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(x)clusive!: A Closeup on Brian Joo through his Upclose & Personal Concert

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Brian Joo, member of first generation idol group Fly to the Sky, finally made his inaugural visit to our little red dot for his first up-close and personal mini-concert a few days back. This being Brian’s first ever trip to Singapore, he shared his thoughts on what he liked best about Singapore, his upcoming musical project, and what he usually does during his free time when he met the media shortly before the concert.

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Question: This is your first trip to Singapore. How are you feeling so far?

I feel great so far. The weather was kind of gloomy, but when I walked out of the airport last night, there were a lot of people, so I am looking forward to tonight.


Question: I understand that you received quite a number of gifts as well?

Yes, I received a lot of flowers and a lot of junk food, so I was busy last night eating cupcakes, chips, and stuff.


Question: This is also your first ever concert held in Singapore. Could you just give us a little preview on what are the things to come and what fans can expect from the concert tonight?

It’s pretty much like every other performer I guess. I just want people to know my music. I know I do have a few followers over here in Singapore since Fly to the Sky days, and we really wanted to come here to perform for you guys, but we always ended up going to Japan and China, but, this is my first time in Singapore, so I really hope that everybody will appreciate my music and most importantly, have a good time with me. And that us what I’m here for. That’s the reason why it’s called ‘Up-Close and Personal’, because I want to get to know you guys, and you guys can get to know me.


Question: Will we expect a gospel album from you?

Actually the day before I came here, I was supposed to record a single for a new gospel album with a few K-Pop stars. It’s not via 3rd Wave, and they’ve not decided on a name for the gospel group either for the compilation album, but there are artistes like Lee Jaehoon from Cool, Lyn, and myself. We are actually going to do an actual Christian album to help children around the world with all the proceeds we make from the album. We are in talks right now as to whether the album will be shipped internationally or not. Most of the album will be sung in Korean, and I will have an English solo track on the album. That’s the only things I know right now. Please look forward to it!


Question: Would you like to share more about your upcoming musical, Loving the Silent Tears?

The funny thing is basically I’m just going to be one of the ensemble for the Korean songs with Heather Park. She and I are going to perform a duet. She is going perform her lines in English, and I will do mine in Korean. It is pretty much a fantasy musical about two or three main characters travelling around the fantasy world. They go on a train to different countries, and for the part in Korea, the vocalists will be me and Heather Park.

I don’t know the exact storyline as I’ve not read the whole script yet, but we will be working with Supreme Master Ching Hai, who will help us with the musical. I don’t know how he is going to help us out with it because I’ve not read the whole story yet. After Singapore I will be in LA for the mandatory rehearsals and the show will be on 27 October. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s something very international, global, and huge for me.


Question: So is there any differences between how you feel for this musical Loving the Silent Tears and the one you did previously for Rent?

Well, previously in Rent it was actually more nerve-wracking for me because it’s the first musical I’d ever done. It was difficult because I have to memorize the whole script from the front to the back and all of it, and the songs were in Korean. I had more parts then, thus more responsibility and more songs. So compared to Loving the Silent Tears, it’s really different as this is more of a group effort, I guess. And for me to be on Broadway is such a big thing. Unfortunately it’s only for one night. Hopefully if we get good reviews we can continue the show internationally and not just one night at Hollywood.

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Question: Your latest album is titled “Reborn: Part 1”. Will we be expecting a Part 2 soon?

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. Hopefully after my talks with the new label, I’m going to do Reborn: Part 2. I’m not sure if it will be an EP or if I will just call it Reborn and have a full album. Right now I’m still in the midst of thinking of what I want to do, and hopefully the next album you guys will love, whether it is Reborn or not.


Question: We’ve seen Brian perform on TV and make numerous appearances on variety shows such as Strong Heart. We have a rough gauge of what Brian is like on Variety. So, tell us what is the real Brian Joo like in person?

To be honest, one word to describe me is ‘BORING’. I’m a very boring person. Most people would want to travel and party…sightseeing and everything. But the first thing I did yesterday night was go to the hotel, pack, dinner, and then sleep and stay in the room the whole night, while everyone wanted to go out to drink and party.

