The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Kim Bum-soo marks 25 years in music with new album 'Journey'

The singer wants to stay exceptional vocalist despite fast-changing industry

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Feb. 22, 2024 - 09:15

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Kim Bum-soo (Young Entertainment) Kim Bum-soo (Young Entertainment)

Singer Kim Bum-soo has returned with his 9th full-length studio album, "Journey," celebrating his 25th year as a singer.

Although the recent landscape of the entertainment industry calls for versatility and multifaceted identities, the singer believes in dedicating himself to the role of vocalist and preserving his values as a singer.

Unlike in previous albums in which Kim prioritized the singing ability, high notes and technique, Kim said that his new album is "minimal and poetic."

"Until now, I was strict in evaluating my albums and didn't enjoy listening to my songs. But it feels like I'll be able to appreciate this album."

As the new album is the first full-length album in 10 years, Kim struggled a lot preparing it.

"I couldn't decide between working again with producers whom I've already worked with and had successful outcomes and finding new, trendy artists to collaborate with. Then, I went through a list of songs that I recently enjoyed, and found out most of the songs had minimal sounds and a calm atmosphere. I contacted the singers who made the songs and asked to work with me."

The album starts with the first track, "Aside," which uses a poem by poet Na Tae-joo as lyrics and a melody composed by Kim. The title track "Journey" and "Trace and Trail" were composed by singer-songwriter Choi Yu-ree. Various artists including Sunwoo Junga, who is loved for her emotional and unique music, guitarist Lee Sang-soon, producer Phenomenotes and singer Lim Heon-il also pitched in to complete the album.

"The title track, 'Journey,' is a song that seems to contain my life," said Kim. "Choi's song has very abstract lyrics, so it is open to any kind of interpretation. Even if you listen to the same song, you may feel comforted or may feel sad. The lyrics contain struggle and regret. It felt like a song that encapsulated my 25 years in music."

So why did it take Kim 10 years to release a new album?

Kim confessed that he needed the courage to return with a full-length album to Korea's fast-paced music industry. Recently, more singers have opted to release digital singles or mini albums that contain one to three songs.

"Releasing an album is a commercial act after all, so I have no choice but to think about efficiency. ...The music scene has changed so much. It’s not easy to get a song on the popular music charts, not to mention to top the charts."

But at the same time, Kim said he wishes to still stick to the "old method" of doing things.

"I know that artists nowadays should provide visible content to earn the public’s attention. However, for this album, I wanted to do it the way I've done so far."

Among trendy artists with many talents and personas, Kim decided to move on only as a vocalist.

"I don't know anything but singing. I'm proud of myself, not because I'm bad at other things, but because I'm exceptionally good at one thing, and I want to continue my career as a vocalist. Even if times have changed, I want to follow the path of legendary senior singers Lee Moon-sae, Cho Yong-pil and Patti Kim, who only sang and retired through singing."

With that in mind, the singer decided to release an LP version of the new album as well.

"Although devices for playing music have changed throughout time, LPs have survived. To release an LP, the sound needs to be remastered, and the sound quality of an LP is a bit lower. Still, there is a certain sentiment that only LP has, and I like it."

"The elders I met when I was young, who celebrated their 25 years in music, were so calm. I didn't understand at the time, but now that I'm celebrating my 25th year as a singer, I can finally understand why. There are still days to go, and it's too early to celebrate," Kim said.

Starting with his ninth studio album, "Journey," Kim will continue his active career in 2024. He will meet his fans touring eight cities in Korea as well as performing several overseas concerts in North America and Australia from April.

Kim Bum-soo (Young Entertainment) Kim Bum-soo (Young Entertainment)