It’s a Wednesday night at the 88Rising offices in West Hollywood, California, and Jackson Wang has just gotten back from boxing. It’s only his third day in the United States, and Los Angeles is particularly sunny amid the spring heat. But the Chinese star, who splits his time between China and South Korea, isn’t here to soak up some rays – he’s very focused on work – particularly his upcoming performance at the Coachella music festival as part of 88Rising’s ‘Head in the clouds”. posted Saturday night. He’s been preparing and rehearsing non-stop as he’s watched the number of views for his new single and visual “Blow” soar – 15 million and counting.
Wang has a massive following — 27.4 million followers on Instagram alone and 5.4 million on Twitter — and he shares with those followers one of the darkest moments of his life: the nervous breakdown that led to his forthcoming release, “Magic Man.” Album. Wang reveals the project was born after constantly feeling the pressure of not doing enough — or not being enough — ironically, considering he hasn’t had one in the eight years since he started music took vacation.
Mental health is Wang’s top priority, and the K-pop star wears his heart on his sleeve as he talks about what led to the breakdown and how he coped with it, as he detailed in an interview with diversity.
Will you be at Coachella for the first time?
It’s my first time. It’s once in a lifetime. I feel very honored and at the same time I’m nervous. … It’s not a negative nervousness. I’m excited.
What is it like working with 88Rising?
We’ve been working together for more than four or five years. Now it’s all family. We talk about work, yes, but we talk more about personal things. Especially when it comes to creative people: What is the strategy? What’s our next step? What kind of music do we want to release? Develop strategies together. Not just at work, like families. Because when you work in this industry, to be honest, you have different feelings. Mental health is so important in this industry, in any industry, but especially in this industry.
For me as an artist, traveling to all these different places from Korea to China, also working as a member of a K-pop band and now being solo, everything is different. Last year I had a nervous breakdown, with depression and great anxiety because everything was changing around me. It got to a point where I’ve been in this industry for eight, nine years: it’s always on the move; show after show; programs; commercials; Trip; it’s almost in a loop. I started feeling lost. I don’t know what else I can do and what should I do? I don’t even know who I was. I started drinking every day but I still worked.
I grew up in this family full of athletes. My parents were both athletes, national team athletes. I was an athlete, my brother was an athlete. So I’ve always said that when I have obstacles in my life or stress, the way I deal with it is to just overcome it. I will find a solution or I will always tell myself I have to work harder. Maybe I’m not good enough or I don’t work hard enough. The reason it collapsed was because it had reached a point where it was over it. I felt like maybe I’m just sucking.
What triggered it?
Just everything. I was totally lost. I thought, “You know what? Maybe it’s time for me…” By the way, I’ve never believed in talking to other people or to my friends. I always solve my own problems when I’m stressed out by myself, because what’s the point? it’s my problem It’s not someone else’s problem.
My producers, my team, my friends around me insisted on sitting down with me. People used to tell me, “You need a break. You’re working too hard, you need to relax a little. You need to recharge, refresh yourself so you can come back inspired.” I was afraid that if I take this break, I’ll be lazy forever. What if I can’t come back? I was worried about that.
We sat down and little did I know there was strength in those words they shared. It feels so magical to me. That’s magic. I never believed in it my whole life, then I accepted it. Whoever I was in the past, whatever I was with all my music or whatever – me, Jackson Wang as a character, as an artist, as a person – I wanted to put that behind me and start anew. Then we made the album and it’s called Magic Man.
How did you and Daniel “Cloud” Campos come together on the music video for “Blow”? What was the inspiration behind the look and costumes?
“Blow” is the intro to Magic Man, the various worlds that are about to be revealed. Cloud is such a great director and a great artist and dancer himself. He has this world in his head and I had my world listening to the song. We had different thoughts, but it was such a good mix – because when you look at it, it’s like a musical. That’s a very strong color that Cloud has in his world. I am the leader of this world, I control everything. It’s a party and I lead everyone, that’s the whole concept.
