The singer-songwriter opens up about his most emotional records, what it takes to skedaddle a price, and the yarn which inspired his original LP, ‘The Legend’
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It’s almost 10 PM on a Thursday evening in South Korea, and Kang Daniel has butterflies in his belly.
We’re upright about a weeks a long way from the free up of his first studio album, The Legend, and he can’t lumber the jitters because this LP is ready to interchange all the pieces. “I’m upright extremely delighted,” he says with a noteworthy grin once we connect over Zoom. He’s blonde factual now – which is a high secret till the promotions for the album begin – and his fluffy platinum bangs fabricate him look even youthful than he’s. It’s been a lengthy day plump of interviews, and we’re his final press waste earlier than he heads off for a gradual-evening dance note, but his excitement spherical talking regarding the tune itself is nowhere shut to waning. “Whenever I free up an album or a song, I really accept as true with the identical roughly feeling,” he publicizes. “On anecdote of it’s really me taking heart stage because the speaker in my maintain yarn, and I judge that that’s a blessing in itself. Like every moderately about a time, I upright really feel blessed and in actuality ecstatic about it.”
Kang appears to be the correct interviewee. He sends over the newly mastered album to me upfront so I will discover a greater thought of the route he’s taking subsequent, and he’s reach highly prepared for the in-depth dive we’re about to take into his artistry – I settle glimpses of him taking notes in thunder that he can plan out his answers, and it’s terribly endearing. We nerd out collectively over small particulars cherish advert libs and background vocals, album to find and free up schedules, every matter extra titillating than the final. He hides his face in his palms at any time after I praise his labor and grins after I level out issues I’ve noticed within the file, adding in diminutive within the support of-the-scenes details that the audience would possibly possibly by no are available in in every other case know.
“They’re no longer all deepest tales,” Kang says after I inquire how significant of this album (which in the end dropped this day on Would possibly per chance 24th) was once inspired by his maintain lifestyles. It’s a pleasant twist occupied with all his old albums were in line with incidents and trials he’s skilled first-hand, but he explains that it was once time to poke looking out of doors of his maintain sphere to raise the message he mandatory to at this level in his lifestyles. “I mediate that I was once making an are trying to search out frequent ground that a quantity of moderately about a folk can really uncover to, tales of moderately about a those who all americans can really uncover to.” He takes on the characteristic of narrator rather than protagonist, and The Legend is extra cherish an anthology that he’s taking listeners by. It’s the motive he titled it the manner he did. “We were upright discussing and throwing out ideas and it was once upright a easy belief, because I had gathered moderately about a tales and put them into this album,” he recalls. “All of these songs had moderately about a themes and moderately about a storylines, but I had put them collectively into one noteworthy album. So I believed, ‘Why no longer?’ Why no longer upright name [the album what it is]. It turned out to be moderately most titillating.”
Kang Daniel is gallant. He earned this title with his 2021 file Yellow, which gained worldwide acclaim for its highly effective diagnosis of psychological successfully being and catharsis. It was once the final installment to his Colour Trilogy venture – which was once conceptualized with the objective of unveiling audiences his moderately about a facets as a musician – and was once a staggeringly vulnerable EP, stuffed with enrage, frustration, wretchedness and hesitation. While the predominant EP Cyan was once a pop dream to showcase Kang’s childhood and entry into the industry and its successor Magenta confirmed off his EDM facet, Yellow took a engaging flip towards concern and apprehension. It ranked 2d on Rolling Stone India’s list of ‘Splendid K-pop Albums of 2021,’ and appeared on same lists worldwide – mostly attributable to Kang’s extremely animated songwriting.
He unfolded about his trip with cyberbullying on “Digital,” dismay and self-critique ignited by depression on “Paranoia,” and a desperation to be saved from his maintain mind by means of “Antidote.” Of us from all walks of lifestyles all around the globe voiced their cherish for the 25-twelve months-former singer and discovered solace within the words he penned down whereas he was once peaceable within the course of belief to be one of essentially the most making an are trying instances of his lifestyles and, surely, he’s peaceable making an are trying to course of the eye. “I mediate… it’s one thing that’s greater than myself,” he says in reference to the reaction the enviornment had to Yellow. “At this moment in time, I mediate that it’s refined to fathom, since it’s moderately overwhelming for me. I’m grateful that I to find that roughly attention and that roughly response. It’s a shock, initially, but I’m very thankful that it’s been successfully got, that the ideas is wide, since it was once upright me talking about my yarn.”
“If you upright to find mired in your maintain feelings, I mediate that you can poke into this hole, and that you would possibly possibly well by no come reach out of it.”
We are trying to pinpoint why Yellow made the impression it did, and Kang gifts a thought he’s been hooked in to for a whereas. “It’s moderately a elaborate inquire of, but I mediate that at some stage, the courage as a plot to initiate up regarding the fracture, or those sad feelings, or the innermost thoughts – that was once what was once applauded,” he says. “I’m determined that all americans all around the enviornment will, at some time limit, accept as true with their very maintain difficulties and accept as true with their very maintain sorrows. But ironically, it’s very refined to initiate as much as your closest folk. It’s refined to initiate as much as your company, your loved ones, so I did that by the medium of tune. I mediate that folk had been looking forward to anyone to initiate up and I mediate that the timing was once factual. And because folk had been ready, and it was once the factual timing, it was once successfully got.”
I mull over his words later and realize that he’s really factual; within the wake of the pandemic we’ve all been thrust into, and the devastation wreaked on our planet, most artists accept as true with switched their heart of attention to are trying to blanket the grief with positivity and factual vibes. Every thing turned about dancing the anxiety away or lights up the darkness with the hope of a greater tomorrow, and in an are trying to flee the devastation many folks skilled, we chose to brush unhappiness under the rug and flip away. Kang’s come enthusiastic going by the anxiety head-on and ripping off the safety acquire, reminding listeners that hiding away isn’t going to aid within the lengthy skedaddle. It’s a course of I went by for my fragment after my first listen of Yellow, and I insist him this. I generally apprehension opening as much as folk about my struggles, and he assures me that it’s a trial he had to endure as successfully.
“I mediate it comes all the manner down to this: whereas you is liable to be fracture physically, whereas you discover a scratch in your skin, it’s visible and that you would possibly possibly well look whether it’s therapeutic or whether it’s bleeding,” Kang says. “But if it’s one thing internal, and whereas you’re fracture emotionally, you really can’t fathom how significant you’re fracture, whether you’re therapeutic or whether you’ve gotten over it. And so, infrequently you upright are trying to put out of your mind about it. I mediate that making an are trying to put out of your mind and making an are trying to omit it is the worst thing that you can attain.” He explains that all americans has to search out an outlet they can rely on, and for him the outlet was once tune. “I for my fragment belief that I had to make a medium that I would possibly possibly well vent by or categorical myself. If you upright to find mired in your maintain feelings, I mediate that you can poke into this hole, and that you would possibly possibly well by no come reach out of it. Especially for the time being, that you can really isolate yourself from others because there’s so significant within the market. There’s social media, there’s a quantity of mediums cherish the metaverse, or there’s a quantity of issues that you can really to find immersed in, that you can lose yourself in.” He adds that whereas it helps to flee into these pockets momentarily, they can moreover separate folk from their feelings to a harmful stage of denial and even dissociation. “So, that you would possibly possibly well must step away out of your smartphone and your pc once in a whereas and poke to your mom, cuddle up subsequent to her and really focus on your feelings, or accept as true with the courage to upright focus on your innermost feelings.” It’s suggestion that comes from a plot of empathy and, after this conversation, pushes me to indeed poke hug my mom.
The Legend has been almost three years within the making, and Kang has poured his heart and soul into it even whereas working on moderately about a initiatives. “It was once even earlier than I was once starring in [the Disney+ show] Rookie Law enforcement officers, I mediate,” he recalls, making an are trying to put out an correct timeline. “So, the songs date support to maybe three years ago, because I had plans to put collectively a plump album. I was once already writing and gathering the songs that I mandatory to put within the album and that was once a truly lengthy course of. So whereas you poke support in time, I mediate I was once planning the songs for this LP whereas I was once releasing Magenta.” He went with his gut feeling whereas deciding which tracks fit the file, a methodology that’s served him successfully within the previous, and he explains that constructing the note list of each album is continually a matter of matching songs to the message he mandatory to raise with every free up. “For the Colour Trilogy, with Cyan, it was once extra of a teenage pop vibe. For Magenta, it was once songs that provide vitality and exude vitality. For Yellow, it was once tune about internal sanctity. So, for The Legend, it was once literally about tales [I wanted to tell] – it was once extra of a feeling that if a yarn suits, it went into that album.”
