Ki-Jung is easily one of the most inspiring artists I’ve ever had the pleasure to interview. We sat down and spoke about his background, secret talents, the best advice he’d give to his younger self and many more!
Introduce yourself (yourselves) and your hidden talent!
My name is Ki-Jung and I am an artist, composer, producer and business entrepreneur in the field of music, based in New York. I started life an orphan in South Korea and had the blessing of growing up in America and France. Given my international background I consciously aim to reach audiences across continents and representing different languages and cultures. I find the ability of music to touch anyone’s heart one of the unspoken “Wonders of the World” that makes us all equal and the same in some fundamental, even primal, way.
My music dates back to age 7 when I began my training as a multi-instrumentalist. Drums, piano and guitars are my mainstays, as well as voice. I have been living the creative artist’s life since that young age, at least internally. Now I’m sharing my songs more widely and have been encouraged by the traction they are having.
My one secret talent is ballroom dance. I trained with three different instructors over the course of 2-3 years during which I trained for Pro-Am competitions. Life got in the way before I could compete but I remain an avid fan and enjoy occasions when I can use my ballroom knowledge.
If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
At the top of the list would be Daryl Hall or Sarah McLachlan, hands down – two incredible artists, and I do mean artists in the most complete way. They live their art, they breathe it, they sing it, and they make vibes and soundscapes that are breathtaking, and they’re so fluent with the language of music and lyrics that it comes out just much more rich and complex than virtually anyhow else, in my experience.
I also like Paramore – would love to meet Haley and crew someday – and Bruno Mars. Their energy, their passion and their goodness all come through. It’s a brand of sincerity in their pep enthusiasm for music, fans and life. Last but not least, I have a soft spot in my heart for people who live and express themselves in a very open, unapologetic and courageous way. I’m thinking The Pet Shop Boys and Shania Twain, believe it or not. As different as those two sound, they have heart and soul, not to mention a certain vulnerability and almost sadness to their melodies. But somehow they end up creating something just stunningly beautiful, both sonically and emotionally, every time. What
beautiful human beings.
These are just some of my heroes.
What’s the best advice you’d give to your younger self?
Don’t go too narrow and don’t go too broad. Targeting is fine if you know who you want to do business with upfront; a wide net is necessary for you to have the data and be able to draw a circle around what the market tells you is the target audience. But you need to weigh and balance the two, manage the process, and know when to accelerate or let things settle and breathe, instinctively. If you don’t think about optimizing, you likely will sacrifice efficacy of what for most of us is a finite budget. So it’s costly and you need to spend money productively in this business.
Give our listeners some music recommendations that we should check out!
I like to compose across genres. So I do pop, some jazz influence, rock, heavy grunge rock, R&B/soul, ballads, and electronica pop. Some of my favorites that are recent releases of mine include: Paradise (upbeat party dance song), Midnight Queen (straight down the fairway classic rock with melodic twists), and Dare To Love Me (bubble gum pop, I like to call it – very shiny ear candy). They’re all on Spotify and the other platforms. I think these are a good representation of my range as an artist and as a composer and producer.
Tell MoggBlog viewers about your latest release! What’s the inspiration behind that?
My latest release, called Feel Alive, is a straightforward message wrapped in a sort of silken, pop-with-acoustic-guitar, jazz blend. It features as a lead instrument a soprano sax and it’s all real instruments and musicians. This one is old school that way – not programming – in this particular song, and it therefore aims to be classic and timeless. I love the sentiment behind this song because it’s all about self-discovery, self-affirmation in one’s life, a rebirth of sorts for some listeners, a coming out song for others…. It’s just hope bottled up in a melodious, hooky and completely romantic composition. And believe me, it’s pure and it’s sincere. Straight from my heart to others’ is what I say with
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Well, it’s certainly made a lot of things cheaper, which is good and bad. Everyone knows how the affordability of recording equipment, time and production has improved in the digital age, cost-wise. The vast majority of future musicians will be self- produced and there will be armies of them. I like the fact that the tools and the platforms for
both production and delivery are within reach for more people, but that also means (a) more competition in an already near-saturated market and (b) listeners’ needs are dictated as much by what they wish to feel in the form of instant gratification in a tight timeframe. So it’s easier to record, but much harder to get noticed or to stand out in this veritable sea of global talent. Also, pricing for music is horrendously low per unit of delivery like a stream. It implies that to make a living, you really need widespread consumption of your music to happen – a big audience.
Thankfully, the Internet has flattened the world somewhat in terms of being able to go beyond borders, so to speak. Spotify alone has grown from 61 countries a few years ago to over 170 today. I believe that might have been a 3-year achievement. Remarkable. What stays the same, however, are two things: First, the song has to be there. If there’s not a standout song, and I mean something that is categorically and measurably considered additive to what’s already out there, then there’s nothing to offer listeners. They make that decision very quickly, and I often tell my associates and others that come to me for guidance that you have to grab people in the first three notes that come out of your mouth. It’s that quick. Second, promotion and distribution still cost a lot of money if sustained over a period of time and if your efforts involve multiple songs. In my experience, it’s about casting a wide enough net to apture a critical mass of core listeners and to receive enough quality, robust market data on how, where and why your songs are resonating in one segment of the population or another. But that said, every song these days can be supported be targeted initiatives as well, like placement or to do a publishing deal with a specific artist in mind.