put oneself into the song could change a lot.
What is your favorite OST song that you have performed?
It would be the song “You are my everything.” It has been loved so much with the K-drama, Descendants of the Sun.
How do you feel about K-pop going global and having many fans all around the world?
Not [just] K-pop [but also] Korean film and drama have been loved a lot around the world, recently. I could feel that when I am at the performance stage, lots of audiences sing songs in Korean so well. It’s very impressive. Thank you again who love K-pop and Korean culture. I really appreciate it.
Who are your favorite female artists from the West?
It’s also hard to say though, I personally love Lauryn Hill’s voice.
Do you have plans for an international tour or album? Which country would you most like to perform in?
When I see fans during performance, I get so much positive energy. I wish I could go everywhere If there are people who want to listen my music.
In the past, you have said to Nylon Korea that you want to work with more female singers – which Korean female artists would you most like to work with?
I would like to work with IU someday. I like her voice [as it’s] different from mine. I guess it would be so much fun.
Your first album, Like Them, was released in 2003. How do you think the Korean music industry has changed since then?
Now a day, digital music market [is] much bigger than before, people get music through music website or using download system. Furthermore, at artist’s point of view, releasing mini album or single track has been preferred.
Overall, what’s your experience been like as a woman in the Korean music industry?
The Korean music industry has been modified a lot than before, sometimes it’s very challenging though. I have just tried all the best as always to focus on my music [so] that [a] lot of female fans could feel sympathy.
What is the number one lesson you have learned in your career?
In terms of music, talent would be very important, but it would be useless at the same time when there are no efforts.