An Interview with The Rose

// The Rose at Roadrunner. Photo by Claire Liu and Jennifer Su

Last week, WHRB spoke with The Rose, a widely popular South Korean pop-rock band in preparation for their Boston concert at the Roadrunner as a part of their Heal Together world tour. The Rose debuted in 2017 and is composed of four members: Woosung (vocals/guitar), Hajoon (drums), Jaehyeong (bass), and Dojoon (vocals/guitar/keyboard). Their new album, HEAL, is their first full-length studio album and comes after a few years of solo activities and military enlistment.

This interview has been edited for clarity; translation by Lina Cho.

CL: Congratulations on the comeback, solo activities, and for completing military enlistment! How has it been reuniting and releasing an album after being on hiatus?

축하드릴게 많네요! 최근 솔로 활동, 그리고 컴백, 그리고 제일 중요한 전역까지 전부 다요! 전역 소감이 어떠세요?
그리고 최근에 컴백 활동을 시작하셨는데, 컴백하신 느낌이 어떠신지?

WS: You know, it’s really been magical for us. We grew individually and then we got together and we got to share that amongst each other and that’s what was so beautiful about writing this new album and getting back together.

CL: Your new album, HEAL, clearly has a strong message of healing. Have you guys, or how have you healed through making this album? What does healing look like to you?

며칠 전 첫 번째 정규앨범 '힐(HEAL)'을 발매하셨는데, 이번 앨범에는 힐링의 주제를 담으셨다고 들었어요. 이 앨법을 완성하시면서 개인적으로 힐링이나 치유가 된다고 느끼셨나요? 힐링이란, 여러분에게 무슨 의미인가요?

DJ: It’s a very big subject to talk about.

WS: I think in terms of HEAL itself, we felt like writing this album we were healed by the process of little things and big things that we needed to heal from in our own lives. We just wanted to be able to create a tool called music that could get people to lean on and have when they are going through something or when they need to do something for themselves.

DJ: When we were growing up, we listened to music a lot and that was one of the healing processes that we took every time and we wanted to do the same thing as musicians.

CL: How has the tour been so far? What’s your favorite tour memory?

지금 더 로즈의 “HEAL TOGETHER” 세계 투어가 진행하고 있는데, 이제까지 투어는 어떻셨는지, 그리고 기억에 남는 투어가 있으시다면?

WS: It’s only been three cities but it’s been hectic.

DJ: There were a lot of things going on but just meeting our fans ... It took us three years to get to meet each other again and seeing the fans was really amazing. Preparing all this stuff and arranging everything was a really tough process actually. But we’re having fun and we’re getting better in every city. We’re looking forward to doing a smoother tour starting this city!

Q: Sonically, what would you define as the key elements of The Rose’s sound? What do you hope listeners really hear in your music?

더 로즈의 독특한 ‘사운드'를 어떻게 표현하면 좋을까요? 팬분들에게 어떤 음악으로 다가가길 원하시나요?

DJ: We never intended to have this sonic feeling with our music but I read a lot of comments and I heard a lot of our fans wrote this word: nostalgic? And I think that could go with our sonic vibe.

WS: And also I think sonically The Rose is The Rose because mostly the tones of our voices, the tones of our guitars, and the tones of our drums. Because we write our own songs and we have been doing so until HEAL as well, we do have a pattern of writing. We have a color of writing. So I think that’s what it is because honestly if you go technically, like sonically we’re using a lot of different sounds each album in terms of synth sounds and guitar tones. We’re using a lot of different genres as well. But I think what unifies The Rose’s music is, like I said, the tones.

DJ: -And who we are. It actually comes out in our music, through our music.

CL: You guys found each other through chains of connections, from busking to being trainees together. How did you know your sound would come together? What made you decide The Rose was the group for you?

처음 밴드를 만들기 전에 멤버분들은 각자 다 다른 음악의 길을 걸어오셨는데, 각자의 음악을 알아보고 그것들을 하나의 밴도로 많들 수 있겠다는 생각, 확신을 가지게 된 계기나 이유가 있다면?

