We wanted to fit in another K-SPOTLIGHT special interview before the end of November, this time with music producer JIDA! Vocalist Rachel Lim who featured on several of his tracks also chipped in to answer some of the questions as well.
JIDA is a producer who creates ambient electro music, tracks which are fluid and dreamlike. It’s a style that he is fast making his characteristic sound. JIDA is one of the few progressive artists out there daring to make something different. We first noticed his music way back when he was only releasing singles, and now he has put these together in a convenient album ‘Fade Away’ which you can buy now! Rachel Lim has been working with JIDA for a while, adding her vocals to several of his songs, however, their collaboration has reached a natural conclusion with this album release. We will be reviewing ‘Fade Away’ for our readers soon – visit the blog again soon to find out what we thought!
If you are interested in buying the mini album for yourselves, it is available to purchase on Apple music/iTunes, Google Play, and you can also stream on Spotify. Physical copies can be bought from online music retailers such as ktown4u and YesAsia.
We were able to communicate with JIDA and Rachel to bring you this interview; it was one of those occasions where nothing followed the initial plan, so we were relieved that it all came together in the end! Thanks to JIDA and Rachel for answering our questions. We wish them the best of luck as JIDA continues with music and Rachel focuses on her other interests.
1. Can you introduce yourselves and each person tell us an interesting fact about the other!
JIDA: Hi Inspire Me Korea readers! My name is JIDA-I’m from London and currently working as a producer/artist in South Korea. I’ve recently released my first EP, titled ‘FADE AWAY’ with Rachel, I hope you guys enjoy it.
Rachel is the first ever Korean-American I’ve ever met and speaking with her was the first time I ever heard American English at all, in real life. That itself is pretty interesting.
Rachel: Hi y’all! I’m grateful to be joining the interview. My name is Rachel and I’m from New York. For many of you wondering what JIDA looks like, he looks like a Korean Harry Potter with his little glasses lol.
JIDA: Apparently, lol.
2. Can you describe how you each ended up at this point? What led you (JIDA) to be interested in producing and (Rachel) to pursue singing?
JIDA: I never really anticipated that I would be working as a producer. Becoming a musician was daydreaming material that I sort of knew that I couldn’t possibly do in real life. Still, a part of me was always afraid that I would regret not pursuing what could have been more than just a daydream. After graduation, I had little to lose. That fear and guilt about ignoring my dream were what gave me a push to at least try. And that’s what I did.
Rachel: Music has always been a part of my life. But I’m not willing to commit to music only, because I have passion for other things. However, I was very glad to collaborate with JIDA for an album.
3. What has your musical journey been like so far? Have there been any high and low points that you can go into some detail on? When music started to transition from being a hobby to a job, did it consistently remain enjoyable for you?
JIDA: It wasn’t a smooth journey. Having to commit myself into a completely new field did open up a whole new dimension of stress to deal with. “Art” wasn’t as glorious as I wanted it to be, and I didn’t take to leading a project as smoothly as I’d thought I’d be. I think I have the same problems with satisfaction about music that a lot of other artists have during song-making. For instance, writing a set of lyrics was just deadful for a guy with a C in GCSE English lit…I was never satisfied with anything I wrote.
I had everyone waiting and pushing deadlines on me. The worst part was when I found myself passing on the same stress to those who were helping me. I hated seeing the whole situation getting tense, when it should have been fun. By then, it came to my mind that that maybe it was me…that I was no longer enjoying myself. When I remembered that I started music for fun, I decided to take everything down a notch. I accepted that things didn’t have to be perfect if it meant that I would grow to dislike making music.
Until the end, those very supporters and staff, especially Rachel, didn’t lose faith in me and we eventually got to the point where we have a beautiful EP. I’m still thankful for that. I think this upside negates all the depressing stuff from before.
4. Musicians frequently say that financial struggles are a problem. How do you fund your music activities?
JIDA: I’m really lucky to be under a very supportive label ‘WaltzSofa Records’ and have a steady job too. I’m using the skills that I learned from University to work as a software engineer in Seoul, to eventually support myself for music.
5. How did you meet each other and decide to work together? JIDA, what was it about Rachel’s voice that you liked? Did you envisage that you would end up collaborating long-term and end up making a whole EP together?
JIDA: I met Rachel at an audition three years ago and we became close. And no, we didn’t know that we would make an album together, everything was just fun at that time.
