By Zoe Elter
I’ve written multiple articles, at this point, about various artists in the Korean Music Industry. In all honesty, I can’t put a finger on why K-pop and its surrounding genres fascinate me. There is something unique about it.
However, I can understand why some people may be adamant about venturing into the foreign territory that is this genre. There are so many artists and groups that seem to pop up almost overnight, but that is far from reality. The journey to becoming a K-Pop artist is long, and oftentimes, extremely rigorous.
This journey was no different for Park Jae-Hyung, also known as Jae or–more recently–eaJ.
Jae spent most of his early life in California, picking up music at a very early age. Eventually, as many musicians do, he took to YouTube to test out his skills. He posted his first Youtube cover on his channel, yellowpostitman, in 2009.
He continued to post covers and live a relatively normal life studying political science at Cal State, Long Beach, but then everything changed when he passed a preliminary audition.
K-Pop Star and JYP
That audition was for the first season of KpopStar, a reality television music competition. The season aired in 2011 and Jae made it to the top six before he left the show.
However, that didn’t stop him. He garnered well-deserved attention from the judges, more specifically, Park Jin-young, who is the founder of JYP Entertainment, a widely known entertainment label in South Korea.
JYP decided that Jae was too good to let go because not long after he departed from K-Pop Star, he was signed to JYP in 2012, but that was only the beginning. Jae would spend the next three years training and hoping to get his chance to debut.
It was there that he met 5 other trainees that he would join with and eventually be known as DAY6.
Coming from a company that is known primarily for its production of dance-heavy idol groups, DAY6 felt displaced in this atmosphere, but that didn’t stop them.
“Me and my boys,” Jae stated in an interview with ET Live. “We always just played instruments, and we liked doing that. We weren’t too good at dancing, and I somehow ended up at a company that focused on singing and dancing. We just did our instruments and did our showcases with that. And somehow, we debuted with that.”
DAY6 is one of the only main-stream K-Pop groups that focus on live instruments, which is why they are one of my favorite groups in the industry.
They are one of the most successful groups of their kind, garnishing a large fanbase. Jae debuted with his other band members–Young K (bass), Dowoon (Drums), Sunjin (Guitar), Wonpil (Synth and Keyboard) and Junhyeok (former keyboardist)–in 2015 with their title track “Congratulations.”
Since then they have gone on 2 World Tours, put out 6 full-length albums and released over 19 singles and EPs.
Check out one of my favorite DAY6 Title Tracks, “Letting Go”
Since his debut, Jae has always done the most to give his fans great content, but nothing could prepare his fans for his solo project.
He released his first track “LA Trains” in January of 2020, and announced his collaboration with 88rising, where he would release acoustic versions of his first release along with his songs “Pinocchio” and “Guess Not.”
For those who aren’t a fan of Korean music, eaJ is right up their alley. Jae inherently defines the music he puts out as eaJ as Pop, but every track he has released is so different from the one before it that it’s hard to confine him to that singular genre.
He incorporates LoFi, R&B, and Alternative influences into his tracks, and his lyrics are simple yet powerful.
Since his first release, he has put out 8 songs, his most recent one being “Pacman.” My personal favorite is his song “Pinocchio.” The guitar, synth, and overall upbeat feeling of the song perfectly personify Jae.
If you have fallen in love with Jae’s music as much as I have you can get more of him on multiple platforms. I fully recommend that you check out his Podcast with Dive Studios, and if you want to hear more of his solo project you can head over to his SoundCloud or his YouTube page. You can also keep up with him on his Instagram and his Twitter to see what he’ll do next.
I hope you enjoyed discovering another artist, and I hope you are all staying safe during these trying times.
Featured image by album cover for “LA Trains” by eaJ.