Hello K-SPOTLIGHT readers! We hope that you’ve enjoyed our special interviews this year and wish to thank you for supporting this series! We finish off 2017 with this interview with Jade, a budding young songwriter and producer whom we thought would make an interesting final interviewee.
Her official debut single ‘Completely Yours’ (featuring vocalist Seungmin) already had us impressed at her potential. There is a lovely little illustrated motion graphic lyric music video that goes with it. We’ve included it here so you can listen to it for yourselves! The song is a slow acoustic number with comforting melody. The elements of folk and jazz were something that we enjoyed very much.
Before we commence with the interview section, we’d also like to recommend a very early song from Jade called ‘Would you love me the same‘, which coincidentally also features Seungmin’s vocals. We thought it would be a song fitting for this time of the year and liked the style of it.
Jade is currently studying in London and adding to her repertoire of skills. We are excited to see what is coming next, and Jade hinted that new music is coming very soon! A big thanks to Jade for participating in the interview and fitting us into her busy schedule!
Please look forward to more interviews in the new year – we’ve been working hard to bring you some exciting music and artist recommendations in 2018 to support K-indie, small agency artists and lesser known names.
Please support Jade by buying ‘Completely Yours’. It is available on iTunes. The song can also be streamed on Spotify.
1. Can you talk a little about your background and how you arrived to the point that you are now? How would you describe your sound?
I started to write my songs simply because of music classes in high school. As soon as I was briefed to write an original song for an assignment, I begged my mum to buy me a guitar. Then I would watch tonnes of videos of singer-songwriters on YouTube and practised singing and playing the guitar everyday. It was very impulsive but the idea of songwriting was just eye-opening for me. After that, I got into university, studying music composition in South Korea. However, I dropped out because of my great thirst for studying abroad. That desire eventually brought me to England; I am currently pursuing my musical career as an independent artist and at the same time, studying a Music Composition and Recording course at the London College of Music.
I would describe my music as simple, warm and feminine with romantic and dreamy vibes. Influenced by genres such as indie folk and jazz, my songs are pretty much acoustic and guitar based with authenticity and rawness.
2. What are the good things about doing both songwriting and producing? Are there benefits to being involved in two sides of the process?
For me, both the most interesting and best thing about doing both songwriting and producing is the fact that I can let all my ideas out as close to what I have conceived in my head. I think it’s because I am the original creator and no-one else would be able to portray my inner thoughts better than me.
To be honest, it was hard to manage to do both roles. Especially, the producing side: making decisions and directing my team made me feel a lot of pressure. However, I found that the more that I engaged in the whole process of production, the more that I foster attachment to my pieces and it increases my overall sense of satisfaction with them.
3. What genres of music were you exposed to when you were younger? Are there any producers or songwriters that you admire?
When I was young, I was exposed to quite diverse genres ranging from mainstream pop, rock, R&B, to hip-hop. Discovering good music that few people knew about was my favourite thing to do. Since I started training as a composer at university, I have been listening to jazz, soul, folk, indie music a lot more.
One of my favourite songwriters is Corinne Bailey Rae who is a British singer-songwriter who makes soul music. Every piece that she has released is incredible but I particularly love ‘I’d do all again‘ (2010) from “The Sea”. It is very delicate, emotional and honest. I think the story of the song, melody, harmony, arrangement and the way she sings are all well harmonised.
4. What is the thing that you’ve learned that has helped you the most so far? And what skills do you especially want to pick up in the near future?
I guess there are still a lot of things to learn. At the moment, I am interested in learning recording and mixing techniques.
Probably learning how to play the piano was the most helpful thing for me in terms of extending harmony and improvising. I remember feeling very limited when I first started to compose, playing the guitar and singing only. Of course, learning how to deal with the Digital Audio Workstation is one thing that can’t be missed from my list.
Personally, mixing skills are what I want to pick up in the future. I found that it is such an important part of the production and how the process could make the song sound more refined and complete creatively.
5. What attracted you to study abroad and in the UK? What similarities or differences have you found between styles of teaching here and in Korea?
Well I just really love British music! I was also eager to explore a bigger world and see how it would affect my music style and broaden my eyes artistically by putting myself into a very different environment.
I’ve found that the education in the UK is focused on the process of creative activities rather than the final output. Besides that, based on my experiences, it tends to give students much more time to explore on their own and study independently.
6. How do you balance your time between working on your music, studying, and the release of records? Can you take breaks on projects?
I’ve found it very difficult to find time to work on my songs and to manage releasing them during term-time. I try to write and work on as many songs as I can during the winter or summer breaks. When the semester starts, I have to focus on assignments more but I am always trying to write something when I get a spare moment.
7. Congratulations for the release of your first single ‘Completely Yours’! What inspired you to write this song and why did you choose it as your first single? How did you feel when it was released?
Thank you so much! Basically, ‘Completely Yours’ is a love letter with a pure heart for someone who makes me feel strong certainty in a world full of ambiguity. I actually wrote it like I was writing a sincere love letter to my boyfriend. I am happy that I released it as my first single because it is one of my favourite pieces and the time that I wrote this song is such a precious and nostalgic memory.
