The Singapore media met with Brian Joo for the first time during his “Up-Close and Personal Concert” press conference held in the early afternoon of Oct 11. Perhaps it was the humid and gloomy weather, it was a little awkward at the beginning as it took awhile for the media to warm up before we started fielding questions for Brian.
B: Hello everyone! Thank you for coming.
MC: Hello Brian, how are you feeling today?
MC: So this is the very first time that you have been in Singapore, am I right?
B: Very first time in Singapore.
MC: How do you feel so far?
B: I feel great so far; I mean other than the weather. The weather’s kinda gloomy, but I had a warm welcome at the airport last night and it was just mind blowing and I didn’t expect it and I’m really looking forward to tonight.
MC: I understand that you received quite a number of gifts as well.
B: Yes, I have a lot of flowers, a lot of junk food. So last night in the hotel room, I was eating cupcakes and chips and stuffs.
Q: This is also the very first ever concert you’re holding in Singapore, so give us a little preview of what are things to come, what can fans expect at the concert tonight?
B: It’s pretty much like every other performer I guess, I just want people to know my music out here in Singapore. I know I do have a few followers out here and fans that live in Singapore. I felt bad in the past because even when I was with Fly To The Sky in a group, and I wanted to come out here to perform for you guys, we always end up in Japan, Thailand or China. But, this is my first time in Singapore, so I just hope that everybody appreciates my music and most of all have a good time with me. That’s what I’m here for. That’s why it’s called up-close and personal, because I want to get to know you guys, and you guys get to know me as well.
Q: Can we expect a gospel album from you?
B: Actually, the day before I came here I was suppose to record a single for a new gospel album with a bunch of other K-Pop stars, not 3rd Wave, they haven’t decided on the name of the gospel group compilation yet but there are artists like, I don’t know if you know Lee Jae Hoon, he’s from a K-Pop group called Cool, also maybe Lee Jung and Lyn, and myself, we are going to do an actual Christian album to help children in the world so all the proceeds you know, the thing we made from that album.
Q: That sounds really cool, will we be able to get the album internationally?
B: We are still in the midst of talking about it right now, because most of the album is going to be sung in Korean, and I know that I’m going to have an English solo song on that album. That’s the only thing I know right now.
Q: Would you like to share with us more about the upcoming musical “Loving the Silent Tears”, like your role in the cast?
B: Funny thing is I’m basically just going to be one of the ensemble, but I sing the main Korean song with Heather Park. So she and I are going to do a duet. She’s going to sing her lines in English and mine will be in Korean. Pretty much it’s like a fantasy musical where I think it’s two or three main characters they kind of travel the world, in a fantasy world and they go on a train to go to all these different countries and out of the countries, Korea was selected. So, for Korean representative vocalist, it’s me and Heather Park doing a duet. I don’t know the exact story line because I have not read the whole script yet; I only read the lyrics of the songs. Basically we are looking for this Master, Ching-Hai, who is going to pretty much help us out in this musical. I’m not sure what he is helping us out in, cause I don’t know the whole story yet. And also, right after Singapore I will be going to LA to mandatory rehearse for two weeks, and the show is going to be on the 27th of October. And I will be working with people like Jon Secada, Jody Watley and the choreographer he’s choreographed stuff for Micheal Jackson and Madonna. So I’m really looking forward to it, so it’s something very international vocal and huge for me.
Q: Are there any differences between how you feel for this musical and the previous one you did in “Rent”?
B: For the previous one in “Rent” was actually more nerve-wrecking for me because it was my first musical ever. So it was difficult because I had to memorize the whole script front and back, pretty much all in Korean and then all the songs, add more parts, more dialogue, more responsibility and more songs to sing. So as in with “Loving the Silent Tears” it’s going to be more group effort I guess, and for me to be on a project like that is still a big thing. Unfortunately it’s only one night, so hopefully if it gets good reviews, we can actually continue to do the show internationally not just one night in Hollywood.
Q: Your latest album is called “Reborn Pt. 1,” so is a part 2 coming out soon?
B: Part 2 was supposed to come out, but unfortunately I left my recent label. I was with Jellyfish Entertainment before, and Jellyfish and I decided to part ways, on good terms, of course. And hopefully, right now I’m in the midst of talking to a new label, and once I’m settled with that, I’m going to decide to do with one part 2. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it an EP album or a mini album, or just an album called “Reborn,” a full album with 13-14 tracks on it. So, right now, I’m still in the midst of thinking about what I want to do. And hopefully the next album, you guys will love it, whether it’s “Reborn” or not.
MC: We’ve seen Brian’s performances on television, and your numerous appearances on variety shows such as, “Strong Heart.” So, we had a rough gauge on how Brian is like on the variety front. Tell us, what is the real Brian Joo like in person.
B: To be honest, one simple word that describes me is “boring.” I’m a very boring person. Most people they want to travel and party and sightseeing and all these things, but the first thing I did yesterday when we landed, we went to the hotel, packed, had dinner, went back to the hotel and stay in the hotel room all night. While everyone else wanted to go out, drink, party and everything. For me, it’s like a party life is very work-related, so sometimes I just like to get away from that, and just be a boring person. I love to watch movies, I love to listen to music, I love to sit in front of the television and just watch television with a bowl of popcorn. That’s pretty much it. I’m just like everyone else. And everyone assumes just because you’re a celebrity or working in a media, you have to have this fabulous star-studded life. Which is not true, we all do the same thing you guys do. We wake up in the morning, we read the paper, we have breakfast, and we hang out with friends. Basically the same things, it’s just, the differences are work life. Our work life is our lifestyle and because of that, I pretty much in my own time, do nothing at all.
MC: Awesome and that’s a side nobody gets to see, but when you see the variety shows you go “Oh! Brian is dancing! Brian is dancing!”
B: Because of that image everyone thinks that I just stay in front of a mirror every night by myself and come out with these weird goofy dances. Trust me, everything I do is very spontaneous and on the point right then and there. I don’t actually create these dances. If I did, I have a problem and I should be in the hospital.
Q: First generation idol groups, SHINHWA, who had a recent comeback. Will we be expecting Fly To The Sky to also have a comeback?
B: Of course, Hwanhee and I talk about it all the time. We felt that our break up as Fly To The Sky in the past was a little too soon, even if it’s been 10 years, being together. Unfortunately, the main reason is because we did want to do our solo, career lifestyles. Musically, Hwanhee wanted to do more R&B music, I wanted to do more pop music and music that kids can listen to, and just enjoy and have fun in a club and stuffs like that. Hwanhee was not really into that type of music. So, we are going to keep Fly To The Sky more of an R&B, dance, and ballads. And from that point Hwanhee did his own thing, I did my own thing. But when we get together, we are going to create the sound, the music we had in the past, because that’s what our Fly To The Sky fans love, so that’s what we are going to do. So hopefully, Hwanhee has about another year to do his military duties in Korea, so once that’s over, we will eventually talk about it and hopefully we will come out with new material soon.
Q: Is there a genre you would like to try?
B: Country music? I don’t know. I won’t say I’m well-rounded, but I feel like I can fulfill any genre as long as I put my mind to it and my heart to it. Not saying I’d do classical music, I love to listen to all kinds of music. But you know with my goofy image and my crazy image and also my ballad soft image, I’d don’t think I can do anything more, I can’t do rock music. I mean, I listen to rock music, but people don’t expect that from me, nor do they want that from me. I might do that in a show or a concert a few times, but that’s about it. I won’t release a rock album. I’d probably do more of an electronic, hip-hop, house club music that makes sense that all those four different genres mix together. Yeah, that will be fun.
Q: It’s your first time in Singapore, how do you find it here?
B: I like it a lot, it’s beautiful. A lot of friends, who know me, know that I’m very OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder). I like everything clean and organized. And if you come to a country that is so clean, it’s like someone in God is telling me, “you belong here.” And I think it’s amazing, I went to the hotel and looked around, it’s beautiful. Even last night around midnight, I actually walked out to get a bottle of water, and I just walked around and this place is really clean. And I think that’s amazing. I think a lot of countries need to learn from this, what you guys are doing here.
Q: Have you tried our chili crab in Singapore yet?
B: No, I haven’t tried the chili crab yet, nor have I tried any local food. Actually the funny thing is, I got off the airplane, got to the hotel, and the first thing we ate was Korean food. And everybody knows, I want to state this so everybody knows in the media, I don’t hate Korean food, but when I travel, I’d like to try the foods in that country, and cultural food all over the world. Like when I go to Thailand, I’m not going to look for Chinese food. When I go to Russia, I’m not going to try French food. I would like to try foods they have in that country. So hopefully, if you guys are listening, I would like to try some Singaporean food.
MC: So a quick shout out to our organizers.
B: And the funny thing is I’m probably the only K-Pop person that does that, most of the K-pop guys they want Korean food, I am not like that.
Q: You debuted when you were just a teenager, so you’ve come a really long way. To all the new people in the industry, there are a lot of them debuting, especially this year, and they are really young. What do you think is a good advice for them to stay grounded?
B: Actually the advice I want to give is something that a lot of the kids probably won’t take because they are still in that crazy, I’m young, I’m-getting-world-known right now. The Internet is so advance, back in the days I’d probably tell them to stay grounded by keeping yourself surrounded by humble people. And you’ll realize you’re doing what you’re doing because of people around you that brought you up, your parents, the people on your label, your staff. That’s what I do, I literally do not hang out with that many celebrities. Like I probably have, at most three or four celebrities I actually see and hang out on a regular. Like Siwon from Super Junior, and him and me only hang out, same thing, we don’t do anything. We only sit on the sofa and talk about random stuff, when he will get married, for me I’ll talk about my album, he’ll talk about his relationship with other Super Junior members, when he wants to get married and I just hope that kids in the future can learn from that. Not just because you live in this crazy, celebrity lifestyle way of living, girls, money, car, whatever you want to say on stage with the lights shining on you, don’t let that get to your head, because, as soon as it comes to you, it can be taken away from you, simply like a blink of an eye. A lot of kids go through the pressure because they expect to be at the top and stay at the top, they can go higher which that’s not the truth, you have your ups and downs. And I have a lot friends that are in the business that are a lot younger than me, that wanted to hang out. I try to show them to more calm, chill, relax, not celebrity style lifestyle as much as possible. And if they need advice, I’m here for them. They have my number, I have their numbers. I just hope that kids in the future don’t let that get to their head as well. I tell my little cousin, she loves to sing, she have a beautiful voice. But I begged her not to become a K-Pop singer, only because her main goal was to earn a lot of money and be famous. I told her that where your heart’s at, don’t do it. Music isn’t because of fame or money. Music is because you love the music, and you want to create music for other people as well. I mean if you give us the money, a little bit of that doesn’t hurt either.
Q: If you had a chance to collaborate with a Korean female artist, who are you interested to collaborate with?
B: There’s actually a few. Lena Park, whose one I really loved listening to when I was growing up. G.NA, of course, she’s like a little sister to me. And hopefully, she and I can work on something. We were supposed to do a duet on her album one time, but everything got delayed and pushed back. Maybe the miss A girls , pretty much the girls that I’m very close to in the business. I love hanging out with them, so why not do music with them.
Q: How do you ensure your longevity in your music career? How would you describe your musical journey so far?
B: So far, I feel like I’m still in that learning process even though I have been in the business as long as I have been. Everyday is a new learning experience for me. Just watching other artist, I can learn from them as well. Just because they’re younger than me, or less experienced than me in the business doesn’t mean that they’re not better than me. I mean I don’t like to compare, I don’t say who is better than who, it’s just that everyone have their own musical gifts and talents. For me, I feel like for being in the business for as long as I have, that’s the mindset that keeps me stable in the business for as long as I have been, and trying to keep my mind open and keep my options open. It’s not just that music on my life I did, the variety shows, when other countries that ask me to come to their country to perform, or be a part of a project, that’s what I do. So, as long as I keep myself not very busy, but somewhat busy to the point where I’m in the scene and people know that I’m out there, that’s what make people want to know me more and more. That’s why I still do what I do.
MC: Do you have any shout out going out to your BFFs?
B: Alright, as you all know, my BFFs are my fans. Usually stands for Best Friends Forever, but I changed it to Brian’s Family and Friends, because I honestly feel like. I feel like I won’t be here today, if I didn’t have my supporters around the world and I don’t like the word, “fans” because “fans” feels like a very distant or a huge wall or a barrier between me and people that support me. So I’d rather use the word family and friends, that’s pretty much what is it. I just want to thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for being beside me for all these years since 1999 till now. And I’m still living, I’m still working, I’m still breathing and it’s all because of you guys. So thank you so much and I hope you guys continue to support me. And I’ll continue to put my best to put a smile on you guys’ face. Thank you so much.
In the afternoon, some 50 BFFs who purchased VIP tickets to the concert received autographs, hugs or handshakes and one-on-one photo with Brian. A female fan made a smart move by fishing out her smartphone for a selca with Brian instead of letting the organizer take the picture for her!
Later in the evening on the same day, Brian Joo performed at The Butter Factory before 200 cheering fans. Brian kick-started the night with a dance medley of “Dreaming”, “Do It”, “A Friend’s Girl I Loved” and “Bullet” from the “Manifold” album before pausing for a moment to make his greeting, and happily shared that he has finally had some local food, which is chicken rice.
The concert proceeded with “Kajima (Don’t Go)” and “Kaseum Apado (Although My Heart Aches)” and fans got to witness Brian’s “Oppa Gangnam Style” dance, a special request from a fan during the Fans’ Q&A segment. Brian described that as one of his most embarrassing moment!
Five fans were also selected to go on stage to dance to “In My Head” while Brian went backstage for a short break. The spontaneous fans drew lots of laughter from the audience as one female BFF used the MC as a live prop and danced around him. The top three best performers walked away with Brian’s autographed albums.
Besides performing an impromptu vocal-only version of Day by Day, Brian also sang “My Girl”, ballads such as “Dominos” and “Tears Run Dry” before leaving the stage for a costume change. When Brian returned to stage again, he has finally shed the sunglasses that has been covering half his face the entire day. He went on to perform “I Will Be There” (3rd Wave), “Loved It’s Now Over” and “Sea of Love”, leaving the fans yearning for more. Fans chanted “Encore!” relentlessly, Brian acceded and came back onstage to belt out two more songs, “In My Head” (English version) and “Let This Die,” before bidding his final farewell.
Here’s a quick recap of Thursday’s events.
Thanks to Jig Asia Entertainment and Agenda Events Management for inviting Soompi to cover the events.