We poke on a sidetrack for a moment to focus on inventive freedom and telling the tales he wants to teach as towards what a mainstream audience would possibly possibly seek details from, and Kang explains that the courage he got from deviating from the norm with Yellow is one thing he by no come wants to present up. ”I mediate that every artist who is titillating to mass culture comes all over that dilemma every once in a whereas,” he adds. “I mediate it’s that intricate steadiness between creativity or the mainstream or the message of no matter the followers desire, and what to present extra weight to in the case of priority. But I mediate that it’s really about trusting your intuition and your gut feelings. For myself, I went with that gut feeling and upright went with the drift. It was once extra about what I had felt extra inclined to at the time. I mediate whereas you mediate too significant about it, whereas you dive too deep into it, that becomes one other stress component which is, in return, counterintuitive and it upright backfires on you. It becomes one other stress stage. So, [the trick is to] no longer dig too significant into it but to poke along with your gut intuition.”
If Yellow forced disagreement, The Legend is the balm to assuage yourself within the aftermath of laying yourself bare. “I mediate that I continually had a takeaway message for all my followers or anybody who had listened to my albums or my tune. For Yellow, I mandatory folk to listen to the song and initiate up and focus on what they felt internal. But this time spherical, for The Legend, I mandatory them to listen and really feel as if they were studying a book. I desire them to listen, look, read and really feel in essentially the most ecstatic and relaxed manner that you can factor in, with none roughly burden the least bit.”
“I’m determined that all americans all around the enviornment will, at some time limit, accept as true with their very maintain difficulties and accept as true with their very maintain sorrows. But ironically, it’s very refined to initiate as much as your closest folk.”
On paying attention to the LP, it appears to be vastly moderately about a from Yellow – there’s a substantial extra trot vibe to it all, a lightness that shows the mindspace Kang is in at present limit. There’s R&B, entice and synth-pop, which we know he’s explored earlier than, but he adds dashes of original sounds we haven’t seen him address. You would possibly possibly well really feel his exuberance all the plot in which by, and it’s a pleasure to trip. There’s moreover a original roster of collaborators who every impression the file with their radiant vitality and respect for Kang. He redirects your complete praise I really accept as true with for the album towards his collaborators. “I’m extremely grateful for them because they every accept as true with their very maintain colors, that were imbued into the tracks, and their vibes really upright exploded,” he says fortunately. “As a result of them, this complete album has turn into significant extra colourful. I will’t really focus on for myself, but I mediate that it’s really attributable to them that this plump album has turn into significant extra of what it is.”
Essentially the most striking out of the 10 tracks are the Latin-pop fueled “Don’t Recount” that parts feeble rapper Jessi, the playful, gospel-inspired “How We Live” with rapper Sokodomo, and the orchestral, synth-sopping moist “Parade.” He nods after I level out the impression of gospel and appears cushty I’ve noticed your complete original issues he’s tried. I inquire him to present me an perception into the thought of these state tracks within the studio, and he smiles. “Neatly, I mediate that it all really came collectively naturally,” he says. “I didn’t really accept as true with any plans on having folk being featured or adding artists or any contracts [for collaborations] or whatnot. It was once extra of a truly pure course of where acquaintances upright got collectively and made tune.”
Initiating with artists under his maintain company cherish rapper, producer and songwriter Dbo, who turned integral to the album factual from day one, and rapper and producer Chancellor who has worked on each song, Kang relays the tales within the support of each collaborative note. Sokodomo, as an instance, is a longtime friend Kang had been ready to search out the correct song for, but within the tip the resolution to collaborate was once a spontaneous transfer after years of dancing spherical initiatives – “How We Live” shows the mood of that scuttle. “As for Jessi, I was once really grateful because she upright loved working on this tune collectively,” he says regarding the charismatic Showterview host and accomplished artist who has been a valuable mentor. “It wasn’t really planned out or one thing else and he or she wasn’t under a contract. She upright came to aid and toughen all the pieces that I was once doing. Every thing fell in plot naturally, and it was once upright most titillating and I was once so thankful.”
