How does it feel to return to the civilian life?
It fels so good. Since I was discharged from the military in July last year, so it has already been 10 months.
The adjustment time is over now.
The adjustment time was done one week after I was discharged (laugh).
Where was your unit?
The 705th Special Assault Regiment. The training here is a bit “tougher” than in a regular unit.
You got into the agency Mystic89 through Lee Seung Chul’s manager.
It was someone I knew thanks to the Superstar K’s producer and who was close to my boss, well, Yoon Jong Shin-sunbaenim.
And Yoon Jong Shin liked you as soon as the two of you met.
The communication was good. The first time we met, he explained things one by one about the “prototype” he wanted to build for the path a musician like me should follow. There was one thing I could relate to what he was saying. It was how people who make good music had to be ahead on the business side of things. The main idea was that the people who made good music but starved in a little room had to go out there now. Studying music deeply is a good thing indeed, but this isn’t about being confined in your pride and put distance between you and the audience. We live in the PR era after all.
Yoon Jong Shin said he would have brought you to the top 3 if he were a member of the jury during “Superstar K 4″. During your showcase, he even showed his affection for you by going as far as saying “if Eddy Kim doesn’t do well, I will reduce the work I do in the mainstream era”. As his hoobae, how does it feel to get this kind of affection?
I’m thankful. The expectation was so high that it was a burden at first. I think the album was worth all the hardships because it came out well, so my heart is a little bit at ease now.
The “Eddy Manual” was fun to watch. Wasn’t it to imitate “2NE1 TV”?
Haha, it wasn’t. It was just something I did just for fun with people from my agency. I still feel awkward in front of a camera, so I kept practicing and we determined the topics to talk about myself here and there. We filmed on the spot and it was uploaded on Mystic89′s online and youtube channels, as well on SNS. Puer Kim-nuna who is also in this agency had done something similar before. Hm, it seems that it’s something to go through when you’re a newbie at Mystic 89.
The videos were short, but they were useful to know more about your world and your daily life. Charming guy [t/n: the Korean word used means that you don't find someone charming at the beginning, but the more you get to know them, the more you see their charm], the cutie, the soldiers’ idol, it seems you have so many nicknames. Of all these nicknames, which one is your favourite?
Music elite? This one is good. I like any nickname related to music.
Because of “Superstar K”, you’re like a soldier idol.
I was popular with the other soldiers of my unit that I saw on a daily basis. When “Superstar K” was broadcast, the entire unit would stay up late because the show aired at 11PM, although we’re supposed to go to sleep at 10PM,.
How much of the life on the outside did you get to live precisely?
Once I was in the top 10, I stayed at the dorm for about a month, then I spent the remaining month shooting the live shows. However, when I got eliminated, they brought me straight back to my unit the next day (laugh)!
The first time you appeared on “Superstar K”, Psy said with conviction “he will have a great future”. Your face showed no change of expression when you heard these words.
Actually, I was quite happy. Ever since I had decided to stand on this stage, I had practiced like crazy.
I thought you’d go to the live stage when I was watching the show. However, you seemed to lack talent compared to the other contestants during the live performances, so it was a bit sad.
The style I’m good at is the acoustic style like when I sing and I play the guitar. For the finals, it was a contest and I had to have a song with a full sound with a band, each song had to be prepared like crazy for a week, so it was harder for me to show the style I’m good at. Of course, I enjoyed the show itself, though.
Do you stay in touch with people like Jung Joon Young, Roy Kim, Hong Dae Kwang, Yoo Seung Woo who are active as singers nowadays.
I see Seung Woo everyday. I was on the M!Countdown with Joon Young not long ago. The other contestants and I even have our own chatroom. Sometimes, when I go to a TV show or a music show and I see them by chance, I’m very happy. Most of the time, the waiting rooms are full of people I don’t know, so I feel lonely and I sit there all by myself, but when we’re together, I don’t get bored and it’s a great stress reliever.
It’s already been a month since the release of your first album “The Manual”. You wrote and composed all of the 6 tracks.
I created the songs, but the extra work was made with Yoon Jong Shin. He didn’t miss one recording session for the guitar, the piano, the drums. Thanks to him, I was able to live this real-life experience, it was great. There were many things I didn’t know because I had been working on my music all by myself for a long time.
All the songs of this album are love songs. Seems like you have a lot of experience in this field.
It’s definitely not like that. To be honest, the themes and the genres of the songs I have been working on until now are quite diverse. So for this album, I spent more time selecting the songs than creating them. I thought picking out 6 tracks that would show my personality was more important than me and that was my main focus.
What is your dating style when you’re in a relationship?
