Itaewon Class soundtrack singer Gaho talks K-dramas, his first LP, Fireworks, and sharing his emotions and stories

Asia's Tech News Daily

Blackpink, Olivia Rodrigo, Start-Up, Stranger’s

While Squid Game and Hellbound are the biggest K-drama hits of 2021, in 2020, everyone was talking about Itaewon Class. And everyone who had watched that show was listening to Gaho’s song Start Over, which was featured on the soundtrack and became a hit single in South Korea.

Fast forward to the end of 2021, and Gaho (Kang Dae-ho) is still a very popular official soundtrack vocalist but also trying to make his own way as a singer-songwriter beyond the world of Korean dramas.

Along with a variety of rearranged covers of popular songs, including ones by artists such as Blackpink and Olivia Rodrigo, he is turning the focus to his own music, and released his first full-length album, Fireworks, this month.

“I still want to do all that, but when I write my own music, I can share my own stories rather than providing a soundtrack for the stories of others,” he says.

Launched on November 23, the 12-track Fireworks follows his first EP, 2018’s Preparation For a Journey, and is a fitting follow-up, because Gaho has certainly had some ups and downs since its release. In 2020, Start Over was a No 1 hit in South Korea and won a variety of awards, but none of his other releases, even those featured in popular K-dramas such as Start-Up and Stranger’s second season, has resonated quite as much.

Having received a burst of energy from Start Over, he now has to make his own impact and ignite the sky with his Fireworks.

“The album’s tracks are a compilation of how I feel, with each song representing a different emotion,” he says during an interview with the Post a few weeks before the album’s arrival. “Happiness, sadness, anger … all of it.”

Like the soundtrack songs he’s come to be known for, Gaho’s personal work blends a variety of sounds rooted in elements of pop, rock and R&B, and overflows with intense melodies he puts all of his emotions into.

“I had a lot of stress in my 20s, but also a lot of happiness,” says the 24-year-old, who relays the intensity through each track on the album.

“These are the explosive moments of life. I think it really reflects not just my own emotions, but … generally what other people go through when feeling an intense emotion, whether it’s my friends or just generally anyone in their 20s trying to sort out their life.”

The album was preceded by several singles, but Gaho is promoting it especially through the single Right Now, which is a soulful pop song that focuses, like it suggests, on the present and moving on from the past.

That’s how Gaho approached the album as a whole, with each track drawing on his life and what he’s encountered, but even while working on it, he thought about how Fireworks will lead to, hopefully, more success.

“Like the title, I also hope the album Fireworks explodes and lights up the world. I hope this is an explosive moment for me and my career”, he says with a slight smile.

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