credit: 142astrid @ YT
A man who constansly changed and never stays in one place, Kim Junsu.
He, who attempted at many transformations and is never afraid of them, took his time to be with @star1.
As a JYJ member, a musical actor and also as a solo singer.
A man who is running with no rest and never stops, Kim Junsu.
This is the story of that man, Kim Junsu.
While transforming into a solo singer, just recently he decided to release an English single album. It has became such a hot topic as he worked with an international composer like Bruce Automatic. He experienced a working style which is completely different from the one in Korea. “While in our country, we tend to focus only on recording the song, in the US, they try to get to know each other first through conversations then go on with recording. If the recording time takes about 4 hours in total, 2 hours would be spent in having natural conversations about the album with each other. Also, I feel that they take care of the artist overwhelmingly well. If I want to rest, they would tell me to rest until whenever I want, they would make a big deal if my vocal condition is just a little bit unwell. Now I know what it is like to work with the best staff.”
He also worked with top staff to film a music video right in the US. He was confused with a whole new way of filming as they had to film the given situation in only one long-take. “In our country, the staff would definitely give directions even on the smallest movement but in the US, they just asked me to ‘sing like you are flirting with this woman’. Of course, they didn’t decide the exact movement for me either. Also, they always say ‘Action’ no matter what. We were told to caress each other right at the first time we met so I entrusted completely in the actresses. Seriously, like a fish being released into water, when the music is played, I must get everything under my control. When the filming started, I thought about what to do first. I felt the pressure but because of that, we had some natural unscripted scenes.” They brought a car to a desert, played the music and he was told to act there. Since it was the very first time he and the actress met, he couldn’t help but feeling puzzled when he was told to act like he is flirting with her. Even so, they completed the filming professionally. A high-standard music video was made. “Because every staff was looking at me only, somehow rather than feeling embarrassed, I just wanted to finish the filming quickly. Every staff that I worked with are popular people and it was also their first time to work with a Korean artist. Therefore, the responsibility of leaving a good image to them and the pressure to be good seem to be more severe. That’s how everything happened.”
# From a group to a solo
From a group of 5 members to a trio, then he transformed to a solo singer.
With that much happened, he was really worried and things are not easy for him at all. Especially in the situation where his TV activities aren’t guaranteed, the pressure on promotion for his solo album is big. The album was decided to be released after hesitating, therefore he wanted it to be in higher quality and be perfect. “Depending on how I set the standard for myself, it could be considered as a success or failure. At least, considering the worries I had in mind before releasing the album, I think it was such a big success to me. To be honest, when my agency first told me to release an album, I told them I didn’t want to. It is because I have thought that promoting an album when I can’t even appear on TV is impossible. On top of that, I did want to make an album with a certain quality that is enough to please me but if that amount of money was invested in but the result couldn’t meet our expectations then that would be just a daydream.” While preparing for the album, he also collaborated with Gecko, DoubleK etc. It seems like he is completing one by one things that he has never tried out before.
“There was a story like this long time ago. Every person has their own color in terms of music. No matter how differently they try to manifest, there is still a boundary that they cannot get over. I think collaboration is a way to break it. Now if I talk about what I want to do, my agency will accept the idea and get it prepared for me. That is what makes me happy the most.”
# ‘Unconventional’ transformation
Releasing an album at the end of agony was indeed unconventional.
He took back the name ‘XIA’ and chose an androgynous concept which he’s never shown before. The decision was more unexpected to come from a boyish person like him. “To be honest, it was awkward. For my personality, doing nails or dyeing my hair to bright color is something I’d never imagined myself would do in the past. I had absolutely no interest to the point that I felt ashamed that one can be called a celebrity just because of their fancy appearance. At that time, in my opinion, because I am a singer, all I must do is singing well and that’s it. I am that type of person who doesn’t go to dermatology ‘cos I found it annoying. That thought was broken when I participated in musical ‘Elisabeth’.”
Kim Junsu played the role of ‘Death’ in the musical ‘Elisabeth’. A mystical and transcendent character like that needs to have a completely different image from normal people. That was the reason why he started dieting. “I felt that I was so different from the role ‘Death’. If I was still active in TV broadcast activities, I would monitor and shape up my style even if no one told me to do so, but during the break, I felt that I had became too ‘loose’. The role ‘Death’ that I must manifest in the musical is sexy and has similar image to the God of Death. When I looked in the mirror, I realized that this was not ‘Death’, that I wouldn’t be able to immersed in the role in this state. I think my role must attract attention of the audience right when he appears on stage so in order to transform my image, I started dieting.”
After transforming himself into ‘Death’, Kim Junsu’s mind has also changed. “It is obvious that singing is the most important thing for a singer. However, I cannot deny the fact that showing appearance is also a part of this job. The visual element can’t have priority over singing but it cannot be overlooked either. I cared a lot about the visual aspect when preparing for this album. For that reason, I did my nails and these days, if I don’t have nail art, I feel weird. My mind has changed to that extent. To me, putting efforts to change, to transform myself is something I should do for the fans. Before, I’d never thought about using wigs but now it they are needed, I will definitely wear them.”
# Solo concert, Asia tour, then World tour
During a 90-minute solo concert, one can feel breathless just by watching him performing continuously intense dance songs.
While performing alone on stage, he has mastered both singing and performance abilities and received favorable comment from audiences.
“After finishing ‘TARANTALLEGRA’, I did think that it would be great if the next song ‘Fever’ wouldn’t start at all, or if the chair that I was sitting on would just be descended into the stage’s bottom. However, wanting to show a perfect image, I arranged dance songs continuously one after one so I gathered all my strength and focused on my stage. The delight and the sense of fulfillment after that are unbelievable.” Now he is starting his World tour. Standing on a foreign stage gives him very different feelings from those he has when being on domestic stage. Is it similar to what a national representative would feel? He doesn’t stop after obtaining popularity in Japan, he extended to Europe, South America etc. He has well prepared as XIA but also as a Korean singer, he has to bear a big responsibility to show a more than perfect stage. “To be honest, near the end, I was too tired that I didn’t know how I have performed in the song ‘Mission’. Also, when the concert has ended, not only I was happy but I also felt stunned. Nevertheless, after every concert, I always have some regrets and also emptiness in my heart, then I promise to myself that I will work even harder next time.”
# The daily life of a non-celebrity Kim Junsu
During the conversation with him, he has made me marvel at the serious worries a shining star has on stage, and also made me laugh at his unpolished carefree choice of words. “I like to be with my friends. My house is our hangout. If I am home, B2ST Kikwang, Pro-gamer Yeom Bosung, Seokyungjong etc will just press the password for my house door and come in. I like noise so I always call my friends to come over. Kikwang often comes when he has time to rest. Because all of us don’t like drinking alcohol so if Kikwang, Doojoon, Jisuk hyung etc come, we go to Hanriver at night to play basketball.”
Currently being the captain of celebrities soccer team FC MEN, he is well-known as a big soccer maniac, to the extent that he said himself “If I was born again, I want to become a soccer player”. “I am not the type that shies away but because I have to stand on stage, I cannot play as much as I want but despite of that, I am not someone who would play half-heartedly. Therefore, during the concert period, if I tell the managers that I go playing soccer, they will be in emergency mode. Even so, I still play whole-heartedly.” In 2011, he participated in Park Jisung’s charity soccer match held in Vietnam and played side by side with other players. He participated in the match not because he wanted to play but thanks to Park Jisung’s encouragement, he didn’t want to miss the opportunity to run on the same field with Park Jisung. “I played for fun but Vietnamese players thought I was a player for real and kept tackling me. If I kept the ball, I would get into big trouble so I passed it. (laugh) I’ve thought that I couldn’t play in the match but Jisung hyung offered me the chance ‘Aren’t you like soccer too? Let’s play together’ so I got to play. Honestly, my physical condition on that day was really bad but will there ever have another chance like that again, so I pretended to be okay and participated in. The national team’s manager even came to see my physical condition.”
# Go beyond an idol to become a musical actor
His ticket power is famous in the musical industry. There is a hearsay that trying to get ticket for his shows is like going through a real ‘ticket war’. With such exceptional ticket power and ability, he has became a top musical star. “Tickets were expensive yet all the seats were filled up. I am really thankful for that. Therefore, I cannot perform carelessly. I might have not met 100% of their expectations but at least, I just don’t want to hear that idol singers just rely on their popularity to enter the musical industry and stand on public stage. As a result, I’ve worked hard while carrying a sense of duty. Of course, I will work even harder in the future.” In fact, there are many different opinions over the advance into musical industry of idol singers.
Some might think that considering his popularity, it was easy for him to get casted, and also in order to selling tickets, there was no doubt that the producer would choose him. To overcome such opinions, he gritted his teeth harder. Still, he has also experienced the prejudice against idol. “I have to complete everything more perfectly in order to break that prejudice. Of course, there were many pressures. I also knew the fact that if the musical was ruined because of my fault, all the arrows would point at me. I can’t help but being more cautious and in every show, I don’t allow even the smallest mistake to happen. Nevertheless, I still felt so many prejudices. If I am off-key, there will be response like ‘See, this is why we can’t accept idol’. Still, I also know that there’s no other way than endure and let it go. That is because I know it is my job to change that kind of perception little by little.” As a result, all evaluations about Kim Junsu are now positive.
At ‘The Musical Awards’, he was honored to receive the popularity award for 3 consecutive years and be nominated for Best Actor award for 2 consecutive years. The feeling of being at a musical awards ceremony is very different from a music awards ceremony.
“At a music awards ceremony, I would be considered as a sunbae but at a musical awards ceremony, I am the maknae among maknaes. All the actors treat me well and nicely so I can do nothing but be grateful for that. I also feel alienated a bit but everyone is so nice to me. I have nothing to be ashamed of when being in this position. I hate the perception that I can sit at this position solely because of my popularity so I will work harder.”
# After debuting 9 years ago, I am still in the middle of growing just like before
This is already the 9th year since his debut. Many things happened but now he feels that he is clearly drawing out the path that he must walk through. “No matter what I do, I will always think carefully first then do it. I will think thoroughly about the picture of myself, the big picture of JYJ and decide on how I should do it. I have learnt a big lesson by comparing this time, this moment with the past. When looking at the final result, the joy is as big as the hard time I felt during preparation period. Now I don’t like anyone to order me to do this and that. That is not me but it is just a person who is well wrapped by someone else. Of course, packaging is also an art but I would like to build up my own perfect confidence rather than being under that shell. An artist needs to have his own thinking, his own color. Other members also feel happy when they do something by themselves and enjoy its fulfillment.” Advice he wants to give to the hoobaes is also in the same context. One cannot do everything 100% on their own but if they trust and communicate with their agency, they will become artist who never looses their own thinking. “It is not about doing everything the agency asks for blindly, it would be better to become an artist that can put his own justification in his works and speak up his mind. No matter if the agency is the one who decides the concept or not, we also have to fairly express our own opinion about the work. Undoubtedly, doing merely as what you say yourself is dangerous. Collecting opinion of people around is also important. I think if they can become an artist like that, they will find their own color inside of them and also develop their competitive power”. Challenging and building up his own self are what he enjoys the most these days. Building up one’s self is not something that can be done by one-sided communication. It is walking together with the staff toward the direction you want through mutual communication. He said that the failure he experiences on that road might cause him bigger risk than before but even so, he has no regrets. “Pressure and responsibility are one of the pleasures I am feeling right now. There is always crossroad and turning point. I want to make that turning point on my own. I still don’t know if I will succeed or fail but first of all, I won’t have any regret when doing what I want. I will find the common point between what I think and opinions of the staff then go forward in the future. Also, through all of that, I want to create mutual trust and happiness.”
#Editor’s note – Thanks XIA!
On a rainy day August 22, I’ve met Kim Junsu on the elegant Kyeongridan street. Before starting the outdoor photoshoot, in contrast with the gloomy look of the editor because the rain showed no sign of stopping, Junsu stepped into the photoshoot location with cheerful expression on his face. The concept for @star1 October issue’s photoshoot was named ‘Dandy & Wild’, inpired by Junsu’s two-sided charm. As the photoshoot must show 2 kinds of concept at once, we had a hard time not only fixing his clothes but also modifying the hair and make-up However, in this photoshoot that also made him feel tired, unexpectedly, as if he tried to removed the staff’s fatigue, he cracked jokes, pulled pranks and cheered up the atmosphere.
During the photoshoot, he discovered a piano at a corner. As if he was waiting for that moment, he started playing a sweet melody, then in the middle of that, he tilted his head and started singing along. If he has time, he will hum along a song, and he never realizes time has passed by when he starts talking about music. There is no need for any explanations to feel how much he loves music. “In daily life, I also believe in the power of positive thinking. Therefore, I always try my best to think positively. The rain is going to stop when our outdoor photoshoot starts.” Just as Junsu said, no, as if Junsu’s request has reached the sky, just about time when the indoor photoshoot ended, the rain really stopped and the bright sun shined down on us.
All the staff looked at Junsu and exclaimed in delight. We were able to finish the photoshoot on the street really quickly. Thanks to him, we were able to complete the photoshoot much much better than we expected. To Junsu who must have felt really tired because of the busy schedules in both domestic and overseas after releasing the album single but still did his best, also to the staff that helped me to wrap up the outdoor photoshoot quickly, I want to take this chance to say thank you to everyone. Thank you! Junsu!
EDITOR Kim Ruby
# Kim Junsu’s recommendation – This song in this situation.
While driving late at night or at dawn, listening to this song will make you feel happy
– No Gain
A song that will give your lover happiness if you sing it to her
A song that is good to listen when your heart is in pain, suffering from break-up
A good song to listen when you think of the person you miss.
– Even though I know
A song that pierces through your heart if you listen when you want to release stress
A song that makes your ears happy with polished ryhthm
A good song to listen when you want to be comforted by love that tingles your heart
– You are so Beautiful
In autumn when leaves are falling, a song that makes you happy if you listen to it while enjoying a cup of coffee
– Fallen leaves
A song that will cheer you up even when you hum it alone.
– Worse song to listen when you feel bad
When you are depressed and when you are happy, a song that will make you feel high no matter how your mood is
– Gangnam style
A song that is more interesting if you listen to it while appreciating the lyrics
– Don’t do that!
by Mai Nguyen
Automatic and Ebony. Photo courtesy of Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer’s Facebook page.
On September 2, I found myself at the Hollywood Palladium for K-pop sensation Junsu Kim’s concert, invited by music producer Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer and vocal director Ebony Rae Cunningham. When Kim performed “Uncommitted,” the track the duo produced for Junsu’s English debut single, the two immediately began jamming to the song and singing along.
As the song came to a close, Junsu thanked Automatic for writing and producing the single, and Automatic cheered back from the balcony: “You made it happen, man!”
Automatic is the president and CEO of InRage Entertainment, and Ebony Rae Cunningham is the vice president. She was the vocal stylist for “Uncommitted.”
In the midst of some small talk with the duo, Automatic suddenly bellowed a long, hearty note — and I knew there’d be an interesting interview to come. The two of them then delved deeper into their recording experience and musical relationship.
