LEE JIN HYUK on Ctrl+V, His Fans, and Personal Growth
My takeaways from LEE JIN HYUK’s latest press conference and review of his new album!
On His New Album
The concept of Ctrl+V focuses on “the Human Lee Jin Hyuk” “pasting” a version of himself into “the Artist LEE JIN HYUK,” and vice versa. The album shows him “as an artist onstage and a human offstage.” LEE JIN HYUK the Artist has certainly been busy, as he contributed to the composition of many songs on the album. When asked what he sought to focus on while making these tracks, he said, “[I try] to make music that is easy to listen to and empathize with,” and his new title track certainly fits the bill.
The title track, “Work Work,” has a message emphasized by its adorable music video. In the video, JIN HYUK repeatedly expresses frustration with his current workload and his need to get “some holiday.” A loved one is not helping matters, as the constant texts are just distracting him (“Maybe love is like work,” he sings). The “work bear” stays on his case, by doing everything from making sure he stays at his desk to sitting on one end of a see-saw to stop him from taking time off to play on it. When JIN HYUK is not shown in an office setting, looking bored and flustered, he is on a pastel playground, soaking up the sun from a hammock or the top of monkey bars. “Work Work” is charming from start to finish, continuously adding more fun elements sonically and visually over time. Props are introduced ranging from balloons to confetti to a stuffed dog, and the song is full of sound effects, whistling, and “yee-haw”s!
“Work Work” addresses the relatable struggle to balance a heavy workload with other facets of life. As JIN HYUK put it, “‘Work Work’ is a witty and realistic song that unravels the desire for lovers to understand themselves as workaholics, and the belief that” being a workaholic will not change who they are and how their relationship is.
JIN HYUK said he hopes “Work Work” speaks to the “MZ Generation” (millenials and Gen-Z), as a common problem in these people’s lives is finding a work-life balance, especially regarding making time for relationships.
The B-sides on Ctrl+V range from mature and mysterious to sweet and playful, and they are similarly varied in sound. “Bang all night” is a piano-driven song “that melts the feelings of men who want to escape from their boring and tiring daily lives and deviate from their friends overnight.” “Dunk!” uses the metaphor of a dunk shot in basketball to represent a sense of readiness and motivation. “BLUE MARVEL” is also a metaphor, this time for board games. JIN HYUK said he wishes to travel the world (in other words, “cross the board game”) with his fans. This song is for them: “Originally, ‘MARVEL’ was [spelled] wrong... [with a] ‘B,’ but I added ‘V.’ It's ‘V’ [for his fandom name] ‘V-Dan.’”
While the first half of Ctrl+V emphasizes unique and catchy instrumentals, the latter half makes lyrics and vocals its focal points. JIN HYUK said “Coffee on Sunday” is meant to bring attention to his voice more than the instrumental. He likened this song to “Asteroid” from a previous album, Scene26, for serving this function. He said this is “an impressive song with lyrics about the excitement that naturally permeates [a] lover.”
The last track on Ctrl+V is particularly thought-provoking. When asked about “Nothing” (AKA “Meaningless = Art”), JIN HYUK said it “is a song that I made while forgetting the… important essence [of and] the act of finding reasons and meanings for art. It's also a song that I wanted to [use to] talk about the ‘meaninglessness’ of conscious adults' actions and those who want wrong attention… music is just music, and what we each do [can be] meaningless.” He further elaborated by saying who adults are on the inside tends to differ from who they make themselves out to be on the outside. His point is that it is better to be authentic than to force oneself to convey a sense of “meaning” in everything someone does.
The 17 Carat K-Pop Question
I asked which three words or phrases best describe Ctrl+V, and JIN HYUK’s response reiterated why fans ought to check out the album in its entirety. It is hard to pinpoint only three words or phrases to cover its many topics and sounds. After much thought, LEE JIN HYUK settled on his name (given the “Human Lee Jin Hyuk versus Artist LEE JIN HYUK” concept), “workaholic,” and “V-Dan.” Ctrl+V is an album made to express several sides of Lee Jin Hyuk, his life, and his appreciation for fans.
In response to a later question, he expressed the hope that a takeaway from listening to this album will be “LEE JIN HYUK’s growth.”
On Being Both a Singer and Actor
JIN HYUK detailed his passion for music: “the stage is where my dream is… it is a place [with] dreams, where [I] always miss, and where [I am] with good people, so it is a place where [I] feel more affectionate and want to continue to be.”
While JIN HYUK admitted to getting the most excited for his music-related comebacks, he also excitedly shared goals for his acting career. He said he hopes to someday play a role that is the opposite of who he really is and expressed interest in playing a movie villain. He also expressed a desire to play a role that allows him to blend his acting and singing abilities.
On His Onstage and Offstage Selves
Ctrl+V is an album all about a “pasted” version of LEE JIN HYUK that is separated from the other version of himself, and this concept was further explained in this way: “I think the strength is to be able to show more diverse aspects as Artist LEE JIN HYUK. Artist LEE JIN HYUK can do things that are difficult to [show] with Human Lee Jin Hyuk… Human Lee Jin Hyuk is a friendly and passionate friend full of humanity. You can choose one of these… It's all me!”
On Hard Work and Motivation
JIN HYUK revealed the “dog barking” point dance for “Work Work” is just one of many moves that is harder to pull off than it looks, so he consciously tries to express himself through his facial expressions more than usual during performances of it. He sees challenges like this as exciting instead of daunting: “when I see myself growing little by little, I feel happy and rewarded, so I study harder and try harder... it doesn't make sense without that difficulty… I think you have to endure it to grow.”
Also, when asked about any difficulties that come from promoting as a soloist instead of a group member, he said, “I think the pressure to lead the stage alone is the biggest difficulty as a soloist. Because the members of the group can achieve chemistry together, and they can show various aspects on stage, but [soloists] have to show more… by themselves. I think that's more difficult. My strength is… I think it's energy. I'm determined to show you the best I can on stage.”
On His Fans
JIN HYUK credited his boundless energy to the motivation and support he gets from his fans, V-Dan: “I'm here right now because there are fans who support and love all my activities, and I think I can work harder with energy [from] V-Dan!” He hopes to be affiliated with the nickname “Baby Sun,” brightening fans’ days with every project he makes.
JIN HYUK’s relationship to V-Dan is one he truly cherishes. When asked what he does on his time off, he sweetly answered, “I usually work on music a lot and communicate with my fans a lot during breaks. You may think that I work even during breaks, but communicating with my fans seems to be a time that makes me feel comfortable.” He does not see connecting with fans as part of his job and something he has to do, but something he wants to do.
On Ghosts and Good Luck
There is a superstition among some musicians that seeing ghosts is a sign of a successful upcoming release. While JIN HYUK said he did not see a ghost while preparing this album, something peculiar did happen while working on it: his selfie camera appeared to turn off every ten minutes, but when he filmed these scenes outside of the recording studio, the camera did not act up in this way. He said, “There's a saying that ghosts make a hit when they [help you] prepare for an album, so [shouldn’t] there be good results for this album? I hope there are good results!”
His Final Message
JIN HYUK ended the press conference with the following comment: “[I] prepared really hard and came back full of energy. I will do my best to show you LEE JIN HYUK. Please continue to show a lot of interest and love. I love you.”
Check out LEE JIN HYUK's new album here!