JAKE: “The seven of us are giving it our all”
ENHYPEN DARK BLOOD comeback interview
JAKE is currently in the middle of finding who he really is. Let’s hear what he has to say about his findings so far.
There seems to be no end to your love for fishing. What is so fun about it that you stick around till the very end even when you can’t catch any ssogari?
JAKE: Even if you don’t end up catching any fish, the anticipation that you might eventually catch something is what keeps you going. That’s what makes it fun. (laughs) Of course, the best part is getting to spend time with my family or the other members.
You have a lot of hobbies, like soccer, baseball, tennis, chess and Lego building. Do you enjoy having a wide variety of experiences?
JAKE: I like anything that gets me moving. I love how it feels after sweating. It’s not like I will actively look for new things to do, but I also won’t pass up the opportunity should it arise. I have a just-do-it attitude.
What gives you joy these days?
JAKE: I used to be the kind of person who would plan out his day hour by hour. I used to get anxious if I didn’t have a plan for what time to wake up and what to do when. But now that my schedule is decided in advance every day, I don’t really plan anything for days off, but rather, do my best to enjoy the sense of freedom. I’m amazed that I can do that now. (laughs) I’m learning that sometimes it’s okay to simply go with the flow and do whatever calls to me.
I’m surprised you prefer to do things you’re already familiar with and stick to a plan. You always say how excited you are to perform overseas, but that’s a major departure from your normal routine.
JAKE: I’m not actually all that comfortable with going to new places or meeting new people. But I also adjust quite quickly when I’m thrown into a situation and will find myself enjoying the moment eventually. And I have many fond memories of going on trips with my family as a kid, so plane rides always excite me. Besides, there’s fun to be felt from having small changes in my routine, like sleeping somewhere other than my own bedroom.
Speaking of enjoying the moment, I remember you saying that, in contrast to how some people take photos to capture special moments, you prefer to take things in with your own eyes. Is it a way of staying true to the moment?
JAKE: I try to experience and take in everything I can with my own two eyes, whatever or wherever it may be, so that I won’t look back on the moment in regret or miss it later on. I’ve been that way ever since I was really little. Perhaps it comes from me moving to a different country and changing schools a lot, but I don’t want any lingering feelings about things after they’ve already passed by.
I imagine that made you take your first world tour more seriously.
JAKE: It felt like everything I’d done since my trainee days and after debut was all leading up to that moment— everything I’d done was just one, big practice leading up to being on stage, in front of the fans up close and personal. When I saw how much the fans were enjoying our performance, it made me want to make them even happier. That experience cemented my goal as an artist to put on even better and more memorable shows.
You led the second encore of “SHOUT OUT” at the concert. I heard you went off-script more with every concert experience you gained.
JAKE: I run things through in my head without realizing it (laughs) so I doubt my actions were that spontaneous. As for the second encore, I had thought beforehand that I might give it a shot if the mood is ripe. I know I have a tendency to get stressed out when things don’t go the way I planned them, so I made a conscious effort to be more spontaneous. And I know fans want to enjoy themselves and vibe with us, so I tried to match my energy to theirs.
Did your trademark stage presence and movement also improve as you gained more experience performing? The choreography for the lead single, “Bite Me,” calls for close attention to details and nuances, and your strengths seem to really shine through.
JAKE: It’s important to me that the audience can tell I’m singing and dancing my heart out. I spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of vibe I need to convey for each performance. Our new mini album does an excellent job of showcasing what makes ENHYPEN unique, and encapsulates the vampire theme in great depth and detail. So I made sure to work on my expressions and poses so that people watching our performance would be fully immersed in that unique vibe we have to offer.
In the rough version of the choreography, your upper body was supposed to stay still during the words “Got me bad,” but you changed it so you do a slight body roll instead. Is that because you found it works better with your body?
JAKE: I studied myself in the mirror a lot to settle on the right feel. So I would look cooler. (laughs) One thing I’ve learned from NI-KI is that both the general silhouette of your body and angles of each move are all very important. They make your dancing look much better, so I tried to focus on those pointers while showing off my unique asset at the same time: smooth, but powerful movements.
The same could be said for your vocals. You left quite an impression with “Polaroid Love,” and since then, your personal style appears to be coming into better focus, towards a better direction. Maybe that’s what makes your vocals in “Bills” so appealing.
JAKE: I think “Bills” sounds similar to “Polaroid Love” because in both songs, I sang with what I feel is my natural voice. I didn’t try to imitate anyone or capture a specific tone and manner, and people seemed to like that I sound natural and relaxed. That has certainly boosted my confidence, and I have been feeling a stronger urge to demonstrate the strengths of my voice to the fans as best as I could.
It’s different from “Karma,” where you had to sing almost as if you were shouting.
JAKE: It wasn’t a comfortable range for me or something I’m used to, but as a professional I had to do it (laughs) and I wanted to nail it. You might have noticed as I speak, but I’m quite breathy and soft spoken when I talk. I am in the process of calibrating what the best version of my voice may be, trying out different levels of force and pitch when I sing.
You’ve been given many parts that call for an explosive burst of energy. How do you feel when you have to express emotions that run opposite to your friendly and gentle real-life personality?