APA: Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get into music?
Ebony Rae Cunningham (ERC): I started off in church, like a lot of other musicians. I heard someone singing one day, and I was like, “I can do that.” I started singing at choir and then worked my way up to be the leader of the choir. Later, I went on to attend the University of South Florida and transferred to USC, graduating with a degree in Music.
Automatic (A): I started playing when I was 11 years old. When I was living in Brooklyn, there was a kid next door who had a guitar. He would never let me play, and I kept saying, “I would have tried. I would have tried.” So, I beat him up, and I took his guitar. And I started playing it. My mom ran outside, and she was like, “Oh my gosh, how did you just play that?” and I said, “I don’t know!” But I learned how to play a song in about 10-15 minutes, and she got on the phone and said, “My son, Automatic, can play the guitar!” She was amazed and started calling me “Little Automatic, Little Automatic.” And I guess I have this thing where I just pick up an instrument and just start playing it. I can play 11 instruments now.
APA: Did you ever give the kid back his guitar?
A: [laughs] Yeah, I gave it back to him… but I didn’t really want to. By the way, my mom never even cared that I kicked that kid’s butt, so that was interesting. [laughs]
APA: What are the 11 instruments you can play?
A: Drums, trombone, bass guitar, guitar, piano, tuba, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, panpipe, xylophone… and a little bit of accordion, but I’m working on it. Oh, and I can play the berimbau. It’s a Brazilian instrument.
APA: How did even get your hands on all these instruments?
A: After beating up the first kid — you know, that was my Brooklyn mentality [laughs] — I decided to go straight. Eventually, my mom bought me a guitar, and when I went to school, I would take it with me, and I’d ask the kids at school, “Can I trade my instrument for yours for a day or two?” So I’d trade my guitar for a tuba, and so on and so on. We bartered, and that’s how I learned how to play a whole bunch of different stuff. I can play them well enough to play on records, but I’m not a master of them or anything.
APA: How did you get into music professionally?
A: Well, I was in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and I had a band. We showcased and played for many different record labels, and I got turned down by 13 record labels, so it was crazy. One gentleman came out to the rough, rough streets of Brooklyn to come see us at our loft. We did a showcase, and they wanted to sign us. So, I was signed to Morgan Creek/Polygram Records and literally went from having no money to having $300,000 in the bank in about a month and a half. I came out to California to record my first album. I saw palm trees, and I thought I was in the tropics, so I said, “I’m staying!!” My first album was titled Auto & Cherokee, titled after me and the person I was working with at that time. We had a track called “Taste” featured in the film, The Crush.
I can play a lot of instruments, and I thought I could record really well. I had my own studio when I was 15 years old, so I was used to recording, but learning how to make records for the radio was on a whole other level. I met Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the guys who are responsible for Janet Jackson and New Edition. I did a production deal with them, and they kind of mentored me in producing records. So, I worked for Michael Jackson for a little while and developed two groups called Brown Stone and Quo. That was more working on vocals, but I was working on building their groups and became great friends with Michael Jackson. And then worked for the WB Television Network and eventually got to Sony, who love what I do. They wanted to sign me as a writer and producer, and I joined them at the end of ’99.
APA: [to Ebony] How about you?
ERC: After I graduated college, I had to figure out what direction I was going to take. I wanted to be an artist and not work for someone else. When I met Automatic and learned everything about what he had going on, I completely agreed with his vision of artistic freedom. I agreed to work with him, and he crowned me as the Vice president.
A: That’s the vision of InRage Entertainment: the fact that there are so many great artists out there who don’t get the chance to express themselves. Sometimes they just do what their record labels tell them to. Some of them can do many different genres and play so many types of music, but they just don’t get that opportunity. And so I was feeling “in rage” that we don’t have enough artistic freedom in this industry, and that’s how this all came about: InRage Entertainment.
APA: As a producer who can play so many instruments, do you have a genre of music you like making most?
A: It’s so funny you ask that. Because I play so many different instruments, I’m what you would call a “hybrid producer.” I produce a variety of different music. Actually, my first Top Ten record was a country song by Bettina Bush from American Idol. So there is no particular genre I would say I’m strongest in. I’m still going through the different phases of recording and producing different genres of music. I’ve done everything from gospel, to rock, to hip-hop and I’m open to more.
APA: Moving on to your latest production “Uncommitted,” how did you get in touch with C-JeS and start working with Junsu?
A: There was a C-JeS executive. His name is Niddy, and he knew a friend of mine, who introduced me as a Sony producer. So Niddy contacted me and said, “You know, we at C-JeS are looking for songs for the group JYJ.” I submitted some songs and actually “Uncommitted” was a song that I wasn’t sure I should submit because it was a little bit softer than the other things I submitted. The other things were stronger, more up-tempo, more hard-hitting, whereas “Uncommitted” was mid-tempo and more like a ballad. What’s amazing was they called me back saying they loved “Uncommitted” and wanted it. I thought to myself “Wow, I almost didn’t submit that song.” [laughs] So that was so crazy.
APA: What made you eventually submit “Uncommitted” after being unsure?
A: I thought it had a good enough storyline in the song. I thought, “Maybe they may want it.” Again, it’s about a man who had a past of being a player and then he meets the girl of his dreams. He decides he doesn’t want to be a player anymore, but the girl says, “I already know about you and your past, and I don’t believe you’re built for this kind of relationship, so let’s have fun and call it, just leave it.” The guy winds up having his heart broken for the first time. So I thought maybe this would be a good submission, and maybe they’ll get it.
APA: When you were working this deal out with C-JeS, did you know K-pop or Junsu?
A: Yeah, my daughter is a big fan of JYJ and she also was a big fan of the original group they were a part of. She was also into Big Bang and Super Junior and has been listening to them for many years. So she told me, “You gotta listen to this new K-pop group,” and I thought it was cool but didn’t understand the appeal at the time, because a lot of it just seemed like a lot of pop stuff, like American music to me. But as I started to get into it more, I realized that K-pop artists experiment a lot with different genres, whereas in America, we often stick to what’s happening now. By the time I heard that I was going to work with Junsu, my daughter was so excited: “Dad, do you know who that is??” I was just happy that my daughter was so excited. [laughs]
APA: “Uncommitted” was recorded here in the States, right?
A: Originally, we were supposed to go to Korea and record it there. We were trying to get everything together, coordinating the plane tickets and all of that. Junsu was doing quite a bit of work, touring and recording, so schedules were being switched around often. And at literally the last second, they called us saying, “We’re going to have him fly to America.” So we could go right to work when he arrived.
The greatest thing that happened was when we had a meeting with the C-JeS executives, and they sat us down and said, “Junsu is coming in, and he’s going to record the song. We want to make it a single, and we’re going to do a video for it.” We were so surprised! We just thought it was going to be a single on his record. We quickly got into the studio in a matter of days. And within three days after we finished in the studio, filming for the music video started. Everything moved so quickly. We were still mixing the song the day of the video shoot. [laughs] C-JeS is an incredible record label; they move fast and strong. We have never seen a label work that quickly.
Kim Junsu “Uncommitted.” Photo courtesy of C-JeS Entertainment.
APA: How was recording the track with Junsu?
