Up Close and Personal with Kevin Woo
As a long-time veteran of the K-Pop industry, you know him as a former member of U-Kiss, one of the angelic hosts of Arirang’s After School Club, and his rising solo career. Kevin Woo has been active in the entertainment scene and has garnered quite the following over his prolific career. During KCON LA, we got to sit down and chat with Kevin Woo and take a deep dive into his career, his latest projects, and things to look forward to in the future.
Q: For our readers who are getting the chance to know you for the first time, can you please give a little introduction about yourself?
A: Yeah! My name is Kevin Woo and I debuted in a group called U-Kiss in 2008. I’ve been in K-Pop for 10 years and it’s been a long and crazy journey. But now I’m here at KCON LA as a solo artist. I debuted as a solo artist last year and I’m releasing music and traveling the world.
Q: You’ve recently released a new song in collaboration with James Lee! Can you please tell us more about the song and how you came together as well as the upcoming tour you have with him?
A: So James Lee is one of my best friends and [we] met in Korea while he was in his band Royal Pirates and I was in U-Kiss. We were actually neighbors so that’s how we built our friendship. We hung out almost every day. We’re both Korean-American in the K-Pop scene, have a lot in common, and we are both separately working on our careers, but we both became solo artists. We always talked about doing a collab, but we were just so busy and living in different countries. [But] this summer we were both in Korea at the same time and he suggested: “Hey, why don’t we do a collab right now?” and I’m down. So we went to the studio and he let me hear some of his tracks that he was writing, and I really liked the one that we chose, which was “Falling.” I wrote the lyrics to my part and he wrote his, and we recorded it the day of. As we were recording it, we were talking about how we should perform this somewhere and James brought up that he’s been wanting to go on tour in the United States. He asked: “Would you join me?” and I was like “Why not?” We’ll be in L.A. at the same time anyways. Fortunately, it did work out and he invited his friends, FYKE, to join and feature on the tour. So we will be going to L.A. and San Francisco. It’ll be my first time performing in the States as a solo artist and that’s really exciting for me to meet my fans and perform for them all in English, and my Korean tracks too.
Q: Despite only two cities on this tour, which city would you like to visit next?
A: That’s a difficult question—of course I have to hit up the East Coast! So New York, and I’d love to visit Chicago. I’ve never been to the Midwest. I’ve never been to Texas, so I’d love to go to Texas and wherever my fans exist!
Q: What is your creative process when it comes to making your music?
A: I get inspired by multiple things in life, whether it is a situation that I’m going through at the moment or stuff that I have seen in movies, books, or stories from friends. It comes from everywhere. Traveling helps a lot, too. It opens up my perspective of different cultures, especially when I hear music from different countries. That also inspires me a lot.
Q: What are the challenges of being a solo artist and how do you overcome them?
A: It’s very different. Before debuting, I was actually very nervous and scared. It’s a new chapter of my life. I didn’t know what to expect. On the other hand, it was very liberating. I got to call my own shots, do the things that I wanted to do, and have more creative input into my content. Basically do what I wanted to do.
Q: Are there any other artists that you would like to collaborate with? What kind of music would you like to make with them?
A: For K-Pop, I would like to do an official collab track with Jimin. She’s my favorite little sister. We hosted After School Club for years and she’s so talented, down-to-earth, and funny. We get along so well and we did a cover on YouTube called “Rewrite the Stars” from The Greatest Showman movie. That got over two million views and the response was unexpected. All the fans have been asking when are we going to do an official collab. Also, I’d love to do more friend collabs. I’d love to do a collab with Amber and Eric Nam. I’m obsessed with Bazzi. I covered his song on my YouTube channel. I listen to a lot of Troye Sivan, Lauv, and Khalid! I love these chill artists who I listen to on a daily basis. I’ve never made music like theirs but I think that if we did a collab, we can create something new and have a little K-Pop twist to it.
Q: You’ve participated in musicals and have been an MC. How has that helped you grow as an entertainer and as an artist?
A: Doing all those different acts and jobs really helped me see the other side of this job [of being an artist]. For example, when I go on stage, there is an MC and I know what it’s like to be one and I respect that. It helps me put myself in other people’s shoes, not just as an artist. Acting is very helpful too, because it helps connect with your inner soul. It’s all a part of the arts. Whether you’re singing or acting, it’s all a form of expression. After doing musicals and acting gigs, it really helped me boost my confidence when I’m on stage.
Q: Any acting plans in the future?
A: That’s one of my goals. One of my long-term goals because right now I’m trying to focus on my music career. But I love watching Netflix and I’d love to be on a show one day. There is a lot of Asian representation on the platform right now.
Q: What are your thoughts on how big KCON has grown over the years? Did you ever think that K-Pop and KCON would be such a huge phenomenon?
A: I haven’t been to KCON since the beginning. My first KCON was two years ago and it was so big back then. Even after two years, I feel like it’s grown so much. There are more fans that come and see the concert, there is more interest in Korean culture, food, and dramas. Basically, it’s the whole package. I’m so proud to see KCON grow because I’ve been a part of it and it’s like my little baby.
Q: With the expansion of K-Pop on a global scale, did you ever think that it would turn out to be this huge phenomenon? What are your thoughts about it, especially being in the industry for so long?
A: Yeah! Even five years ago, people would know “Gangnam Style” by PSY but they didn’t know much about K-Pop or any idol groups. But now, if you go on the streets and ask anyone about BTS, they’ll know who they are. [BTS] opened up so many new doors to the newer groups. Even MONSTA X, they’re going on so many TV shows and were even at the Staples Center [for their tour]. For me, too, I got to perform on national television for Good Day LA. That is probably one of my most memorable experiences as a solo artist to debut on TV in the U.S. That was surreal. I feel like I did help pave the way, but with BTS and everyone else making it so big in the States, it’s also helping me open new doors.
Q: For the aspiring musicians out there, what is some advice that you can give to those who are wanting to pursue a career in this field?
A: Be yourself. When you’re doing music and when you’re in the industry, you end up comparing yourself to others, but no! Everyone has their own individual characteristics and charisma. So I feel like if you have your own style, make it yours and unique. Don’t be ashamed of it.
Q: Lastly, please tell our readers and your fans what you have coming up in the near future?
A: I am working on music currently. I’m actually very active in Japan but I’m also working on songs in Korea. So look forward to my Korean release! I’m also preparing international releases in English. The tour with James Lee and FYKE is my first tour, but also my stepping stone into the U.S., so hopefully next year or in the next couple of years you can see my own solo tour and more TV appearances! I’m really excited for what’s in store!
On behalf of The Kraze Magazine, we thank Kevin Woo for taking the time to have this interview with us! Make sure to support him by keeping up with him on all his social media: