Back in Singapore for the second time on an official visit since his concert in July, Korean-American singer Eric Nam returned as a guest to grace the first anniversary celebrations of dal.komm COFFEE, a music cafe chain from Seoul. While he did not have a full concert this time, Eric held a mini-showcase for his fans where he sang his hit tracks such as “Good For You,” “Can’t Help Myself,” “Beautiful (Eng. Ver.),” as well as his title track “Honestly…” from his latest album of the same name.
With his latest album, which he took over two years to create, Eric shed his “guy next door” image and opted for a more realistic, if flawed, persona. From tackling issues like growing tired of a partner but not knowing how to break things off amicably to dealing with difficult breakups, Honestly… is raw but highly relatable, and tells an unconventional story about the process of a breakup, rather than the sadness of heartbreak or the concept of being in love that most songs dwell on. At the media conference prior to the fan event, Eric explained that this album is “a piece of art that really shows a different side of my music and personality, and stories that are a little different from what I have been telling so far.”
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His inspirations for this album came from everyday life, from his personal experiences and those of his friends. “We all go through the same things in life. We go through different versions of it but the points and the main stories of it are very similar.” It might have been too real and uncomfortably familiar for some, however, as he explained that he faced a lot of opposition in the creation of this album due to its subject matter. “They kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to go in this direction.” Despite the demanding and fighting he had to go through, Eric persisted because he wanted to break free of the box his one-dimensional nice image had confined him in. “As an artist you have to stay true to what stories you want to tell and show some creative development as you go on in your career. I didn’t want to feel stuck and stalled at one point in my life.”
The highly pop-like and experimental nature of the album is also a break away from the gentle ballads or R&B style songs that Eric has often been associated with — a very big step that he felt was necessary for him to take. Listing popular hip-hop musicians in Korea such as Dean, Zico, and Crush, he explained that while many musicians ventured into the previously unfamiliar path of hip-hop and eventually made it their own, not many artists in Korea have done that for pop. “I wanted to make that lane mine,” he confessed, especially since he is a huge fan of pop music. For instance, Eric’s favourite track of the album, “This Is Not A Love Song,” which he performed acapella briefly during the event, is a laid back but pop-infused and catchy song. Many of the songs on this album, in fact, are this way; they have fun melodies “that make you wanna dance” but have lyrics which are at times aggressive or filled with pain and regret. This dichotomy was intended to cause listeners to think and reflect on their own feelings, and was one that Eric and his team enjoyed exploiting as they created the album.
While Eric has already collaborated with many artists such as Gallant, Tablo, KOLAJ, and Arty, among others, he revealed that future collaborations are in the works. Following the release of Honestly…, which was a turning point in his career, many artists, songwriters, and producers have also been approaching him for future projects. Of these, he has been talking to his friend of two years, American singer songwriter Khalid, for a while now, and he hopes that something would come out of it soon. In the meantime, he is also talking to Latin artists about doing a Spanish version of one of the songs in this album, which would further expand the diversity and versatility of his current music style.
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When asked about a beverage that describes himself, Eric aptly chose a shot of espresso because it is a main ingredient that can be used to create so many types of drinks. On expressing his desire to go out of his comfort zone and beyond his original identity, he said, “I like to think of myself as an artist that could fit into many different genres and parts of the world.”
A self-proclaimed bold individual, Eric hopes to be able to continue down this path of pop music, despite the many obstacles he will face along the way. While international fans have responded positively to his new music style, he acknowledged that he has to keep putting out this sound for Korean fans to get used to and accept it. Making music is and continues to be a difficult job, but Eric has his family and friends to thank for helping him to stay grounded through it all.
Up next for Eric is his Honestly North American tour, which begins on the 5th of June in Los Angeles. Here’s to a successful tour and more great music ahead!
Were you at dal.komm COFFEE’s 1st Anniversary Event? What did you think of Honestly…? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.