He reserves a moderately about a shoutout upright for Chancellor, who had essentially the most impression factual from the demos to the completed file, particularly when it came to directing Kang’s hovering background vocals and detailed advert libs (particularly renowned on “Upside Down,” “Plug 4 U” and “Mad,” which Chancellor parts on). “So, generally after I’m working on and producing my songs, I are trying to put no matter I will from the demos,” he explains. “For the refrain and advert libs, I worked very generally with Chancellor. I had been talking with him about these components for my album and we were upright throwing out ideas, asserting, ‘What if lets accept as true with this roughly advert libs or every belief to be one of these background noise on this model?’ I mediate that you can no longer to find one song with out his reveal on this album. He participated in each fragment. And so I really would cherish to take this probability to thank him over all yet again for all the pieces.”
By manner of rising the visuals for an album, Kang says he’s continually drawn the total look from the message he wants to raise. He moreover, all yet again, credit the implausible thing regarding the completed product to weeks of crew brainstorming with his talented personnel. “Whatever song that we make, or no matter original trailer that we’re taking pictures, we’re continually talking regarding the total thought and the look besides the total feeling of the song,” he explains. While the singer is palms-on all over every step of the comeback course of, he makes determined to embrace his personnel’s opinions on all the pieces; from what outfits where he’s going to put on for the tune videos and dwell stages, to the predominant colors that will produce the file and the pictures that poke into the album jacket. “[There were even more discussions] since we moreover did particular person trailers for the plump album this time spherical,” he laughs. “On anecdote of we wanted to accept as true with a storyline, we didn’t accept as true with a study it cherish I’m the protagonist. For Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, I was once continually the predominant character, but now I’m the storyteller and that inspired thought and the tune videos. We originate with the thought that and we roughly imbue all of that into our work.” The Legend builds its visual foundation with comforting hues of purple, grey and shaded. (A couple of weeks after this conversation, our personnel besides Kang’s are ecstatic to poke looking his Rolling Stone India camouflage suits the colour palette of The Legend – a complete stroke of luck.)
We focus on his scuttle as a musician factual from his debut with the now-disbanded boy crew Wanna One, to his first solo free up Colour On Me (2019) and his most modern project with The Legend, and Kang takes a moment to take in all the pieces we’ve talked about. “I don’t mediate that there’s one album that hasn’t taught me a lifestyles lesson after I launched it,” he says in the end after a diminutive while of us each sitting in ecstatic silence as he gathers his thoughts. “I’ve realized so significant after releasing all of my albums and in addition they’re all such precious lessons that I really accept as true with gained from my maintain lifestyles scuttle.” He walks me by it, recalling that after the free up of his first EP, he realized that he mandatory to hone his abilities as a lyricist and performer, which he channeled into Cyan. After releasing that file, he mandatory to address the issues that he was once panicked to realize and mandatory to field himself to are trying one thing original, which ended in the creation of Magenta. Ethical after that, it turned about rising an outlet for his innermost trials and anxiety, a job of getting it out and giving himself the risk to be upright about his maintain feelings. That was once Yellow.
As soon as he’d performed that and shown the enviornment who he was once, he mandatory to shift gears fully. “After Yellow, I talked about, ‘Okay, now that I’ve talked about what I really accept as true with internal, I now must listen to others. I really must flip it the moderately about a manner spherical. Flip the focal expose moderately about a folk and learn to now listen carefully to what others must enlighten.’” As he shared earlier than, with The Legend, Kang is no longer any longer the protagonist and is as a change the narrator. Figuring out the trials and tribulations of moderately about a folk was once an perception that the reaction to Yellow granted him – no moderately about a trip would possibly possibly well accept as true with performed that. “You would possibly possibly well judge tune albums as upright belief to be one of the processes that artists or musicians attain in their lifetime, but I mediate that they accept as true with so significant to coach and that you would possibly possibly well accept as true with so significant to learn from that as successfully.”
