INTERVIEW: South Korean singer-songwriter 10cm is lining up newly written songs for a full album

Reta Lee
Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle
Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore meets Kwon Jung-Yeol before his concert on 18 November. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore)

SINGAPORE – Indie singer-songwriter 10cm, who’s also known as Kwon Jung-Yeol, is performing in Singapore tonight (18 November) for the first time.

Debuting in 2010 in South Korea, 10cm began as an indie duo and released their first EP, 10cm, to great fanfare. 10cm went on to win ‘This Year’s Discovery Award’ at the 2010 Mnet Asian Music Awards, and ‘Best Pop Song Award’ for “Tonight I’m Crazy” at the 2011 Korean Music Awards.

The name of the band referred to the height difference of the two members. But in 2017, due to personal reasons, guitarist Yoon Cheol-jong had to leave the group but main vocalist Kwon Jung-yeol continued on as a one-man band on his own under the name 10cm.

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Despite the change in band structure, Jung-Yeol went on to churn out numerous hit songs such as “My Eyes” from drama Goblin and “Lean On Me”, from this year’s hottest show Hotel del Luna. The singer also busied himself this year, by releasing the EP 4.3.

Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore spoke to Jung-Yeol ahead of his concert at Esplanade Annexe Studio.

How do you find Singapore and what have you done here so far?

Basically I’d like to just focus on the concert first, and later I’ll go shopping at Orchard Road (smiles).

Speaking about shopping, I noticed your casual street style. Is there a certain look or favourite brands you shop for? 

Right now, it is casual and I don’t go for a specific brand. The clothes I go for, are the types that can bring out my physical charms because I’m not very tall or stout. 

Which song do you constantly get asked to perform live but you hope to perform less of and why?

So there isn't a specific song that comes to mind but if I have to choose one it is “Americano”. I’ve been asked a lot to perform that song. 

You've collaborated with a few known artists of your time. So which is your favourite project and why? 

I actually enjoy working with everyone but the truth is, I enjoy working with Chen from Exo. It’s not a one-off thing; we’ve been collaborating often and we get along well as friends. I’ve also invited him to be a guest singer at my performance show before.

So what do you do when you go out together as friends? 

Basically, we go out for grapefruit (Korean soju) and have a good chat because we both are not very extroverted people. 

Do you have a favourite city to perform in?

Singapore.

Do you have a pre-ritual before going on stage?

Always go out with a very comfortable mindset. No stress! (laughs)

What makes your songs so universally appealing to fans? 

What sets my music apart from the other artists is, my music speaks better to the listeners.

Which comes first when creating a song: the melody or the lyrics?

The melody. Usually, I’ll do work in my studio. But if I’m looking for inspiration; you know, sometimes it can be just outside, when I’m taking the bus or eating something, so it’s not a specific place. 

Kwon Jung-Yeol performs under his stage name, 10cm. (PHOTO: Mode Entertainment)

What have you learned about yourself and your performance over the years?

When I first started out (singing), I thought, I wanted to write about how I feel, my feelings and things like that. Now that I’ve done that, I want to write songs for people, for my fans, the audience, to give them something they can enjoy.

Do you think your fans want more love songs?

As much as they enjoy love songs, they also like, you know, songs that they can relate to on a personal level such as “Help.” For some other reasons, there are fans who also enjoy songs about money or coffee, like “Americano.”

Do you see your role as a performer evolving in the future?

When I was younger, I always thought that I must have a goal, something that I can work towards to, but now, no. To me, right now, it’s important that I put in constant hard work and effort.

The holiday season is coming; how will you be spending the holidays?

Year-end, I’d most probably be spending it with fans as I will be working and performing.

We’re coming to the year 2020 in six weeks’ time. Do you practise having a new year’s resolution?

My new year's resolution is to not just come up with a single, but a whole new album. Right now, there are a few songs that have been completed but I feel like I should be writing more.

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