Korean R&B sensation DEAN sits down with our editor Johnny Au exclusively at SXSW 2016 in Austin, Texas. As one of Korea’s rising music artists, DEAN has already collaborated with some of the biggest names in K-Pop and R&B. DEAN was at SXSW to perform at the K-Pop Night Out showcase and our editor Johnny chats to him about his SXSW experience, working with western R&B artists Eric Bellinger, Jeff Bernat & Anderson Paak and what’s in store for 2016. (TURN ON YOUR CAPTIONS FOR ENGLISH SUBTITLES).
Dean welcome to SXSW! As this is your first SXSW how has your SXSW experience been so far?
A wide range of talented artists come to SXSW. I got to watch their performances and see how they control the stage. In addition to the music, I got to see different production and stage setups. So it was a very good experience.
You are known for your production/songwriting as well as your performing skills. Which part do you enjoy the most?
Of course, I really enjoy writing songs, but there is nothing like the excitement and energy I get from performing. Being at SXSW I was reminded how much I love performing. Expressing my emotions on stage and feeling the connection with the crowd makes performing an amazing experience.
You have an impressive list of artists that you have worked with in terms of production and collaboration. How has working with artists such as ZICO, EXO and Eric Bellinger etc made you grow as an artist?
Working with artists like Anderson Paak, Eric Bellinger, and Zico whether it is in the US or Korea, I am able to collaborate with other artists because I respect their creative process. Sometimes I wonder, if I worked alone would the music (I made) have come out as good. Because we were able to combine their artistic colour with my artistic colour we were able to make something great.
I understand you are currently working on your much anticipated English EP. How is it coming along? What different themes will be explored in this EP?
The EP will be released in Korea. It is called “130 Mood : TRBL”. The album will be released in a series called “130 Mood”. Its similar to Lil Wayne’s Carter series as my album will also be released in a series. The major theme for this album is “trouble”. Like in a movie, from the first scene to the last, all the tracks are composed in a way to tell a story. So, if you listen to it in order, it’s like watching a movie. This project was mostly influenced by urban music, but I pulled from many other genres, like punk, to produce a fresh and unique EP.
Since I was a teenager, I mostly listened to hip hop and R&B. So even when I worked in other music genres like Rock or House my influence from hip hop and R&B naturally comes out. I naturally have an urban influence in my music because it is the base of my artistic color. I think if you listen to my music with that in mind and listen for those influences you will enjoy it a lot more.
Do you think you need to change your style of music/production to suit the Korean and US audience?
In the beginning, I tried to distinguish between Korean and American when producing. But now I just focus on expressing my own artistry. It is difficult to explain, but regardless of whether it is Korean or American I believe good music will always connect. Regardless of whether the music is released in Korea or America, the most important thing is that I express my own unique artistry.
What’s your thoughts on performing at K-Pop Night Out here at SXSW in Austin?
I feel very honored to be here with artists I respect and performing on the same stages with them in Austin at SXSW. It is going to be a lot of fun to perform here so I’m really looking forward to it.
You also have two more showcases at SXSW this week at Spotify House and Hypetrak at House of Vans. You are the first Asian artist invited to showcase at Spotify House. Congratulations! What’s your thoughts on performing to the audiences at Spotify and Hypetrak?
Thank you. I am very excited to be invited to perform at Spotify and Hypetrak. I like Hypetrak Magazine and Spotify. And, the line-ups are full of artists that I really like. In the middle of all these great artists I am excited to perform and show my artistry. I am also learning by watching them perform and that is the best part of being here.
What’s you plans for the rest of 2016? Will we see DEAN perform in Australia one day?
I will be performing more when I release my Korean album. I will also be releasing a US single and preparing for my next album. I’m not sure of my schedule yet but I want to do more shows to connect with my fans. If I get the opportunity I would love to visit Australia.
Translation by Lucy Lee