Kang is a generous, devoted particular person, and it comes by no longer most titillating in his tune, but within the manner he runs his price, Konnect Leisure. After the disbandment of Wanna One, quite so much of dreary-end hunts for a original price, contracts falling apart and the media inspecting his every transfer, Kang mandatory to take matters into his maintain palms and make a platform where he didn’t must rely on tight programs and contracts – and in the end give that very same different to moderately about a artists. “Every thing was once a field every step of the manner, daily was once a field,” he says regarding the scuttle to establishing Konnect. “On anecdote of I mediate it was once unheard of. I don’t mediate that there was once any moderately about a case cherish mine. I don’t mediate that there was once anybody who had began off in a crew after which upright roughly got separated from that crew, and attributable to a pair components, couldn’t proceed within the leisure world, so had to reach support support as a person artist and originate from scratch. So, it in actuality was once no longer easy. But because I had the personnel, because I had my followers, and as a result of total toughen of the those who depended on my work and had faith in me and my tune, I mediate that I would possibly possibly well to find the soundness that I really accept as true with now and I peaceable can to find that balance to poke on and lift on with my labor.” Artists under his price now embrace Chancellor, pop icon CL and former GFRIEND member Yuju, and Kang is field to present them and any future signees the correct trip that you can factor in.
For the length of our conversation, I’ve realized that belief to be one of Kang’s most colorful qualities is his pressure. He presents 100 percent to every activity at hand – his pen darting in and out of the video body as he takes notes all the plot in which by our chat is testament to this – and his work ethic is unmatched. What fuels this pressure to continuously greater himself? We enter one other lengthy and ecstatic silence collectively as he ponders this. “I mediate that it’s a elaborate inquire of and I honestly haven’t really belief of it earlier than,” he in the end replies with a shrug. “But off the end of my head, I mediate that it’s a sense of obligation. I mediate even extra so no longer too lengthy ago, because I brought in original Konnect relatives and I’m the actual person that began it all. Since I’m the entrance runner of the family, I mediate that I really must take obligation and switch into the correct that I would possibly possibly also be in insist to manual them extra. I mediate that that sense of obligation is what keeps me going.”
We wrap up as he takes me by his schedule for the subsequent couple of weeks – there are fanmeets, performances, video releases and interviews aplenty – and we naturally map at what comes after The Legend. Where does Kang Daniel look himself five years and even a decade from now? He brings the focus factual support to Konnect Leisure and ties his maintain evolution to cultivating a trot, inventive dwelling for the artists he oversees. “I mediate five or 10 years from now… To start with, for myself, I mediate I must turn into the correct artist I would possibly possibly also be in that timeframe. That can enable me to present others the risk as a plot to turn into the artists that they must be. Within the meanwhile, they’re all doing their most titillating and in addition they’re really factual at it, so I mediate I must be the correct artist I would possibly possibly also be to compare that.”
At this level it’s integral to be awake that Kang is upright 25 years former and established Konnect when he was once 23 – making him the youngest CEO within the K-pop industry. As successfully as to running a big price and taking a look after the artists under its umbrella, he’s a plump-time musician with a slew of commitments made all the plot in which by the final couple of years that embrace hosting TV reveals, making his performing debut with the 2022 ticket Rookie Law enforcement officers, reuniting with Wanna One for particular events, participating with world names cherish Miyavi, Inverness and Epik High, releasing complex albums, and making the time to promote it all. It’s overwhelming to upright judge it, and it’s a quantity of stress on his younger shoulders, but Kang sees it as a thrilling adventure he gets to be on. “I waft,” he tells me with a breezy laugh. “I attain what my heart tells me to realize. That’s the correct manner I will retain up that stage of ardour, because I peaceable cherish this work. Working on the album or working as an actor, it’s peaceable so precious to me and I peaceable accept as true with so significant enjoyable working on it that I really feel as if it’s my first time releasing an album all yet again. I peaceable accept as true with butterflies in my belly. So I will proceed to realize no matter makes me really feel this kind. I will attain no matter my heart tells me.”
Pictures: Chun YoungSang, courtesy of Konnect Leisure
Quilt illustration: Veer Misra
Curated by: Riddhi Chakraborty, Divyansha Dongre, Oysmita Majumder, Debashree Dutta
Art Director: Tanvi Shah
Stylist: Kim Beungkyu
Hair: Kim Haebin
Makeup: Lee Anna
Circulate Kang Daniel’s original file ‘The Legend’ under: