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K-pop without the frills

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Lee Jung Shin (above), bassist of popular South Korean rock band CNBlue, on how his band differ from others. — PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

By Yip Wai Yee

K-pop stars are famous for their immaculate grooming and slick dance moves. But Lee Jung Shin, the bassist of popular South Korean rock band CNBlue, has some simple advice for those auditioning for tomorrow’s TV talent quest Scoot: K-pop Star Hunt.

“Just be yourself. As long as you’re true to yourself and sincere about your music, the audience will feel it. You don’t have to do anything really fancy,” says the 21-year-old in Korean via a translator.

He was in town on Thursday to promote the third edition of the regional talent competition, which aims to uncover the next K-pop star from Asia. The Singapore leg of the auditions will be held at Bugis+ shopping mall tomorrow. Auditions will also be held in other parts of Asia – Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines.

Lee practises what he preaches as a member of a band that is “all about the music”. CNBlue’s brand of rock music stands out from most slick dance- pop hits that dominate the K-pop industry and have propelled groups such as Super Junior to fame.

His groupmates – lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Jung Yong Hwa, lead guitarist Lee Jong Hyun and drummer Kang Min Hyuk – focus on playing their own instruments at performances instead of dancing, and write a lot of their own music too.

“We are different because we don’t dance and we don’t focus on frills to make up a whole package. For us, it’s really all about the music,” says Lee.

He was in town alone to promote the show, as his bandmates had prior engagements.

Two contestants will be shortlisted from each Asian location for the talent search, and the 14 finalists will gather in Seoul next month for three weeks of training. They will vie for the title of Scoot: K-pop Star on Jan 5 next year, and the winner will be offered a contract with Korean entertainment company CJ E&M and record label FNC Entertainment and be groomed as a K-pop star.

The whole process will be shown on Channel M (StarHub TV Channel 824/874 and SingTel mio TV Channel 518) from Nov 30.

Lee admits that it gets “lonely” whenever he has to make the publicity rounds alone. “But it helps that we’ll always call to talk and check in on one another no matter where we are,” says the bachelor.

He is quite the fashionista. Dressed in a two-toned shirt, he says with a chuckle: “Whenever there is an event, I would make myself the band’s stylist. In fact, Min Hyuk will come up to me to ask for suggestions on what to wear. Yong Hwa has his own sense of fashion, so he doesn’t really listen to me. And Jong Hyun is the guy who will never change what he’s wearing, no matter what I tell him.”

CNBlue members were talent scounted separately by FNC Entertainment while playing music at various venues around Seoul. They were originally formed and marketed as an indie rock band for Japanese audiences, as their musical tastes tend to be broader than those of Koreans.

While he has no experience with talent quests, Lee says he understands the dedication needed to achieve one’s music dreams.

Before their official debut in mid-2009, CNBlue spent more than six months travelling around Japan, where they underwent musical training. Part of that meant having to hold impromptu performances on the streets as well as in train stations.

“I played until I had blisters all over my hands,” he says.

But there were fond memories too. “Our days as trainees were tough but filled with many interesting experiences. One of them was how we had only 30 minutes for lunch,” he recounts. “There was a hotdog place that was 10 minutes away from where we were stationed at one time. So we used to sprint all the way there, eat for five minutes then run all the way back.”

Today, CNBlue have six Japanese-language albums to their name, including Thank U (2010) and Code Name Blue (2012). They also have seven Korean albums, including First Step (2011) and extended play album Ear Fun (2012).

Citing rock bands such as Metallica as their musical influences, he says: “I’m happiest when all four of us are together on stage, just jamming away.”

This story was originally published in The Straits Times Life! on Saturday, Sept 14.


Posted by Linda @ cnboice


Author: cnboice

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One thought on “K-pop without the frills

  1. Pingback: CN Blue | My Personal Hobby

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