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Korean music stars Seven, Lexy, Whee Sung and Bi come together to share their thoughts with APA and an American audience prior to the New Dimension Tour.
See the New Dimension Tour concert review.
To promote the New Dimension Tour concert held on February 6th, YG Family and JYP Entertainment artists came together for a two-day press conference held at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in
Representing YG Family were Whee Sung, Lexy and Seven. Although they are the Beyonces and Justin Timberlakes of
These three are all megastars in their own right. The oldest of the trio, 25-year old Lexy, whose real name is Hwang Hyo Sook, is YG's first lady rapper. Her stage name comes from the combination of the words luxury and sexy and she has been compared to the likes of Tasha, Lil Kim and Missy Elliot. Although she released her first album Lexury last October, she is no stranger to the music industry. She first debuted as an artist six years ago at the age of 19, guest rapping for other artists.
Whee Sung, known for his husky voice and soulful ballads, is one of the hottest R&B singers to hit the Korean music scene. His debut album Like a Movie, which was released in fall of 2002, quickly climbed the charts and even garnered him an award for Best New R&B Artist at the SBS Awards held later that year. He recently released his sophomore album, It's Real, in August of 2003. Prior to his solo career under the wings of YG Family, he was the lead vocalist for the short-lived boy band A4. His first nation-wide tour, It's Real Movement 2004, will kick off in
The youngest of the group, Seven, is not only making waves in
YG (Yang Goon) Family was created in 1996 by ex Seo-Taiji & Boys member Yang Hyun Suk. Other artists under this label include Jinusean, 1Tym, Swit, and Perry.
Press Conference: February 2nd
Translation courtesy of Essie Cha
Transcription by Meina Banh
(L) = Lexy, (S) = Seven, (W) = Whee Sung
APA: Is this your first time in the
S: This is my first concert in the
APA: Who is your target audience for this concert?
W: We're just concentrating on the best music we can make. Our music is made for whoever enjoys it, but the truth is, older folks probably won't like it, but if they do, that's good too.
S: We don't really have a target audience. It's just created for anyone who appreciates our sounds.
L: Our music is international. Any country that has a soul for music can enjoy it because music is something that can unite all audiences.
APA: Your music might be described as hip hop in style. What artists have influenced this aspect in your music?
L: I wouldn't exactly say American hip-hop influenced me, because it went to
W: I'm not too familiar with hip hop. I would classify my music as music for the soul.
S: I guess you can say my music is just plain old music.
APA: Explain a 3-4 minute performance and the preparation that goes into it.
S: It requires a lot of concentration. You want to be enthusiastic about it and transform the enthusiasm onto your audience so that they get hyped about you.
APA: What kind of message do you think you send with your performance?
W: I want people to say at the end, "Wow, he can really convey his music."
APA: Many Korean singers cross-over into acting. Do you think you will cross-over too?
S: I studied acting in high school. It was really interesting, but honestly, I'm a horrible actor. Since I started as a singer, I want to continue and stay as a singer. I have much more confidence in my singing than my acting.
L: I'm the same way. It took a long time to prepare and arrive to where I am today. But there are many things that I would like to do, which may include acting. I would like to develop more as a singer and become really accomplished.
APA: If you could use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
APA: Was your childhood dream to become a singer?
W: I actually wanted to be a dancer.
APA: Did your parents/family always support you?
L: It wasn't like they didn't support me. They believed in me. I started later than these two [Whee Sung and Lexy], but my parents are very happy. So the bottom line is that they were still supportive of me.
APA: How has your life changed since you became a pop star? Was it hard to adapt?
S: Except for my surroundings, I haven't really changed much as a person. My life is no longer private. I can't hang out with my friends whenever I want to. If I wasn't doing what I'm doing now, I would be in my second year of college. Obviously I can't lead a normal college life and do normal college things like meet girls, but I am very satisfied with my music. I'm doing what I love. If I can just continue singing well, then I'll be happy.
APA: What do you see for the future of Korean music?
L: There is a vision; a future. Korean music is pretty high rated now. Before, it was limited. Now there are talented people on the scene. For example, Seven is really talented, and for artists like him, there is a long and bright future ahead of them.
APA: Who were your role models while growing up?
S: I like Seo Taiji, especially during elementary school, in second grade. I really idolized him. I also enjoy listening to Asian International music.
L: I also like Seo Taiji. We all belong to YG Family. We're all the same. I have no real favorite because I think that my image is self-created. It's like Madonna. She created herself in many ways. I'd like to be like her when I'm in my forties, still being really appreciated by fans.
W: I like people with soul, like Solid and Yoo Young Jin. Basically any strong musician will intrigue me.
