Singer, songwriter and composer Gaho can be heard on the soundtracks for several popular dramas.
While Korean drama fans may not immediately recognize the name Kang Dae-ho, they probably know his musical contributions to several popular series. Known by his stage name, Gaho, the singer, songwriter and producer can be heard on the OST of such popular dramas as Time, My Secret Terrius, The Last Empress, Stranger, Start-up and most recently Jirisan.
His performance of the song Start Over captured the resilient spirit of Itaewon Class, with the song reaching the top of the Gaon Digital Chart, which ranks best performing singles in Korea. Still, contributing to soundtracks is not all Gaho has accomplished musically.
‘The opportunity of expressing myself through various OST is amazing,” said Gaho. “But I most definitely still have a lot of music I want to play for all my listeners.”
Gaho made his musical debut writing, composing and arranging the song Come To Me sung by Lee Jong-suk for the While You Were Sleeping soundtrack.
While singing on a succession of soundtracks, Gaho also released albums and singles. Between 2018 and 2021 he released his first mini album Preparation For a Journey, followed by the singles Fly, Pink Walk, A Song for You, Rush Hour and Ride. In November 2021, he released his first full-length studio album Fireworks, featuring 12 tracks that relate to the dramatic and often explosive emotions associated with being in your 20s. The album features such winning tracks as the upbeat pop song Part Time Lover and the catchy melodic Ooo (Ooo), both of which showcase his distinctive vocal range and energetic delivery
“The reason I chose Fireworks as the title of my first full-length album is because I’m 25 years old now and I feel Fireworks is the word that could really represent my 20s,” said Gaho. “When you think of the moment when fireworks fly above the sky and explode splendidly in a high place, it is a very short but momentous moment. Likewise a person’s 20s can be one of the most brilliant periods of life, pushing one to strive up to a colorful and higher place in that shining period.”
Right Now, the album’s compelling title track, is a song about the courage to persist when consumed by sadness.
“The title song Right Now and the overall songs in the album contain the thoughts and emotions I have experienced in various ways,” said Gaho. “Not only me, but also those of all people in their 20s, the various emotions (hope, love, friendship, passion, regret, emptiness, etc.) that represent youth, so I set the concept like this.”
Gaho became interested in singing and dancing while in middle school, but it was in his second year of high school that he first started making music.
“At first, I think I just started learning about making music little-by-little, but then after some time I became more serious about it,” he said. “I think the influence of the musicians I met then was the biggest. Since I was young, I was always fond of arts and sports, but I enjoyed music the most. It’s really thanks to my friends back then that I started composing first. My friend told me that it would be cool to sing what he composed, so I changed completely while learning dance. Since then, I have worked hard to learn guitar chords from YouTube and composed songs and I think that is what brought me to this point.”
He recently sang Memories for the soundtrack of Jirisan, starring Jun Ji-Hyun and Ju Ji-hoon.
“My song for Jirisan OST Part. 2, Memories, is a memorable song with lots of electric guitar and drum sounds. The lyrics are all in English and I put in a lot of effort to sing it in a cool energetic way. I think it will be a song that fits this trend when the atmosphere of the mountain changes or the scene changes.”
Contributing his voice to a soundtrack and creating his own music demonstrate different aspects of his talent.
“The music I make will have what I want to express, with a vision of how the final product will look like,” said Gaho. “However, OSTs and other independent songs already clearly contain the producer’s intention of the melody, lyrics, and arrangement. So the primary goal for me is to sing and help paint the picture as intended by the producers. At the same time, I also try to let listeners hear my vocal characteristics as much as possible. Also, since there are parts that cannot be predicted in the drama, I think there is a different type of fun to it. So, when recording, I find it best to immerse myself in the drama and sing it according to the intention of the piece. I feel since it was well delivered to the viewers of the drama, it also received a lot of love.”
Each form of expression appeals to him.
“Both of them are songs I sing, so I have a lot of affection for them, and I hope they will be as great as they can be. When I sing an OST, I try to emote the vision the composer has as much as possible because there is a direction and feeling they have in mind. But in addition, in that setting I do my best to express myself as well.”
If Gaho’s life was going to have a soundtrack, he would definitely include his OST contributions.
“If an album like that was to be released, I think I would put all the OST songs in it that I have sung so far,” he said. “It may seem like an obvious answer, but I have really enjoyed all the songs I have participated in. Many people got to know my music through the song Start Over, so it should definitely be included. As well, I think it would be good to add Running, which was the OST of the drama Start Up.”