If you’ve been checking on Arcane, then you are already aware that this week has been dedicated towards artists coming out of Asia — specifically, South Korea. As I mentioned in the letter I released on Monday, I’ve been a fan of music coming out of the country for almost a decade so having the opportunity to speak to artist from there has been a blessing.
Today’s interview will be with South Korean R&B singer jeebanoff. His original interview was posted on Monday but in order for international readers (in this case, us) to learn more about him, he offered to release an English version as well.
Hopefully after reading this interview you will check out his music and even take his advice when it comes to discovering music coming out of Korea!
Read below for full interview:
Click here for original interview.
Q: Hello, is this your first time having an American interview? Are you excited?
A: Yes; this is my first interview with American media. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of questions you have about jeebanoff as an artist.
Q: Would like to introduce yourself?
A: I am jeebanoff, a singer-songwriter based in South Korea. Since my debut, I have continuously made songs based off of genres within the electronic music scene. I enjoy putting R&B and soul vocals on tracks from various genres so I’ve been sharing that blend of R&B vocals and various styles with my audience.
Q: I know you debuted around 2 years ago. How long have you been interested in music?
A: I really started listening and being interested in music around my first year of high school. I spent a lot of my time digging through a bunch of different genres to find a sound that I like – it took a long time but ultimately I ended up focusing on and studying R&B and soul.
Q: Did you always want to be a musician?
A: Well, at least once I began doing music, I never thought about doing any other job.
Q: Did your family support your decision to make music? Or did you have to persuade them?
A: I spent about three years persuading them. But ever since they allowed me start doing music in my first year of high school, it has been nothing but support – they’ve believed in me ever since.
Q: What advice would you give someone without a support system?
A: When I started out, I had nothing, and like anyone else, I had to go to distributors but ended up getting rejected by the larger companies every time. One distributor told me that in order to draw the attention of distribution companies, typically artists have to start out with a single and follow it up with regular releases to show some kind of momentum. But I wasn’t feeling it.
In today’s market where you need exposure in order to get your music heard, I felt like singles released that way would end up becoming just another song in an overwhelming deluge of releases. I decided to just make a project that showed my true colors – whether I got a lot of exposure or not. I wanted to make a project that didn’t necessarily get a lot of attention from the start with a large-scale promotion, but instead one that spread through word-of-mouth like a favorite hole-in-the-wall diner.
So, promotion was not given at all – I just created a regular EP. As I expected, I didn’t get any attention in the first month. But after a few months I often found myself waking up to news that my album was featured in some of my favorite media outlets. They usually would describe it as a well-developed album by an independent with rich content.
I’m saying this because there may be someone reading this who is just starting out and thinks that if you want to make money off of a song and become successful that you absolutely need a well-established support system. But I’m starting to wonder if we really need that kind of support system if we simply enjoy music and want to create our own art. I think that as long as you do a good job telling a story within your work in a way that makes sense, people will be willing to listen to it.
Q: How has this experience (starting your career – now) been so far?
A: I’m not exactly sure how to answer this question. But if you’re asking whether things have worked out the way I hoped, I guess I can say that they have. I’ve released an album, got a better reaction that I had expected, received an award, and I’ve personally felt that more and more people listen to my content with each album.
Q: Since your debut, you have been extremely consistent. Have you always had this kind of work ethic?
A: I do think it will change eventually. People going through changes is normal. But for now I just want to work on the kind of music that I want to make and write the kind of lyrics that I want to write. Of course there will come a time when I might make music that is more commercially accepted and enjoyed by a larger audience. For the time being, I want to keep sharing what I want to share. Even if I do get more fans in the future, I want them to become my fans through the music that I enjoy and not necessarily through commercialized music.
Q: Because you are so consistent, is it hard to stay creative (inspired)?
A: Hmm… I don’t think it has much to do with consistency. Solely, because the values of music are what they are, the inspiration for creativity is comes in its own separate situation.
Q: I know that you are part of the music collective House on Mars. Since every artist in this collective is extremely talented – do you guys tend to feed off off each other’s creativity?
A: House on Mars is a group of artists that I brought together. I only included artists that I liked and those that have the best chemistry musically. Although we all listen to similar music and we’re able to empathize with each other, all the music we produce individually is different in it’s own special way. I think that’s the most attractive thing we have going for us. I always wonder how we could listen to the same thing and come up with so many different ideas. They are great friends of mine who help open up different perspectives for me.
Q: How do you usually find inspiration for the songs you make?
A: I usually get inspiration from my experiences, especially those that happen while I’m making the album. It can be love, my life, friends, or another person’s story that I found interesting.
Q: Out of all the songs you’ve released: what was the hardest to write? Easiest?
A: The hardest one would probably be “Soft”. A lot went in to that song. From the tempo, to the key, chords, transition points and overall mood it was hard to explain everything that I had in my head to the producer LNNN. I would spend nights going over the rhythm with my mouth to get the idea of what kind of sound sources and rhythm I wanted for the song.
I think the easiest one was “Then We”. I remember the lyrics took 10 minutes to write and the beat was already made, so it was one of the faster projects out of my favorite songs. I remember it was pretty much the only up-tempo and exciting song on the album. Although, of course, the lyrics aren’t necessarily depicting a good situation.
A: Well, it’s hard to understand just how much 230,000 really is, but I really appreciate the feedback for the So Fed Up EP. I’m so proud and forever thankful.
Q: From the very beginning of your career, you seemed to be open to features. How do you decide who to work with?
A: It’s not really so much a decision of whether or not to work with someone. I pretty much decide to do a project if the music is good. Sometimes people ask me for a featuring fee before they even play music. I hardly ever work with them. I guess it’s just if the music fits with me.
Q: I know one artist you like is Jay Park. If you got the chance to work with him, would you?
A: Yes, I would. It feels like he’s making all of his dreams come true. I’ve never had a chance to talk to him, but if I did, I’d really like to work with him.
Q: I’ve been listening to K-Pop for about 10 years. Right now, in America – I can definitely say there is a new wave of interest in the genre. (thanks BTS). Are there any musicians you would like to see get more recognition in the western world?
A: There are many respected artists in Korea. The most disappointing part is the language barrier. I think that just as Koreans listen to American pop, if people in the US are open-minded when listening to Korean songs, anyone can find Korean artists who match well with their personal taste.
Q: Would you ever travel here to promote your music in the future?
A: I would be honored. It is a country I have never been to before, and I wonder what kind of music Americans actually enjoy listening to, singing and making. When I get the chance to share my music with people there, I am curious to see what their reaction is.
Q: Before I forget; Congratulations on winning Best R&B & Soul Song at the Korean Music Awards! Did you expect that win?
A: Thank you. And no, I never imagined it, so my acceptance speech probably sounded really dumb. After that I decided that if I ever get another chance, I’m going to have to be really prepared.
Q: What are some of your hopes for 2018?
A: I think the only goal would be to complete my studio album. I certainly hope I can do it.
Q: Last, but not least. Is there anything you want to say to your supporters?
A: I think I’ll be able to continue to share music that I like with you as I’ve been doing. I really appreciate that you all show interest in whatever kind of music I bring to the table.
To listen to his latest project Karma, click here.