eaJ talks starting his solo career, learning from DAY6, and cultivating a community on Twitch

eaJ talks starting his solo career, learning from DAY6, and cultivating a community on Twitch

eaJ is kicking off a new chapter. 

Since 2015, the Korean-American singer-songwriter has been one of five, making music as part of the popular K-pop band DAY6. But most recently, eaJ—who is also known as Jae Park—is embarking on a new journey, taking on the music world as a soloist. 

Jae, under his new moniker, has been releasing an array of tracks on YouTube starting with 'LA Trains' in January 2020 followed by his hits 'Pacman', 'Pillows' with keshi, and 'It just is' with Seori. By the end of the year, he already had a number of solo tracks under his belt, they just weren't officially released. 

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After an eventful 2021—which comprised leaving his longtime company JYP Entertainment and performing at 88rising's Head In The Clouds for the first time, Jae is finally officially starting his solo career.

While there were bumps along the way, the 'Dive with you' act is determined to make it work. "I've actually always been stern about having goals and I don't want to jinx it but everything that I set out to do, I’ve always done," he tells Bandwagon in an exclusive interview.

Jae recently released his official debut single 'Car Crash' which he initially teased at Head In The Clouds last November. Serving as the first of many releases slated for the year, the multi-faceted artist says he's working his way up to an album soon. 

Bandwagon caught up with Jae to talk about his solo music, his journey in K-pop, and his supportive Twitch community. 


Hi, Jae! What have you been busy with lately?

I've been super busy getting ready for my next single and also working on my album. I’m always in the studio! Also, about to shoot another music video, just trying to fine-tune the music and get it right. I’m really, really happy because the first single did so much better than I thought it would. My fans really showed their support.

Congratulations on ‘Car Crash’, could you walk us through how the single came together? 

Thank you so much! 'Car Crash' came together because originally, I needed a song for 88rising's Head In The Clouds Festival (HITC) last year.

I only had really sad music and not too much upbeat music, so I wanted something the crowd could really vibe to and jump with. I feel like it was a success at HITC and the reception was really good, so we decided to release it as my first single.

Sonically, what can we expect from your upcoming releases? Do you have a particular vision for what your solo music will sound like?

I don't have any type of vision and I think that's what's always been so interesting about my music, especially when I was dropping stuff for the eaJ project back in 2020.

Everyone was pretty excited about the release because they had no idea what the song was going to sound like. I’m still kind of exploring what I like. So for a particular vision, I don't necessarily have any. I just focus on making music of the best quality I possibly can.

There’s always a lot to learn and more room for me to grow. Also sonically, what can you expect? Lots of screaming. I've kind of just stopped singing and am screaming a lot.

What are some specific goals you have for your music career? Where do you hope to be in the next few years?

I've actually always been stern about having goals…. I don't want to jinx it but everything that I set out to do, I’ve always done. I know this one's a long shot but I gotta dream big—within the next two years, I want to be an artist that frequently charts within the top 50 of the Billboard Charts.

 
 
 
 
 
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You’ve spent your musical career thus far in K-pop as part of a group. What have you learned from your time in this industry and group that you’re taking forward as a soloist?

As much as I’ve previously been open about how frustrated I was in the industry, I have to give credit where credit is due. I've learned and gained a lot of experience from my time within my group. My group has been like my fuel, and they have always been a constant pillar of support when I needed them. I don’t think I would be where I am today without the education that the team [has] branded into me as a trainee. I learned that hard work is very, very important in a career, and working hard for the right things is even more important. 

In the last year, you’ve been open about the K-pop industry and the experiences you’ve had. What are some of the challenges you faced?

I think I was very angry with the system itself, and to be honest, I think I carried that anger further than I needed to. I realised I was hurting friends because of my experience within the industry, and I don't think that's fair. It's not even the genre I should be angry at, it's the circumstances and the environment I was in that I was angry at. My anger kind of just never simmered out, and I started lashing out at everybody, so I do want to take a second to apologise. Not only for the things I've done, but just for my mindset having been in the place it was when I was still not aware of it.

I think not having creative control over what we were allowed to write about, maybe even the album concepts and styling was kind of frustrating to me because even though I wrote the music off of what the company sent me, there was still a vision to the song. It kind of felt like sometimes the company's visions were not aligned with ours. It was frustrating to voice an idea and not have that be listened to.

On the flip side, what did you enjoy most about being in K-pop and being part of DAY6? What has been your most memorable moment?

I think one of the most memorable moments that I've had in DAY6 were not the arenas that we played, but this one time…this is back when we were still training. We’d literally be in band practice from 6 PM until 1 A.M., 2 A.M., 3 A.M., and sometimes 4 A.M.

I remember one time everyone was just really frustrated because it wasn't going well. We decided to go outside and just talk about the music in a little park, we had a beer or two, and then we came back to practice. I remember that being the most fun band practice we've ever had. The next day we woke up and we thought it was awesome and perfect when we left, then when we heard it back in the morning it was NOT good. But I think that was one of the most memorable moments I've had with the team. Those are the kind of memories that, you know, even if we don’t talk as much anymore, I'll cherish and never forget. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by eaJ (@eajpark)

Let’s talk about streaming! What first drew you to streaming on Twitch?

I think with streaming on Twitch, I originally saw it as a very obvious decision because I love playing games. I watched a lot of streamers and I felt like it was a good platform to reach other audiences. It ended up doing exactly that for my songs like 'Pillows' and 'Pacman'.

I feel like I got a lot of help through my friends who stream to support my music which helped spread the word. The songs were literally just uploaded on YouTube with no traction; I had no promotions and I had no money behind them. The friends I made within the Twitch community really helped. 

Tell us about your Twitch community. What are they like? How do you make sure you connect with your viewers, especially those who may not have known you as a musician first?

My Twitch community is actually really interesting. It's a hodgepodge of people that have known me from DAY6, people that have known me as eaJ and also people that just found me from Twitch.

It’s really interesting because most Twitch communities are really supportive of their streamer. It's a good place to kind of dial back and just feel comfortable. I literally finish my day thinking on the drive home 'oh I’m gonna stream later and it's gonna be a good time' because I just feel very comfortable and welcomed. I have a great community on Twitch and I’m very thankful for that.

Do you have a favourite game to play on stream?

Lately, I don’t usually have a favourite game, I've just been jumping around. I've been playing a lot of TFT: Teamfight Tactics, Valorant, Lost Ark. I’m also back on Minecraft on a friend's server.

My Twitch isn’t always about playing games for me, but also just communicating with the people that are watching and overall having a good time. My Twitch community is just so fun to be around, they're pretty funny.

Finally, what other projects do you have coming up for the year?

I’m always working on new music and I have another single coming out soon, along with a full album sometime after that!


Listen to eaJ's 'Car Crash' here. 


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