JAKE: I think what’s most important is that I express myself to suit the roles I’m given as a member of ENHYPEN. And I have moments when I’m angry or emotional too, so I try to channel those. But I try not to hold onto negative emotions. When I face a stressful situation, I try to forget about it, alter the situation, or be optimistic about it. It is as if I’m subconsciously trying to protect myself from negative influences. I guess you could say it’s a defense mechanism of some sort.
Maybe it’s a mode of self-preservation? Everyone knows you to be a good person since you’re so kind and considerate, but it also made me think you might need some boundaries put in place to protect yourself.
JAKE: Exactly. I know myself well. I think I’ve learned the ways of self-preservation ever since I was young. My dad used to come to Australia every three or four months, then leave for Korea again to work. I cried my eyes out every single time. I was so anxious, lonely, and missed him so much during his absence. That’s why I said I don’t want lingering feelings about things that are in the past. Because I know how hard it is from experience. It’s hard for me to devote 100% of myself to a person or a situation knowing that nothing is ever constant.
How is it that you made an exception for the ENHYPEN members when it comes to relying on people emotionally? It must have been quite significant for you when you said you’d “never met someone who I could give my 100% to before” other than your fellow members.
JAKE: I’ve always had plenty of friends and gotten along with everyone, but I don’t think I was ever able to open myself up completely. So I’m amazed that people like the ENHYPEN members exist in my life. It’s a rare thing to spend all day, every day with the same people for years. It’s easy to understand each other when you wake up and go to bed at the same time, work together, hang out together, do just about everything together. But given the way I am, it took me relatively longer to open up to them, and I believe I’m still in the process of opening up.
In a previous interview, you said that you try to accommodate each member’s personality in how you interact with them. I’m curious as to how you see yourself being that way.
JAKE: I think of it as data collecting: everyone has their own way they like to be treated, the way they want to be talked to and what they find funny. I pick up on these things, which is why I’m able to get along well with them. But what I found out soon after our debut was that if I see one of my members having a hard time, it affects me, even without them saying anything to me. But I wasn’t like that before. As long as their feelings weren't directed at me. Now, when a member feels upset, I feel upset. I can read how they feel, and I experience it with them.
Perhaps you feel a particularly strong sense of stability within your group, because it gives you a sense of belonging that would’ve been difficult to find while you were growing up.
JAKE: I feel comfortable around them and I’m proud of ourselves as a team. We’re always doing things together, looking out for each other, and making up for each other’s shortcomings. For example, NI-KI’s such a good dancer that he’s got that part covered, and JUNGWON and I are good at keeping a level head when things get tough so we try to take care of the others. I never used to open up to my family, either. But these days I rely on them a lot emotionally. I feel like I can do anything and overcome any hardship as long as I have my family.
It seems like you really value team spirit.
JAKE: I played a ton of team sports like soccer back in school. In a team sport, you share a common goal—beating the other team—and everyone needs to have the same amount of drive and energy in order to win. No exceptions. Everyone has their own unique position and all of them are so important that if just one person gets tired or isn’t willing to do their part, you are set for defeat. That’s why I think all seven members of ENHYPEN should pour every last bit of our passion into our endeavor under a shared goal. That’s how we’d be able to succeed. But whereas there’s a very clear goal in soccer, there’s no absolute measure of success for an artist, so self-motivation is key. The seven of us, we are giving it our all.
You must’ve felt how influential ENHYPEN is after seeing ENGENE from all around the world, and I would assume you now feel a greater sense of responsibility about your work.
JAKE: I do. That responsibility is always on my mind. Because they turn to us for comfort when they are having a hard time. Seeing fans like that makes me all the more determined to excel at what I do.
You were asked recently what you’d like to be reborn as, and you said, “I wouldn’t change anything. I would want to live my life exactly the same as I am now.” What’s your philosophy on life?
JAKE: I’ve definitely been through some challenges and difficulties, but I learned a great deal thanks to those experiences and wouldn’t be where I am now without them, so I wouldn’t change a thing. Maybe it’s because I have so many amazing people in my life. My mom once told me, “don’t get too wrapped up in anything.” So even if I’ve placed my bets on something, I’m trying to not have it consume me and simply enjoy the ride. I am putting myself more at ease. I want to be at peace and enjoy what I have.
I guess you’re in the middle of figuring out who you really are.
JAKE: I’m getting to know more and more about myself and I want to keep this going. Most of all, I want to take as good care of myself as I do others. That’s why I’m taking a lot of vitamin supplements these days. (laughs) You have to take care of your physical health in order to take care of your mental health. So that’s how I’ve been taking care—of myself.
Article. Lee Yejin
Interview. Lee Yejin
Visual Director. Jeon Yurim
Coordinator. Kim Jieun
Visual Creative Team.. Heu Sae Ryeun, Lee Gunhee, Cha Minsoo, Lee Jihoon (BELIFT LAB)
Photography. Nikolai Ahn / Assist. Cho Seunghan, Lee Haeji
Hair. Ahn Chihyun (fleek)
Makeup. Kwon Sojeong
Stylist. Ji Seyun / Assist. Choi Hanbyeol
Set Design. Choi Seoyun, Son Yehee, Kim Ayoung (da;rak)
Artist Management Team. Park Sungjin, Rhee Shindong, Hong Yuki, Kim Hangil, Kang Byoungwook, Woo Soohyeon, Park Jaewon
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