A: I gotta tell you. Junsu is an amazing artist. I already liked his voice. That was the one thing that sold us. We knew he was going to do a great job. What we didn’t know was how disciplined he was, what kind of work ethic he had, which is ridiculously tremendous. We started early afternoon, and within a couple of hours, he had the song down. I wanted to give him breaks at times, but he didn’t even want them. He just wanted to keep going. He’s such a workaholic, a tremendously talented one at that. And we had a ball. It was fun. We laughed, we joked, we worked hard. It was one of the greatest experiences we had in the studio. The chemistry we had was instant. I can’t explain it. If you saw us, you wouldn’t think we were working. You heard the outcome; it was absolutely amazing. It was one of the easiest and most fun recording experiences that we’ve had.
ERC: When he first came in, I think he was ready to just get in the booth and sing, but we asked him to sit on the couch first, and he kind of looked around like “What’s going on? I’m ready to sing.” So we talked through Jun Dark (a C-JeS executive) to him: “We want to go over the English lyrics with you.” And he made this face like, “Oh no….” He kind of looked at the paper and did that little shy thing he does, where he covers his face and starts laughing. [laughs] He slowly started reading the lyrics line by line and looked up once a while and kept giggling. He was so embarrassed, and we kept telling him, “No you’re doing good!” He already sounded really good, but there are some English vowels and consonants that don’t exist in Korean, so we worked hard to work on those things with instructions like “Put your tongue here when you say this” or “Open your mouth like this to make this sound.”
A: We started working on all kinds of pronunciations and sounds. It was funny just watching him make some of the faces that he made and move his mouth in all kinds of ways to get the right pronunciation. We all just kept laughing about how certain things sounded in English. June Dark had translated the song in Korean for him, so he understood the meaning of the song and the emotional content it would take to sell the story. As we worked more and more in the studio, it seemed as if he got to a place and really got the feeling of the song right. So we got him into the booth, and he basically just closed his eyes and started recording.
ERC: He was practicing before we started recording, and he would sing it right into the mic, but he would keep singing one line, then look at me, sing another, and look at me again. He kept looking at me for reassurance. [laughs] Sometimes when he had a tough time, I’d sing it to him, and he’d sing it back. He just kept looking at me to make sure he got it right, so I’d give him a thumbs up. Even though I didn’t know any Korean, and he knew a little English, we developed a good method of communication through looks and thumbs ups. [laughs]
A: It was so easy for him, and after we ran through the song, it was just fantastic. I walked into the studio with him; we just sang back and forth and experimented a little bit with some of the adlibs you hear in the song. He just closed his eyes and took it to another place. It was incredible; it was like we were doing an American Idolbattle or something. [laughs] Every time I sang a note, he would out-sing what I was doing, and I was amazed, just blown away by the amount of talent he has.
ERC: He actually did this run [laughs] — the run that he does in the second verse on “be.” Automatic gave him the run, and he said okay. He did it, and it was way better than when Automatic did it. [laughs] I was in the booth with him, and I was like “Heyyy!” Automatic told me that everybody in the booth was laughing.
“Uncommitted” is a soulful ballad song, you know? So when Junsu would do these little runs that were just so soulful, Automatic once said, “Man, we’re making you black!” or “You’re turning black!” He understood that and said, “No, I’m not black. I am yellow.” [laughs] We just couldn’t help but crack up.
It was very fun working with him, especially when he did runs and scales that we didn’t expect from him. It was exciting that he could execute the song with so much soul and style. He works really hard and it’s obvious I think ‘cause it pays off.
A: He has a natural gift. I’m looking forward to working with him in the future. I’m looking at the relationship I’m developing with him as a Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson one. I hope this is the kind of relationship we’re going to have, and that we’ll continue working together. I think what we’ve done together is just the beginning, and I think we’re going to do some incredible things, just blow people’s minds!
APA: Did you think the music video represented your song well?
A: It’s the best feeling in the world seeing an artist as great as him singing a song you made from the heart. “Tarantallegra” is a great video for performance, but “Uncommitted” really showcases Junsu as a person, as a singer — and seeing himself evolve into a man. So I think that when people see the video, they’ll see him like they’ve never seen him before. I love the video, and I think it’s a really great platform for the song.
APA: After working with Junsu, how would you compare it to working with American artists?
A: The reason why I compare Junsu to Michael Jackson so often is that he grew up in music. He’s been doing this for a long time, so he has this natural artistry and this professionalism that’s in his soul that you don’t see from artists who’ve been in the industry just for a couple of years. It is a different level of experience. You really are getting to see the best of the best when you are working with Junsu.
When you say the difference between him and American artists: I don’t think there’s a difference in culture, but professionalism. I hope America accepts him; that would be fantastic. I think he is going to be a challenge, and he is going to be an artist that people look at and say he’s the in the highest of echelons.
People are singing our song in Mexico, Chile, Brazil. When he performs it, people are singing “Uncommitted” line by line; it is just amazing. Everyday it just keeps getting better and better!
I just did a backflip and ran up a wall. [laughs] I’m just so happy!
APA: Working with a K-pop artist as an American producer, where do you think K-pop is headed, and do you want to get more involved?
A: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Well, first, I think K-pop is gonna be big, because it’s so experimental and fresh. And yes, I would like to work more in K-pop, because a lot of the artists are not afraid to experiment. We are “hybrid writers and producers,” and K-pop right now is such a great platform for writers and producers like Ebony and I. We don’t have to hold back, so we can really do our best and try to create something new and exciting. We really want to continue producing as many K-pop artists as possible and again obviously develop an incredible relationship with Junsu.
APA: Any artists you’d like to work with in particular?
A: I would love to work with G-Dragon.
ERC: B.A.P is definitely one.
A: We would love to work with Psy, G-Dragon, Big Bang, B.A.P and many more! There are so many, including J-pop artists as well. We’re trying to look into those ventures now.
APA: What are you currently working on and what can we expect in the future?
A: Trying to submit songs to Chris Brown, working on sending some songs to the Whitney Houston tribute, and working with Leona Lewis too. We’re also working on InRage’s first single, which will come out in the first quarter of next year. My band, Asphalt Messiah, is looking to release something in the same time as well. Next year is going to be incredible also, because we’re working on Ebony’s solo record as Evanrae.
ERC: We also want to give a huge shout out to all the fans who have been supportive of Junsu and Automatic, and all the InRagers who we have gotten to know through this experience. You all have been so kind to us, and we hope you continue to support Junsu, JYJ and InRage.
We’re working on revamping our website with a spot specifically for InRagers, so look out for that! Actually, we also have a surprise treat for our “Uncommitted” supporters coming up soon, so please stay tuned!
Junsu Xia caused furor when he came with his band JYJ, but now he debuts solitary on September 10th at the Teatro Caupolican. “Fans around the world love powerful, sexy performances with an unique style”, thinks the young man of 25 years old about k-pop, that took over the West.
Besides cellphones and TVs, everyday Korea exports a little more their culture: singers, soap operas and food conquer the West.
In Chile, korean restourants -mainly in the Patronato area- are huge. But the asian presence is what made urban tribes irrupt, adictted to K-pop or Korean pop.
In fact, “Santiago se paraliza por el Kpop” (Santiago paralizes because of K-pop) is the motto of the flashmob (urban intervention) with which fans of this genre have taken Santiago by surprise with a dance with the new CD of Junsu Xia (key artist of this moment) to give their message.
-parts not related to Junsu were omitted-
With an androgen look, part of a milimetrically calculated esthethic, and catchy music, the pop singer with an unpronounceable name of 25 years old, debuts in the country as a solo artist.
The also actor and ex-member of the legendary TVXQ, comes back after he visited as a part of JYJ in March last year, when fervent fans were awake for 2 days waiting for them.
Here, in his first interview, via e-mail, before he comes to Chile.
Junsu: “Korea has become a leader of global culture”
Junsu, the absolute king of pop in his country. And he remembers very well his last visit to Chile: “Chilean fans are very passionate and energetic”.
