Wonho has released his newest mini-album ‘Blue Letter’ today (September 14), but the forward-looking artist is already thinking about what’s next. “I’m actually already planning for my next album at the moment,” he reveals over a video call from Seoul with NME. “I’m exploring a stronger, hip-hop sound, and I can’t wait for my fans to listen to it.”
Wonho’s fans are always at the centre of his projects, but especially so on the seven-track ‘Blue Letter’, which represents “a letter [he’s] sending to fans”, who are also known as Wenees. “It’s my message to those who are feeling lost, depressed or having a hard time,” he shares. “I hope they get good vibes and positive energy from listening to my album, and gain strength to overcome what they’re going through.”
While the new mini-album is not exactly a continuation of his first two releases, ‘Love Synonym Part 1: Right For Me’ and ‘Part 2: Right For Us’, the singer explains that he “wanted to convey the same feeling and message of talking about love”.
Wonho shares more with NME about his experience working on ‘Blue Letter’, what the colour blue means to him, and what he’s learnt so far since going solo just over a year ago.
Hi Wonho! Congratulations on the release of your second mini-album, ‘Blue Letter’! You have been heavily involved in the album’s production, from the writing, to composing and arranging. Are there any interesting stories to share or challenges you faced in the process?
“My throat was not in its best condition while recording the album, so that was the biggest challenge that I faced. But then again, [that gave me] enough time to try out new genres or different kinds of music, so that was one of the perks.”
Which song in ‘Blue Letter’ is your favourite, and why?
“My favourite song from the album is ‘No Text No Call’. That was the first song I made for this album, and it helped me create the whole mood for the mini-album. It’s also an English song, so I hope that my international fans can listen to it comfortably and enjoy it as well.”
How does ‘Blue Letter’ link back to your ‘Love Synonym’ series?
“Both parts of ‘Love Synonym’ talk about love. [The releases] are actually not directly connected as they’re both different, but I wanted to convey the same feeling and message of talking about love. The overarching theme of all the albums is ‘love’, so that’s how they connect with each other.”
The colour blue features a lot in your album covers and concepts. What does ‘blue’ mean to you?
“When I look at my fans, they remind me of the colour blue. I can see the colour blue when I see my fans. That’s how I started using the colour blue [in my concepts]. It’s since become my signature colour… and my fans love it too. Blue is also a colour that’s able to best represent the emotions that I feel, so that’s why I keep using it.
“In English, when one says ‘I feel blue’, the word ‘blue’ is used [to describe feeling depressed or sad]. I wanted ‘blue’ to serve a double meaning of ‘feeling blue’ and… to flip the meaning of feeling blue to ‘feeling loved’, in context of the album.”
Your collaboration with American singer-songwriter Kiiara on ‘Ain’t About You’ was very well received, and even made it to NME’s Best K-pop Songs list for the first half of this year! Did you expect ‘Ain’t About You’ to do this well, and how do you feel about that?
“I actually didn’t expect the level of success of this song, but I feel truly grateful that it’s [been] well-received. It feels amazing that my fans love this song, [because I feel that] it’s my turn to give back the love [I’ve received from them].”
Who’s next on your collaboration wish list?
“I can’t really think of anyone I’d most like to collaborate with, off the top of my head. At this point, I would like to focus on my own music and solo career because there are still many different sides of me that I want to show to my fans.”
Congratulations too on your first solo debut anniversary! What have you learnt from this past year, and what do you hope to achieve in the next?
“Everything I learnt during this time was a valuable experience for me, and I’m very grateful that I got to have this time with my fans. I’m really thankful to Wenees for giving me such great memories, and I hope I get to continue making many more with them in the future.”
What else can we expect from Wonho for the rest of 2021?
“I hope Wenees will continue to look forward to my upcoming activities for ‘Blue Letter’, and I’m [also] looking for new ways to interact with them. I’m planning my offline concert, it’s always on my list, but the COVID situation is getting worse worldwide. I really hope I can meet with my fans in person at a concert in the near future.”
Wonho’s new mini-album ‘Blue Letter’ is out now.