DJ: We were different individuals. One day we met and then we talked about music and we had a rehearsal. At that moment we knew that this is what we have to do. We struck a chord, he did a rhythm, everybody — we just felt like, “Oh, this is the thing we gotta do.”

WS: Because we were never really trainees together except Hajoon and Jaehyeong, they were at a company that had trainees. Once we became The Rose and we became a band, it wasn’t like a trainee program

JH: There wasn’t a training system at that company.

DJ: We were just friends.

WS: We were just like an indie band starting out.

DJ: Very indie.

CL: You guys have such a genuine chemistry together, we see it through your music, your livestreams, and how you’ve stayed together through the chaos of the past couple of years. What has been key to staying together and communicating through conflicts to today?

더 로즈의 공현이나 영상을 보면 멤버분들 사이 케미가 선명하게 느껴지는 것 같아요. 혼란스러운 지난 몇 년 동안 계속 서로 관계를 유지하면서, 소통을 하고 같이 활동하실 수 있었던 이유가 뭐라고 생각하세요?

WS: Just communicating, I think it’s in the question.

HJ: Communicating and trust.

DJ: And in order to do that you gotta be honest. All those three combined together, they’re the key ingredients.

WS: I think for us, we talk about things a lot and we know each other very well because we communicate honestly. Even when we have problems we communicate. Even for our personal lives we communicate a lot of things to each other and get advice and move forward.

HJ: Through the communication we get to know each member and you get to understand.

CL: A lot of your songs have found huge streaming success like “She’s in the Rain,” “Sorry,” “Red,” and “ILY” (all fantastic songs, by the way), do any of you have The Rose songs that are your personal favorites that you would want more people listening to?

“She’s in the Rain,” “Sorry”, “Red”, 그리고 “ILY” 등은 아주 많은 사랑을 받은 히트곡들인데, 그 외에 덜 알려졌더라도 개인적으로 애정 하는 곡이 있다면?

DJ: We only have like 20 songs out there? Around there? So I think in order to answer this we gotta write more.

WS: Personal favorites so far? Mine right now, I want more people to hear “Time.”

HJ: For me, “Cure.” I think it’s going to be bigger than our huge songs because it feels like a lot of people could relate and in a big stadium venue where everyone is singing the chant parts, it’s going to be epic.

DJ: For me I think “Beauty and the Beast” because that song, we didn’t really promote. We were here or there. But that has a different emotion in it and that could really resonate a lot. In the future, I think.

CL: What are your favorite songs from HEAL? Any fun memories from the writing or recording processes?

이번 앨범에서 최애 곡이 있다면? 그리고 앨범을 만드는 과정에서 기억에 남는 에피소드가 있다면?

DJ: We mention this a lot but we went to Joshua Tree to write this album and I think we had a tremendous time there. All of us four, talking, vibing, drinking, and writing songs. It was very very cool and it was extraordinary for us.

WS: It was a “pay-cation.”

DJ: We had fun recording the chant part for “Cure!” We were all in a recording studio room and we moved here and there to make different chant noises and sounds. We had a couple of takes and it was fun.

CL: Congratulations also on starting Windfall! What do you guys hope the future of Windfall looks like? Is there any interest in recruiting new artists?

Windfall 창립을 축하드립니다! 회사의 앞으로 나아갈 방향에 대해서 특별히 추구하는 바가 있으신가요? 새로운 아티스트 영입을 계획하고 계시는지도 궁금합니다.

JH: No.

WS: At the moment, no. I think at the moment we’re really focused on The Rose, for at least a few years, and maybe we’ll see where it goes from there.

DJ: That keeps us busy all the time. 24/7.

Q: The tagline for Windfall is “unexpected good fortune,” what’s the story behind that?

Windfall의 모토인 “unexpected good fortune”의 의미가 있다면?

DJ: When you look at the dictionary meaning actually, the definition of windfall is when a wind blows and an apple or fruit falls off. When you’re underneath, you just get a free apple out of nowhere. We wanted our music or our presence to be like windfall so that’s why we first created the name windfall. When we were making a company together, we thought that windfall was a perfect match. To put that in a good sentence was “unexpected good fortune,”

CL: You guys have been very active on TikTok recently, releasing a lot of incredibly funny and trending videos. What's the story behind that? Who’s driving the TikTok creation?

