[Interview] Wonder Girls’ Ye Eun Talks Solo Comeback as Ha:tfelt, Wonder Girls, and More
Having debuted as a member of Wonder Girls in 2007, Ye Eun left behind the past eight years of roller-coaster-like life and jumped into a new challenge.
She marked the new beginning by releasing her first mini album Me? on July 31, under the name ‘Ha:tfelt.’ Having used the name of ‘Ha:tfelt’ as a songwriter since 2011, Ye Eun decided to face the public this year as a solo singer.
Putting down her old nick name of ‘nation’s younger sister,’ Ye Eun shared her honest thoughts on having marked the new start with the name Ha:tfelt.
Tell us how it feels to have returned as a soloist
“It only feels real now. I’m nervous and excited to present my songs to the world. Of course, I’m also happy to think that there will be more people who will listen to my songs.”
How did people around you respond?
“They’re my acquaintances so of course they praise me saying that it’s ‘dae bak’ or ‘you worked hard.’ Jun In Kwon sunbaenim just came to an exhibition for the album release and sent me a text saying, ‘It’s so charming without any sign of begin forced, it’s the best.’ It was something that I wanted to hear and I actually heard it. I’m so happy.”
You returned as Ha;tfelt instead of Ye Eun. Is there a reason?
“My fans are already familiar with the name. I began using the name when I began my activities as a songwriter in 2011. Ha:tfelt is the name that contains my own color, with a separate identity as a singer. It means to do sincere music passionately and newly. As I prepared the solo album, I thought about my future direction. Many people know me as Wonder Girls’ Ye Eun but the album that came out had a color that was completely different than that of Wonder Girls. I wanted to separate my music from Wonder Girls. I decided to use my name as a songwriter, Ha:felt, since I wanted to compete with music alone.”
You’ve written all seven tracks included in the album. How did Park Jin Young evaluate it?
“At first he was really surprised. He had told me to write all my songs but he told me later that he meant it for me to discuss with the company as I write them. But he was shocked when I wrote seven songs and told him I want to release an album with them. He was worried since they were dark and lacked in popular appeal. He was against it at first but I didn’t back down. The album is the result of that.’
That also means that you are solely responsible for the reviews on the album. What do you think?
“I told him that I will be responsible for it. I told him that if it fails, I will work harder to make up for it. Then he told me that if the first album fails, it’s not easy to release the second one. (laughter) But I persuaded him since I had my assurance. I wanted to fill it with my own music since I started it.”
There are many reviews saying that it lacks in popular appeal. You must have contemplated between popular appeal and musicality
“The title song was turned down many times because it lacked in popular appeal. Even if I want to make a popular song that is commercially successful, it’s not so easy since I’m just a beginner. This album is the best that I can do as of now. I released boldly it since it’s the album that shows who I am. I think I will be going along with the flow of the public in the second and third album.”
There are various genres from track 1 through 7. Is there a reason for this?
“I am more confident in going R&B soul music but I came across different genres of music, from rock to hip-hop, in America. I don’t have the intention to insist on doing just one genre. I would like to experiment with different kinds of music.”
How did the Wonder Girls members respond?
“They really cheered on for me. They are truly like a family who supports my music. They helped out in everything, from picking out photos to deciding on the concept. Hye Rim participated in rapping and Sun Mi found a new photographer for me, saying that he will be a good match for me. Yubin unnie went all the way to New York with me and filmed a documentary. I keep in contact with Sunye and let her listen to the songs, Sohee also shared her ideas through texts. The result came out great, since they are the people who know my sentiments well and listened to my music close by.”
Many people are curious about the future of Wonder Girls since you made your solo debut
“Wonder Girls is a family. Family can be together but someone might have to go to the army and someone might get married. Right now, each of us is working on our own passion. There is a time when we have to be separated but there will come a time for us to be together again. You don’t have to worry that Wonder Girls will stop here.”
What is your goal as Ha:tfelt?
“I want to make an album that can be loved for a long time. I don’t have a specific goal on the score. It’s an album that I made with my sincerity without worrying about its score. The company told me that I should at least rank number ten but that’s not something that I have control over. I would like to make many musical challenges though various collaborations.”
Photo credit: JYP Entertainment