After posing for photos, JAKE looked them over one by one. During his break, he came back and apologized, then reshot the photos he felt could be better. When everything was finished, he took a bike that had been used as a prop and rode it around the set and here and there inside the building. His interview here captures that very bright, very serious mixture that JAKE embodies.

​You’ll finally be able to get up in front of ENGENE beginning with this comeback.
JAKE: I heard it’s a completely different feeling and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s supposed to be a totally normal thing to perform in front of fans, but we’ve never been able to, which was a sort of a letdown. We’ve performed on music shows without an audience, but I think we’ll perform better when ENGENE’s there.

You performed for many people at the KPOP.FLEX festival recently. Did it feel different?
JAKE: The venue we went to perform was absolutely huge, plus there were so many people cheering so incredibly loudly, to the point that I couldn’t get used to it at first. All seven of us were so pumped up that there was no chance of us losing our energy while on stage.

Was Germany really the coldest country in the world like JAY said? (laughs)
JAKE: That’s how JAY is. He can get you to believe what he doesn’t just by sounding convinced about it himself. (laughs) The weather was great. Someone on staff who went there with us said the weather is always bad there but that this one time it was oddly good.

A lot of ENGENE were expecting you to wear a denim jacket as airport fashion and then you really did wear one as you left the country. Now they’re wondering just how many denim jackets you own.
JAKE: I’m not sure, but I think I have one in every shade, at least. (laughs) Including every dark shade. I like jean jackets now, too, but there was a time when I was absolutely in love with them, so I bought several and I ended up wearing one of those when we went to Germany. It’s a little hot now but up until a few months ago it was perfect because they’re not too heavy or too light.

And you changed your hairstyle once again.
JAKE: I dyed it two different colors yesterday. I want to try even more colors. If you always stick to the same things it can get boring. I like when things change. But I guess I’ll dye it a lot as we do more promotions.
​Speaking of change, one of the biggest changes people will hear on your latest album is the speaking part. “WALK THE LINE” is the first time every single member has one.
JAKE: I was curious to see the others doing it so I went in and watched them, and they were clearly awkward about it since it was their first time and, unlike when you’re singing, you have to hear your own speaking voice. I think it’s easier to get into if you do it like you’re a voice actor and go big.

Maybe that’s why you sound so determined in the part where you say, “And I declare.”
JAKE: I had to sound determined since it’s supposed to be a declaration. And your intonation, emotions and the way you pause between words all happen without you thinking about it when you talk, you know. So I tried to enunciate each word clearly when I recorded it to make it sound more natural and add emphasis. And the speaking part is in three languages, so we divided it up between ourselves by the languages we’re most familiar with, like NI-KI doing the Japanese and me doing the English, and I think that helped us make it sound more natural.

In “Foreshadow,” you speak in English and sing the chorus in Korean.
JAKE: That part’s my style, the way it feels like I’m completely overwhelmed by my emotions, and while I don’t know if we’ll end up singing it in concert, I worked really hard on it since they gave me that part. I sound a little different when I speak English, and since the part where I sing is in Korean, I focused on that difference and the fact that I had to sing in a higher register.

Do you usually pay attention to your tone when you work on your vocals?
JAKE: I noticed all the time I spend recording vocals and reviewing how I sound unconsciously helped me to sing better. That’s why I keep studying and taking lessons. We worked with the same producer who worked on “Polaroid Love” when we did “TFW (That Feeling When)” and the producer said it would be nice if I could do this song as well as the last one.
​Well, you started to be referred to as the Polaroid Love Guy and the Polaroid Love Intro Boy, like they’re goyu-myeongsa [proper nouns]. (laughs)
JAKE: What does “goyu-myeongsa” mean? (hears explanation) Ah, I think JUNGWON told me about that before! “Polaroid Love” is actually the only song we don’t have choreography for and it’s my favorite one because it lets us communicate with ENGENE. I was glad they liked it.

