With his stylish shoes and sleek suits Jay Park, embodies a sense of style that could well give birth to his own fashion line. But hold your horses. The American-born Korean singer-actor-dancer-composer-model tells UrbanWire on the sidelines of MTV World Stage 2012, “For me, I’m just focusing on making good albums, good music, and putting on good shows. Fashion and all that, we’ll think about later!”
Up close, he’s not dressed to the nines, even though he’s meeting with media. Clad in a simple white short-sleeved hoodie and black sweatpants, he looked relaxed as he stood up to greet us warmly in a conference room on Jul 14. For a man who was more talked about than the Oscars in 2010 on Twitter, he definitely seems down-to-earth.
He’s here in Malaysia as one of 4 headlining acts for MTV World Stage 2012, in Kuala Lumpur’s Sunway Lagoon. The others being Justin Bieber, KARA and Malaysia’s very own Mizz Nina. The crowd went wild for him even though he was the very last act, ending the event with a spectacular performance.
Jay confesses to UrbanWire in a cosy media interview, “I used to be afraid of planes for a while, but all this touring has made me comfortable. But back in the days, I was like deathly afraid of planes.” He grimaces before bursting into laughter. So if he didn’t triumph over his phobia, not only wouldn’t he have gone to Korea and changed his life, we wouldn’t even be having this chat.
If you don’t already know, Jay left his Seattle hometown for Korea in 2005 to train under JYP Entertainment. 3 years later, he rose to fame as the leader of K-Pop idol group 2PM, before being dropped in 2009 after a bad misunderstanding with the South Korean public.
Returning to the States to escape the harshly negative Korean media, Jay got a new start thanks to the love/support of his fans, and his Seattle b-boy crew, Art of Movement (AOM). By 2010, he was back in Korea as a rising solo artiste, with his arrival at the Incheon International Airport eliciting the largest crowd there ever.
Jay Park arriving at Incheon International Airport in 2010
Perhaps they like how he has set himself apart from countless cookie-cutter Korean idol groups. Jay Park brands himself as a “New Breed of artiste”. He told Channel News Asia, this is “because I do such a wide variety of music like acoustic, R&B, dance, hip hop, rap, electronic. These days it’s hard to find such wide variety of music in one album, that’s why I named the album “New Breed.”
New Breed, which was released in Feb this year, debuted at #4 on the Billboard World Album chart, and sold more than 80000 copies offline in 10 days in South Korea. Looking at how Jay Park is flourishing as a singer, it’s surprising that the 26-year-old initially had no interest in becoming a singer and was into dancing first.
In an interview with Entermedia, Jay Park admits, “I never had any thoughts of becoming a singer… I just loved music and dance. But somehow, time passed and now I am a singer.”
Despite the huge difference between being 1 of 7 members in a boy band and being a solo artiste, Jay Park seems to be doing more than just fine. He attributes this to his independence.
Photos courtesy of MTV Asia and allkpop
“I’m very independent, I don’t really like to depend on people, so I write songs and come up with concepts and all that [by myself]… it’s hard but it’s rewarding. And it’s very fun,” he shares.
Recalling his adolescent years in America, Jay Park noted that it has influenced the way he makes music, making him stand out from others.
He explains, “I grew up listening to R&B and hip hop in the States and I didn’t even know how to speak Korean before I moved to Korea. So definitely, [my music]’s like an in between of American music and K-Pop. That’s what my music is, right in the middle.”
His fans know that Jay Park would love to collaborate with his favourite K-Pop girl group 2NE1, but who else is on his list?
“There’re probably thousands and thousands [of artistes] I’d like to collaborate with. As far as producers go, I’d like to work with Timbaland, Ferrell, The Underdogs, The Stereotypes, Brian Cox… For artistes, I like Chris Brown, Usher, Trey Songz, Lil’ Wayne, Drake, Rick Ross, and more,” he enthuses, showing the strong US-bent of his musical preferences.
Despite stereotypes of American culture supplanting Asian values, this free-spirited and expressive man is surprisingly very family-oriented. Jay Park told Entermedia, “the most important thing in my life is my family. I wanted to succeed for my family, loved making them happy by making money and now, I want to succeed even more for the people around me and to be of any help.”
No wonder that when we asked him about his wildest dream, he thought for quite a while before answering, “My wildest dream is maybe just to take a bunch of people on a vacation, like 40 people. Like my whole family, all my relatives and my friends, on a vacation to a tropical place.”
On the subject of where he’s planning to visit next, Jay Park admits that he had no idea, saying, “Whichever country wants to see me, I’ll definitely go.”
But even if you don’t get to catch him in your country, you can be sure that Jay, who won “Best Web Video” for his “Nothin’ on You” number in last year’s Mashable Awards, is going to be a force to be reckoned with online.
He says, “A member from AOM (Art Of Movement) is coming here [Malaysia], because he’s going to be my camera guy from now on and we’re going to put up a whole bunch of video content on the Internet.”
Jay Park’s slated to begin his New Breed Asia Tour on Aug 18, at Seoul’s Olympic Park, after which he’s headed for other Asian countries.