k-pop korean rock band the rose vocalist woosung releases solo album moth
Woosung just released his latest four-track EP MOTH. Photo: Christian Haahs
Entertainment

Woosung on His New EP ‘MOTH’ and What’s Next for The Rose

“MOTH” isn’t Woosung’s first solo project but it is, in a way, a metamorphosis of its own.

At the heart of Woosung’s EP MOTH is a metaphor. 

“[It] is the closest representation of who I am now, and what I’ve been thinking of these days,” he told VICE in a video call from Los Angeles. 

Woosung got his start in the South Korean music scene in his late teens, after traveling to the country to appear on the reality competition show K-Pop Star. He eventually went back home to the United States to graduate from high school, but then offers started coming in. 

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“I got a couple of offers from different companies to come in and train with them,” he recalled. “I gave up my college and all my plans that I had for the future to go to Korea and try it out.”

“I think that’s where I first got the chance to even become something musically,” Woosung said.

He learned to play the electric guitar at around 12 years old and grew up listening to acts like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and the Korean band Buzz. Now 29, he’s the vocalist and guitarist of South Korean pop-rock band The Rose. While his bandmates served their mandatory military service, Woosung went back home to the U.S. to spend more time with family and work on his own music, which he’s now ready to share with the world. 

“There are moths and there are butterflies. If you put them side to side, they’re the same insect and the same kind—same realm,” Woosung said about the inspiration behind his four-track EP MOTH, which dropped on May 13. 

“However, butterflies fly in the day. They’re considered beautiful, touchable, good luck sometimes… moths, they’re nocturnal, and people are scared of them. They think they’re disgusting, gross, whatever. But, you know, there was a time when I was sitting in front of the convenience store under a [brightly] lit sign, when a bunch of these moths were flying around. And when these moths finally landed on this bright light, and the light [was] shining through them, their print was actually more beautiful than the butterflies.”

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“Some of us, maybe, just need a little bit of light to really show our true beauty.” 

k-pop korean rock band the rose vocalist woosung releases solo album moth

Woosung. Photo: Christian Haahs

It’s a complex idea effectively condensed in a tight album, which he worked on with record label Transparent Arts. “It matched their vibe, it matched my vibe,” Woosung said. 

“Some of us, maybe, just need a little bit of light to really show our true beauty.”

MOTH isn’t his first solo project but it is, in a way, a metamorphosis of its own. Listeners will notice the sound transition throughout the four tracks. It starts with the dreamy “ComE dOWn,” and ends with “Modern Life,” a rock anthem about the pressures of living in this social media-centered world, that’s more sonically similar to The Rose’s music. “I can’t tell what’s real anymore / Fake face, fake friends, fake fantasies,” the song goes. 

Like the moths Woosung described, the album shines a bright light to reveal his different sides as an artist. 

This week, Woosung is starting a tour in North America and Europe to showcase MOTH, first heading to Amsterdam then visiting Paris, Berlin, New York, and Vancouver, among other cities, along the way. He has missed playing live.

I think people, in general, these days are missing out on just live band music,” he said. “I think what live music, live instruments bring on live stage… can’t be described. Because once you’re there, you’re there, you know? You can’t have that in a video and hear from your amazing home speakers. It’s still not the same.”

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Woosung said MOTH may be his last solo project for a while. Soon, he’ll fly with his bandmates again. 

“I’m so excited I could break this computer,” Woosung said. They’re working on a full album, and might even get a house studio out in the desert to focus on developing their new music. There’s a world tour in the works too. 

“For the solo stuff, I could do whatever I want to do, and it’s just coming from whatever is in my head. As far as The Rose thing… we all have to agree on it. All four of us,” he said. 

“And that’s the beauty of it, right? That’s why it’s more fun. And it’s harder. Even though the process might be a little longer and sometimes stressful, it makes great memories and it’s not lonely while you’re doing it.”

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