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Kevin Woo Image Credit: Supplied

Kevin Woo is not unheard of in the music scene. The California native has been in the K-Pop limelight in over a decade. It all started back when he was first discovered by a Korean talent agency at the age of fifteen and later found success in male outfit U-Kiss — an acronym for Ubiquitous Korean International Idol Super Star — formed in 2008.

Woo departed from the K-Pop group two years ago and left his hosting position at Arirang’s talk show ‘After School Club’ in 2018 to expand his solo career. Since then, he has gone to build a name for himself as a soloist, from gaining his own fan base collectively known as Klovers, dropping his own merchandise, to releasing solo music, hosting and performing at US-based Korean music and culture convention KCON, and others.

Last month, the Korean-American made his own history in the UAE and arguably caught our full attention when he joined forces with locally-based DJ and production duo Hollaphonic on electro-pop track ‘Over You’, a first for any K-Pop act in the country.

In an exclusive email interview with the multifaceted K-Pop singer, Woo shares with tabloid! the creative process of ‘Over You’, how the collaboration with Hollaphonic came about, his thoughts on K-Pop’s popularity in the UAE and Middle East, what’s musically inspiring him these days and more.

Congratulations on your new track, ‘Over You’. Tell us more about how the collaboration will Hollaphonic came about and the creative process behind the single.

Thank you very much. This is very exciting for me since this is my first international release with an international group. Hollaphonic is, as many here know, a British DJ duo who also produces great music. I had the chance to connect with them and we wanted to collaborate on an English track with K-Pop inspiration.

They worked on this track in Thailand on a writing trip and I got to co-write the lyrics and melodies. It was actually a quick process that resulted in an amazing feel-good summer jam. We had such great chemistry despite being in different countries and musical backgrounds and we can’t wait to have more synergy in the near future.

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Dubai-based DJ duo Hollaphonic Greg Stainer and Olly Wood. Image Credit: Supplied

What sort of message did you want to share with listeners with this new track?

It’s a fresh take on a break-up anthem type of song and we wanted everyone listening to it to be able to relate and sing along. The track is liberating and empowering for everyone and I want people to be able to dance to it. The contrast between the bright sounds and the lyrics is, in my opinion, one of its coolest aspects.

You performed ‘Over You’ for the first time at KCON NY at Madison Square Garden. Is there a special reason why you decided to debut the single at such an iconic place?

KCON is the biggest K-Pop convention in the world and after releasing my first international single, I wanted to showcase it to an American audience of K-Pop fans. It’s really a perfect place to debut the track because this song has perfect balance of K-Pop and electro-pop elements. It was such a surreal moment for me to perform at such an iconic venue and the crowd response was wild. It was a huge success to debut “Over You” at KCON.

How are you feeling about the response to the track and will you be releasing a music video? Filming in Dubai is an idea!

So far the response has been fantastic. It’s been so interesting to see the reactions from all parts of the globe. I felt once again that music truly has no language barriers. We released the lyric video for “Over You” specifically on my YouTube Channel but we’d love to film a music video, especially in Dubai, if we have the chance!

Visiting the UAE has always been on my bucket list and if the opportunity arises, I’d fly over in a heartbeat.

- KEVIN WOO | K-Pop musician

‘Over You’ is the first ever K-Pop collaboration release from a Dubai-based artist. Can we expect more collaborations or tracks soon?

Since this collaboration was so great and we had so much fun working on it together with Hollaphonic as well as top producer Jeff Miyahara of Tokyo Monsters and artist & producer Alex Syps, you can expect more music from us in the future.

You first got your start in U-Kiss in 2008. How has the K-Pop industry changed since you debuted and how has it shaped your work as a solo artist?

Ever since I debuted in U-Kiss I’ve witnessed K-Pop evolve into this global phenomenon. In the beginning, it was rare to see any Korean artists to be mainstream in other parts of the world, although I did have many fans and world tours. So seeing music platforms stream K-Pop consistently and seeing fans hungry for more, is so exciting. Being Korean-American, this was always my dream to perform and succeed not only in my motherland but also internationally. These are historical times.

K-Pop has been gaining a lot of international interest, more than ever. What are your thoughts on its growth in the UAE and the Middle East? Is there something in particular that you’ve really enjoyed witnessing?

I think that social media has a lot to do with the growth of K-Pop around the world.

With these platforms, fans are more directly connected to their favourite artists.

I think that’s why there is more demand for K-Pop artists to UAE and Middle East. I’ve seen many UAE and Middle East fans covering Korean songs and dances on the internet.

Although our cultures are drastically different, it’s deeply moving to know that K-Pop can connect us and unite us all.

Musically, what’s inspiring you these days?

I’ve been listening to a lot of K-Pop such as BTS and BlackPink. I also enjoy listening to Western music at music festivals and concerts. Some inspirational artists include Khalid, Ed Sheeran, and Ariana Grande. I also get inspired by my travels and being around talented musicians and industry leaders.

You’ve been treating fans with music covers from other artists on your YouTube channel. What has been your favourite to record so far?

‘Rewrite the Stars’ with Jimin Park of 15& has been my favourite so far because it’s one of my favourite soundtracks. We had so much recording together since she’s my good friend and we had no idea it would be so well received. We have 2 million views on my YouTube Channel.

Through YouTube and social media, the popularity allowed us to even perform it abroad at a special event.

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U-Kiss members AJ, Soohyun, Dongho, Hoon, Eli, Kevin Woo and Kiseop. Image Credit: Supplied

Any chance you’ll pay us a visit or hold a concert in the UAE?

Visiting the UAE has always been on my bucket list and if the opportunity arises, I’d fly over in a heartbeat. I want to meet my fans in the UAE and Middle East and perform for them in the near future.

What would you like to say to your fans in the UAE?

Thank you so much to my fans in the UAE and Middle East for showing your love for K-Pop and for me. I’ve always wanted to meet my fans in person, so please continue to support and I’ll try my best to see them very soon.

I want to thank Hollaphonic for giving me an opportunity to connect more closely with my fans in the UAE and Middle East. Thank you!