There really is nothing that can move listeners more than a beautiful singing voice; it is no wonder voice has always been perceived as an organ of the soul.
Even though they seem to have been destined to come together and form almost dream–like harmonies, coming together to sing in a group wasn’t always the plan for Jang-hyun, Chang-dong, Hyun-kyu and Hyun-seok. But the fates had their way when in 2016, the four formed Vromance, which is now slowly becoming one of the strongest ballad vocal groups in South Korea. Loved for their powerful and impeccably synchronised vocals, Vromance never disappoints its audience whenever they take the stage, perform on TV or do their magic in a recording studio. There is no wonder that Vromance found its audience both home and abroad, including a sizeable fan base in the UK.
Vromance © RBW
What is interesting is that the members collaborated years before Vromance was even founded. In 2013, Park Jang-hyun and Park Hyun-kyu recorded Love Is… for the OST of the immensely popular K-drama The Heirs. The song not only became a hit on the domestic market, but also among the USA and the UK K-drama fans. Even now, as a group, Vromance remains active on the K-drama market. They recorded songs for other well-known Korean dramas, including Suits, a remake of the popular American TV show of the same title.
Ballad groups seem to perpetually suffer in the shadow of the more popular K-pop groups and there is no doubt that Vromance deserves more exposure, even if just for their immense talents. With the assistance of Rainbow Bridge World, an entertainment company that represents Vromance, we were able to interview the members and discuss what it means for them to be in a vocal group, their work and their experiences with performing live on stage.
Music Video © RBW (All Rights Reserved)
It is lovely to meet you! It’s best to start right at the beginning – you debuted in 2016 and quickly became a group known for your amazing, strong vocals. Have you always wanted to be singers and be a part of a vocal group?
Jang-hyun: I honestly did not think I would be debuting as a member of a group, not until I met our Chief Executive Producer, Kim.
Chang-dong: I could not imagine that I would ever be able to form a harmony with several people because there was a wall in my mind – it limited me from trying various genres. I feel that it’s fun to be in a vocal group, but the main advantage comes from trusting and leaning on each other.
Hyun-kyu: As time passed by, I started to see certain weaknesses that I had, so I always had the desire to do group activities, especially with fellow members (now my friends), who possess the kinds of qualities I felt I lacked before we started recording together.
Your voices are sublime – deep, hypnotic, agile and well-controlled. Your live performances are breathtaking and the group’s vocal synchronisation is spotless. Did you receive any formal training before becoming professional singers?
Chan-dong: You praise us too much! In my high school days, I wanted to prepare to apply for a practical music department in college, so I had vocal lessons with various teachers. Then later, when I became a trainee, I was able to practice in my own way and through various lesson methods.
Hyun-kyu: We did not have any individual training. It seems that we just kept monitoring each other, adjusting the sound and practicing in order for our voices to be where we wanted them to be.
The songs of your lyrics are Korean – would you mind telling our readers which themes your songs represent the most?
Hyun-kyu: I think we sing a lot about the emotions that connect to the theme of love. The feelings and circumstances of these emotions are varied and expressive, so I think that those who listen to it will be able to immerse themselves in our music.
Chan-dong: I think Korean people are very warm. Even though these days, more… stimulating themes are getting popular, I pick themes that can warm up a person’s heart – I believe that is the kind of feeling people’s hearts desire.
Jang-hyun: The music of Vromance is mostly based on “common” stories, heard by “common” people around us.
Hyun-seok: Most of the Vromance songs seem to be centered on the theme of love. Our lyrics and songs are created by each complying to a specific theme, such as feelings of a throbbing heart, of a love encounter or an experience of a love parting.
Park Jang-hyun and Park Hyun-kyu, in 2013, you sang Love is… for The Heirs (왕관을 쓰려는 자) OST; the song became a huge hit around the world, including among the K-drama fans in the UK. How was that experience for you, recording a song together before you formally joined Vromance?
Jang-hyun: Before answering this question, I have to say that the fact that the song was popular in the UK seems to make this interview an even bigger pleasure! At that time, I had to pay more attention to the music that I made before my official debut. When I listen to the song now, I smile because I recall the footsteps of the early days of Vromance.
Hyun-kyu: It was such a valuable experience. I was so excited back then that I can still vividly remember those days! I am so grateful and thankful to many people who have given us such a great opportunity, and to the fans who have shown us love.
Music Video © RBW (All Rights Reserved)
As a group, you recorded songs for the OSTs of Strong Girl Bong-soon (힘쎈여자 도봉순), Man to Man (맨투맨) and Suits (슈츠). The songs represent different music genres; which is your favourite genre and are there any concepts, or certain music, that you would like to try with your future releases?
Chan-dong: Personally, I think that the song I’m in Love matches the atmosphere of our group. Exciting songs are fun to work on, but I prefer writing sweet lyrics with acoustic melodies. The genre that I want to challenge this summer is reggae. If you think of summer, reggae comes to your mind, doesn’t it? I would like to sing a reggae song at least once.
Hyun-seok: I had a great time watching both dramas and I was so happy to be able to participate in the dramas’ OSTs as a singer. In fact, the music style that we are used to and prefer to use is the OST for Strong Girl Bong-soon, but the OST for Suits was a music style that the members and I were not used to, therefore it was something new for us to try on – I even got a chance to rap! In the future, I would like to record more ballads for OSTs; they give off feelings that are more sincere and melancholic, which is something close to all the members of Vromance.
Vromance appeared on Immortal Song, a South Korean TV Show, a few times already, with superb live performances and to the audiences’ huge applause – each time, you delivered an incredible show. Is there a difference for you between performing live on stage and performing together on TV? Do you ever get stage fright?
