The Voice That Brings Tears
Kim Hyung-Soo, also known as K.Will, is a South Korean ballad singer and Radio DJ on 107.7 SBS Power FM. He made his debut with his single “Dream” in A Love to Kill OST in 2006. He has also starred in shows such as KBS TV’s Immortal Songs 2, leaving after winning three times. In 2010, K.Will won the Male Ballad Singer Award at the Republic of Korea Entertainment Arts Awards. Three years later, he won a Music Style Award for Best R&B/Ballad at the Melon Music Awards. In 2015, he won a Digital Music Bonsang at the Golden Disk Awards. K.Willshared with Seoul Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie about his life, recent success, and upcoming projects.
SJ: Could you tell us a bit about your background? When did you first start singing?
K.Will :It started from when I was a middle school student as I listened and sang along to pop and R&B songs. I seriously started practicing with my dream to become a singer after I entered university at the age of 20.
SJ: What drew you to the ballad as a genre?
K.Will: To be honest, I was more attracted to pop R&B than ballads. Even when I was preparing for my debut, I often heard from evaluators that ballads didn't suit me. However, because the two genres had a commonplace of containing a lyrical sentiment, it helped me when I was practicing for ballads.
SJ: What is it that you think makes your voice so suited for the ballad genre?
K.Will:I’m not quite sure. I think singing and practicing a lot when I worked as a vocal guidehelped a lot. Of course, I am still studying and practicing how to include deep sentiments into songs in order to sing a better ballad for everyone.
SJ: Why did you decide to call yourself K.Will?
K.Will:HyungSoo Kim, my real name, is a very familiar name in Korea, (laughs) but I needed a more memorable name as a singer and I liked how “will”[in English] meant “will” [volition].
SJ: Who are your favorite musicians, Korean and non-Korean?
K.Will:It is hard to pick just one. I was influenced by a lot of my seniors in the industry. Even now, I am still influenced by them.
SJ: Are there any musicians you would like to collaborate with?
K.Will: I have a lot, but recently, I thought that I would like to collaborate with JYP’s YaerinBaek. Her voice is very nice.
SJ: Do you enjoy K-pop? If so, what is your favorite group/artist?
K.Will: There seems to be many questions about my preferences. For me, questions with the words “favorite” or “most” are very difficult to answer. There is a huge variety from idols to hip-hop artists who are recently popular in Korea, and I like many teams’ music and performances.
SJ: Who inspires you?
K.Will:My family, friends, experiences, Seoul, traveling, other music and everyone who is interested in my music.
SJ: Could you tell us a bit about your experience being a DJ? Are skills for being a DJ very different from those required to be a musician?
K.Will: Of course there are many different things, but in fact, I felt I had similarities with singers when I was a DJ and it helped a lot with my music. If I were to express it in one word, I think “sympathy” (sharing a feeling with the audience) was why I felt DJs and musicians are similar.
SJ: Do you practice any non-musical arts?
K.Will:I was very interested in arts or handicrafts, but I forgot about them for a long time as I sang. I became interested again in model figures.And recently, I became interested again in arts and leather crafting. I want to try making something.
SJ: What have been the greatest challenges in your career?
K.Will:I think it was a big challenge when I, who was normal and not courageous, decided to become a singer.
SJ: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
K.Will: It is hard to pick just one. As a singer, I gained sympathy from a number of people through music.
SJ: What projects are you working on currently?
K.Will:I am preparing songs that are planned to be released this year.And in the summer, I will be doing a musical for the first time in my life. Since a musical is a new challenge, I am excited and nervous.
SJ: What quality does a true musical artist need to have?
K.Will: To be good in music, a lot of things including the basics can be very important, but in the end, wouldn’t it be “passion”? I think how much you like music is most important.
SJ: What, in your opinion, is the most challenging part of creating the perfect piece of music?
K.Will: Is there a perfect piece of music? (laughs). I think a piece of music that can be loved for a long time will be a piece of music that is close to perfection. I think forming a bond of sympathy that transcends generations will be most difficult to achieve.
SJ:Can you tell us about your experiences in Japan? What do you enjoy the most about Japan?
K.Will: It is very surprising. It was a very difficult thing to imagine even when I first started working as a singer. To have a performance in Japan! I have already been working for six years, but I get surprised and grateful every time. I am very sorry and regretful that I cannot have performances in a lot of areas. I am very sorry and grateful for those who come from very far places to see the concert.
SJ: Do fans in Japan differ from in those Korea?
K.Will: They are similar and different at the same time (laughs). I feel that Japanese fans are “concentrating” on my voice more than Korean fans when I sing. It seems like Korean fans want to “enjoy” together more.
SJ: Do you see differences between J-Pop and K-Pop, aside from the language?
K.Will: If the Japanese market developed by having popular songs and maniac genres’ songs co-existing, Korea has a popular genre that is loved from time to time. However, since Korea also has various genres of songs developing, it will be difficult to simply explain how J-pop and K-pop are different.
SJ: Where in the world would you most like to perform?
K.Will: King SejongStation (in Antarctica). I really want to go at least once. I also want to give “warmth” by music to those who are working far away from the ones they love.
SJ: What are your goals for the future?
K.Will: Happily working on music while I am alive. Making a national song that many more people can sympathize with.
SJ: What advice do you have for aspiring singers?
K.Will: Start now!