The Jay Park force

Koji Arsua - The Philippine Star

KUALA LUMPUR — It’s a Sunday night, but the club is packed. Zouk is filled to the brim with Malaysia’s chic, mixed with teenage girls who look out of place in what could be Asia’s most famous club group, whose Singapore branch is home to the annual ZoukOut. It’s not ZoukOut, but this is no ordinary night, and so is the person everyone’s waiting for.

The party is for Jay Park, the Korean pop star who blazed the stage with his many talents: from singing, dancing, rapping and acting, to his other skills that contribute to his global success. His claim to fame is an uploaded video of his cover of B.O.B,’s Nothin’ On You, but prior to that, he was famous in K-Pop circles as the frontman of 2PM. In a twisted turn of events, a screencap of private messages on MySpace hit the net, with Jay expressing his dislike for Korea after moving from his hometown Seattle. To clear the mess, Jay flew back to his hometown and, in effect, relative obscurity.

It’s curious how it’s social media that brought him down, but it’s also what rebuilt his career, even reaching new heights. After the scandal hit, Koreans realized that Jay’s MySpace messages were taken out of context, and a strong fanbase formed and demanded his return. Fans in Korea and all over the world held silent protests and flash mobs, and went as far as boycotting 2PM-related products. They even hired a plane with a banner to fly over Seattle with a message for his return, as well as a plan for a self-produced album to commemorate the 200th day of his departure from Korea.

A movie offer had Jay flying back, with his arrival at the Incheon International Airport greeted by the largest crowd the airport has seen. His popularity extends to Twitter, where he trended above the Oscars on Oscar Night. This fandom may be intense, but it is justified. His cover of “Nothin’ On You” reached two million views in just one day. Both his albums have gone multi-platinum, he is a member of a b-boy crew, he choreographs his own moves, writes his own raps and music, and owns a record label called AOMG. He is also a regular cast member of Saturday Night Live Korea.

This obsession led E! News Asia to film a Jay Park special. His story will be the third in the Asia series, following Malaysia’s Aaron Aziz and our very own Anne Curtis. Globally, he will join the ranks of Christina Aguilera, Nicki Minaj and the British royal family. It is the reason why he’s in Malaysia, performing on a jampacked Sunday night in Zouk. And this man is good. Legendary Korean singer Patti Kim wasn’t kidding when she said Jay was a “born entertainer.”

I meet him the following morning for an interview on his career and his E! News Asia Special. For a man who does practically everything in entertainment, he looks fresh and well-rested. He claims to have just woken up, but he looks ready to conquer the world. And we’re quite convinced he will, soon.

SUPREME: You sing, dance, rap, model, and act. What else haven’t you done?

JAY PARK: If I want to do something, I go out and do it. So there isn’t much that I want to do that I haven’t done yet. I just started my own label. As of now, there’s not really much I want to do because I have my hands full.

You rose to fame as the leader of 2PM, but you left at its peak. What was it like building your own personal brand as a solo artist?

It’s been a rough road but it’s been very fulfilling. I did a lot of shows, a lot of features, a lot of TV, I did SNL. At first everyone just knew me as that guy from 2PM, but now they know me as Jay Park, solo artist and musician.

What made you agree to do an E! News Asia Special?

I saw the Nicki Minaj episode and I thought it was very interesting. There’s still a lot I want to show everyone behind the scenes, like my day-to-day work ethic and hustle and grind, and I thought that E! News Asia would be the perfect opportunity to do it. And it came out really well.

Who knew that making a cover of B.O.B,’s Nothin’ On You would catapult your career. What made you decide to upload a cover version on YouTube?

Back then, covers weren’t really that popular, but I always wanted to do one and I was like “Oh, this is cool.” The fans haven’t seen me in a while, and I liked that song. I heard it on the radio and I decided to do a cover, put a rap to it, and put it up. I didn’t know it would be that viral, it would be that big. But thankfully, it was.

You’re mostly known as a musician and it’s interesting that you have complete creative control on your music. Just how important is this to an artist?

It’s very important. If someone draws something, you don’t tell them to draw it like this, you don’t take their hand and draw it for them. They draw it themselves, and for an artist, I think it’s very important.

In the Philippines and all over the world, K-Pop has become a global phenomenon. What do you think is the secret behind its success?

I guess it’s the formula of the flashy outfits, the flashy dances, and the catchy and repetitive hooks.

Your latest venture is the Korean version of Saturday Night Live. Did you have a hard time transitioning to comedy? It’s a specific talent.

I like to make people laugh, even when I’m not onstage. Even when I’m with my friends. I like laughter so it was very natural for me. It’s kind of hard acting in Korean and having to memorize your lines that day, but I enjoy comedy.

You do so many things. What keeps you going?

My family, my friends, my fans, and now, AOMG, which I started a couple of months ago. I have a very important role at AOMG, I’m sort of like the face, so I just have to keep it going for my people. 

Do you have any advice for those who want to do something like what you’re doing?

If you want to come to the music industry, make sure you do it for the right reasons. Stay positive, stay consistent, work ethic is very important, and enjoy yourself. Because if you’re not enjoying yourself, I don’t think there’s any point in making any music.

Are you planning to go back to the Philippines?

Of course. I haven’t been to the Philippines in a while. I really enjoyed my time there and they showed me a lot of love when I went there, so of course.

* * *

The Jay Park E! News Asia Special will premiere on Dec. 3 8:20 p.m. on SkyCable Channel 57, Cignal Channel 25, and Cablelink Channel 33. Tweet the author @kojibberish.











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