A while ago, I made a song which I sang myself. I’m not a good singer so the result wasn’t really convincing anyone at the time. I ended up asking Rachel to help with the vocals and I witnessed my composition coming to life. Then I contacted one of my favourite artists (‘Humming Urban Stereo’) for feedback and he suggested that we should release it officially. A few months later, we released the song ‘High’ and I was so grateful to see listeners feeling the same feeling as I did, when I first heard Rachel singing my song.
What I like about her voice is her natural tone – how she has both coldness and warmth in her singing. Not only that, but she captures that complicated mixture of dreamlike emotions when she sings. It’s not as simple as just being sad or happy, and that was much like how I wanted my song to be.
Also, weirdly my songs sound better in American English lol. I have no idea why.
“That fear and guilt about ignoring my dream were what gave me a push to at least try. And that’s what I did.”
6. What made you stay away from types of music that have been popular in Korea? Did you know what you wanted to make from the beginning?
JIDA: I like to think that I don’t get affected by trends a lot. My goal as an artist is to build a signature style or mood that make people instantly recognise that it’s me. I don’t actually think genres mean a lot nowadays. The music scene has developed itself enough to break the walls of set ‘genres’. In fact, I want my music to become a genre itself.
7. Is it challenging to collaborate with someone who normally resides elsewhere?
JIDA: To be honest, it’s not THAT difficult to communicate and work online. The challenges probably come from me not finishing work in time for Rachel, which made things difficult. We completed recordings when Rachel travelled to Korea and when I went to NYC.
8. How do you feel about the positive reception to your music? Do you have more ambitions to promote worldwide?
JIDA: Aww, I am very honoured to have so many people liking my music and Rachel’s voice. Although I don’t get to see the fans, so many people have shown us support through social networks, and YES I am full of ambitions to promote worldwide 😀
9. Congratulations on the release of the EP, “FADE AWAY”! Is there anything you would like to say about it? What were the inspirations behind some of the tracks and how would you describe the album?
JIDA: Time and memories that we yearn for, or wish we had; those were the motivations behind my EP. It’s kind of like an abstract…memento…for things that literally *deep breath* fade away. I wanted to capture the bittersweet emotions towards those that we leave or people that leave us. I guess it somewhat reflects how I am more of a “reminiscing” person rather than someone who is optimistic about the future.
10. Can you talk more about ‘Autumn Breeze’? It’s very accomplished and incorporates elements of old and new. Was this something you wanted to experiment with, or did it happen naturally during the process of putting the song together?
JIDA: I think the track “Autumn Breeze” best represents what I wanted to portray through the EP. And thank you! Yes, this track was developed very naturally. I wrote it right after graduating from UCL where I had the most memorable experiences. In the EP, there is an acoustic version which, if you listen carefully, you will hear the background noise of London’s 390 bus to Victoria station. It was a bus that I used to take a lot.
Rachel: I just wanted to mention that the pictures in the album were taken where I grew up. It definitely made the album more meaningful and special to me.
11. How did you both hone your skills? Did you receive any useful training, or did you just learn as you went?
JIDA: I didn’t receive any formal training in music but I’ve had exposure to music since I was very young. My brother had this massive grand piano, and I would just mess about on it whenever he wasn’t using it. I did that for a very long time, and I grasped the tiniest sense about what music was after a while. I’m still learning though, there is so much to learn.
Rachel: My dad used to be a conductor and a musical actor, so I guess genetics must play a role lol. I didn’t get any crazy music education, but I basically just grew up listening to and singing a hell of a lot of songs.
12. Can you outline your general approach to making a track and the process behind it? How do you combine the production side and Rachel’s contributions together for a track?
JIDA: I try to keep our parts in the process nicely separated. I do the song-writing and production and then Rachel works her magic. It was important to me that Rachel put her own interpretation into my songs. I didn’t want our collaboration to just be Rachel singing in a way that I asked. She knew how to create the mood that I intended to portray.
Rachel: There’s nothing too crazy. I just listen to the song and modify certain words or the melody. I sometimes come up with ideas on the spot as well.
13. You are really leading the way with this new type of electronic-ambient style; what do you think defines your sound and do you think that you will always want to be associated with this particular style now or do you wish to branch out in future?
