If you’ve watched K-dramas like True Beauty, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Thirty-Nine, and more, chances are you’ve already heard Korean singer Car, the garden’s addictive yet soothing sound. Car, the garden is the literal translation of the singer’s real name, Cha Jung-won. Cha has been making a name for himself internationally through not only his romantic OSTs, but his knack for comedy on online variety shows. This month, he is once again bringing his music to North America with his “Harmony” tour. 

The tour shares a name with his album, Harmony, which was released on September 12, 2023. Since last year, Car, the garden has been continuing a successful streak — having his first North American tour in the spring, performing a sold-out show at Seoul’s Olympic Hall in the fall, all the while making appearances on YouTube variety shows, and serving as a producer on Mnet’s vocal competition program, Super Large Karaoke Survival

Ahead of his shows, EnVi had the chance to catch up with Car, the garden over email to learn about his tour preparation, how he balances being an entertainer and a musician, and his music-making process. The tour starts in San Francisco on January 23, and will hit Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Somerville, New York, and Toronto.

Being Both a Musician and Entertainer 

In addition to his official music channel, Car, the garden recently started another YouTube channel called “My name is Car, the garden” which features him embarking on a variety of comedic pursuits, like directing his friends through an earpiece on blind dates. It’s not his first foray into variety shows, as he’s previously suffered through subway cleaning with the singer Bibi for the part-time job show, Workman

Car, the garden also appeared on comedian Jang Sunggyu’s morning show, Celebrity’s First, where he was hilariously candid about being “house poor,” meaning that he spent all his money on his housing and leaving little to use on other items. His unfiltered personality and reactions make his appearances a delight to both fans and non-fans, but interestingly, Car, the garden makes an effort to not cross-pollinate his success, only wearing one hat at a time. “I don’t try to balance everything specifically, but there is one thing I keep doing when I appear on entertainment shows: I never talk about music. I never take myself seriously, and separate the two aspects of mine,” Car, the garden said.  

But, don’t let his comedic side fool you. He’s still a very dedicated artist, and aside from the aforementioned videos, he recommended fans to check out his performances online. “I recommend the official music videos and concert live clips on my official YouTube channel,” Car, the garden noted. 

Making Music Layer by Layer

For his album Harmony, Car, the garden drew inspiration from past relationships and leaned into the emotions he felt when he was alone. Songs like “Tomorrow” and “Foolish World” speak to that loneliness, yet somehow remain upbeat and energetic. 

Car, the garden is known for spanning diverse genres, so EnVi wanted to know how his workflow enabled him to work between different sounds so easily. For Car, the garden, song-making starts with a musical base that gets developed with the help of collaborators. “I start with a single sound from an instrument, create the skeleton of the melody, and then add flesh to it with the other musicians. Lastly, I add lyrics,” he said.  

But, if there’s one song that new listeners should listen to, Car, the garden recommended “Home Sweet Home.” He said it’s “a modern rock-based song with a mix of Korean ballad sentiment.”

Taking Music to the Stage

Having gained experience from last year, Car, the garden is making sure that this upcoming tour gives fans an even better live experience. This time around, there will be an augmented band set featuring triple guitars. “After experiencing last year’s tour, I started trying to really read and understand the atmosphere in the audience to reflect it in my sets (in the way I open my shows, building up the flow between songs, etc.). This year, with the addition of one more guitarist, I am excited to deliver a much richer sound,” he said. 

The tour stops have also increased from four cities to seven. Expectedly, Car, the garden is looking forward to visiting places that he’s never been to before, like Seattle, Chicago, and Somerville. “The fact that I can perform in these cities and that there are people out there coming to see me is exciting. Exploring the cities themselves is something I’m looking forward to as well,” he shared. 

Besides being excited to perform in new places, he had one last word for the fans who made it all possible: “Every year, I plan to diligently engage in album activities and performances and try my best to follow up, so please look forward to that. Thank you.” 

Car, the garden will be touring the U.S. and Canada from January 3 through February 6. Get your tickets here.

Follow Car, the garden on Youtube, Spotify, and Instagram.  

Interested in keeping up with the hottest stars of South Korea’s music scene? Check out our interview with 82MAJOR here.