APA: For Korean Americans who immigrated here when they were young (the 1.5 generation), you guys are like role models to them. They face a lot of identity crises. What message would you give to them?
W: I know a lot of 2nd generation kids who came to
* * *
Press Conference: Day 2, February 3rd
Translation courtesy of Leena Chang
Transcription by Meina Banh
Surprisingly, the hit producer and founder of JYP (
Bi (Rain), whose real name is Jung Ji-hoon, first gained notoriety from his title song "Nah Ppeun Namja (Bad Man)" from his debut album n001 released in May of 2002. He released his second album Rain 2 in October 2003. He has won numerous awards including the recent New Generation Singer prize at the September 2003 Korean Entertainment Awards and the award for Best New Artist at the Golden Disk Awards. However, his talents are not confined to singing alone. He recently played the lead role alongside Kong Hyo-jin in the KBS television series Sang Doo, Let's Go to School! which aired in December 2003. This role catapulted him to heart-throb status both onscreen and onstage.
Other artists under the JYP label include Park Jin Young himself, Park Ji Yoon, Noel, Star and OneTwo.
APA: What does your name mean?
Bi: It means "rain." I use it because I like what it means.
APA: How did you get recruited by Park Jin Young?
Bi: I just got cast. I met him and I liked his work, so I started talking to him. He was holding auditions, so I tried out. For four hours straight - without even talking - I danced at the audition. Then two days later, he notified me that I made it but I thought that I didn't.
APA: What did you do to prepare for the auditions?
Bi: I just mindlessly practiced until I was completely drenched with sweat.
APA: How would you describe your music?
Bi: My music is a combination of different styles. I don't stick to any particular style or genre. My music is for everyone - people of all ages from children to adults to even the elderly. If it's possible, I would like to create music that older people can enjoy - not just the younger people.
APA: Who inspires your work?
APA: How did you get into acting? Do you like acting or singing better?
Bi: I like both. The reason why I started to act was because I had always wanted to act in high school. I read this [Sang Doo, Let's Go to School!] script and I really liked the character description so I decided to try it. I have a couple of movies in the works and it's all great but doing both drama and music is very difficult and draining.
APA: Are you going to continue to act and sing at the same time?
Bi: The last time I was acting, I was also preparing for my second album. During those three months, I probably averaged an hour of sleep a night. At the moment, I'm just focused on what's ahead of me.
APA: Is this your first time in
Bi: This is actually my seventh time in
APA: What's it like to tour in the
Bi: The promotion wasn't that great, but we still did our best. The way we're perceived here is pretty much the same way we're perceived in
APA: How was the concert experience in
Bi: It was really cold but I had a lot of fun performing there. It was a really meaningful performance. It was different because it was obviously in
APA: What are you expecting from the
Bi: Of course I hope that it turns out well and that the audience members will enjoy the concert. I hope that there will be a good vibe there. I want people to acknowledge that I am good at what I do. That's all.
APA: What do you hope to achieve by doing this concert?
Bi: I want to represent
APA: What kind of message do you want to send to your audience?
Bi: I want people to know that I am a hard working person who gives 120% every time.
APA: What was it like to work with such a diverse group of talent on this concert tour?
Bi: These are all great performers in
APA: What do you want to do while you're in
Bi: Shop. I want to find some clothes that will match the personality of my third album (for photo shoots). I wanted to be a fashion designer in the beginning, but since I'm a singer now, I'll put that goal on hold. Once I accomplish everything I want as a singer, I think I'll go back to designing.
APA: Why don't you cross over and become an American icon?
Bi: If I was an Asian singer here, I think I'd encounter some cultural problems because the people will look and judge me differently.
APA: What do you see for the future of Korean music?
Bi: Right now, the Korean music industry is suffering a lot. The manufacturers aren't able to sell our CDs because of illegal downloading from the internet. I hope that one of the people in our group [the concert performers] will be able to break through this wall and get people to start buying CDs again.
APA: What are your goals for the next ten years?
Bi: I think that I have pretty much achieved everything that I've planned. I know that in the future, I will come across obstacles but I am prepared to handle those. My first goal was to become a singer and I have achieved that. My second goal was to win an award for Best New Singer and I have also achieved that. My third goal is to receive the Best Artist Award, and I am working towards that right now. In ten years, if I have gained everything I've wanted, I think that I will become a fashion designer.
APA: Who do you thank the most for your success?
Bi: The first person I would like to give thanks to is my mentor, Jin Woo, because he helped me make it to the top. Secondly, I would like to thank my mother who always encouraged me. Finally, I would like to thank my entire supportive family.
The two-day press conference was organized by AM Entertainment, the production company that sponsored the New Dimension Tour. These artists had kicked off the tour with their performance at the UIC Pavilion in
Date Posted: 2/20/2004