First introduced to the world as a YouTuber who uploads covers of songs, The upbeat 25-year-old successfully broke into the K-Pop scene through a talent scouting program and debuted soon after under B2M Entertainment.
The singer, who just released his latest single ‘Ooh Ooh’ earlier in April, exuded charm and good spirits as he spoke with The Seoul Story about his thoughts on music-making and life as a performing K-pop artiste. The affable singer/entertainer was in Melbourne, Australia over the weekend as special guest star for the 2014 K-Wave Festival.
The Seoul Story (TSS): What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?
Eric Nam (E): So this isn’t actually for my music, but I work with Sweettune a lot, and I do a lot of their demos and guides for all their artistes. I’m working with Boyfriend, and 100% recently. I don’t really do a lot of the music-writing but when it comes to the demos I have a lot of input in terms of how things should be styled, how it should be sung in a certain way, the feel, the groove, that kinda stuff. So I’ll do the demo, and oftentimes I go in and direct the recording session.
It’s exciting because it makes me think about how I’m singing, and also directing the guys make me see that I can experiment with different techniques in singing and recording. For me, that’s been really, really fun and interesting.
TSS: Both your debut title track ‘Heaven’s Door’ and your latest single ‘Ooh Ooh’ were produced by Sweetune, and the songs have a lively sound with sweet lyrics. What image do you think your music conveys, and why did you choose this type of image for your music?
E: For Heaven’s Door, we wanted to go with something in line with the image on my audition program. I don’t think it’s very far from my personality; people have different personalities in different circumstances and I think Heaven’s Door kind of reflects me on a regular basis and Ooh Ooh is like when I’m super happy.
Ooh Ooh was a big risk in that from an international audience’s perspective people really like it, but in Korea people were like ‘…What is this?’ I think it’s because the Korean music market and Korean music tastes aren’t as diverse and, in a way, developed as Western or even the Japanese market. In Japan they listen to a lot more pop, and they have a lot of experimental stuff as well.
Having said that, there’s nothing I would do differently music-wise, because I loved the sounds, the brass in it; it’s a very fun song and we wanted to give it a Bruno Mars feel. He’s a musical icon to me, not so much like ‘I wanna be him’ but kind of as a homage to him.
TSS: How do you choose the songs you cover and upload on YouTube?
E: Usually it’s based on what’s kinda hot – what I think might get really big.
My biggest regret is not doing a ‘Let it Go’ cover. When it came out in Korea, I saw it, went to the company and told the producers, ‘This song is gonna be HUGE. Watch, it’s gonna blow up, and someone’s gonna get huge off of it.’ but they just didn’t wanna deal with it. So I just ended up not doing it, and then the next week, it went crazy, and every single person in Korea, and their dog, and their grandmother, decided to make a cover. I should have done it, I would have been first!
So it’s kind of like identifying the trend – what music’s gonna be hot. Otherwise it’s just what I want to do. Boa from SPICA – we’re gonna do another one for an English version of ‘썸(Some)’ (song by Jung Gi Go & SoYou of SISTAR), but we haven’t had time, so I think we might just do another song because the trend has gone for that song. The problem is when you have a billion schedules, it’s hard finding time shoot the video and edit it.
TSS: So what are you up to right now, music-wise? Can we expect anything from you any time soon?
E: I wish I could say I was doing more for myself. To be honest, I’m not, and a lot of it is because when you’re in a company you have a lot of other groups that need to be released. SPICA needs to be released, there are tons of other people here and there that need to be released, and so I’m waiting for my turn patiently.
In the meantime, I’m trying to write more of my own stuff. I’m working with a lot of different writers, coming up with a lot of original content with them. It might end up with an idol group, or for myself – just a lot more writing, demos and doing directing and backing vocals for a bunch of idols which is fun for me because I get to hear songs before they come out, and I have input on what’s being released.
Outside of being a performer, I get to develop myself as a musician. I think right now I’m in that phase, and hopefully I’ll get to continue developing in that way. As a performer, I will be performing in Toronto and Malaysia, and I’m also performing in a festival in Korea next week.
I’m kinda all over the place, but I’m thankful for it… it’s better to be busy than not busy so yeah, busy, just doing all that. I have After School Club, I have We Got Married, and radio shows. Not doing as much music as I’d love to, but I’ll get there. So until then, if you guys just be patient..!
The Seoul Story would like to wish Eric further success in all his future endeavors and would like to thank SQ Entertainment for the opportunity to conduct this interview!
[Text by Thenghui]