I feel at ease when I’m around my girlfriend. We’re like friends. On the other hand, I went through a breakup once because we were too much like friends. I’m a maknae, so I’m not very good at taking care of others, so I do things for them like once in a while? I think women love it when you take care of them. It also seems that anyone enjoys when someone plays the guitar and sing for them.
Isn’t ‘2 Years Apart’ your own story? When you’re a soldier, you can relate to the lyrics like when you say “I can’t take it. I want to get discharged from the army and date you. I try to get you to fall for me every time I get a break."
Ah, writing such lyrics was easy. When I started the military life, I started writing. There was a lot of guys around me who had leave their girlfriends behind when they went to the army. Especially when you stand guard duty at night. It feels very lonely where you’re outside at 3 or 4 in the morning. When it’s dark, as the two men have their guns and stand guard, they often share stories about the girlfriend they broke up with.
So it’s from personal experience and from watching others, right?
Indeed. If I were to only write songs based on my own experiences, there would be something lacking, so I create songs based on other people’s experiences or I develop a story based on reality. That’s why I use a lot of sketches when I work on my songs. It must be about a specific situation if I want people to relate to the song when they listen to it. In my song “Sober Up”, the lyrics go “in this place where we drink coffee, she just left me and now there are two drinks on the clear glass table”. It feels completely like it’s a personal experience, right? That’s because I have a clear glass table at home (laugh). The idea came to me while I was sitting at my table. The listener has a better concrete idea because the situation is specific and that makes it easier to remember it.
In the end, you generalize the emotions so people can relate to them. Are you an expert at the “push and pull” when you are in a relationship?
I realized what it was. It’s not taking a look at the last minute. It’s being indecisive. It’s being optimistic and having a positive attitude. [t/n: this part didn't make a lot of sense to me.]
Have you experienced a severe push-and-pull situation?
I’m straightforward when it comes to express my emotions. I speak up right away. If I can’t figure out the other person’s feelings, I give up or I ask directly, but I’m definitely not the clinging type.
You’re currently studying at the Berklee College of Music. Whend did you go study abroad?
I went abroad to study classical music composition at the Walnut Hill School for the Art located in the suburbs of Boston.
It seems that you were going for classical music before.
I started studying music when I was in middle school. My dream has always been to be a pop singer songwriter ever since. I decided to study more in depth music and emphasize my basic skills. Classical music majors study more in depth things such as music theory and harmony.
What about your high school classmates?
Our route was a bit different. The ones who graduated from the composing department like I did go to Julliard one generation after the other. I feel like I broke this tradition.
So you’re one of those who prepared to be a musician since they were kids.
I think I made the right decision although I was quite young. I had big ambitions and dreams back then. I wanted my name on the Billboard chart. Of course, I still have this dream today, though. (laugh) I do my thing while picturing my future in my mind. To be honest, my life right now has taken a turn I didn’t mean to happen.
Doesn’t your life always go the way you want to?
No matter how you look at the situation today, I think I took the right short cut.
You have great guitar skills. How long have you been playing?
Since my first year in middle school. I taught myself how to play the guitar. I started practicing more seriously when I got a solo part by chance for a school choir competition. Come to think of it, I actually volunteered.
Instead of using your name Kim Jung Hwan, you debuted under the name Eddy Kim.
It’s something I never talked about before, but there’s a Japanese manga called “Beck”. The story is about a band. There’s a singer songwriter who is a music genius and his name is Eddie. If there were a live version, it would be musicians like Oasis? He [Eddy] gives this wannabe singer his own cheap guitar and tells him to play hard, it’s so cool. So when I went to the US for the first time and I got asked my name, I said Eddy. Then, Yoon Jong Shin-sunbaenim and I talked about it before my debut and this is how I released the album under the name Eddy Kim.
I think you have a name that gives a soulful vibe different from Ricky, Brad. What is great about Eddy Kim who dreams to be a genius singer songwriter like Eddy, the manga character?
My talent to write songs? The fact that I’m confident about being able to do music of various genres. This albums may offer only one musical genre, but the music I can show such as classical music, jazz music, is infinite.
You’re about to hold your solo concerts.
I’m busy preparing the concerts. There will be unexpected performances with a twist, so please anticipate.
The number of fangirls will be even more overwhelming, right?
No. I do have male fans these days. They actually tell me “hyung, it’s good”. I hope that this increasing popularity will turn “2 Years Apart” into a song like “Letter of a Private” by Kim Kwang Suk that comes to mind right away when people speak of the army.
T/n: I struggled with a couple of sentences here and there, but I really wanted to give it a try because I’m really liking Eddy Kim these days.
Original article: Elle
Translation: @onesunnylady - www.thesunnytown.com