South Korean singer Wonho made his solo debut in September 2020 with the EP Love Synonym Pt 1: Right For Me (previously, he was part of the group Monsta X). He quickly followed that up with Love Synonym Pt 2: Right For Us, in February this year, and now, as he celebrates his one-year anniversary as a solo artist, he has released another EP, Blue Letter, along with title track “Blue”.
We spoke to Wonho about everything Blue Letter and what keeps him going as an artist…
MTV Australia: Congrats on the release of Blue Letter. What story do you want to tell with this album?
Wonho: Thank you, MTV Australia! Blue Letter is my sincere letter to my fans. I wanted to tell them that however depressed you are feeling, you are not alone and we can get through the hardships together.
This is your first release after the two-part Love Synonym series — what made Blue Letter the right next step for you?
It was time for me to convey my innermost feelings and thoughts to my fans and through Blue Letter, I was able to do so!
The “blue” theme runs throughout many of the songs on the album. You’ve said that the colour blue reminds you of fans — what does this colour represent to you? What kind of feeling does it evoke?
I think it’s the perfect colour to show the true emotions that people feel.
Another recurrent theme on the album is the ocean. Can you talk us through your use of that imagery?
With the use of the imagery of the ocean, I wanted the listeners to feel the cool ocean breeze as the season gets cooler.
You made your solo debut last year amidst the pandemic, and so far have only been able to perform online for fans. How has this experience shaped you as an artist? How did that inform this album?
My feelings for my fans have grown so much over the past year. Not being able to see them is of course not easy, but in a way, we – my fans and I – feel that we’ve further solidified our connection and relationship during these difficult times. I want to show my gratitude towards WENEEs through Blue Letter.
You tackle feelings of loneliness and isolation on this album, while also providing comforting and upbeat songs. How did you find the right balance, mood-wise?
Songs that are upbeat can also talk about loneliness and isolation, just like “Blue”. I tried to explore my own emotions in depth and put them into writing each song which, I think, helped a lot in finding the perfect balance.
You’ve mentioned “No Text No Call” is your favourite song from the album, and the one you worked on for the longest. What is it about this track that is special to you?
I made that song a while ago. It’s actually the first song that I wrote among the tracks in the album. It helped me visualise the overarching theme and concept of the entire album!
What is your songwriting process like?
Nothing special really. I just keep singing and singing until the perfect melody comes to me.
What is your favourite part of the whole process, from writing to recording to promotional activities and performing?
Definitely meeting my fans! I think of my fans when writing music and recording, just during the whole process of making music. So seeing them listen to my music is definitely my favorite part.
The music video for “Blue” channels an American-style coming-of-age love story – what drew you to this kind of imagery? What made it right for this song?
Growing up, I wanted to go to school in North America for more various and exciting experiences. I wanted to have my childhood dream come to life while I show a new side of me to my fans.
You’ve mentioned you want this album to give good vibes and positive energy to those having a hard time. How do you personally find that positive energy in your daily life?
WENEEs! They are a big part of my life who always cheer me up, encourage me to do better, and never give up. I hope I can do the same for WENEEs.
You recently celebrated the anniversary of your solo debut – congratulations. What has been the most satisfying part of your solo journey so far? What about the most challenging?
Thank you! Releasing three EPs is one of the big achievements over the past year. And not being able to meet with my fans has been, of course, the most challenging part so far.
You’re very active on social media. What do you enjoy about connecting online? Are there any aspects you find challenging?
I enjoy staying in touch with my fans through my social media channels. I love how my fans love seeing my daily life, because that’s what I wanted! [For] WENEEs to feel that they are a big part of my everyday life.
Do you check fan reactions to content and music you release? How do you get feedback without that face to face interaction?
Yes, I do! I read my fans’ comments and monitor their reactions closely because most of all, I want them to enjoy my music.
I know many artists, including yourself, are looking forward to being able to perform offline for fans in the hopefully not-too-distant future. What can fans expect from a live performance from you in future? What are you most excited about?
I’m always planning something exciting for the time I finally get to meet my fans offline! Just thinking about seeing them at a live performance makes me feel happy and excited. I truly can’t wait for that day to finally come!
What else have you got planned for 2021 that you can tell us about?
I am always doing my best to find a way to get closer to each and every one of you, so please stay tuned for the rest of 2021! Thank you, WENEEs and MTV Australia!
Words and interview by Jenna Guillaume, an entertainment journalist and author of YA rom-coms What I Like About Me and You Were Made For Me. Follow her at @jennaguillaume.