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[Indie spirit] Band Lucy aims to expand spectrum, with music full of childhood reminiscence

The four-member band aims to present a healing moment to broader audiences

Feb. 5, 2024 - 16:18 By Lee Jung-youn
From left: Members of band Lucy, Cho Won-sang, Shin Ye-chan, Choi Sang-yeop and Shin Gwang-il pose for a photo during an interview with The Korea Herald, Jan. 15. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

A bosom friend from childhood. This is the phrase that best represents the color and tone of Lucy, a four-member band that has quickly become one of the leading acts in the Korean band scene.

"Our motto is ‘childhood.’ Childhood friends are the only ones who allow us to act immature even after we've grown up," said bassist and producer Cho Won-sang, 27. "I hope listeners feel that way whenever they play our music, just being themselves and free from anxieties,” he added.

Lucy was formed in 2019 during JTBC's band audition program "Super Band." The team won second place, mesmerizing audiences with refreshing, pure melodies and lyrics that evoke the innocence of childhood. The team officially debuted in May 2020 with the first single album, "Dear."

Full of youthful energy, the four members strike a perfect balance as a team. Producer and bassist Cho is in charge of setting the direction of music, composing and writing lyrics for almost every song. Drummer Shin Gwang-il started as a vocalist but has successfully pulled off the role of drummer. Vocalist Choi Sang-yeop adds a unique style to the band’s music with a clear but powerful voice, while violinist Shin Ye-chan completes the band's tone.

Asked to pick a song among the more than 100 the band has released that best explains the band to new listeners, the members all picked a different one. Shin Ye-chan picked the group’s debut song “Flowering” while Shin Gwang-il chose “Snooze,” a song with an emotional violin solo melody, as best representing the band.

Choi chose the band’s latest track "Boogie Man," which was released in December last year. "The song is somewhat similar to typical K-pop songs, so this song might serve as a stepping stone for listeners who are used to K-pop styles to get to know Lucy's other songs."

Producer Cho chose three songs -- "Flowering," "Unbelievable" and "Haze" -- explaining that Lucy's music has three characteristics: stylish and cheerful mood, elaborate sound and messages. "Through these three songs, listeners will be able to grasp what kind of music we aim to do," Cho said.

While the bandmates are well known for being playful, even teenager-like -- they are obsessed with snowboarding, football and good food -- they are passionate and focused when it comes to music. The members’ ideas are reflected not only in the music, but also in the album concept, colors and costumes they wear on stage.

"We lived together for about two years after our debut, so we understand each other well. We know how to work on things without offending each other. I think we have better chemistry because we are not awkward or serious with each other," said Shin Ye-chan, the band leader.

From left: Members of band Lucy, Cho Won-sang, Shin Ye-chan, Choi Sang-yeop and Shin Gwang-il pose for a photo during an interview with The Korea Herald, Jan. 15. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Although Lucy enjoys success overseas, the members would like to see a more diverse, larger audience and broaden their musical spectrum.

The Jan. 6 concert in Indonesia was unforgettable, said Shin Ye-chan. "From the beginning to the end of the concert, there was not a single person in the hall who didn't know our songs, and they even memorized the lyrics better than I did. Seeing foreign audiences enjoying our songs, I saw the possibility that if we work harder, we will be able to meet even larger audiences in a bigger concert hall abroad."

"I see the audiences' faces every time I perform. Some people smile with joy while some burst into tears, but I can see that all of them are full of happiness. Those moments are my driving force," added Shin Gwang-il.

Choi recalled a traumatic experience during the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas in March last year. "We couldn't perform the tracks we prepared because some equipment didn’t work. We improvised and performed songs that the audience requested, like busking. At first, I was so worried, but everyone thankfully enjoyed the whole performance and sang along with us."

Whenever they perform abroad, the members prepare the country's hit songs in the original language. "It's not easy to arrange and practice unfamiliar songs in different languages, but after seeing the audience enjoying the moment, we felt that we should continue to do that no matter what," said Won-sang.

Choi’s plan for the New Year is in line with Lucy’s overseas activities -- to study a foreign language to better communicate with fans. "I studied simple phrases or greetings to communicate with foreign fans whenever we go abroad, but I'm already getting confused by so many languages. I should practice my English more."

Other members also came up with several plans, like collaborating with unexpected artists, busking and composing more hit songs.

Shin Gwang-il chose Touched, a rookie band that debuted in 2021 that is drawing attention with its unique sound, for a possible collaboration. "I think Sang-yeop's voice and Yun Min's voice, a vocalist of Touched, will match well." Cho, on the other hand, picked the British electronic music duo Honne. “I've liked Honne’s music since I was young. I’d love to perform together,” he added.

Cho added another wish for the team this year. "I am also determined to come up with a song that will become very popular, even more famous than our team itself. It is my goal to compose a song that best depicts the four of us.