For me, the party life is very work-related, so sometimes I just want to get away from that and be a boring person. I love to watch movies, I love to listen to music, I love to sit in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn. I’m just like anyone else. Just because you’re a celebrity, you have to have a star-studded life…that’s not true! We wake up every morning, read the papers, have breakfast, and do basically the same thing. The difference is our work life. Other than our work life our lifestyle is pretty much about nothing at all.


Question: You definitely made an impression when you’re on variety shows, which gets everyone shouting, “Brian is dancing! Brian is dancing!”

And because of that image everyone thinks I stay in front of the mirror every night by myself and come out with these weird moves. Trust me! Everything I do is spontaneous, right there and then. I do not actually create these dances. If I did I’d have a problem and should be in the hospital.


Question: Now that the first generation idol group Shinhwa had a recent comeback, will there be a chance that Fly to the Sky will also make a comeback?

Of course! Me and Hwanhee talk about it all the time. We felt that our breakup as Fly to the Sky in the past was a little too soon. Unfortunately, the main reason was to do our own solos. Musically, Hwanhee wants to do more R&B. I wanted to do more pop, music that kids can listen to and enjoy and just have fun. Hwanhee isn’t into that kind of music, so we gave Fly to the Sky more R&B and ballads, and then from that point Hwanhee just did his own this and I did mine. But when we get together we’ll create the music that sounds like what we had in the past, that’s what Fly to the Sky’s fans love. And that’s what we’re going to do. Hwanhee still has a year to do in the military in Korea, so once that’s over we’ll actually talk about it and hopefully come out with new music soon.


Question: Is there a genre that you would like to try?

Country music? I really don’t know. I can’t say I’m well-rounded, but I feel that I can do any genre as long as I put my mind and heart into it. I love listening to all kinds of music but with my goofy image, my crazy image, and also my ‘ballad songs’ image, I don’t think I can do any more. I don’t think I can do rock music – I listen to rock, but people don’t expect that from me. I might do it on a show or concert, but that’s about it. I won’t release a rock album. But genres like electronic and hip hop maybe? Or else probably joining everything together? That will be fun.

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Question: It’s your first time in Singapore. How do you find it here?

I like it a lot. It’s beautiful. A lot of my fans who know me know that I’m very OCD – I like everything clean and organized. You come to a country where everything’s so clean; it’s like telling me “You belong here!” And I think it’s amazing. I was at the hotel and I was looking around, and even last night when I went out and everything is really clean. I think it’s amazing. And I think other countries should learn from here.


Question: Have you tried Chili Crab yet?

No, I haven’t had Chili Crab yet. Actually I got off the airplane, got to the hotel and the first thing we ate was Korean food. And everybody should know that I don’t hate Korean food, but when I travel I like to try food belonging to that culture. It’s like if I go to Thailand I wouldn’t eat Chinese food. I’d like to try food that’s representative of the country, so hopefully I will get to try some Singaporean food. I’m probably the only K-Pop person who doesn’t want Korean food? Most of them probably want Korean food, but I’m not like that. I’m totally different. I’m a weirdo.


Question: You debuted when you were really young and you’ve come a really long way since then. What are some words you’d like to tell the newly debuted groups in the industry?

The advice I would give is something a lot of the kids probably won’t take because they’re still in the “I’m crazy, I’m young” stage, and they’re just getting well-known right now because the Internet is so advanced.

Back in the days I would probably tell the kids: you know what? Keep yourself grounded by getting yourself surrounded by humble people. You’ll realize you’re doing what you’re doing because of the people around you, the people who brought you up, your parents, your staff… That’s what I do, I literally do not hang out with any celebrities. I probably have at most 3 or 4 celebrities I actually see and hang out with on a regular basis, like Siwon from Super Junior. When we hang out, we don’t do anything, just sit on the sofa and rant some stuff. For me, I’ll be talking about my album and he will be talking about his relationship with the other Super Junior members, and when he wants to get married.

