K-pop's Kim Yun-ho 'Shaun' on quitting Koxx, going solo, and how sadness fuels his music

K-pop's Kim Yun-ho 'Shaun' on quitting Koxx, going solo, and how sadness fuels his music

From backup singer to solo artist, South Korean musician Shaun discusses his rise with our junior reporters

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Shaun has been performing all over Asia.
Photo: Warner Music

K -pop star Kim Yun-ho, known professionally as Shaun, first emerged on the Korean music scene in 2009 as a backup vocalist and keyboardist for indie-rock band The Koxx. From playing at small clubs to entertaining crowds at festivals across Asia, the band quickly grew into a global pop sensation.

Not even a three-year hiatus from 2012 to 2015 could slow the band’s rise. When they returned, stronger than ever, their fan base was twice the size. Despite the group’s success, Shaun knew there were other musical avenues that he needed to explore, and he made the decision to go solo.

“I don’t think much has changed since becoming a solo artist – but a lot has definitely changed since [debuting],” he told Young Post during his visit to Hong Kong last week.

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The singer was in town to perform at the very first KKBOX Hong Kong Music Awards, joining a line-up that included Jason Chan Pak-yu and C AllStar.

He treated fans to a rendition of his single, Way Back Home, which caused a stir last year when it unexpectedly charted above some of K-pop’s biggest artists, including BTS and Blackpink.

“That felt surreal. I am really fortunate to have people appreciate my work,” he said. “Way Back Home was a turning point [in my career]. I think the best thing about it is that people now know more about me and my songs.”

Understanding the phenomenon that is K-pop

The song became such a huge hit that it lead to accusations that Shaun’s management team had manipulated chart rankings. Rather than be hurt by these accusations – which were found to be untrue – Shaun then used the incident as a source of motivation for his work.

“That time was very hard for me as I suddenly came up against these complaints,” he said. “But the incident has taught me that rumours like these can change a singer in a big way. Instead of hiding from the public, I turned my sadness into energy, which I put into making music.”

Shaun has continued to focus on his musical growth, collaborating with the likes of BTS and EXO. Most memorably, he performed with EXO at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“Through collaborating with bands like BTS and EXO, I’ve been able to get to know them, as well as learn from them,” Shaun said.

The singer is also keen to branch out into different genres.

“I do not want to be limited by the public’s expectation of which genre my music should fit into. I would rather others hear my music and think ‘this music is produced by Shaun’.”

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
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