[INTERVIEW] The Past and Present with THE SOLUTIONS
THE SOLUTIONS is a South Korean indie rock band under the label, Happy Robot Records. In June 2012, the original duo of Park Sol (lead vocals) and naru (birth name: Kang Kyungtae; guitar and backing vocals) debuted with the single – ‘Sounds of the Universe’ along with their first and self-titled album – “The Solutions”. Joining in 2014, Kwon Ohkyung (bass) and Park Hansol (drums) completed the now four-member band, with the release of their second album – “Movements“.
Their music is the perfect mix of electronic dance and rock music. They sing in English and Korean, with their recent releases in English mainly.
Today, on 26 September 2020, Hallyure had the pleasure to not only listen but also talk with THE SOLUTIONS.
For those who aren’t familiar with the band, could you give us a short introduction?
THE SOLUTIONS: Hello, we are THE SOLUTIONS, we debuted in 2012, and have been playing British and Western-style music. We have released two full-length albums and a number of EPs, singles and performed at various festivals at home and abroad.
What made you decide to pick ‘THE SOLUTIONS’ as the name of the band, and what does it mean?
THE SOLUTIONS: We wanted a name that can be expressed in a single word, simple, but definite. After thinking about it for a few days, we decided on it because we liked the feeling that the word ‘solutions’ came to mind.
We really enjoyed the tracks on your latest ‘Load’ EP, especially ‘Dance With Me’. What did you have in mind while producing the EP?
Park Sol: The process of creating something new is always enjoyable. Of course, there are moments when stress from natural worries and conflicts is unbearable. But in the process of working on this album, I think I felt less stress than usual. I thought that if I wanted to make the listeners dance, I should keep the joyful vibe inside me.
naru: There was a lot of bad news, including COVID-19. While listening to our music, I thought it would be nice if I could forget about the worries of the world and cheer up.
Kwon Ohkyung: “Dance With Me” was started by synth sound. The idea was to express a snack called Pepero. (Note: Pepero are Pocky sticks. Ohkyung, your intention made it through)
Park Hansol: I hope people will like it.
The tracks on ‘Signature’ were very light-hearted and energetic. Could you walk us through the EP? What was the message behind it?
Park Sol: Over a long time in the band, we have been on countless stages and passed countless people, and we have encountered various kinds of feedback about our music and live music.
We grew up from that, but on the other hand, it was a pity that our essential and wild senses became dull and faded. After a six-month break, I decided that it was our first starting point again before I started working on the ‘Signature‘. It is an album focused on capturing the identity that only we have today, without being swept away or made up.
naru: Rather than having any special intention, I focused on my own pure feelings and thoughts. It contains a natural feeling that comes from within. The lyrics also focus on finding one’s own self. It seems to be felt throughout the music.
Kwon Ohkyung: As the lyrics of “Dear my Friend” reveal, it means to go your own way without being swayed by the outside world.
Park Hansol: Let’s have more fun after a long break!
Any specific song from the album that was special to you all? Is there a story behind it that you would like to share with fans?
Park Sol: At one time, it seemed that the feelings of the song change as the emotions change. These days, when I sing “In My City” on stage, the emotion lingers for quite a long time.
I feel like I’m pouring out all the emotions inside of me at once, so I can feel a sense of catharsis.
naru: While writing “Movements”, I was able to set a new direction for THE SOLUTIONS in the future. Every time I listen to our song, it feels very new.
Kwon Ohkyung: It’s a song called “Mr. Lover Boy”. It’s the first song I’ve ever participated in composing within THE SOLUTIONS. I think it’s a song that leaves a lot of regrets. When we made this song, the members had so many different opinions. Of course, we’re closer now.
Park Hansol: “Black Night“, I think the highlight of the song moves hearts.
What goes into the song-writing process? Do you often find a difference in opinion amongst yourselves, and if so, how do you solve that?
Park Sol: I can’t compare with other bands, so I’m not sure if it’s frequent or not. But I think I’ve always been through it.
In the past, when we couldn’t narrow our differences, and it was in the way someone was upset and almost gave up, but we now have a very special talent in different fields.
There seems to be more acknowledging, compromising, and coordinating opinions.
naru: Each of us work on recording ideas for short or long periods of time and collaborate with them. When we’re stuck, we tend to come up with new ideas or coordinate with them.
Kwon Ohkyung: We tend to work on tracks first. naru and I are work on the track first, and Sol makes the vocal melody. Among them, they do both work on the track and melody.
That’s why there’s always a conflict between the track-maker and Sol, but this inevitable conflict seems to make us more considerate.
Park Hansol: The only way to narrow the disagreement is healthy conversation. I think we are still looking for it and going in the right direction.
Have any of you had a creative block or have been nervous while making music? How do you cope through it?
Park Sol: There’s always been a creative block, and maybe it’ll continue. I think I got away with it in a different way then. At some moments, I struggle to do something, and sometimes I just choose to do nothing.
Nowadays, I try not to care much about the word creative block itself. I just want to leave my body on the waves naturally and let it flow.
naru: Try to find new music and imagine what the composer would have thought and where he would get his ideas. I sometimes play games to empty my head.
Kwon Ohkyung: I think I always have a creative block when I work on my album. But if I sit in the studio, I feel like I’m always getting something small.
Park Hansol: I think it is important to accept a creative block as it is, cause it won’t last forever. There’s nothing that lasts forever in the world.