—How would you describe your new album “Tarantallegra”? Your videos are very effective, How important is your look?
—The title motive was “Elisabeth” musical. When I interpreted the character of the “Death”, that is neither a human nor a God, but something in between, I imagined a character with a dreaming-like image. When I heard the word Tarantallegra, a spell that makes people dance, I picture the image of a wizard.
—The music has two aspects: listen and see. That’s why the video was released a day before the song. The concept of this album is “unequalled” and I tried to distinguish between music and fashion. I did the best I could to create a perfect performance by adding modernity to the choreography and using extreme hairstyle, make-up and clothes.
—The music is a mix of pop and big orchestra. In this English album, I tried to add an asian taste to it by adding the kkwaenggwari (traditional korean gong) in the orchestra.
—Your music sounds really comercial, Which are the creative challenges?
— I’m inspired a lot by musicals. I try to find a motive in everything of my daily life. I’m very sensitive, that’s why songs and lyrics come to my mind frequently as I listen to music or travel. When I’m in a musical, I play a character. To become him, I feel a variety of feelings which I express. That affects my music.
—What surprised you about the chilean fans passion for you and your music?
—When I acted on March in Chile, I felt a really strong passion. Even though I’ve been in many stages, I’ll never forget that electrifying feeling. Chilean fans are passionate and energetic, and enjoy the performance itself. Because of this huge passion, I can give 200% of my energy during the presentation.
—What are you going to show in your next concert?
—Some of the strengths of the “XIA” stage are the perfect combination between songs and performances. I hope to use scenery and special effects that I use in big stages.
—My concert will be fun and exciting like the last one. You will hear various genres, such as dance, R&B, pop, ballad, musical numbers and more. There will be also a “Genie time” that my fans loved in the asian tour. In this part, I will talk to my fans and grant them three wishes.
—What do you think about our city?
—Santiago is a very cool and sofisticated city. My staff went to Los Andes and to the harbor and told me of really beautiful places, though I couldn’t go in order to prepare for my show.. As I love the sea, I would like to eat seafood near the beach this time. Everybody was really nice and the sunlight was gorgeous. Santiago gave me a very warm feeling.
—What do you think is fascinating about K-pop?
—It’s hard to say it in one word. It has become a world tendency through Youtube and there are many idols. Fans around the world love powerful and sexy presentations with their unique style.
—As in Latinamerican culture, in Korea people gather there’s music and dancing. That’s why we have great musicians. The genre is very diverse, not just dance, but also hip-hop, rock, R&B and traditional korean music. Though, if you limit the K-pop popularity in one word according to the artist performance, my answer would be “passion”. It’s a very sexy and energetic music.
—Some K-pop artist sound and look the same as American artist like Britney Spear and Justin Timberlake. How they affect you?
—It’s true that northamerican culture has a huge impact in the pop industry around the world. American pop leads the tendencies. When I record a video or think of an Album Cover, I try not to think too much of what the Americans do. I try to create a story and make a whole new concept that I want to perform.
—As the K-pop culture is getting more popular now, artists from other asian countries might be influenced by the Korean concept. However, I’d like to tell youngsters that they should know how to express their own ideas and feeling. In that way, they keep the motivation of their fans and trust themselves to create their own work instead of being shaped as singers.
—Why do you think Korea is so trendy nowadays?
—I think that the craziness for korean idols comes from their abilities. In Korea, singers make a great effort before appearing in stage. They have prepared themselves for it. That’s why they have so many things to show.
—Also, Korea is now called Dynamic Korea. This concept shows how fashionable is Korea and that is full of energy and ideas. That’s why Korea has become a leader in terms of global culture.
credit: Diario La Segunda
Eng Trans: Yukiko@Cassiopeia Chile
Shared by: XIAHpress
Re-up by: iXiahCassie
Credit: Money Today
Translated by: Chocolat
shared by: iXiahCassie
shared by: iXiahCassie
Hello, Cyworld members!
I am XIA, greeting everyone through my official solo album and English single.
Nice to meet you.
1. This time, TARANTALLEGRA is a song that you personallly composed and I was very surprised at its fairly high quality. Since when have you started composing songs? – Gwon Gooyoung
Firstly, the musical aspect of this song is also important but because I pictured out the visual aspect first then composed it, I worked on both composition and filming for the music video at the same time. Besides, the music video was released 1 day before the song itself so I have to work harder on the visual aspect like choreography and fashion etc to make the song even better.
I think I started composing when I was 20. I learnt about the basics of composition and naturally strengthened my skills as what I felt and learnt by myself along the way. At the moment, I still want to learn more about this and also compose more songs.
2. I am curious whether you got the inspirations from which circumstance while composing. From natural scene? Your everyday life? Or, did they just suddenly come to you? -@shiningspot
Everything around me, also everything that happened to me is my inspiration.
If a melody or a beat pops up in my head, I will run to the composing room right away to compose and keep them there. The title song of my solo album was inspired a lot by the role ‘Death’ in musical Elisabeth in terms of its mystical and androgynous vibe.
3. When did you have the idea of adding the sound of gong instrument into the Oriental version of TARANTALLEGRA? Also, is the high-pitched part at the end your ad-lib? -@wnstn4803
It is because TARANTALLEGRA is a song where orchestra was grafted onto pop. Ever since its music was finished, I have thought that if I get to make a remix for my repackage album later on, I will make use of gong instrument in order to revive a Korean sense, and also an Oriental feeling for the song.
When I was young, I have learnt how to play Samul nori like Jang-gu, Buk and Gong. To be honest, because it is an English version, I planned to put aside the idea of adding the sound of traditional instruments but after recording the song, it came to my mind that they would match even better with an English song like this so I decided to add the sound of gong into the record. The reason why I add the ad-lib part at the end is because I want to put the fantasy and oriental sense of the song to the extreme. Imagining about that feeling in my mind, I naturally added in my ad-lib while singing.
(T/N: Samul nori is 4 traditional musical instruments of Korea, including Jang-gu, Buk, KKaeng-kwa-ri and Jing )
4. Is there any interesting episode when you recorded for this album? -@peach_xia
I already felt this when working on the worldwide album last time, I felt really carefree when recording. Because the composer respects the artist and respects his feelings 120%, I feel great when working. It is also the same at the recording time. This time when I was singing, I choked a little bit and started coughing, the composer Automatic told me that I could have a rest until whenever I wanted and asked me to have a cup of warm tea then continue, etc he cared about me so much that I didn’t even know how to react. It was a nice time working with him.
5. Which music genre do you want to try in the future? To be honest, do you feel the most confident in any area? -@mim-ee
Honestly, rather than talking about which genre I want to try, everything is considered as challenge to me. I think that in music, the desire to always take on new challenge is very important. Rather than dividing the songs into different genre, I want to sing well every song. For the upcoming World tour, instead of a repackage album, I asked for English song and went to the US to work on my English single then released it. To me, processes like these are also considered as one kind of challenge.
6. If you get to have a duet, please tell us who are the BEST 3 female singers that you definitely want to work with and also why you choose them!
Honestly, I want to work with a lot of singers since there are a lot of excellent singers who can convey endless of feelings through their voice. I just hope that in the duet song that we sing, our voice would go well with each other and create a crossover effect. Hmm…If I really have to choose then
3rd is Lyn-noona who owns such a beautiful voice.
Then, 2nd is Baek Jiyoung-sunbaenim. I like every OST song that sunbaenim has sung.
1st is Lee Sora-sunbaenim. I felt really honored that sunbaenim has said she wanted to have a duet with me in an article a while ago and I was very impressed when I saw sunbaenim on ‘I am a singer’.
