Love Overcomes Everything: Clash Meets Jackson Wang
There are certain people who send the hearts of many fluttering with the mere mention of their names. Chinese K-pop star and global icon Jackson Wang is one such person.
Stories collected from die-hard fans (aka my friends), ahead of the personally much-anticipated chat speaks of Jackson’s mass appeal. From the two-year-old toddler who lights up, singing and dancing along to Jackson’s parts in GOT7’s music, to gaggles of starry-eyed teenagers to endearingly over-excited receptions from 30-somethings, the tales tell of a much-adored pop star.
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The call with Jackson connects at 10.30 pm IST, after three hours prior spent on a long piece of writing and a cold, missed dinner waiting. But Jackson’s bright voice and laughter as he calls in from Korea at 3am while in the middle of a recording session in the studio, is immediately grounding, inspiring, and a little bit concerning (a message from a friend/fan asking him to look after his health rings in my ears), all at once.
Opening the conversation with “this is an honour, thank you for taking the time to speak to me!” the 26-year-old superstar belies any hint of that superstardom. There’s a lot of idle chit-chat when he finds out that the call is being made from India as he gushes about the country, Bollywood, learning Hindi, and wanting to visit “as soon as possible!” This kind of natural conversation – especially when he jokingly adds “you should show me around when I come to India! -” feels surreal, as the internal fangirl combusts, yet somehow wholly natural.
A similarly natural warmth and love radiates from every word Jackson speaks, whether it be about his solo music, his team or his fans. With a prime message of “love overcomes everything”, Jackson’s solo music is the culmination of many years spent learning and experimenting with different genres.
Speaking of where he stands today music-wise, after debut solo album ‘Mirrors’ dropped late last year and his evolution since then, he says: “In the past, I’ve done rap, hip-hop, I’ve also done R&B in China. With the album ‘Mirrors’, I thought: ‘why not take all these different experiences and sounds I’ve picked up on and put it together?’ It really represented who I was at the point in my life.”
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About his latest single, he adds: “With ‘100 Ways’ there’s further evolution. I would say I’m in the middle of evolving and finding my true colours. Every release we put out, it’s another opportunity for me to know myself a little more.”
“I’m in the middle of evolving and finding my true colours. ‘Mirrors’ was a product of me thinking ‘why not take all these different experiences and sounds I’ve picked up on and put it together?’ It really represented who I was at the point in my life. With ‘100 Ways’ it was further evolution. Every release we put out, it’s another opportunity for me to know myself.”
On the topic of new music, he reveals: “I’m preparing my next album at the moment which will be out within this year. And it’s a new stage and style that belongs solely to me and my team.”
Asked about the best part of making new music, he says: “Every new release is like my new born baby. I’m just very proud of my music team, Team Wang, 88Rising. Each new piece of music is a masterpiece for us and a new evolution – this excites me the most. Other than that it’s my supporters and fans who sing and share my songs.”
The love that his supporters give him is given back ten-fold by Jackson who believes the “love is more powerful than any other element in the world.” It’s not surprising, therefore, that ‘100 Ways’ explores the concepts of time, love and “forever”.
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Delving into the idea and execution behind the music video directed by a long-time collaborator and friend of Jackson, Daniel Cloud Campos (Paramore, Panic! at the Disco), he says: “The concept behind the video that there are a lot of elements we can’t control in life; time and love is the focus of ‘100 Ways’. The video reverses these concepts; showing me coming back to life and travelling to find my real love, bringing her back to life and telling her we should be together forever.”
“The choreography alongside world-renowned dance crew the Kinjaz represents the tension and energy until we finally choose each other, we are happy to have conquered time and love.”
As he explains the process behind the making of his latest masterpiece – including challenges such as limited days to prepare and come up with everything from scratch, then filming it - it’s clear that ‘100 Ways’ is a layered creation that holds not only love but so much more.
This is proven when Jackson speaks of the cultural significance and impact of the MV’s visuals. He explains: “I love learning about cultures and sharing my own culture with other people which is why I chose this ancient Chinese love story to be the theme. As an Asian artist connecting the East and West together through my music is happiness to me.”
As a multi-lingual public figure, the rapper is undoubtedly a talent deserving of his international appeal. A sports-figure turned entertainer, dedication is expected trait in Jackson, and while he shrugs off his ability to communicate in different languages saying: “I’ve never thought of myself as multi-lingual, I’m not an expert I just know enough to live and communicate. I’m still very interested in learning as many languages as I can though.”
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Known for his mood-making tendencies and extroverted persona, Jackson’s solo music and the happiness he derives from it seems far more mature. Asked if revealing this “serious” side was a conscious decision, he responds: “When I do my solo stuff you get Jackson Wang, you get me. It’s the music that I love and what you’re left at the end is a 100 % me.”
“With group activities, it’s one-seventh me. Each and every single member of GOT7 is capable of doing a lot more, every member has their own unique colour but when we’re together – we’re a team, we need a balance. Solo music is the evolution of me, in GOT7 it’s the evolution of us.”
This evolution – whether as Jackson Wang or Jackson of GOT7 - did not come easy. Speaking of his own climb to the top, using to encourage others to keep up the grind, he says: “Everyone should go after their dreams, without letting anyone drag you down or letting the obstacles stop you - focus on your dream, sharpening your skills and that’s how you make your own history.”
He adds: “People have their own opinions and points of view, that’s not something we can control. But we can control is your own mind and actions- for me, I don’t let myself get distracted and I believe that’ll help me and Team Wang reach our desired destination.”
Equipped with the support of Team Wang and his fans, and driven by his hard work and passion, Jackson Wang has already established himself as a multi-talented star who makes brilliant music.
But within a 20-minute conversation Jackson proves that the human behind the artist even more awe-inspiring; he’s someone whom everyone from a two-year-old to a 30-year-old and beyond sees as a friend. And more importantly he sees them in exactly the same way, too.
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Words: Malvika Padin
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