JIDA: Aww, thank you! I grew up with a lot of genres and I think the electro-ambient style best expresses my own personal preferences. Not too chilled and not too upbeat. I do, however, have ambitions to step onto something else too. So stay with me and lets find out 😀
14. Is there anything (big or small) that frustrates you sometimes?
JIDA: Sleep deprivation. Sleep is oh so important. I’m not even exaggerating. Trying to come up with a good set of lyrics for n hours is definitely less productive than doing so for n/2 hours with at least 2-3 hours sleep in between. Seriooouuusly.
15. What was life like in between releasing music, and what do you do during a typical week?
JIDA: Both of us had things going on at the time. I had my job and she was studying so we were mostly working in our free time. Normally, I just stay at home and do music for half of the week. I don’t do a lot of going out nowadays. Then I become a software developer for the other half of the week. I do this on repeat and that’s pretty much it.
Rachel: Right now I’m a full time editor and a professional makeup artist at a makeup company. I work 5 days a week and I’m off on weekends. Typical.
“I wanted to capture the bittersweet emotions towards those that we leave or people that leave us. I guess it somewhat reflects how I am more of a “reminiscing” person rather than someone who is optimistic about the future.”
16. Do you actively keep track of trends in Korea/the US/UK or does that not affect you at all?
JIDA: I’m lucky to be doing music in an era where various styles are more accepted and accessible, regardless of where the scene is. This is probably how I can afford to be unaffected by trends.
Rachel: I’m all about American music. Sadly, I’m not familiar with much Korean music except a few artists that I really like.
17. How do you view the idea of becoming ‘famous’ and more accessible in the digital age? Do you welcome this?
JIDA: If there are opportunities that allow me to show my music to a wider audience, then of course I welcome them. But I’m nowhere near to anything like a celebrity, nor do I think that I’m walking a path towards that side of the industry.
18. What kind of music do you both enjoy listening to? What is on your playlist at the moment?
JIDA: Right at this moment, a lot of Chainsmokers stuff. But I’m usually into music by Galimatias, FKJ, club eskimo and more music from the electro side.
Rachel: Hmm…I guess that I’ll share a couple of my current favourites. ‘Got it good’ by Kaytranada and ‘Self Control’ by Frank Ocean. I believe that “you are what you listen to” is somewhat true. I’m really into hiphop, R&B and even jazz. I like to explore different music.
19. What is the most enjoyable thing about being involved in music?
JIDA: I like the fact that I’m able to properly present my songs through a formal frame as an artist. There was one fan who told me that I inspired her to pursue music. When I remember myself looking up to artists that I loved and wanting to be like them, I’m just thankful that I’m able to give anyone any sort of inspiration.
Rachel: Isn’t music itself enjoyable? I don’t have anything else to say, lol.
20. What do you consider to be the next challenge ahead?
JIDA: I’m sad to say that ‘FADE AWAY’ will be the last project in collaboration with Rachel. She did me a favour by singing my songs, but has already given up time during the busiest period of her life to help me on that. I really appreciate her gesture. She has her life back in the US and I respect her for it.
I too, want to leave ‘FADE AWAY’ as it is – I want this project to be a good memory that Rachel and I can later look back on with fondness. But who knows, that reminscence might become a new melody someday 🙂
My next steps will incorporate other artists and explore different sides of my music. I guess that will bring new challenges that I will have to face soon. Stay tuned to find out!
Thank you Inspire Me Korea for the lovely interview, it was really enjoyable doing this. Thank you readers and fans, I will see you soon!
Rachel: It was a pleasure to take part in this interview and to talk to the readers. Thanks a lot and have a wonderful one!
Thanks again to JIDA and Rachel for their part in this interview, and for being kind enough to address our readers as well 🙂 We were lucky to catch both of them at this milestone and note down some of their thoughts. We enjoyed the results of their work together; their music is some of the best we’ve heard this year. Remember to return to the blog to read our full review and discover some new music!
Interested in following JIDA or Rachel’s social media? Click below for links to their Instagram accounts.
Rachel Lim: https://www.instagram.com/myfriendsuri/
Featured image source and in-article image source: © JIDA. 19.09.2017. Credit: Photos taken by Karen Lee. All official images were provided directly by the artist for use in this article. All rights reserved. No image reproduction without permission.
© Interview with JIDA. 29.11.2017. Inspire Me Korea.