7. Because you have changed your hair color so often when traveling around for your Asia tour, it has become a hot topic among the fans. Why did you change your hair color that often? Also, which hair color do you like the most? -@bbiyoxiah
Because this is my first solo tour so I have to be well prepared and every single city in the tour is equally important. For every concert, I want to see it as a new start and do my best so I changed my hair color. Plus, because of the different color image of each country, I chose my hair color as a part of fan service. As a result, I dyed my hair to yellow for Thailand, blue for Indonesia and Taiwan, red for Shanghai.
8. For the first time in history, all seats in the Sejong Center were sold out (until now, XIA Junsu is still the only one who can do that). Whenever you perform musical, the seats will be all sold out. I think you feel very different at the curatin call when looking at the full audience. I am curious of how you feel ^^! -@For_XIA
I feel thankful. It seems that I became an extreme perfectionist because of this. I have to do as best as I can on every stage. When performing, I couldn’t see the audience but at the curtain call when I saw the whole audience very clearly, I felt so happy and grateful that tears flowed from my eyes.
Big applause from the audiences who watched a performance where all actors and staff have put in their best, then they cried and laughed with us. That is something that makes me feel so happy and thankful that I cannot express in words. And that naturally gives me motivation to do even better in the next performance.
9. Beside JYJ members, can you list some celebrities that you are close with? I am curious of XIA Junsu’s circle of friends!
I separate them into two big groups. Friends in the entertainment industry, gamers, the ones in my FC MEN team and the sunbaenims in musical industry.
I am close with Kikwang, Doojoon, Jisuk-sunbae, Hyunjoong and Sungkwang-hyung.
I often contact and hang out with some musical sunbaenims like Jo Seungwoo hyung, Seonah-noona, Park Gunhyung-sunbae, Joohyun-noona, Min Younggi-sunbaenim etc.
10. 10 years, 20 years later, what kind of artist will XIA Junsu become? Or, how do you want yourself to be in the future? Like, I think I will still continue to sing this kind of music, or It will be great if everyone always remembers me as such singer..However you want to be! -@XIA_nolene
I don’t think 10 years are too far away. In fact, I think of that as a near future. Of course, I will still take on some challenges 10 years later. Since I will never ever stop challenging myself. I hope I will become an artist in his late 30s that ages nicely. I absolutely don’t have the thought of still being a popular singer until then. Rather than that, it will be great if up to that moment, I am still not afraid of taking on challenges, still love music, still do my best on stage and also I hope to become a Kim Junsu who will get to know more about life and get wiser with age.
XIA Junsu’s recommended BGM
1. 5 songs that recently XIA Junsu has been listening to the most
1st: Gangnam style – Psy
I definitely listen to Psy hyung’s hit song very often recently.
2nd: Beautiful night – BEAST
BEAST dongsaengs’ song
3rd: Cherry blossom ending – Busker Busker
A simple song
4th: Love is dripping – 10cm
5th: So sick – Neyo
Honestly speaking, I don’t listen to any specific song or singer. The songs I listen to are random so it seems like I don’t have such thought like I must definitely recommend the song of this singer. There are times that I listen to a lot of pop songs but when I worked on my song in USA, I also listened to a lot of hip-hop and R&B. To be honest, the song that I listen to the most is my own song. In order to monitor the songs in my released album, I listen to them a lot throughout 1-2 weeks.
2. The song that brings comfort to you when you feel tired and troubled in life or the song that has a deep meaning in your life
Why can’t you love me – Park Euntae (Musical Mozart)
Golden star – Shin Youngsook (Musical Mozart)
All these 2 songs are from the musical Mozart. They are the ones that gave me a lot of comfort.
3. If you have lover, the BEST 3 songs that you want to sing to her
1st: Lullaby – Junsu (XIA)
2nd: That man – Baek Jiyoung
3rd: I love you – Tim
If I have a lover, I will want to sing a lot of sweet songs for her. This song is not in Cyworld Music but I really like the song ‘I have never loved like this’ from the musical ‘Tears of heaven’.
4. Among the songs that you have sung so far, which are the BEST 5 songs that you cherish the most:
1st: Fallen leaves – JYJ
2nd: You are so beautiful – XIA
3rd: TARANTALLEGRA – XIA
4th: I dislike love – XIA
5th: Dew-laden tree – XIA
“I already saw a small gleam of hope and future.”
JYJ Kim Junsu (XIA) who started his domestic activities as a solo singer went beyond an Asia tour and began to hold exclusive concerts in the US, South America and Europe. Before starting his World tour as a solo singer in New York on August 30, Kim Junsu held a press conference to meet with Korean and American reporters at a hotel located in Manhattan, New York on August 29 (local time).
Even though he immediately started his World tour after the Hong Kong finale concert on August 26 which concluded an Asia tour stopped by 6 countries including Korea, he showed up with confidence and no signs of fatigue at all. In his first solo activities, he has captivated domestic and overseas fans with his androgynous image, but he laughed and said “It is my intention and I am happy to hear that I look gay but I am not gay”.
Prior to the Asia tour, last May, he released his first solo album ‘Tarantallegra’ and for the World Tour, his first English single called ‘Uncommitted’ was put on sale.
The World Tour starts off in New York on August 30, goes on to LA on Sept 2, Mexico city on Sept 6, Sao Paolo – Brazil on Sept 8, Santiago – Chile on Sept 10, then it is planned to be continued in October in Europe countries like Paris – France etc. Next, here is the Q&A with solo singer Kim Junsu.
– What do you think when starting your World Tour right after concluding the Asia tour?
I have been in a lot of Asia Tours but it was the very first Asia Tour of my own. I started off with many worries and concerns but when performing in Hong Kong, I thought back at the first time when I gathered my courage. Because there are no broadcast activities whatsoever, releasing not a single but a full album is a big burden and releasing a full album for my concert also gave me pressure. In the middle of many worries, I gathered my courage, released my album and I have received much more love than I thought. Rather than saying I got the fruits of my labor from the concert, it has become a chance for me to see a gleam of hope and picture out my future. The year 2012 feels like a dream and it is such a significant year in my entire life. Starting off my World tour in New York, I will do my best and be responsible as a representative of Korea and Asia who gets to hold concert in the US and even in South America.
-What is the difference between your Asia tour and you World tour?
There is no big difference. Because it is a World tour, I will sing the title track ‘Uncommitted’ from my English single in New York. The basic format is the same but it is the extension of my first solo tour.
– You will also sing musical songs at the New York concert. What musical did you see yesterday in New York?
The musical songs that I will sing are originally in German but I will sing them in Korean. Yesterday, I watched the musical ‘Spider man’ for the first time in the US. It is splendid.
– During the Asia tour, you changed your hair color for each country.
Many discouraged me and it was also very tiring but I was very determined to do that. After dyeing my hair for 2 countries, it would look like I put less devotion if I stop changing my hair color. Willing to be devoted and do my best for each concert, I dyed my hair to the symbolic color of each country and it was fun. Because we continuously fillmed videos for every concert so when looking at my hair color, I could tell which country that was from. Red is for China, blue for Indonesia, purple for Hong Kong and yellow for Thailand. I just had a hair cut so my hair is shorter and it is now under treatment. Haha.
– You have your World tour right after the end of Asia tour. Do you have any concern about your physical condition?
Not at all. Compared to the past, I feel more relaxed and I am handle my schedule very well. I have adapted myself during the Asia tour so I am not worried anymore. I was a bit concerned about the time difference but since the concert only lasts for 2 hours, I am okay with it.
– Do JYJ members give you support for your World tour?
They congratulated me. We always give support and congratulate each other whenever we work for drama, musical or concert. I am very thankful for the other two members.
– You appeared in the music video for your English single as a playboy with two female models.
Although it is not a music video with a completed story, the image cut and drama cut are well harmonized. It was fun and interesting to act as a bad boy. This was my first time working with an American music video director and all the staff were also American. I also felt quite pressured to act with American models for the first time but the staff told me to act naturally and gave me advice here and there while we were filming. I think the editing is also very good. That kind of dramatic factor can’t be seen on live stage but I will show a choreography that matches with the R&B tempo since ‘Uncommitted’ is an Urban pop song.
– The featuring in ‘Uncommitted’ was well used. Have you ever thought of collaboration?
At first, I didn’t want to change anything beyond the guide. If there were too many Korean factors in it, it would break away from my intention of releasing this single so I didn’t want to change anything. I also tried to get out of my singing style a little bit when singing the song. I really like the voice of composer Automatic so I thought that it would be ideal to use his voice in a rap part or the narration. The song is bright, not so heavy and similar to a ballad but it has rhythm so I sang it in a way that can revive its feeling. In order to give a sense of live performance to the song, I took off my headset and had fun singing with a microphone in my hand. The song ‘Tarantallegra’ in my full album was a song to see but ‘Uncommitted’ is a song to listen so I chose it as the title track.
– The models in your music video are all beautiful. Are they close to your ideal type?
I don’t have any ideal type of appearance. The 2 models came with many other extra actors. The one who appears at the ending scene is a Romanian-Korean model and she was chosen by my agency.
– Sales for the record is good (150,000 copies) and you are also the first Korean male solo singer who has a World tour that includes Asia, the US, South America and even Europe.
Doing everything by myself is very burdensome. When the director of my agency told me about holding a World tour in South America and Europe with my solo album, I was half in doubt. I was worried a lot and even thought about acting in drama. Last year was a dilemma to me. If I want to have broadcast activities, I will have to act in drama but what I am confident in is singing and dancing on stage. I had many thoughts in mind and I also had my pride, I want the album that I would release to be good but I was worried whether it would be right to invest that much in it. My agency said they would invest but it was me who got worried. I want it to be good but I’d rather not release it if I wrapped up my solo activities when no one even knew about its release. When I was in the middle of rehearsing for the musical ‘Elizabeth’, the director of my angency came to me with a main role in a drama and we had a talk. While talking about whether I should take the role in this drama or not, suddenly a desire of releasing an abum, of taking the risk filled my heart. Singing is what I am confident in the most so I want to do something I am confident in and because the other two members were doing well in acting so it’s even harder for me to get started on it. I asked the director whether it was good to release an album and I would try even if it might end up in failure. It is not an era where I can solely depend on broadcasts like before, everyone from all over the world can easily access to the contents through online websites like Youtube so even though I can’t appear on broadcasts, the situation is not as desperate as it was before. First, I talked about the concept of my music video. Since I release an album but cannot show its contents through singing on live stage or broadcasts so I put a big bet on the music video. I am thankful for my agency who immediately agreed to invest an amount that is 3 times bigger than what a regular popular singer would need and I am also happy that the result is good.
– You have transformed into an androgynous image.
Overseas fans like it and some of them also described it as ‘gay’. As an artist, it matches with my intention to show an androgynous image and I am happy to hear that. However, I want to take this chance to clarify that I am not gay.
– You received praises from Bruce Automatic, the composer you worked with for your single, and from the music video director Marc Klasfeld, etc. Do you feel the possibility of shaking the center of Pop music as a Korean singer?
Rather than feeling that possibility, I think it’s more important to have in mind the spirit that I have to do my best and show more than 100% of my ability on stage. If I think about how succesfull the result would be then carry on my activities, it will be really tiring so I just put in my efforts with enjoyment. Right now, I am happy to carry on activities for my concert so I am working with a desire to do my best. Since popular American staff like composer Automatic gave me praises, I am going to work even harder.
– What is your assessment about your own Asia tour?
Although I don’t have broadcast activities, I saw hope when I am able to get closer to fans from overseas. I was very surprised to know that the music video ranked 1st on Chilean or German charts. I also saw the light when I am called ‘vocalist Junsu’. The ability of a vocalist when working as a trio and when working as a solo is very different. I have found my own color as XIA and after wondering how I would have to express my own music, this have become a chance for me to show my unique color. As I am currently in a team, it became a big pressure and for that reason, I must show a more distinct music. Through XIA’s album, I am preparing for my next album and finally, I saw my own way. Rather than focusing on the result, this album is where I saw the hope, seize the chance and gather courage to release my next album.
– Is there any other place you want to challenge in this World tour?
Where I have never been to – Africa. Haha. There are 3 South American countries in this tour but at the moment, fans from Argentina and Peru still want to have concert in their country. However, due to my schedule and many other circumstances, I couldn’t go there so I felt disappointed. I want to go to many countries, or even Africa, in the future. Particularly, I felt bad that many fans from Peru who have waited for so long were let down. If I continously hold concerts in the future, I will go to the countries that I haven’t been to.
– What about your future plan?
Drama is a field I want to challenge someday. I am ready at any time if there is a drama that suits me well. I think I will regularly carry on JYJ activities next year. There are many big and small events as JYJ now but we will carry on activities fully as JYJ next year.
I recently had the amazing opportunity to interview the songwriter/producer of Junsu’s latest single, “Uncommitted” – Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer – and his partner, vocal stylist Ebony Rae. In this, we learn about who “Automatic” is, the celebrities he’s worked with, what it was like working with Junsu, and more!
image: Cheryl Little
Read further for their “behind the scenes” impressions of our beloved Kim Junsu and the industry we know as “kpop”.
Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer is the songwriter and producer of Junsu’s latest single, “Uncommitted”, and featured in the song as the person speaking in the beginning of the track. Many fans also know him to be very generous and kind, as he replies to many of us via his Twitter and Facebook already. However, he was kind enough to give this full interview answering many questions I had about his history in the industry, his partner, and what it was like working with Junsu. His partner and fiance Ebony Rae, who was the vocal stylist for the project, also speaks to us about Junsu’s English and working with him on his pronunciation.
Without further introduction, let’s move on to the interview!
Firstly, who is “Bruce ‘Automatic’ Vanderveer”? Tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, and your company.
“Born and raised in Brooklyn New York.I am a producer, multi instrumentalist, songwriter, artist, family man and entrepreneur. I’ve been signed to Sony since ’99 and have had the opportunity to work with a number of great major artists as well independent artists. “
What inspired you to take on production and songwriting as a career and what progression has it had through the years? Can you tell us more about your history in the industry and the process that led up to where you are now?
“When I was 11, I picked up the guitar and started playing like I knew what I was doing even though I had never touched the instrument before. I did the same with every instrument I picked up. That’s where I got the name “Automatic”. I wanted to get my hands on every instrument I could and I was able to play lots of different instruments in high school band. I started my own group with some of my high school friends. Eventually, I got my own apartment and turned it into a studio and rehearsal space. We got the attention from some labels and got a deal and moved to California. Michael Jackson was the one who really inspired me to produce. He gave me the opportunity to work with Brownstone, the 90’s female R&B group. From there, I really took production seriously and have been trying to perfect my craft ever since. “
Some of your previous work has been with some pretty impressive names in the industry. Can you tell us what artists you’ve worked with so far?
“I’ve worked with Pink, Christina Aguilera, James Brown, Cher, Raven Simone and, of course, Junsu. “
It’s my understanding that representatives from CJeS contacted you directly for this project. Can you confirm this? Also, how did that happen and what were your first thoughts about the idea of working with them and Junsu?
“Yes, Niddy, who works directly with the label and the artists on the label, asked me to submit some songs. I am always excited about the opportunity to work with great artists. This was my first opportunity producing an artist outside of America, so that was really appealing for me. When I did my research and got to know more about Junsu and JYJ, I knew that this was something special.”
Had either you or your team heard of Junsu and/or “Kpop” before this project?
“My daughter and her friend listen to Kpop. She had shared some music and music videos with me. I was very impressed with the level of artistry and quality of music and performance. I didn’t know the impact that it was having globally until recently.”
What message did you intend “Uncommitted” to give?
“Well, the story is about a man who, in his past, has been a player—someone who was not interested in settling down with one woman. However, he has now finally decided to settle down with the woman he is with and commit to her. But, because she knows too much about his past, she doesn’t believe that he can really be faithful to her.”
What was the inspiration behind the creation of “Uncommitted”?
“I wrote this about a friend I knew who had finally found the woman of his dreams and wanted to settle down. She knew his reputation and said that he was not the right kind of guy for her to settle down with. “
I think everyone in the fandom is wondering what it was like for you working with Junsu. Can you describe the experience to us?
“It was a great experience. We connected right away. He’s a really cool guy and we had fun in the studio. Junsu has a great work ethic. He wouldn’t stop until he got it right. He was open to taking chances. Everyone from Junsu’s label who was there was so gracious and welcoming. It was one of the best times I’ve had producing an artist.”
Your partner, Ebony Rae, was the vocal stylist on the track, and I understand she also helped Junsu with his English. Can you briefly explain that position and process for the fans?
“A vocal stylist can have many roles from coaching an artist on what notes to sing to how to sing those notes, how to pronounce vowels, how to phrase lines. S/he can also serve as a vocal coach helping the singer breath properly and take care of their voice. In this particular case, Ebony Rae focused on helping Junsu with the pronunciation of the lyrics.”
What did Ebony think of his vocal abilities and English skills?
“She thinks he has an incredible gift—so much style and a unique vibrato. He was nervous about singing a whole song in English, but he gracefully accepted the challenge. He was willing to repeat the lyrics until he got it right. He is a really hard worker.”
One side of an artist that fans don’t necessarily get to see often is who they are and how they work outside of the spotlight. However, this is really the core and starting point of creation for everything we love. From your perspectives having worked alongside him as equals, what were your first impressions of Junsu as an artist and as a person? What was the overall impression he left you both with after working with him?
“Junsu was really down-to-earth, has a great sense of humour, fun and has a lot of creative energy. He’s a star and he exhibits that on and off stage.”
Comparing your knowledge of kpop before to your journey through this experience and knowledge afterwards, would you say that this experience has affected both of your overall impressions of the Korean music industry? Is it something either or both of you plan to look further into as a whole?
“We’ve really dug into the Kpop world. Even though Kpop has been inspired by a western aesthetic, we think that there are still lots of things that we can learn from the Kpop culture—the music, the singing, the production, the fashion, the cinematography, there is something very unique about the approach.”
Would you like to work with Junsu, JYJ, and/or other Korean artists in the future?
“We’d love to work with Junsu again and other Kpop artists in the near future.”
Before we wrap up, let’s touch on your current projects. What are you working on now and what are your future plans?
“We write and produce music everyday. First there’s our label InRage Entertainment, Our writing and production company, (Curbside Vision) which includes two great creative minds. Raymond “Ray Ray” Patterson serves as a songwriter and consultant, and Dr. Miluna Faush who is a certified vocal coach. She is what we call our “Idea Generator”. There are a number of great artists that we are working with that have lots of potential. You’ll hear more about them soon. In addition to that, we are building a company called Artist Xplode geared towards helping independent artists brand and market themselves. I am the lead vocalist in my rock/hip hop band, Asphalt Messiah. Our first single will be out soon. Ebony is also working on her solo project. “
Lastly, what is your message to the fans reading this?
“Keep supporting Junsu, JYJ, and C-Jes! Keep supporting Kpop! Keep buying good music. It means so much to the artists, writers, and producers. You give us motivation to write good music. Thanks for supporting us. InRagers fighting! Did we use that right? lol”
( – end of interview)
In conclusion, I’d like to say that my personal impression of these wonderful people is that I think Junsu must have truly enjoyed working with them, as well. He’s said as much in an interview before, but they seem to be truly kind and amazing people in just the short time I spoke to them for this interview. I’d imagine they were just as great to work with for Junsu as he was for them, and it makes me proud as a part of this fandom that Junsu is able to work with people we can respect and be thankful for. I would personally like to thank Bruce and Ebony for being so generous with their time and for not only working on this project with Junsu, but for promoting him so strongly as well. As a fan, I can truly see and feel their support for Junsu and his latest single.
Note: To date, Junsu’s “Uncommitted” music video has surpassed 1 million views on JYJ’s Official Channel on Youtube and continues to climb.
Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer can be found on –
COMING SOON –
Author’s Note: I’d also like to give congratulations on their engagement and say that I hope they live happy and healthy lives with as much support and love as they’ve given to us in return. ^.^ Thank you both so much for your time and efforts – it is truly and wholeheartedly appreciated! ❤
Sources: Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer, Ebony Rae
Photo Credits: Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer, Google Search, Junsu’s Twitter
shared by: iXiahCassie
Interview with Rafa Mendez, choreographer and prestigious dancer internationally and in Spain. In October 2011, he was responsible for the staging of JYJ in their European Tour. Now with the comeback of Xiah Junsu with “Tarantallegra” a weeks ago, we wanted to ask him his opinion about the song, the KPOP wave in our country and its global expansion, and his experience on the tour of JYJ.
First of all, thank you so much for accepting our request, Rafa!!
How did you become the responsible of JYJ’s European Tour? Did you know about KPOP when you accepted this job?
The sponsor who brought JYJ to Spain was the one who called me, due to my work in “Fama” and with others artists, and I thought I was perfect for the job. And that’s how it was, we did a great job and the dancers team I provided is WONDERFUL.
Any anecdote during your experience with JYJ that deserves to be heard?
Several, but what I won’t never forget is detail: before every concert, JYJ came to the dressing rooms to connect with the dancers, hug them and transmit them all their energy and good feeling. And the same for the end (of the concerts). I just can say they’re professionals and from exquisite care.
What do you think of JYJ’s style? They are said to be the best three voices of South Korea, what do you think of their stage presence?
I think they’re ‘AMAZING’, their dance style is very personal and that’s so important, and they sing very well and they’re also good actors, each of them has a lot of ‘feeling’ and that contributes a lot.
Junsu has recently released his solo song “Tarantallegra”. Have you watch it? What do you think about it?
I think it’s great, daring, great choreography, great look, and he’s awesome. I would have done it a little more daring, just a little, but it’s great, a big change.
Would you repeat the experience with JYJ or any other KPOP group? Why?
Definitely yes, because of the experience and because they’re great professionals with which everyone can feel very comfortable.
It has been announced that Junsu (Xiah) will have a solo world tour and he’ll come to Europe. We know you’re aware of it and you even helped fans on twitter to ask for a concert in Spain; Do you know anything else about these concerts? Will you participate with them?
I have no news yet, but I can say there was a lot of good feeling between us and I’d not hesitate to work together again. And like many people have asked me before (here is my twitter @rafamendezzzz), Junsu’s new album is very similar to my style…
(Questions not related to JYJ have been omitted)
Shared By: JYJ3
Re-up by: iXiahCassie