Seven: ‘High Wall of American Music Industry Caused Homesickness’# Entertainment 2010.07.22 View : 571
In the middle of the sound of a high-pitched siren and sharp electronic music, singer Seven (real name Choi Dong Wook, 26) came up to the stage. The performance entitled “Seven Digital Bounce Release Party” was held on July 20 at a club located in Gangnam, Seoul. There was a pounding hiphop drum beat and blue laser light on the stage, and his splendid dance was very light and looked relaxed. The place was where he introduced his new song for the first time that is included in his mini album entitled “Digital Bounce,” which he released after a break of three years and eight months to advance into the American music industry.
Around 350 Korean and Japanese fans, who have been waiting for Seven’s comeback, visited the club and their highly enthusiastic responses were enough to heat up the small place.
After warming up with dancing, he came down from the stage and caught his breath to have an interview. He was sitting in front of the interviewer and a representative of Seven’s agency YG Entertainment (hereafter referred to as "YG"), Yang Hyun Seok, sat together with Seven.
Seven used to be a popular singer, but when considering the "time in music industry,” in which many new stars suddenly appear and dominate the industry even in a few days, his three year break was a risky trial that could have resulted in him having to start at square one. But he had taken the risk and had gone to the USA, "the land of opportunity," in 2007, but he could not obtain a good result. People might think that he had wasted his time. Seven expressed his thought on this seriously. He said that he had felt homesick for performances and even felt bitter against the representative, Yang. He continued to say, "It is true that I could not achieve the initial goal to successfully advance into the pop industry. The time for preparation such as learning English and making good music was too long. In fact, I have released only one digital single song in the USA, so I cannot say that I have actually debuted in the USA. I feel sad about not being able to achieve my goal, but I learned about many things including dance and music, and I could realize important things about life. If I see the bright side of those experiences, it was a good time for learning things.”
It seemed that he had felt the barrier to entry into the music industry in the USA was too high.
He honestly revealed, “To succeed in the American music industry, singers need to have competitiveness in singer’s talent, good music, and experienced promotion as a whole, but these were insufficient in my case. Also, there were invisible barriers such as problems stemming from language and my Asian appearance.”
The representative Yang threw in a helping word by saying, “Some people say that Seven has failed in the USA. I do not want to deny their opinion, but no Korean singer has achieved something big in the USA, so actually Seven had advanced into the USA music industry even though we had forecast that he could fail. The barrier into the American music industry was much higher than we had expected. The level of music was also so high and they tend not to open the door for Asian singers. Seven had prepared for only three years to advance into the music industry, so I think that it would be premature to decide whether he has failed or succeeded. He will try again after taking a lesson from the previous mistakes.”
Seven said, “I really have the attitude of a rookie and it is not just a platitude.” He said that it took one year for him to prepare for making a comeback. The biggest concern was about the music because he wanted to receive the evaluation that his music has evolved.
He chose music mixing electronic and hip hop. Electronic sound is a trend worldwide and he additionally added hip hop beats and his husky but sweet voice. The representative producer of YG named Teddy and new YG producer Choi Phil Kang worked together with Seven. From the intro song entitled "Reset" to the second track entitled “Digital Bounce,” in which Big Bang’s TOP participated by featuring a rap, there are repeatedly melodies of brilliant electronic sound, so those songs are very addictive. The title song entitled “Better Together,” which has the same addictive and strong beat and melody, added a popular melody in the chorus, so it sounds much more familiar to people. And the song entitled “I’m Going Crazy” and another song entitled “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” which is written in English, are similar to Seven’s previous songs that he had sung in his initial stages as a singer, so they satisfy fans who liked his older R&B and pop music.
He explained about his songs, “My songs might sound very unfamiliar at first because I have never sung hip hop songs that are based on electronic sound. I have presented R&B and pop songs so far, and this time I changed the style of music. But, it does not mean that I gave up my own style of music, instead, I think that my music has advanced and it goes very well with these days’ trend in the music industry.”
While he had been away from Korea, the Korean music industry has come to be dominated by idol groups, and YG also has produced many famous groups such as Big Bang and 2NE1. Actually, the music market for a solo male singer who presents solo performances has withered away, so Seven might feel a sense of crisis in this situation.
Seven revealed his thoughts on today’s situation by saying, “I found out that idol groups are the general trend in Korean music.” He smiled and continued, “I am very proud of Big Bang and 2NE1, who have become successful. Each member does have their own role in the group and their music has its own style, and they even dominate the fashion trends as well. When I stayed in the USA, I used to borrow the recorded video of Korean music programs and found out who appeared in the Korean music industry as new singers. Whenever I watched their performances on the stage, I could not help feeling like performing.” After saying this, he laughed again.
Seven, who used to be the youngest singer in YG, has already grown up. While he was away from Korea, YG has built its own building which has every necessary facility to produce singers and make music. Seven said, “There is actually everything inside the building. Every system required for trainee singers to debut singers is all facilitated. The build has everything, including practice rooms, a restaurant, and a gymnasium, and all that. YG really has become a dragon.”
As soon as he makes a comeback in Korea, Seven will also advance into the Japanese music industry, as he has prepared for. He plans to release his album around October in Korea, and then he will focus on activities in Japan for six months beginning from January next year.
Seven emphasized, “I am preparing with the feeling that I am beginning from the starting point, and I have a refreshed mind. I am eager to become a better singer than ever.”