I just hope that the kids the future will learn from that, and not, just because you’re living this crazy celebrity lifestyle where you’re living, with girls, money, cars, or whatever you want, on stage with the lights shining down on you…don’t let it get to your head, because as soon as it comes to you, it can be taken away from you.

I think a lot of the kids go through depression because they expect to be at the top and stay at the top or go higher, which that’s not the truth; you’ll have your ups and downs. I have a lot of friends in the business who are younger than me and when I do hang out with them, I try to show them the more calm, chill, relaxed – non-celebrity-style lifestyle as much as possible. And if they need any advice, they can come to me; they have my number and I have theirs, we can hang out. I just hope that, to the kids in the future: don’t let that get into your head as well.

Music isn’t because of money or fame, you do music because you love the music and you want to create music for other people as well.

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Question: If you had the chance to collaborate with a Korean female artiste, who would you want to work with?

There are actually a few. Lena Park is one of them. I really loved listening to her when I was growing up. G.Na? Of course. G.Na is like a little sister to me. We were supposed to do a duet on her album at one time, but everything got delayed and it was pushed back. The Miss A girls too maybe. Basically the girls whom I’m very close with.


Question: How would you describe your musical journey so far?

So far I still feel like I’m in the learning process even though I’ve been in the business for as long as I have been. Every day is a new experience for me. Just looking at the other artistes, I can learn from them. Just because they are younger than me or less experienced than me in this business, doesn’t mean they are not better than me. I mean, I don’t like to compare, but it’s like everybody has their own gifts and talents. For me, this is the mindset that keeps me in this business as long as I have. Trying to keep my mind open and keep my options open. It’s not just restricting to variety shows, but when I get invited for performances and projects. As long as I keep myself not very busy but somewhat busy, and stay in the scene, people will want to know me more and more. That’s why I can continue doing what I do.


Question: Any words for your BFFs?

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 that’s honestly what I feel like. I feel like I won’t be here today if I didn’t have my supporters around the world. I don’t like the word ‘fans’ because it feels very distant, like a huge wall between me and those who support me. So I would rather use the words ‘family and friends’ because that’s pretty much what it is.

I want to thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for being beside me for all these years since 1999. I’m still living, I’m still working, I’m still breathing because of you guys, so thank you so much, and I hope you guys continue to support me. I will try my best to continue to put a smile on your face. Thanks so much!

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It was no doubt heartening to know that Brian has such a down-to-earth personality, and how he cherishes his supporters as though they are his friends and family. The smiles he gives during the autograph and photo sessions are indeed those that are full of warmth and gratitude, undeniably touching the hearts of those who attended the session.

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The mini-concert later that night was in no doubt up-close and personal. With no barrier in language, he fluently conversed with the crowd, creating bouts of laughter whenever he showed off his spontaneity – from agreeing to perform a short verse of Gangnam Style (which he admitted was the most embarrassing thing he’d ever done) to randomly calling his supporters ahjussi (uncles) and ahjumma (aunties). Instead of a concert, it was more like a mini-gathering – where the lines and boundaries of idol and fans were removed, where everything just seemed so comfortable and relaxing.

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Brian’s performance was amazing and his voice was incredible. The songs he sang that night were familiar tunes such as 가지마 (Don’t Go), 내여자 (My Girl), Domino, Tears Run Dry, I Will Be There, and In My Head. He ended off with Let This Die. The highlight performance that night was undoubtedly the moment when he sang Sea of Love as the crowd sang along, reminiscing the days when Fly to the Sky was still active. Now that Brian mentioned the possibility of a Fly to the Sky comeback after Hwanhee’s obligatory military services, Fly Highs must be really anticipating and looking forward to it now.

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Brian did confess his endless love for Singapore during both the press conference and the mini-concert, so let’s wait for him to head back to our little red dot (though it would be even better if he could drag Hwanhee along the next time!)

Much thanks to Agenda Events Management and Jig Asia Entertainment for extending the invite and organising the event.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “(x)clusive!: A Closeup on Brian Joo through his Upclose & Personal Concert

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