Profile picture of singer Lee Su-jeong (Woolim Entertainment)
Almost 11 years since setting foot into the music scene, singer Lee Su-jeong, formerly of Lovelyz, says she is finally debuting solo with her first EP, “My Name.”
Ahead of releasing the album Tuesday, the artist conducted a joint interview with local press in Seoul to share a closer look into the album through which she hopes to tell her true story for the first time.
“The album in one word is my ‘first start,’” Su-jeong said during the interview conducted Wednesday at her agency, Woolim Entertainment.
While the 29-year-old artist dropped her first-ever digital single “Stranger,” featuring veteran vocalist Wheesung, in 2011, she said she would commemorate the upcoming album’s release as her official solo debut.
“Although I debuted a long time ago, this is my first time doing everything alone and my first album that tells my true story, so it marks a significant new start in my life,” the artist said.
The new EP marks Su-jeong’s first activities in six months, following the disbandment of K-pop girl group Lovelyz in November last year. And she says she has been busy writing lyrics for her own music during the time off.
“I’ve been writing a lot of lyrics, pondering about what kind of stories I want to tell through music, and I jot them down every time they pop up in my mind,” she said.
While taking note of her inspirations, Su-jeong came to pen all five tracks with lyrics on her new album herself, including lead single “Into the Moon.”
The moombahton-infused score of rich and powerful synth sounds wrap around the ears, as Sujeong sings melodically of sending away the dark night and greeting a new bright day to discover one’s true self.
“I think the most meaningful among all the tracks would be the title song, as its lyrics are a reflection of myself amid the period when I moved on from being part of a group to starting a solo journey,” she explained.
The EP -- a six-track set that includes the introductory score “My Name” with no lyrics -- comprises “Into the Moon” and four side tracks: “Say Goodbye,” “Warmth of Love,” “Mirror” and “Cosmos.” Each track represents a different part of her story that she has kept over the past years, waiting to release her own music.
Concept image of Lee Su-jeong’s first solo EP “My Name” (Woolim Entertainment)
“As part of a group, and also the leader of the team, the conflict of whether I should put the team before myself or vice versa lingered inside, and in most cases, I had to give in and it wasn’t an easy time to endure,” Su-jeong said. “Because I didn’t want to do any damage to Lovelyz, I couldn’t fulfill my desires and kept on suppressing myself, trying to fit into the group, and I kept losing myself in that process.”
The prolonged time of self-repression was what led her to drop her widely and long-loved alias, Baby Soul, the instant she separated herself from Lovelyz to restart a career with her given name: Lee Su-jeong.
While “Lee Su-jeong” is a combination of a fairly common surname and given name, the singer said she did not give much thought about whether she could stand out.
“There are many people with the same name, but that wasn’t a problem. What was important to me was being aware of my own ego, because throughout the time I had used the pseudonym, I’d lived my life trapped in it.”
Her solo sound deviates largely from that of Lovelyz, which had received great support from fans for its signature blend of dancy yet balladic, sweet and breezy sounds that hit the ears with refreshing warmth.
“I did try to differentiate the sound from before, but it wasn’t much trouble. To be candid, I had a lot of concerns while I’d been doing music as Lovelyz, because it wasn’t the style of music I’d wanted to pursue nor the direction I had intended to take. The solo songs will show the musical colors I’d longed for,” she said, explaining what she pursued personally was a sound more powerful and heavy on beat.
Su-jeong said she was overall satisfied with the results in hand, as the album and songs share her stories through various genres.
“As I’ve written all the lyrics myself and embodied my own emotions in the songs, I hope that I could be an artist who shares her true self with her music and offer a piece of consolation and empathy to people.”
Group picture of Lovelyz`s seventh EP "Unforgettable." (Woolim Entertainment)
Su-jeong officially debuted as a musician as part of the eight-piece girl group Lovelyz in November 2014 with the band’s first LP, “Girls’ Invasion.”
In November last year, Woolim Entertainment announced that, except for Baby Soul, the other seven members -- Yoo Ji-ae, Seo Ji-soo, Lee Mi-joo, Kei, Jin, Ryu Su-jeong and Jung Ye-in -- had decided not to renew their contracts with the agency after the expiration on Nov. 16.
“We had a long time of discussions. The members had been talking about it with each other for around six months, so the decision comes from the conversations we had,” Su-jeong said about the group’s disbandment.
“At first, we tried to find a way to stay together, but as the discussion continued between the company and us, we consequently arrived at such an end.”
The first female idol trainee of Woolim, Su-jeong debuted as part of the agency’s first girl group following five years of training -- the longest period among all the band members.
Referring to her longtime partnership with Woolim, she said “that was one of the main reasons, I suppose. I had that much trust for the company, and they had given me ideas on the choices I had if I decided to stay, which included releasing solo albums.”
Su-jeong said she suffered great stress while part of the group, even enduring periods of depression. But while her seven years as Lovelyz were not all rosy, Su-jeong noted that it was through that time that she could be doing what she wanted now.
“I’ve always been proud of Lovelyz music. Always. I’d been grateful that I could be doing such great music and also be a part of the group that could perform it to the public.”
She continued, “spending a long time as a trainee and also being a part of Lovelyz, I know that those years couldn’t all have been futile. That time has led me to who I am now,” she said. “I’m grateful to be able to realize that even now, and I’ve now changed to just stay focused on doing best with what I can do now and just enjoy everything.”
Releasing her first solo EP, “My Name,” Su-jeong will be devoting her time mostly on showing her music to her fans, rather than going on TV programs or shows as she had done so as a K-pop idol.
She will hold her first solo concert in Seoul next month, conducting 16 small concerts. She provided a peek into the concerts, saying she will be covering Lovelyz songs alone and also inviting special guests.
“It’s been so long that I’ve met my fans. I’m looking forward to performing in front of them as I’ll be able to actually feel the excitement.”
Profile picture of singer Lee Su-jeong (Woolim Entertainment)
Su-jeong said chart performances and trophy wins weren’t her main goals with her comeback.
“I’m not saying those aren’t important, but I hope to have more valuable time making my music and communicating with people who appreciate it,” adding, “I hope that the album stays with people long as they live lives and go through different emotions, empathizing with them and offering healing at each moment.”
About her long-term goals as a solo musician, Su-jeong said, “I want to create music which only I could create, something that can be instantly recognized as mine when heard by people. I hope to become an artist whose music could deepen along with the experiences I gain in life.”
By Choi Ji-won (firstname.lastname@example.org