How do you like the choreography for “Future Perfect (Pass the MIC)”? It must have been hard to practice for, especially seeing how important it is to be in control of your strength and speed during the “Bring it, bring it” part.
JAKE: I’ve probably said this a million times, but the choreography was really, really hard this time. (laughs) Like, there were parts in the other songs where we had a chance to catch our breath, but here, there’s nowhere to recover from the intensity. We had to learn each detail and then do the whole thing from start to finish over and over, but in a lot of cases I couldn’t do everything we learned because it was too exhausting. Everyone’s working really hard so we can get used to it and build up our stamina so we can get it down 100% before the comeback. All seven of us are worried, but we’re always worried like this, to be honest. So I think we’ll do fine this time around, too.

What are you doing to improve your stamina?
JAKE: NI-KI, JAY, HEESEUNG and me are all big into working out these days so we’re working really hard. Usually two of the four of us will go work out together whenever we have time. I usually lift weights and now I also do CrossFit here and there to build up my stamina. I want to get in shape and also improve my stamina before we go on tour. But choreography practice is way more intense than working out. (laughs)

You helped write lyrics for the first time, contributing to “SHOUT OUT.”
JAKE: When we got the demo, they asked me if I could give writing some lyrics a shot. This isn’t actually an official fan song, but they told us it’s got the feel of a song that ENGENE will sing along to at concerts, which made me want to write the lyrics even more.

Which part is the one you wrote with ENGENE in mind?
JAKE: “My life without you is a misery.” Because, when I think about our relationship with ENGENE, it’s clear we can’t live without each other. When ENGENE holds up their light sticks, it looks like stars in the night sky, so I kept picturing the audience at a concert and how it would feel performing while looking out at that. It isn’t something I’ve been able to experience yet, but I thought about the anticipation and the thrill and wrote the lyrics that way.

Did you use any other artists or songs as reference while you were writing?
JAKE: BTS has a lot of fan songs, like “Magic Shop” and “Mikrokosmos.” I listened to the way the lyrics describe their fans as stars in the night sky and a city night scene. I looked for a lot of expressions like that. To be frank, I have no problem speaking in Korean, but I can feel the language barrier when I’m writing lyrics because I’m limited in the way I can express myself for now.
​I heard you started taking guitar lessons, too.
JAKE: I really want to produce songs someday, so I asked the producer where would be a good place to get started, and he said that, although I could go straight to production lessons, it would be really helpful if I learned an instrument first, and specifically guitar. I want to be able to perform songs I made myself someday. I’m still a beginner at guitar, but it’s really fun.

That’s a short time in which to learn to play guitar and write lyrics on top of vocals and dancing. I can’t imagine it’s easy continuously practicing and growing in such a short time.
JAKE: Everything I do is part of the process of putting on better performances. And everything I’m working on now is really important for when I’m practicing for comebacks later. I think I can put aside that hardship because I have a strong ambition to put on a good show for ENGENE when I finally get to be on stage in front of them. I assume it’s the same for all seven of us.

You’ve been working hard not only on stage but on EN-O’CLOCK, too. We’re getting to know the true character of every member through all these different appearances.
JAKE: There were times when I felt a little left out from things most people do every day but we can’t do, like just walking around, going anywhere crowded or working a part-time job. The fact that I can do those things when I want variety in my life is the best part. I think we’ve pretty much done everything I mentioned when the producers asked us the things we wanted to try. Oh, we haven’t played soccer yet. I want to do soccer!

I really hope you get a chance to. (laughs) One of the things you did was become a barista at a cafe. SUNGHOON said he’s going to open up a cafe with you once you’re retired, after which he got on V LIVE and said he would name it Figure Prince and Australian Friend.
JAKE: He said that? (laughs) It sounds sort of revolutionary to me. I didn’t give the name any thought, but shouldn’t we put my name in there if we’re going to get lots of ENGENE to come? (laughs)

When I saw you strike up a conversation with the students who came in as customers and offer them some chocolate, it reminded me that you once said your MBTI has changed from “I” to “E” through your own effort. Why do you want to be an “E”?
JAKE: You meet a lot of people in our line of work. I’m always so grateful for our staff but I was always too shy to approach them about it. I want to be more active about being on closer terms with them, though. I still have so much to learn about life from them.
​People can learn a lot from you, too. On the radio show Youth Communication Project: Listen, SUNOO said that you listen to everything someone has to say when they have something on their mind and stick by their side to the very end.
JAKE: I never really had many people like that in my life. That didn’t make me sad or anything, but some of the members of our group want to be heard. Every member has their own style and personality so I try to treat them all differently based on that.

