Ok-Pop Star Eric Nam is Lastly Enjoying by His Personal Guidelines

Ok-Pop Star Eric Nam is Lastly Enjoying by His Personal Guidelines

The next function is from Fan Mail—an editorial sequence produced in partnership with Vivid Seats that explores the connection between famous person artists and their most passionate supporters

A person of many abilities, Eric Nam’s biggest reward is his means to traverse a number of worlds whereas making all of it look easy. The Atlanta-born Ok-Pop star received his begin in 2013 after inserting within the prime 5 of the favored Korean music competitors sequence Star Audition: Delivery of a Nice Star 2. His success led to him signing his first file take care of B2M Leisure. Within the following years, he developed as a multi-faceted creator whose followers got here to know him as a musician, TV persona, interviewer, podcaster—in 2021, him and his brothers rolled out their podcast platform Mindset—and a vocal psychological well being advocate.

Although his Spotify streams and Instagram followers continued to climb, Nam was left feeling unfulfilled by his early musical output and in want of a change after developing within the inflexible label system. “I believe there’s at all times a wrestle between the label and the artist,” says Nam. “I knew that if I used to be not making music that I personally love and revel in, then there’s no that means to it. I’m singing these songs hundreds of instances a 12 months; if I’m depressing singing a tune, then why do it?”

In the summertime of 2021, Nam determined it was time to forge a brand new path all on his personal. He doubled down on his abilities by breaking out of Korea’s main label system, choosing the impartial route that will afford him the inventive freedom he’d coveted for years. His current launch, There and Again Once more, is a seven-track testomony to that newfound independence that finds the 33-year-old experimenting with new sounds and creative dimensions. Launched in January 2022, his newest effort earned him his first spot on the Billboard 200 chart the place he peaked at No. 16.

Under, we caught up with Nam between European tour stops to debate his profession trajectory, his first launch as a newly impartial artist, and the way his insanely loyal fan base, the “Nam Nation,” has supported his diverse passions each step of the way in which.

Eric Nam

Eric Nam

Ben Schmidt

Rolling Stone: When did you determine to deal with the fervour that you simply had been growing for music? Given all of the hats you put on, was there a particular second while you knew that music was the place you needed to direct your vitality?

Eric Nam: I began my profession in 2011 by way of a TV audition program. And that was the primary glimpse that I received that perhaps I may pursue music. And for the primary, I’d say, 5, six years after that, it was a relentless wrestle and a battle. I’d ask myself, “Does this make sense?” as a result of even after the present, [I was] doing music, but it surely wasn’t precisely [the music] I needed to do. And in Korea, outdoors of doing music as a result of I’m a solo act, I needed to do a billion different issues directly.

So, the radio, the TV, the internet hosting, the interviewing, the random occasions, and something possible, I used to be making an attempt to do to remain related. So I don’t assume I used to be absolutely accepting of the actual fact [that] I may really do music that I like and put out stuff that I get pleasure from till 2018, so it’s very, very new for me. In 2018, I put out an album known as Truthfully, and that was the primary time the place musically, I felt really fulfilled.

RS: After I was prepping for this convo, I seen {that a} bunch of retailers discuss with you as some type of an “unintentional pop star.” We’re so fast to deem artists in a single day celebrities as a result of we weren’t tapped in once they had been toiling in personal, writing a bunch of songs that we’ve by no means heard, so I’m interested by your tackle that notion. 

EN: I imply, I believe there’s an air of fact to that as a result of I actually didn’t assume that this may ever be doable. After I graduated, I used to be going to be a advisor at Deloitte doing technique and operations, and that was my path. Music by no means [seemed like] an actual alternative as a result of even at the moment, I don’t see a number of Asian American artists within the mainstream in America. There aren’t many people. So, for me to be promoting out—by the top of this 12 months, we’ll most likely have completed 80 sold-out exhibits—that’s loopy, as a result of ten years in the past, there was no Asian male singer, feminine singer doing something like what I’m doing at the moment.

I believe that’s additionally why I’m so grateful for the place I’m in and the followers which were alongside for the trip that assist me in no matter method they’ll.

RS: How does that connection along with your followers affect the music you make? Do you ever end up penning a tune in a selected method as a result of you will have your viewers in thoughts?

EN: I believe a number of writers attempt to consider it like, “Okay, what’s a lyric, what’s a phrase, what’s a melody that’s straightforward to latch on to that’s going to be straightforward for us to throw on the market and [that will] get a lifetime of its personal.” On the identical time, stepping again, once I’m placing collectively an album or a undertaking, I’m considering, “what are the tales that I need to inform? What are the feelings that I need to convey?”

That really takes a much bigger precedent. After which, as soon as I’ve written all my songs, I get into, “Okay, once I’m doing a live performance, what’s going to be the actually, actually enjoyable [song] that I need to do, and everyone’s going to freak out, and what are those which can be going to be extra chill the place everyone will get emotional. I do consider the viewers’s response.

I believe some individuals similar to to place out tasks, they usually don’t actually prefer to carry out. I like to carry out. And so, for me, I can’t ignore what that is going to sound like reside and the response I’m going to get from followers once they hear a tune.

RS: Earlier this 12 months, you set out your most experimental undertaking thus far with There and Again Once more. Now that you simply’re in an area the place you’re creating the music you actually need to share with followers, I’m curious, what tune had been you most excited for them to listen to, and had been there any tracks that you simply had been nervous about placing out?

EN: I used to be actually excited for individuals to listen to “Wildfire” as a result of it’s a very massive departure from all the pieces else on the album and issues I’ve completed previously. That tune is so exhausting to do reside, however when it’s completed effectively, persons are simply lifeless silent and surprised. It’s a really emotional tune to be performing each evening, and that’s why I put it aside for the top.

I used to be a little bit nervous for individuals to listen to “Any Different Method” and “Misplaced on Me” as a result of these had been additionally departures, and I believe pure progressions of the place I would like the music to go. The place it’s nonetheless pop, but it surely’s a little bit extra elevated. It’s rather less mainstream, I believe. It leans to the left, and I really feel like that’s the path I’ll proceed to go.

Eric Nam

Ben Schmidt

RS: If the ticket gross sales are any indication, it appears to be like like persons are shopping for into the brand new shift in path. That mentioned, you wrapped up the US leg of your There and Again Once more tour in March. What was your favourite tour cease throughout that stretch? 

EN: Salt Lake Metropolis, we bought out 2,400 tickets, and I used to be like, “Who’s in Salt Lake Metropolis? And who’s coming to see me?!” in order that was actually cool. LA, I’d by no means performed the Wiltern [and that was] my first present again in LA in 4 years.

And I believe the hometown present is at all times very, very emotional. It was a model new venue, and we live-streamed it internationally, so it was a really, very massive second the place associates, households, old skool lecturers, whoever, everyone confirmed up. And in order that’s at all times a deal with.

And eventually, [I’d say] the Home of Blues in Boston, which is about 2,400-something seats. I went to high school in Boston, and I had seen Adele there when she had put out 21, however this was earlier than her album had blown up. And I keep in mind watching her and being like, “Holy shit, she is so good.” It was a type of moments the place I received to play this stage the place I had a really “wow, that is music” second for me, so it was a full-circle factor.

RS: This Fan Mail sequence is all in regards to the relationship between artists and their followers. So, earlier than we wrap, I’d love so that you can discuss in regards to the affect that the Nam Nation has had in your profession as you’ve charted your path. 

EN: Truthfully, with out Nam Nation, with out followers, my inventive endeavors are in some ways meaningless. Whenever you put one thing collectively, sure, it could actually have a personally fulfilling that means to you. However I believe artists put issues out as a result of [we] need it to be heard and understood and appreciated by individuals. But when there’s no person to take a look at your portray, if there’s no person to hearken to your music, then in some ways, it’s egocentric, although that’s not essentially a nasty factor.

For individuals to interact with my content material, my music, no matter I’m doing, it means the world. And it additionally conjures up me and provides me the arrogance to maintain going. You understand, generally I’ll do a meet and greet, and I’ll have a dialog with a fan who’ll [say something] like, “No matter you do, we’ve got your again, and we’re right here for you.”

Each infrequently, I hear that, and it hits me in such a deep spot that I form of tear up as a result of for those who’re not listening and never supporting, I’m not going to have the ability to do that. I’m going to go work at a unique job. That’s the truth of it. It’s an uncomfortable fact, however that’s simply…it’s what it’s.

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