Sweet, whimsical, and delightfully cheesy, CHEEZE's music feels like an adorable coming-of-age movie you can't get enough of.
From anthemic pop bops about coming to terms with your true self to groovy summer tracks on daydreaming about an unrequited crush, the Korean singer-songwriter's songs make up the perfect soundtrack of a bright and happy 'getting-my-life-together' cinematic montage. So, it's no surprise when her signature sound makes its way to some of today's most popular K-dramas.
Throughout her career, especially now as a full-fledged soloist, CHEEZE has lent her enchanting vocals to an array of shows including Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Start-Up, It's Okay Not To Be Okay, and Forecasting Love and Weather all in addition to her own musical works.
Most recently, the 'Today's Mood' singer released her latest single 'Pong Dang' which serves as a preview of her upcoming EP. In her own words, CHEEZE's new record is a reflection of "what I can do best and what I want to do most", with each song reflecting the sound and story of her life today.
Following the release of 'Pong Dang', Bandwagon caught up with CHEEZE to talk about her work on some of our favourite K-drama OSTs and how she's sharing the next phase of her music in her upcoming EP.
Hi CHEEZE! Let’s go to the beginning, what first drew you into music? How did you know this was something you wanted to pursue?
Hi, I’m a singer-songwriter CHEEZE, nice to meet you! I’ve always been a music fan since I was little. I liked singing and always had these opportunities to sing. Then when I was about 16, my friend suggested I take it seriously and I thought ‘I should take professional lessons!’, which I did eventually. I went to art school to study music then being a musician sort of became a natural career step.
Tell us more about your persona as ‘CHEEZE’. What does your name signify?
‘CHEEZE’ began as sort of a study group between friends at music school. Everyone oversaw different bits of a song and gathered together to do a collective work on a song, and eventually to build a catalogue of such songs.
We thought it’d give us more sense of responsibility if there was a name to it so we decided on the word ‘cheeze’ while were just scribbling around. There wasn’t a grand meaning behind it, it was always for having fun, you know. So sometimes looking back, it’s quite a surprise even to myself that I’d been leading this project for this long now on my own. I guess to me, CHEEZE is what reminds me of youth, the days of my youth.
You work on a lot of OSTs, could you walk us through what the process is like creating a song for a drama?
When it comes to the soundtrack, I mostly receive a request from outside and I take part as a vocalist. Or sometimes I’d write an original song to submit it.
If it’s the first case, I have to have an understanding of the plot of the series or which particular scene the song will be used in. Then I try to best express that when recording. When I’m writing too, I always take the tone and story of the series into account and reflect that.
How does working on drama OSTs differ from working on your own solo songs?
For my own original songs, I can definitely do what I like or what I want to do without limitations whereas for soundtracks the focus is more on the series. It’s important for the song to play its role as a soundtrack for the series, so I do study it to help support what the series is trying to express.
What’s your favourite OST you’ve worked on?
It’s one of my recent ones – 'My Romance' for Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha. It was a good song and on top of that, it really suited well to the scenes where it was used so I remember feeling proud watching it. For soundtracks, I think it feels most rewarding when watching the series and you know it fits well.
A lot of the drama you’ve worked on has viewers from all over the world. How does it feel to have your music heard by so many people across the globe?
I’d assume it wouldn’t come easy to take interest in Korean independent music for those who are abroad. So I’m really grateful that my music is being noticed along with the series I worked on the soundtrack of. And the fact it doesn’t end there and people take interest in my original songs too is just amazing. I cannot thank you enough, really.
You just released your single ‘Pong Dang’, congratulations! What is the story behind the song?
Thank you! So ‘Pong Dang’ is an onomatopoeia for something falling into the water – like the English word ‘plop’. And I imagined this as a love spell, hoping your crush will return the feelings. I thought the image of water waving suited the idea of summer fling and wanted to visualise that in this song.
We heard that ‘Pong Dang’ is part of an EP you’ll be releasing in August. What can you tell us about the EP and your vision for it?
My upcoming EP is made of songs I worked on since I released 'Loser’ last year. As always, it’s a collection of new works – what I can do best and what I want to do most. I think listening to it you will be able to see what stories and sounds I have to tell. I put a lot of work into it so I hope you like it.
This comes as your first EP since I can’t tell you everything in 2020. Since then, what have you learned when it comes to your music? In what ways can we hear that in your upcoming music?
Since I can’t tell you everything, I believe I’ve definitely become more grounded in myself and not affected by my surroundings too much. Like I have more certainty in my music and character.
So in what comes next, I think this groundedness will probably show through more. And if you could feel that, there wouldn’t be more to hope for. I see myself as still growing and there will be shortcomings too but I’m not afraid. I hope you will enjoy what is to come after.
What else do you have in store for the year?
I guess I will have to prepare myself for next year. For the rest of this year, I would like to look back into and focus on myself. Build more solid belief in what I do. That will be the groundwork for me to go further and make good music for longer. Look forward to it! Thank you for having me again, it was a pleasure!
Listen to CHEEZE's 'Pong Dang' here.
Like what you read? Show our writer some love!