Jang-hyun: Immortal Song is a TV programme that shows the reinterpretation of already well-known songs; we sang those songs in the style of Vromance. Stage fright… sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes, when I can’t get over the nervousness and excitement, then I get stage fright, but other times I can get over it, and then I don’t have to deal with it when I perform.
Hyun-kyu: Especially during the contest stage, I felt some degree of evaluation from others, so I couldn’t help but feel more nervous. I was not afraid, but I was nervous. I guess most contestants get nervous on that stage!
Chan-dong: When we shoot for broadcasting programs, I focus on the camera rather than the audience. Generally, live performances are better for singing because you can breathe together with the audience. Being on stage always makes me nervous. I think it will be the same for any stage in the future as well as now. Isn’t it exciting, even just to hear the word “stage”?
Hyun-seok: In the case of Immortal Song, I was overwhelmed at first, by the atmosphere and the audience, because I had to sing a song of a senior whom I admire. I seem to have felt more burdened than I would have been if I was performing one of our songs on one of the other broadcasting programs. But after that, every time I had to perform, it seemed like it became easier to confidently show a new image to my seniors and the audience, with the colour of Vromance rather than just feeling burdened by the original version of a song.
Vromance on Immortal Song 2 (2018) © KBS (All Rights Reserved)
In 2016, you released your first EP The Action with its title track She; then in 2017, you released your second EP Romance and in 2018, you have released a few songs, including Primordial Instinct (원초적 본능). How did your creative process change since 2016?
Jang-hyun: Our music does not belong to one genre and I think it changes continuously. The fact that we have many colours in terms of music has, I think, become a prominent feature of Vromance. So, for a long time now, I’ve wanted us to get a song that would become the so-called “Million Seller” song.
Hyun-kyu: I think that work that I’m doing and the songs that I’ve sung have changed and that also added to my sense of responsibility. The notions of Hyun-kyu of Vromance and Vromance itself seem to have doubled in importance with the passage of time. I think that wanting to do better music is turning out to be my personal driving force.
Chan-dong: I get quite a few parts in every song, but it is true that in every song, there are some parts that make the members feel greedy. Because of that greed, I find that I prepare myself harder every time we are to record the next project.
Hyun-seok: I had in fact been dreaming of my debut for a long time, so I’ve been happy since 2016. My brothers/members and I have been very happy to cheer for our parents and our families, and we have also been very happy to have our precious fans, Vroccoli – we feel a lot of happiness.
What’s the hardest thing about being in a band? As there are four members, there are also four different personalities. How do you make it work as a team?
Jang-hyun: I think teamwork is maintained since we understand each other like old friends. Sometimes it feels like we’re just sitting there together, relaxed, without pressure of having to do anything.
Hyun-kyu: We have been practicing as a team since we were trainees, so we spent quite a long time together as a team! I find none of it difficult, because I feel our relationships are something to care for and to know even without words being spoken out loud. Like the name of our group Vromance implies, the other members feel almost like my real brothers.
Chan-dong: In fact, maintaining teamwork is the hardest part. We grew up in different environments, and we have been around different kinds of people, so it was hard at first to keep up with each other’s characteristics. I am sure that a part of the reason why our career as Vromance is going well is because we had endurance. In fact, every group out there is going through these same struggles.
Hyun-seok: I think it’s the most encouraging thing, to live with my brothers; just like our team name suggests. I am the youngest and they treat me well, and I do the same for them too. For example, there are times when I try to solve a problem we have when we have a meal together. Also, when there is a problem, we try to talk to each other right away. I guess that is one way to keep the teamwork going.
Music Video © RBW (All Rights Reserved)
Which would be your dream collaboration, if you could choose any singer or a group?
Jang-hyun: The British singer Tom Misch! It would be fun to have a collaboration with him! The emotional guitar line and the mellow voice…. Simply… WOW~!!!!!!!
Hyun-kyu: We never collaborated with MAMAMOO, who belong to the same company! I think it would be fun and meaningful to have a collaboration with them.
Chan-dong: If I get a chance to have a collaboration for one of my solo projects, then I would like to have it with J-Rabbit, who have an acoustic music style and emotional melodies and voices. If I ever get a chance, that would be awesome.
When you’re not working, what do you do to get away from it all and relax?
Jang-hyun: I ride a road bike, or go snowboarding, or walk with my dogs, or travel. I enjoy my hobbies and I try to be as relaxed as possible.
Hyun-kyu: Recently, my friends started to find the fun in leading cultural lives, and I join them every time they go someplace special. I go to exhibitions and cafes. I can feel a feeling of ease inside when I do that.
Chan-dong: I watch movies a lot. I’ve always liked movies, but since I became interested in acting, I started to notice other aspects of movies and I find this to be fun. I started to carefully observe what emotions and intentions the actors want to convey to the audience. Also, I like reading mystery novels.
Hyun-seok: I usually like to do weight training or go outside to find restaurants with delicious food, or I go shopping.
What’s next for you as a group?
Hyun-kyu: I think 2019 is a very important year for Vromance. I am sure that every day this year will count. So, we are going to bring our music to you steadily, by working on it every single day! Count on us!
Hyun-seok: I hope the music of Vromance can keep on circling in everyone’s ears with good vibes, the kind that all generations feel comfortable with and connect with.
Music Video © RBW (All Rights Reserved)
We would like to thank Rainbow Bridge World entertainment company for their amazing assistance in the interview and Vromance for answering our questions.
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Sanja Struna