How so?
JAKE: SUNOO likes talking, for example, so I try my best to listen to him, and then NI-KI is more active, but surprisingly sensitive—the kind of person who needs to be treated with care. SUNGHOON can be spoken to directly—maybe because he played sports—and JAY’s similar but surprisingly mature and so he likes to talk about his feelings and emotions and I’m all ears when he talks to me about them. JUNGWON doesn’t like to approach his concerns like they’re concerns, so he just calls me over and talks about them indirectly. He’s so cute. And HEESEUNG is a fun guy but has a lot on his plate so I try and listen to him as much as possible.

To turn it around: Is there anything you wish the other members would do for you, or hope they never do?
JAKE: If one of them does something that might make me a bit uncomfortable or something I don’t like, I figure they must have a reason for it or realize maybe I had done the same thing before. If I feel like there’s something I wish they would do for me to make me happy, I do it for them, too.

In the previous interview, you mentioned there are things you wish other people would say to you. It seems like thinking that way really helped you to mature.
JAKE: I make it my personal goal to keep growing bit by bit, so I love it when someone pays me compliments about improving. (laughs) And, you know, in the last interview, I talked about how there’s so much I’m worried about. But I think now I’ve learned a way to not get so stressed out. Whereas I used to try to get rid of stress as soon as I felt it, now I’m trying not to get stressed out in the first place and just enjoy myself. Even with work-related stress, if I just think that what I’m doing isn’t all that hard, it becomes fun, and I naturally come to worry less too, I think.
​Your attitude is likely to change when you look at it that way, too.
JAKE: I’d say I’m definitely more confident now. I’ve been practicing more, and I’ve slowly been learning more things, whereas before it was like I didn’t know anything at all. I think that’s why I have more confidence now, too. And I learned that making yourself small promises and keeping them helps to boost your confidence. That’s why I’m constantly trying my best to do so.

How can you stay so consistent with your efforts?
JAKE: I make it a habit so that, when someone gives me a piece of advice, no matter how small it is—like how my dad said taking vitamins is good for your health and I always make sure to take them—I try to remember it for the rest of my life.

It’s great that you try not to forget those things and stick with them. Are there any other habits you would like to cultivate?
JAKE: The only time I ever usually take pictures is when I look good enough to show ENGENE, but now I’m going to try and make taking pictures a regular habit. I want to try to use Weverse and Twitter more, too, but I really don’t take many pictures usually so I don’t have anything to post. The other members take photos whenever we get food, but I just watch them, for example.

So you’re picking up this habit for ENGENE’s sake.
JAKE: ENGENE is the reason we’re so busy doing so many different things every day. They’re definitely a motivator.

That reminds me of when a fan asked you how you would feel about debating with people on V LIVE and you said, “If we did, I would definitely lose.” Are you really going to let ENGENE win? (laughs)
JAKE: Of course I can let them win. I’m really competitive, and I don’t really like to lose, but it’s okay when it’s ENGENE. (laughs)
Article. Oh Minji
Interview. Oh Minji
Visual Director. Jeon Yurim
Project Management. Kim Rieun
Visual Creative Team. Heu Sae Ryeun , Lee Gunhee , Choi Ara , Cha Minsoo(BELIFT LAB)
Photography. JDZ Chung / Assist. Jeong Changheum, Song Junghyeon
Hair. Kim Sohee, Yeo Jingyeong
Makeup. Kwon Sojeong
Stylist. Ji Seyun / Assist. Kim Minseon, Choi Jaeeun
Set Design. Choi Seoyun, Son Yehee, Kim Ayeong(Da;rak)
Artist Protocal Team. Kim Sejin, Oh Gwangtaek, Hong Yuki, Kim Hangil, Kang Mingi, Lee Hyunji