As the K-pop scene continues to grow in scale and reach, fans have been able to access more nuanced and smaller sects of the industry. With strong album sales, major TV appearances and more than one million followers across social media, Jeong Sewoon is very much thriving in the traditional pop “idol” realm but has branched himself into singer-songwriter territory by offering something that stands out on the K-pop stage.
While the lead single of last year’s 24 Part 1 album, “Say Yes,” had the same dance-pop vibrancy of most boy-band releases, Jeong brought the song to life with a live band on stage and played strummed his guitar through the choruses instead of going for choreography like most artists performing on television. Last month’s 24 Part 2 saw the star embrace a more melancholy, rock-pop sound with “In the Dark” that offered both a mature and encouraging message to listeners. Both parts came together to showcase the star more involved in the songs’ songwriting and composition than ever, solidifying him on the path to not only deliver captivating singles but EPs that showcase a multi-faceted artist who can easily dip into different genres and bring stage performances that stand out among his peers.
While fans first met Jeong Sewoon on the singing-competition show K-pop Star 1, and later just narrowly missing a chance for a spot in a popular boy band on the survival show Produce 101, the young star has since been able to take his experiences and transform them into another brand of K-pop star. He’s been dubbed a “singer-songwridol” by media and fans for successfully embodying these different sides of the K-pop world.
Reflecting on his latest album release, Jeong Sewoon explains a bit more about how the “singer-songwridol” world works and his larger ambitions as an artist.
Jeff Benjamin: Hello Jeong Sewoon! Congratulations on your new album! Looking at the album as a whole, what is the larger message you are showing with Part 2 of your 24 series?
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Jeong Sewoon: I wanted to show a no-nonsense and real side of myself in a very honest, sincere way. By releasing the 24 Part 2 album, I wanted to say that it’s okay and it’s more than enough to start from 00:00, from zero. I wish my music could be some kind of consolation and I’ve also put in my own aspiration in it that I will walk along that path.
Jeff Benjamin: I’ve seen you described as a “singer-songwriter idol” or “singer-songwridol.” Do you think it’s a fitting title?
Jeong Sewoon: It’s a nickname that my fans gave me. It’s a very special one! ‘Singer-songwridol’ also sounds very unique! I’m really happy with being called by that nickname.
Jeff Benjamin: Many people were first introduced to you on survival shows like K-pop Star and Produce 101 where you showed sides as both an idol and singer-songwriter. How have you balanced them?
Jeong Sewoon: I think I became known as or called a singer-songwriter idol because I was able to show both aspects of singer-songwriter and an idol on the program K-pop Star and Produce 101, respectively. I learned many features of idols through Produce 101, and I think I was quite influenced by it, but I believe that I’m showing various aspects of myself that are suitable for all different kinds of times and circumstances.
Jeff Benjamin: Do you have a general process or habits when you’re making music?
Jeong Sewoon: I try not to make habits! There are times when melody just comes first in my head, and there are other times when I start with writing the lyrics. It varies from time to time but generally, I decide the theme or the story that I want to share, writhe the melody first, and organize the lyrics afterward.
Jeff Benjamin: What songs are you most proud of on your new album and in your career?
Jeong Sewoon: Hmm… actually, it changes every time. [Laughs] While talking to you, I feel like my favorite one is “Be a Fool” from the recent album, and “Close Over” from my past mini-album [After].
Jeff Benjamin: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your creative process? Or any additional messages you’d like to share?
Jeong Sewoon: I believe that music gives comforts to one’s mind and soul. It touches our emotions and leaves a deep impression. And I’m truly happy that I’m with music for my life! If you ever need my music, I’m right here so please feel free to be with my music. I’m so grateful to have such great support from you! Please look forward to my album and future activities. Thank you very much.