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[Herald Interview] KCM celebrates 20th anniversary with gratitude for fans

The 42-year-old vocalist attempts to revive the Korean ballad and draw overseas listeners

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Jan. 15, 2024 - 08:05

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KCM (Image 9 Communications) KCM (Image 9 Communications)

Marking the 20th year of his ballad singer career, KCM returned with a new album, “US,” sending gratitude to his fans on Sunday. The album is the finale of the first chapter of his life, as well as the starting point of his next chapter, according to KCM.

From the album title, "US," to the first track "To My Fans," which he wrote and composed himself, KCM's new album is full of his love for his fans.

"When I held my 20th anniversary concert in November, many fans sent me messages and their stories were so touching. I wanted to reply that I’ll be always here, singing, so that fans may visit me anytime," said the singer, during a group media interview on Thursday.

KCM, whose stage name comes from the initials of his name, Kang Chang-mo, is one of South Korea's representative ballad singers from the early 2000s. The 42-year-old vocalist is known for his skillful use of high notes and his husky, masculine voice. However, KCM's uniqueness has not always been to his advantage.

"People either love my voice or hate it. So there was a conflict between the idea of doing a difficult song that my fans would like and trying a song that the public would easily enjoy and sing along."

"I really tried hard to take a lot away from my original style. I think I should go down the path to become a vocalist that conveys emotion and comfort," said KCM.

Along with his 20th-anniversary album, KCM is also working on an album for MSG Wannabe, a project group that he participated in through the popular Korean TV show, "Hangout With Yoo."

The program helped him rediscover his singer-persona. “Before the program, only my peers and old fans knew my songs, but now both the elderly and children recognize me. It is a program for which I am grateful as it has re-introduced KCM as a singer.”

Although he has already established a successful career in the Korean music industry, KCM expressed his ambitions to expand his career abroad, introducing Korean ballads to international listeners.

"I'm planning to enter the Japanese and other Asian music markets. I may be able to show the power of K-ballads by releasing a single or a mini album."

The singer added that although he admires the outstanding performance of K-pop and idol groups, he is grateful to young ballad singers who continue the genealogy of Korean ballads. "Watching junior ballad singers reminds me that I should work harder to set an example."

The 20 years of KCM's career have allowed him to mature both musically and personally, KCM recalled. "Every year, I find myself expressing emotions or sounds that I never knew I could convey before. I still don't think of myself as a good singer, but I've had enough years to convey the emotions I wanted to put out there."

"In the past, I made albums and songs in a state of worry or obsession, thinking a lot about whether people would like (my work). Now I feel at ease. I am just proud that I've done music for 20 years, and I want to continue making music until I'm 100 years old."