Sunday, April 1, 2012


April 1, 2012 Interview

Some say Jay Park, no longer a member of an idol group, is “wasted”, but to some, he is still a “star”. Then how does Jay Park, who is somewhere between idol and musician, fandom and mass public, and over and underground, see himself? “To be honest, I don’t really know what I am either.” He adds further, “I am just me, a free spirit.” His recent album, New Breed, also shows the liberated Jay Park, with the fully packed album with 15 tracks including ‘Know Your Name’ and an album cover with a strange painting on one half of his face. Therefore, the impressive interview with Jay Park – who is satisfied with being “just himself” and not first place, who has the attitude of “I don’t have to become a big star, because I try to do music and performances like a big star” – in seven keywords.

“This album is almost a 100% Jay Park-like”

Because I did everything, from emailing/contacting people, recording, mixing and mastering. Before I couldn’t do anything on my own. But as I had learned Korean when I first came to Korea, I had to learn this from someone. First I received beats from here and there, listened to almost 200 of them and thought about what kind of songs I wanted to write. Tracks like ‘Girlfriend,’ ‘Know Your Name’, or ‘Up and Down’ have hooks and melodies that have mass appeal and talk about love; songs like ‘Wasted’ and ‘Turn Off Your Phone’ were created because I wanted to make them. As for ‘I Love You’, a famous producer named Rob Knox and a singer-songwriter, James Fauntleroy, met up with me twice, studied my music style and personality and composed it for me. The beats came out in two and a half hours and we recorded it as soon as the melody was integrated to them; the song was done that day. In ‘Clap’, Tiger Jk and Yoon Mirae (Tasha) helped me out; it was such an honour. Mirae noona especially, she was so awesome, cool and great at rapping; she’s the boss of everyone in Jungle entertainment. More boss than Tiger JK… almost a goddess? (laughs). It was also great to work with people I respect like Dynamic Duo hyungs, Bizzy hyung, The Quiett hyung and Dok2. I can’t even work as half good as them, so I am continuously greedy and cannot be satisfied with my work.

It’s good to produce the entire album, but honestly it was very tiring and stressful. I’m easily convinced and a blood-type A (Note: in Korea, blood types are believed to determine one’s personality. A person with type A would be easily hurt, feminine, vengeful, social, able to compromise and does not like to reveal their weakness.) Haha. I put in a lot of consideration for vocal directing this time too. There isn’t anyone that doesn’t use autotune, and it’s needed at certain times, but I tried to sing at my best ability. I believe that a song doesn’t grow old if the voice can be heard well, and if the emotions are well conveyed. It may sound good if the beats are fancy or if some measures are repeated, but that can easily become boring. That’s why I put in 15 songs with care; I wanted to make an album that, instead of disappearing after one month of promotion, something that would not become boring even after one year. But people like Michael Jackson have done music for 40 years, while I’m a rookie that have only been doing this for a year, I will learn how to do well next time if I fail, and grow. I will show everything of this final product at my concert on March 3rd.

“I can still only write about love and myself in Korean rap”

“Turn Off Your Phone” was influenced by “Turned Off the TV” by Leessang hyungs (Gil & Garie). People say it’s a little provocative, but I wanted to make a story with a fun concept and make people imagine a certain situation. It’s actually not that hard to write lyrics for a melody, but not for rap lyrics. I’ve been writing rap lyrics in English since second year of middle school and did pretty well in writing classes so I can write fun metaphors. But in Korean.. the best I can do is, “Where the wind blows, you’re a candle; blow off”? Hahah. I don’t have a big vocabulary thus not a big source of rhyme; sometimes I force things to work. I can’t write fun lyrics like Dynamic Duo hyungs so all I can write about for now are boasting about myself, “I’m awesome”, or love stories. So when I write Korean lyrics, I make a certain expression first and ask if this is okay; Dok2 likes them most of the time while The Quiett hyung tells me, “I think this is a better way,” and teaches me.

“I’m a b-boy; I have dignity of being a dancer”

I started dancing since I was a freshman in high school; since then, I couldn’t escape from it. I am happiest and have the most fun when I am dancing. Although I’m active as a singer, a celebrity, I always go back to dancing when I am on a break. I’m a b-boy, a dancer, I’m not as good as the people who are always practicing but I still have this dignity of being a dancer. When I’m on stage with the dance team, I must give up one side when holding the mic, but the rest (of my body) is free so I want to sing properly and dance at my maximum capability at the same time. I like practicing with dancers of all genres and being influenced by seeing each other improve. The people around me are all professionals in poppin, b-boying or street dancing, and I want to learn more from them. All dances are hard on the body; b-boying especially, is very painful to the wrist and the waist while poppin or rocking or crunk affect the wrist less – I wonder how much I will improve if I learn properly. The thing I regret most about being a singer is the lack of time. I wish I didn’t need to sleep at all. Humans must sleep, and singers need it to get a good voice. I think it’d be better if we could use all 24 hours without sleeping. Because dancing is not work, but something fun; because this is who I am.