요즘에 틱톡 활동이 매우 활발하시던데, 어느 멤버가 메인으로 기획하시나요?

WS: Everybody’s curious about that! Like they always ask us, “Who’s doing the TikToks? Is it Dojoon’s idea?” Usually people think it’s Dojoon’s idea. Yes, some of them are, some of them aren’t. We actually have a TikTok coordinator and team we’re working with. We kind of create it together. With our music, it’s so serious and most of the time it’s like sad boy music. As people we’re pretty happy and we’re pretty immature. I think TikTok was a platform where we could showcase that side of us. That’s why we decided to just be ourselves on TikTok and whatever it was that the guy brought to do as content we would just do it usually, there wouldn’t be second thoughts about how it would affect the music or anything like that. It was just having fun honestly with the fans.

DJ: And when it comes out as a result, we don’t even know what’s going to come up! But when we look at the result and see “oh this is this,” it’s fun.

CL: Last year, Woosung, you released your Mindset with Dive Studios. What did it mean for you to talk about a lot of your personal life experiences and thoughts? Your introduction, “We’re All Human,” brought up a similar theme with HEAL of everyone being born equal, what does this message mean to you personally or with The Rose?

우성님, 작년에 Mindset 시리즈를 시작하셨는데, 개인적인 사생활과 생각을 공유하는 것에 대한 느낌이 어떠셨는지 궁금합니다. “We’re All Human”이란 인트로에서 모든 사람들이 평등하게 태어난다는 메시지를 표현하셨는데, 평소에도 우성님께 의미 있는 뜻인지? 그리고 이번 앨범 “힐"에서도 연결되어 표현된 것인지?

WS: Talking about my life wasn't that hard, honestly, because I felt like, with the people around me, usually my friends, family, I always talk about life with them. But I think it was a good chance for me to share how I grew up and how I came about, and why I have these thoughts as a person so that, you know, whoever listened to it could understand me better. Because without those contexts, it's kind of hard to understand where someone's coming from, with their intentions and stuff. And in terms of like the whole like HEAL and the "we're all born equal" idea is just the fact that like, I think that's what I believed since a younger kid because you know, at the end of the day, we're all human. So we try to understand human behavior. And when people act a certain way, there's a certain thing that's in my head that kind of wants to know why and understand why they're doing a certain thing or having a certain thought. I think that's where it all came from. But yeah, it resonates with the music I do personally and I think even with The Rose because all four of us kind of think like that when it comes to just life in general.

CL: In a past interview, you guys mentioned that Jaehyung was a little resistant to the bold concept of being bare in Childhood. What made you (Jaehyung) reconsider/agree to the concept? What are your thoughts on it now?

재형님, 이번 앨범의 선공개 싱글 Childhood의 MV 콘셉트에 대해 망설임을 느끼셨다고 들었는데, 결국은 왜 도전을 하셨는지, 그리고 지금은 그 경험에 대해 어떻게 생각하시는지 궁금합니다!

JH: First of all, when we talked about this concept about the Childhood music video, Sammy really wanted to do this, like make it. When I first heard that concept, I thought he was just kidding. Wow. I didn't know that he was proud of his body, I don't know. And then, actually, I have a little complex about my weight, my body because I'm so skinny. Yeah, I used to be. But after shooting this music video, maybe, just a little, slightly, I —

DJ: You're okay, you got over it?

JH: Yeah, I just got over — I don't know.

DJ: Maybe like 1 percent, 2 percent?

JH: 0.5 percent?

DJ: So well, it was a great experience for Jeff, maybe then.

WS: Yeah honestly, coming out with this idea, I just wanted to showcase the earlier message of "we're all born naked." We're all just humans, we're all the same humans. We're all equals. And to show that concept, I definitely felt like we had to be naked, like us, as the singers, as the artists. We have to be naked and

JH: — that's the problem.

