[INTERVIEW] Bang Ye-dam is 'wholly and 100 percent' himself in new album 'Only One'
Singer Bang Ye-dam is back with an album that is “wholly and 100 percent” himself as a solo artist. Rather than being scared of any critique on his first official album, the young artist feels “ready to be scrutinized and tested.”
“I’m ready for it all,” Bang told the Korea JoongAng Daily in an interview with the local press on Nov. 15, prior to the release of his first EP “Only One” on Thursday at 6 p.m.
“I’m excited for everything because I believe that everything can be a source of energy for me to improve myself and keep myself going. And it might just be because of the fact that I’ve been listening to it over and over, but I feel confident about my music and I don’t feel much pressure.”
Bang’s “Only One” comes a year after he quit his former band Treasure and parted ways with YG Entertainment last November. He began as a solo artist under YG Entertainment in June 2020, just two months before debuting as a member of Treasure in August, but had not been able to release his own music since.
The decision to leave YG Entertainment came after realizing that as much as he cherished being a part of Treasure, he had so much more to show — as a songwriter, composer, producer and also an artist.
“I had been thinking about it ever since I was a trainee [at YG Entertainment],” Bang said. “I realized that the moment I debuted [as part of Treasure], nothing would go 100 percent the way I wanted it to. I talked a lot with the agency, and I think we came to the best decision possible for both parties.”
Bang signed with his current agency GF Entertainment last August because the company’s goals for Bang and his own wishes “almost perfectly” aligned, according to the singer.
“I met with my current agency after some acquaintances introduced me to the co-CEOs, who are both so professional,” Bang said. “When I sat down with them, I found that the ideas they had and the things I wanted were almost the same. The things they promised me, to take care of me and support me, were also very touching.”
“But there was also this sense of reality that such a long time had passed for me and that fans were waiting for me,” he continued. “The agency was willing to talk straight to me on the fact but also help me navigate my way around as a solo artist. Our blueprints just matched so well.”
Thus came “Only One,” an album filled with what Bang had pictured for himself as an artist and producer. All songs of the six-track EP have been written, composed and rearranged by Bang himself. Lead and title track “Only One” was no exception.
“I think that inspiration comes to me in keywords through the conversations or happenings that take place in my life,” he said. “I develop them into songs and make them complete. Because I take the ideas from my everyday life, I think there’s a lot of me in my songs. Sometimes, the songs feel like the anecdotes of things I do with my friends, like ‘Only One,’ which contains a message that I tell myself a lot.”
The album has been made “100 percent” to his liking, according to the singer. Not only did he get to choose the overall concept of the album, he chose the songs, the producers for the rearrangement, the photos and everything else.
“It’s just 100 percent of all of me,” he said.
“Looking back to my life, I would say that there were a lot of moments where I felt lost or came down a slump. But at the same time, being judged by someone else meant that I could filter out the words to use as the nutrition for my growth. I know how to take care of myself and handle the difficulties that come my way, which gives me confidence that everything can become a source of growth for me.”
Being a part of Treasure has gifted him with experiences that will help him in his life, but there are definite differences between idols — as K-pop groups are referred to in Korea — and other types of artists, Bang says.
“I think an artist is more honest — sometimes, they have to be honest. They can be crude sometimes, and their attitude can seem strange,” Bang said. “But an idol is always well disciplined. They’re used to portraying a side of themselves that the people want to see and must always stay close to their fans. I believe that I have a side of both within me, but I have the urge to candidly show myself.”
Bang made his first appearance in front of the public when he was 10 years old through the SBS audition program “Kpop Star 2” (2012-13), where he was nicknamed the “genius musician” and prodigy of his age. It took him six years to debut as a group and another to finally start his own career.
Having just started a new chapter in life, Bang says his goals are both humble and ambitious.
“I think the past 10 years passed by quickly, but I’m taking slow steps toward my goal because they’re very grand in a way,” Bang said.
“It’s not to say that I’m not satisfied with where I am now. But I would like to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts and become the youngest K-pop artist to do so. Nothing is impossible, and I think I have such a long way ahead of me. I have ultimate goals, but I will be content doing what I can today or tomorrow. But right now, my goal is to promote this album well.”
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]