“I don’t like the taste of alcohol; I just like the mood created by it”

There were a lo… not very many times when I’ve drank so much. Haha. Honestly, alcohol still doesn’t taste good to me. I don’t like things that don’t taste good. I just like the atmosphere where you talk and drink together. I don’t ever drink alone at home. Since everyone around me drink, if someone says “Should we go have a drink today?” then I just tag along. In America, they don’t sell alcohol very much after 2am, and to drink you have to drive far in the first place; but it’s easier to access them in Korea. I became used to it at one point, but I don’t force someone else to drink. Everyone has their limit and it’s not good to see someone being forced to drink and throw up.

To confess, there was a time when I was drunk in one and half hour, threw up and had to get my manager hyung to take me home. I didn’t know my limits so I kept taking people’s offers, and got drunk by myself before everyone even gathered. That’s why I wanted to make a fun song like “Wasted”. (omit) Ah, I heard that some people don’t see my drinking in a good way, but I’m human too. They may not like my tattoos or kiss scenes in music videos, but I can’t do anything because that’s who I am. But I don’t smoke haha. Drinking is a way of having fun together, but you can’t enjoy a cigarette together… But when people have those talks while smoking, I go with them to listen.

“I can’t focus just on exercise right now.”

When I was 20, I ran 30 laps around the field in winter, rope-skipped 1000 times and did ab workouts, although I was very skinny. I felt like my body was garbage if I didn’t exercise for four or five days. Haha. During the debut stage of 2pm, I ripped my wrist ligament while doing acrobatics and could not use it well for a year; but I still exercised because I couldn’t take it, and made the injury worse. A month ago, I hurt my wrist again while dancing so I can’t do b-boying or bulk-ups. I just do light ab workouts and run for 20 minutes. Maybe it’s because I’m in the second-half of my 20s, because I’m drinking as I age, but I’m becoming too lazy to exercise now, to be honest. I can’t be strict like before, and think more, “this should be enough.” But since I’m alone now, I have to do well in every aspect and try not to show this weakness on stage; and this is why I don’t exercise as much, since I disperse the strict thoughts to these areas. I don’t just exercise; I also sing, dance and exercise. Oh and some people say the reason I am not tall is because I’ve exercised too much since I was too young, and I think that might be true. My brother is 183cm tall, and my father is 185cm. I have long arms and my feet are almost as big as my brother’s, but whether my legs are short or my waist is, something is definitely missing. But I don’t regret it. If I hadn’t exercised or danced back then, I wouldn’t be here right now. My brother is taller than me, but he’s just playing games at home. Haha.

“I like variety shows where I can run around, instead of sitting and talking.”

I had fun on Immortal Song 2 because of G.O., Kyuhyun and Huh Gak hyung. It’s a competition, but I didn’t care about winning; it was good to win, but I couldn’t do anything about losing. I wanted to do well on stage and also make it fun since it’s a variety show but I think I got good reactions because of Jun Goon remixed the songs well. The stages for “Dear, do not change” and “Look Back at Me” were fun, and “Candy” was actually hard. I knew H.O.T. sunbaes because they are so famous, but I hadn’t heard the song until the practice. Since I was singing the parts of five people by myself, there was no where to breathe; I was worried whether I’d do well. “Aemo” was closer to a ballad, and I was worried because I had never performed songs like that. I didn’t know what “Aemo” meant to begin with (Note: it means affection in Korean) and I don’t use words like “dear”. But when people explained it to me, I got an idea of what the song was about. It was a good experience to hear a lot of Korean songs while I was on Immortal Song 2. If I get to appear again, I think I’ll be more serious on the stage.

Recently, I was on “Sensitive Castle” of Gag Concert; I tried really hard and even improvised with ad libs like “Punch, kick! kick!”. The hyungs were so funny and brought the corner to life, and I felt bad that I couldn’t be as funny. Honestly, I am really funny if I talk in English. When I’m with friends, I joke around a lot too. So I prefer variety shows where I can run around and play games, like Running Man, instead of shows where I sit and talk. I’m confident I can run around well. If places like <Saturday Night Live Korea> call me? Of course I want to go. On Saturday Night Live, Justin Timberlake used beer bottles, and danced to ‘Single Ladies’… The man can sing well and be funny too. I like that he has the ‘I’m hot even if I do this’ kind of pride. He’s still modest and comfortable (about what he does).

“I’m just me, a free spirit.”

The aim of this album was for people to notice my music or album or myself on stage more. That’s good enough. I want to promote my style of R&B more to people, but the situation right now is that I make them myself instead of being forced by someone else; I’m very grateful to those that like it. This is me, yet they like it. I’m grateful that the fans try their best to understand what I do. So I tried to be more celebrity-like, more singer-like, to them and made a choreography and a music video for ‘Know Your Name.’ There are probably some that want me to be a big star.. but I am just grateful for being able to be a celebrity and having fans; I don’t obsess over it. All this may disappear when I don’t know it, and if I cling on to it, then I’d be very hurt when it’s all gone.

I’m very down-to-earth. I don’t need to make billions of dollars; I just need enough to take care of my family and friends. Therefore I believe that, if I enjoy life and think positive, something will happen even if I don’t become that famous or that big. Even if I don’t become a big star, I try to do music and performances like one. To be honest, I don’t really know what I am, either. Idol, musician… those are all opinions of viewers. Some may have seen me only on variety shows and some many only have heard my albums so they may have different opinions like, he’s an idol, dancer or Jay only has a nice body… I’m just me, a free spirit.
Reporters Choi Ji-Eun & Yoon Hee-Sung



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