Since you debuted in 2012, how have you changed as a band? Could you walk us through your journey as a band?
Park Sol: naru and I used to be solo artists, we made our first debut as a duo. Bassist Kwon Ohkyung and drummer Park Hansol were the performers introduced to help with our first live session. After finishing the first concert together, they played while making THE SOLUTIONS second album as guest performers, and when we were preparing for “Love You Dear“. naru and I then suggested them to become official members, and that’s how we became a four-member band. Also, I think it was a wise choice even though a new adaptation was needed.
naru: Although THE SOLUTIONS started as a duo, we were already aiming for band sound, so we naturally joined the two members who helped us perform live together from the beginning.
Kwon Ohkyung: There were two members when THE SOLUTIONS debuted, but in fact, the music was shaped like a band.
Maybe that’s why it wasn’t that different when we’ve gathered in four.
What does music mean to you all? What do you hope people gain through your music?
Park Sol: It’s a ‘pleasure’. It’s still the most enjoyable moment when I make music and sing on stage. I hope that music will be fun for me for a long time.
naru: Energy that heals tough life and troubles.
Park Hansol: Music is just music. If people can feel and get anything with the music we make, just like water, air, and wind, that’s satisfying.
Whom would you cite as your musical inspiration? Any Korean rock bands that you admire?
Park Sol: All Korean and foreign artists and bands inspire me. But it is the members of THE SOLUTIONS who give me the most inspiration and influence musically.
naru: From electronic to folk classic, I listen to it a lot. I like Seo Taiji’s music the most in Korea.
Kwon Ohkyung: I tend to listen to music a lot, so I think there are a lot of people who inspire me. 5SOS, DAY6, Thornapple, King Kurul, etc. Everyone inspires me in many different ways.
Do you have any genre you would like to explore?
Park Sol: We have always tried to make new things with our music. These days, I want to reduce excessive attempts and complete what we want to express with something more natural and complete.
naru: A very dense feeling of folk music, or electronic.
Kwon Ohkyung: I’m trying to make hip-hop music or boy idol music.
How does the Korean entertainment scene react to Korean bands from when you debuted in 2012 to now in 2020?
Park Sol: From our debut until now, our fans have shown their affection for their favorite band. However, such things did not spread to the entire Korean band scene with enough energy to move around. Recently, the number of idol groups in the form of bands seems to be increasing little by little. Maybe they can play a great role in further developing the Korean band scene.
naru: It is true that the band’s position in Korea and abroad continues to narrow down because the development of technology has led to a lot of music to software. But we continue to believe in the energy of the actual performance, and we’re going forward.
Kwon Ohkyung: The band scene in the entertainment scene seems to be getting more known. There are more bands in the form of idols, and I think there is more respect in diversity of music.
Are there any milestones you would like to achieve in the future?
Park Sol: There are many stages that we have not yet stood on; Larger venues, and our potential fans whom we have not met. Hopefully, the day will come when THE SOLUTIONS will be on the main stage of overseas festivals.
naru: Continue to play music. Writing a good song without any regrets.
Kwon Ohkyung: If I get the chance, I would like to perform as a soloist.
Park Hansol: I always want to be happy on stage.
Any advice to the emerging new rock bands and aspiring musicians?
Park Sol: I hope you believe in yourself more than just take advice. Maybe my experience is not right for them. Anyone who is doing what they want to do is already cool enough.
naru: I think we should always find inspirational things. Not only through music, but also through movies, writings, news, etc.
Park Hansol: Keep rocking!
Let’s dive into the COVID-19 pandemic. Have you learned anything new, now that we have more free time?
Park Sol: These days, I am learning MMA kickboxing. I started this exercise for my health, but it’s more fun than I thought. I think it will be a good hobby.
naru: As I make the draft songs, I learn more about the features of Ableton Live and practice playing synthesizer to make new sounds. I’m also reading a lot of books.
Kwon Ohkyung: I’m currently doing a Master’s degree to learn more about music. I’m looking forward to new things to learn soon.
Park Hansol: The moment is precious.
Who are you all listening to these days? Any recommendations?
Park Sol: For a while, I listened to Hip Hop, R&B, and Soul genres. These days I play pop that is popular at that time while at home or in the car regardless of genre. I would like to recommend a song called Tennyson – Body Language, which I listened to a lot last year.
Kwon Ohkyung: “Night Drive” by Echae en Route’. Korea is now beginning to smell like autumn, and I am listening to it because it suits the season, even though I wrote this song. (Note: Kwon Ohkyung is also a member of the duo, Echae en Route)
Finally, please say something to the fans!
Park Sol: Thank you for loving our music. Soon, everything will get better and when we can meet more freely, I want to let you hear the live performance of THE SOLUTIONS. I hope you stay healthy until then.
naru: Above all, I hope you take care of your health, and I hope you get energy from good music, movies, books, etc at home.
Kwon Ohkyung: I wonder how everyone is doing. We’ve always been together at the concert hall. When I find our fans on social network, I feel thankful for fans’ support. There’s going to be a lot more interesting events in the future, so look forward to it.
Park Hansol: I hope the day will come when we can perform overseas as soon as possible. Stay healthy until that day.
Hope you enjoyed the interview! Please keep supporting THE SOLUTIONS!
Listen to ‘Load‘ – EP on Spotify here –
Interested in THE SOLUTIONS? Here’s their Spotify link –
IMAGE/VIDEO COURTESY – HAPPY ROBOT RECORDS