[Interview] Kim Gun Mo’s 20 Years, Past & Future
When you listen to his music, tears form in your eyes, while a small smile appears on your face. Armed with his music and his voice, Kim Gun Mo is strong enough to make you sway between sadness and humor – and he’s done it for the past two decades.
While the veteran singer, with his characteristically dark skin and quirky features, was never quite youthful, the Kim Gun Mo we met on September 26 is very much the same man he was when he made his debut in 1992.
Kim Gun Mo’s 13th album – that’s real, full-length albums mind you, not 13 mini-albums, or singles – was released on September 27. The album will consist of three CDs, and in the 3,000 limited edition copies, the album will actually contain a total of five CDs, full of Kim’s distinctive music, amassed from a 20-year long successful career.
“Twenty years have gone past in the blink of an eye. It’s a long time, but it feels great because I’ve made a decision in my heart about how I should continue doing music in the future. I Am A Singer became a turning point for me, and it really paid off. More than anything, this album is important not only because it celebrates my 20 years [as a singer], but also because it plays a part in my new start for the future.”
Though we weren’t the first to bring up I Am A Singer, Kim Gun Mo seemed comfortable bringing the slightly touchy subject up himself. In March, Kim was the first contestant to be eliminated, but the producers ended up bending the show’s rules in order to give the revered singer a second chance.
While all of his fellow contestants insisted on the chance, viewers immediately raised concerns on the legitimacy of the show and its rules. The controversy ended up getting so far out of hand that the main producer, Kim Young Hee, had to be replaced and Kim Gun Mo chose to leave the show of his own accord.
Kim admitted this incident was “the most shocking incident” in his 20 year career, but through the occurrence, he once again learned what life was, and was able to see it from a new angle, and thus sparked the starting point of his 20th anniversary commemorative album.
“I worked on this album after the I Am A Singer turning point. It was an album that came after I expressed my thoughts without hiding my emotions, so I worked on it with a lighter heart. I can proudly say that I’ve put in my best efforts and devotion.”
And to be honest, if the I Am A Singer issue was the most “shocking” part of his long career, than Kim Gun Mo’s had a fairly smooth ride.
“It was pretty smooth. Chaplin said that life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. If you look at [my career] closely, you can see I’ve had my ups and downs, but it was relatively smooth. And now the 20 years ahead of me is more important than my past. I watched a film about Ray Charles, and the captions at the end of the film, summing up the story after his 65 years of life read, ‘Ray Charles then toured America for 25 more years and touched the hearts of numerous Americans.’ That means he did so until he was 85. I’m still 45, and after seeing that I thought, ‘I’m nothing compared to him.’”
‘Nothing’ may be a little too extreme. With his hit song, Excuse, which earned him the title of ‘Nation’s Singer,’ as well as his incredibly successful third album, Mis-encounter, which broke the record for most album sales in Korea, with 3.3 million copies sold, as well as 11 other hit albums, Kim Gun Mo is definitely something.
And so, appropriately enough, the singer that took on the nation 20 years, named his 13th album, Autobiography.
“I’ve shed my last 20 years and poured those memories into the songs. I hope you’ll notice that ‘Kim Gun Mo sang very hard’ when you listen to it,” said Kim. “My 20 years to come are important. I’ve done all different genres of music. If you think of it in terms of alcohol, it means that I’ve drunk all these different kinds. Now I don’t want to insist on my own type of music, but sing the music that people need.”
Photo credit: Media Line
- Kim Gun Mo 20110928