WS: Yeah, and then Jeff, you know, we found out that Jeff did have a little bit of a complex. We kind of knew, but then we didn't think about it that much. So we talked about it, but Jeff, you know, we talked about it and he said, he thought about it. And I think after that, we kind of came to a point where we all agreed upon, and that's all we care about at the end of the day. We want everybody to feel comfortable. You know, it's the members' needs first before just the message itself, like on a video. So yeah, it was actually very beautiful. I'm glad he did it. And I'm glad it got him over his complex, maybe 0.5 percent. But you know, yeah, it's still healing, right.

DJ: It was perfect being naked because you know, we're not that perfect.

WS: Yeah.

DJ: Showing the imperfectness is a great thing to do as a musician.

JH: Except for Hajoon.

WS: Hajoon's body was almost perfect.

CL: Hajoon, in the past you’ve talked about finding and changing your purpose in music. What has music come to mean to you? What drives you in your music now?

하준님, 현제 음악을 하는 목적과 음악이 나에게 주는 의미가 무엇인지, 그리고 처음 밴드를 시작할 때와 다른지?

HJ: When I was beginning this band, I just liked the moment that we were assembled or hanging out. And then, I was doing it for some girls.

DJ: So the purpose was to look good.

HJ: Honestly, yeah. But now, I want to give some good influence to the many people who listen to our music, and just want to share our music.

DJ: Yeah. I think it changed into more sharing our music is the main purpose for him recently, I think.

WS: Yeah, maybe sharing the messages. Because what we usually feel writing the songs or what we felt when we were not writing the songs, as humans, I think these are all normal emotions that we all feel as just being humans. And we feel like a lot of people feel them too, where we go into talking about how it's not so special. And you don't have to get into too deep thoughts about, you know, your emotions. And it's okay to accept it, right? Being sad is okay, sometimes. And being happy is also okay. Just like any other emotion, we treat them like just regular people's emotions. And when you do get into this habit of kind of thinking too much about the emotion, it becomes something, and we want to be able to just create this music, a tool that could kind of, you know, they could just listen to and kind of get over or kind of lean on or whatever it needs to do for them. And we definitely dealt with a lot of those feelings, and we got through it. And we want to show that with our music. And I think that's what Hajoon wants to share.

HJ: Yeah. That's why I say.

CL: Dojoon, you have a really multi-talented relationship with performing. Between vocals, keyboard, guitar, and even dancing, do you have a favorite to perform? What attracts you to the stage?

도준님, 보컬, 건반, 어쿠스틱 기타, 그리고 춤까지, 참 다양한 역할을 많이 하시는데, 제일 좋아하시는 역할이 있다면? 그리고 도준님께는 무대 위에 서는 것이란, 무슨 의미인가요?

DJ: If I feel like singing, I want to sing. If I feel like dancing, I want to dance. And that's the whole you know, what we do. We are musicians. We are performers who do that stuff so I definitely enjoy what I'm doing, what we're doing right now. And you know, singing and playing instruments and dancing and doing funny things like acting, those things have different attractions? charms? fun? It's all different and I like doing all those. For instance, when we're singing "Yes", I want to dance. And for instance, when I'm singing "ILY", I want to focus more on the keys, and like the falsettos and something like that. It depends, but it's fun every time.

WS: I think he just has a lot of, just like his personality, he has a lot of things. Like he has a lot of personality, and he has a lot of things he's good at. So I think he has different ways of portraying it. In terms of like me, I only know how to portray it with singing and electric guitar. But because Dojoon knows how to play all the instruments and knows how to dance and do all these things. He portrays it differently with each song. Right?

DJ: Yeah, there's 27 of Dojoon inside me. I don't know.

WS: 50 shades of Dojoon.

CL: Before we go, do you guys have any final words for your fans?

WS: We rose you, Boston Black Roses. See you tomorrow.

JH: We rose you!

DJ: And it was fun talking with you guys on Harvard radio. And Harvard students, it was good to see you.

WS: We wish you the best month, whatever you guys are picturing in the future.

HJ: Let's heal together.

// Claire Liu ’26 and Jennifer Su ’24 are guest writers for Record Hospital.