For the past few decades, South Korea’s music scene has introduced the world to some of the most talented and hardworking musicians in recent years who are constantly forging sensational additions to the industry. Whether it’s in the shape of a significant billion-dollar label with massive backing or conversely, as an artist-led company intending to break the mold, the threshold for impeccable musicality in K-pop exceeds all expectations. But if you’re looking for a refreshing dose of sincerity, passion, intellect, and unfiltered pop music, meet HELLO GLOOM (@hellotomygloom).
Originally hailing from the 2016 K-pop group IMFACT by the name Ungjae, the naturally gifted singer-songwriter and rapper served as an essential member of the dark horse boyband before eventually disbanding as contracts expired in 2022. However, where many artists might pursue another group project or even the necessity to pivot into a different direction entirely, HELLO GLOOM was born, with the opportunity to direct his own future as an artist and everything it entails.
Joining forces with another artist who had undergone the group-member-turned-soloist path (from 20), the now-united and diligent K-pop duo made a courageous decision to begin something new – a self-managed label known as The Faker Club. With a sense of freedom as HELLO GLOOM, the veteran singer has used his newfound independence to undergo a massive transformation built entirely on honesty and compassion, with music that’s finally designed to tell his story. Now, after dropping several sleeper-hit tracks that range from insightful pop to entrancing dance beats (including the duality of our recent obsession “Dancing In The Dark”), HELLO GLOOM has returned with a laser focus on the distinguished new single “Eyes On Me” where he’s giving us nothing but unfiltered main character energy.
You’ve been in the industry for more than seven years now, and that’s not even considering any time you spent preparing to debut! Do you recall the first major moment in your life when you realized you were destined to create music?
HELLO GLOOM: ‘Destined.’ It’s like fate, so that’s a very cool word! I lived with my aunt when I was a kid and fell in love with the music she played. I still do, but I thought I could also do it well. I don’t know if it’s fate, because it’s too big and cool to call it fate, but I think it’s definitely love [laughs]. It was so nice to see my aunt, who had a lot of hard things going on at that time, listen to music and be happy. That’s why I wanted to be an artist who comforts and makes someone happy too.
I use the word ‘destined’ because you really do have a natural artistic energy to you – and it’s impossible to imagine you as anything other than a musician! When you set out on this journey, what was the first thing you accomplished that perhaps validated that choice for you?
HELLO GLOOM: I think I really loved music and tried to enjoy it because I chose it as a career. And I don’t think I put any lies in this music anytime I’ve made something. A falsehood that is embellished rather than the truth can be loved by people for a short period of time, but if I have my musical convictions, I think the most authentic results will be treasured for a longer time.
You’ve spent time collaborating in a group, but it feels like you’ve really evolved since becoming a soloist! What was that transition like, and was there a specific moment when you realized that you were ready to take that step?
HELLO GLOOM: I was actually very scared. Yes, I was free to not have a team and a company anymore, but I was also scared. I think that’s why I was more focused on my work. I felt that the most reliable way to work with me was to produce the most perfect result. In fact, I think I was thinking about it when I was working on “Dancing In The Dark” and I thought, ‘I’m really ready now.’
Since launching The Faker Club with From20, you’ve become such a positive role model for young artists who are realizing they can control their own future! What would you say is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of having that responsibility?
HELLO GLOOM: I think the most rewarding time is when we believe in us and the results come out exactly as we believed in them. Now, really, no one can stop us, so we really do what we want. But I think it’s the most rewarding thing when the things you do come out into the world and people understand your intentions and send you a lot of love. On the other hand, I think the difficult part is that we have to take responsibility for the outcome because we have the right to make decisions. But I think maybe this is more of an adult life [laughs].
You’ve released some incredible music like “YOUNG BOY,” “JAMES DEAN” and “Drama” which interestingly enough all feel very different vibes to them. What style of music would you say feels the most authentic to you on a personal level?
HELLO GLOOM: I don’t know which music is the most authentic yet, actually. I guess I was always just trying to capture who I was at that time. People think I’m taking on a lot of different challenges, but I think I’m just showing a part of myself. If there’s a song that looks the most like me now, I’d pick “Eyes On Me”, which came out recently.
There’s also your recent 2023 track “Dancing In The Dark” which is such a sleek, mid-tempo pop song that’s unlike anything in today’s K-pop landscape. Was there a specific idea that sparked the creation of that song and its wonderfully inclusive music video?
HELLO GLOOM: Sometimes I hated myself and fell into a deep depression. In fact, I think there was a lot of thought and destruction before this song was released. It was like a lost sheep. Then I realized that the only way to beat this depression, as my name suggests, was to enjoy it. That’s how I ended up working on the song. So this song has sadness, but I wanted to make it more exciting than anything else. And the most emotional thing I felt while working on this song was, ‘Love me for who I am.’ So I wanted to better share my feelings with the public, so I wanted to work with drag queens who express themselves in the most authentic way. It seems that wonderful people were willing to participate and good results came out.
How would you say your newest single “Eyes On Me” compliments or fits alongside your previous work, and what are some of the defining characteristics of this era?
HELLO GLOOM: I think this song is perfect as the next song to follow “Dancing In The Dark.” It’s a more up-tempo house, but my emotional line in this song is very complicated. In fact, I don’t really feel unconditional happiness, so the music itself is exciting, but the content in it contains a dark side of me. So I hope this can be healing for somebody.
Considering that The Faker Club is known for fun visuals, what would you say was the most memorable thing about working on the music video for “Eyes On Me”?
HELLO GLOOM: It was actually a lot hotter than fun [laughs]. Hmm, the most fun thing about it is that the clothes, in general, were mostly worn by women. I wanted to challenge myself a little bit more, I wanted to break the mold, and I wanted to express myself as I am, so I tried it on, and it was a lot of fun!
I also appreciate that you’re not afraid to show versatility through fashion! Since you often pivot between edgy and conservative very organically, how would you describe your own personal style?
HELLO GLOOM: I think fashion is a tool to express who I am. So, actually, dividing women’s and men’s clothing has been an expression since I was a child. I think the most important thing for me is to express myself as a person. I think, “Even if you don’t like it, if I like it, I’ll do it, if you don’t like it, I’ll do it, because if you don’t want to see it, you can close your eyes and I’ll wear it.”
Lastly, what else can we look forward to seeing from HELLO GLOOM in the coming months?
HELLO GLOOM: First of all, I want to continue to play and create a lot of good music this year. I also want to do a tour soon. I want to take care of good energy and then give it away quickly.