What happens at the 48 second mark when everyone starts convulsing?
Oh yeah you want me to spoil this? That’s the thing: every friggin’ time I post something, people ask, “What does that mean?” The interesting thing is, a video or a product, a hundred people are going to have different emotions and different feelings about it. There’s no point in my saying, “Hey, that’s it.” Whatever you think isn’t what it is. So I decided not to talk about it.
Audiences are now more responsive than ever to songs not in their native language. Do you feel pressured to sing in English?
No not at all. That’s the thing, art is art. music is music What does that have to do with nationality? There are so many elements. People also ask me this question: How does it feel to be at the top of this or that table as an Asian? What are you even asking? Music is music, a product is a product. This water comes from Japan. [Points to Fiji water bottle]. Shit man, water is water. If it’s good, it’s good. If it’s bad, it’s bad. It’s very personal.
Why do you think American audiences have embraced K-Pop so enthusiastically?
Definitely put this to good use: K-pop isn’t good because it’s K-pop. K-pop is good because it’s good music – it’s good quality. There are no American artists. Yes, but at the end of the day, music is music. What matters is how many people can identify with it? This proves that a lot of people can relate to K-Pop. That’s the answer, that’s what I think.
What does BTS and its success mean for South Korea?
Damn, such pride. One of the members RM, the leader, despite the fact that we grew up together, that’s such a pride. It’s not even about music anymore. Artists like BTS, like Blackpink, I respect them in art. The direction they’re going, me as an audience watching, I’m proud.
An arena is being built in Seoul specifically for K-pop music. The popularity of genres is constantly changing. Will K-pop last forever?
K-pop will definitely last forever. J-Pop will last forever. You never know what’s gonna happen tomorrow, do you? For me personally, I think it will evolve. I just wish that entertainment had nothing to do with other things, because entertainment is entertainment and is meant to make people happy.
“Blow” is a new sound direction for you. What inspired the sound?
I’ve been making music for eight years and I’ve always been in a position that I even explore on a daily basis. I didn’t sing before. I wasn’t in a singing lesson. I have zero experience in singing lessons up until this year. Back in [Korean entertainment company] JYP, I was trained in dance. I was trained in rap. I was trained in martial arts. I wasn’t a singer.
But during the process of a journey where I researched, researched, tried and tried – with the help of the people around me, at 88, Team Wang, producers – they kept inspiring me, inspiring me, inspiring me and also encouraging me to try new things. I surprised myself too. Oh shit, that can be my sound. Or even beat notes. I kept training. It’s about sharpening my weapons and absorbing all these energies around me, knowledge and information. How do I make all this stuff mine? This is my current status: “Blow” and this album.
You like fashion. How do you choose your outfits for a big moment like Coachella?
Anything that is convenient. We make art; we are entertainers; we should have fun doing it. Because art itself is very personal. Fashion is the same, it’s art. So I take it easy and have fun with it. If I feel like going out in my pajamas tomorrow, I will.
Since you’ve been so vocal about mental health, do you have any advice for others who are struggling?
I can share my own experience, but it’s not a lecture or anything. I can say that it’s good to be serious about making art, but don’t lose the fun of it. If you enjoy it, you are happy. Second, it is important to have a circle of positive people around you. No matter how incredible you are as a person or as an artist, having all these negative people around you will break you down.
What are your personal goals and what do you mean by success?
I hope that one day I can make all my supporters or fans really proud, and for my people in the East.
I have a feeling you already do that…
Not yet, I’m so far from it. Does everyone know my music on the street, in Beverly Hills or wherever? No right? That means I’m so far from it. Second: What do I want to be? Hopefully one day I want to be the bridge that connects East and West. People in the west know the east, the east knows the west through the internet or even through travel or work. But there are many layers underneath that people don’t know. I hope that one day I can do my best to make it happen.
https://variety.com/2022/music/news/jackson-wang-coachella-88-rising-k-pop-mental-health-interview-1235233715/ Jackson Wang on Mental Health Issues Why K-Pop Will Last Forever