“Completely Yours is a love letter with a pure heart for someone who makes me feel strong certainty in a world full of ambiguity…it is one of my favourite pieces and the time that I wrote this song is such a precious and nostalgic memory.” – Jade
8. Was it your idea to have a lyric video for the song? Did the lyrics come to you easily?
Yes, since the idea of the song was a handwritten letter, I thought it would be great if there was a lyric video. I worked in collaboration with an illustrator and from there we developed the idea together.
No, they never did sadly. I spent a lot of time in writing and editing the lyrics. I think it was because I wanted it to be perfect by my standards.
9. How did the collaboration with Seungmin happen? Do you plan to work together again?
I met Seungmin at my previous university in South Korea. When I first listened to her voice, I had to ask her to sing my songs because she had such an amazing voice and I thought it would perfectly suit my compositions. She literally made my pieces sound so much better and lovelier. There aren’t any plans as yet, but I am sure that she and I will definitely work together again in the near future!
10. In your opinion, what do you think is the most important part of the songwriting process?
For me, conceiving what I want to say and what I feel about the things that have inspired me, alongside letting it all out naturally and honestly through the song are the fundamental things in the songwriting process.
11. Do you feel that your current sound is a good fit for Korea’s music scene? Do you also have any international plans?
Honestly, I am not sure about it. I would like to think that I am loving my current style but also that I am at the stage of developing it in various different ways. However, I will continue to tell and share my own stories and my thoughts with all my heart through my music. Whether people in Korea like it or not…I think it all depends on people. Some may do but others may not.
At the moment, I am planning to carry out an active promotion of my next single album, especially in the UK.
12. Do you ever experience ‘writer’s block?’ If so, how do you overcome it? And how do you normally think of lyrics? Does this come after you have the melody figured out? Do you have a preference for English lyrics or do you not mind?
Of course, many times! Sometimes, I would keep obsessing about it until I get it. Usually, I would erase the matter in my head completely, refresh my brain and then get started to think again.
As to lyric writing, it can differ from day-to-day. Mostly, I come up with the melodies first and then lyrics after. For me, I consider writing lyrics to be as important as the melody but also acknowledge it as challenging work. I get inspiration for my lyrics from a particular person, situation, moment or sometimes even random objects.
I don’t mind both Korean and English lyrics but somehow I am more satisfied with the works that are written in English.
13. How do you approach unexpected challenges?
I get frustrated easily when I face unexpected challenges but I always try my best to figure out the problems and find the solutions as quickly as I can.
14. What activity or goal would you consider to be very fulfilling if you achieved it in the years to come?
I would say releasing albums with songs that I can be fully content with would be one of my goals. Also, if I can get opportunities to work with artists that I love and admire, that would be wonderful.
15. What types of music are you interested in writing in the future? Is there anything you would like to try?
Recently, I started becoming interested in composing soundtracks for films or television programmes. It is something that I haven’t tried yet but I think it is so cool how music and videos work together to create a great synergistic effect.
16.What are your thoughts on the demise of song introductions with current music? With online streaming, a listener can skip tracks very easily if they are not instantly hooked, and a lot of music nowadays shorten the introduction to less than 10 seconds or have the vocals start almost immediately.
It may make sense from a commercial aspect because nowadays people can skip past songs easily with streaming services. Shortening the intro time would help to command instant attention from listeners. On the other hand, I think if there is a good song, then people will listen to it until the end, regardless of how long the intro is. Choosing what is good is really dependent on individual tastes.
17. Do you have any other hobbies besides music? What else do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love drawing and going to the art gallery. Walking through the city, exploring pretty cafes and enjoying drinking coffee are what I love to do during my spare time.
18. Whenever you go back home, what are the things you look forward to the most? And what items do you always make sure you pack when you have to go back to university?
It would probably be Korean food, especially my mum’s food. And I always make sure that I bring Korean cosmetics when I go back to university.
19. Has everything generally happened the way you expected this year? How will you celebrate the new year and what hopes do you have for 2018?
Yes, I feel thankful for everything that’s happened to me but I always think that I should work harder. Hopefully, I can celebrate the new year with the fireworks show in London. I hope that my loved ones will stay healthy and I will be a more courageous person in 2018.
(Responses have been partially edited for clarity with permission from Jade)
Thanks again to Jade for becoming our final K-SPOTLIGHT Special interviewee for 2017! We hope that you check out her debut single ‘Completely Yours’ and keep returning to the K-SPOTLIGHT next year for more of our recommendations!
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Feature image and in-article images source © Jade. 11.12.2017. Photo credit: Sua Rose Kim. All images were provided by Jade for specific use in this article. All rights reserved.
© Interview with Jade. 31.12.2017. Inspire Me Korea.
acousticacoustic guitarcollaborationCompletely YoursDebutDebut singleindie folkInterviewJadejazzK-indieK-spotlightK-spotlight specialKoreaKOREAN MUSICLondonlyric videolyricsmusic artist introductionMusic VideoProducerRecommendationSeungminsinger-songwritertrack recommendationsWould you love me the same