When the photoshoot was all finished, JAKE returned to the set with a brief apology and slowly went over his photos one by one. As in the interview, when he said, “everything I do as JAKE of ENHYPEN I do for ENGENE,” he not only takes everything he does on stage seriously, but also everything he plans to show to ENGENE.
You recently switched roommates. Now you’re with JAY, who called you his “most ideal roomie” on V LIVE.
JAKE: Maybe because I’m the one who cleans everything up? (laughs) I’m close with JAY and we have similar hobbies and we became roommates so we could play games together.
While you were promoting “Tamed-Dashed,” you said on Show Champion Behind that you like everything about JAY, but that you hope he’ll work on keeping your room clean. Have things since changed?
JAKE: No. But I’d like to think I don’t give up easily. (laughs)
On “ENHOUSE,” a part of 2021 ENniversary, NI-KI said, “there are two people that eat late-night snacks pretty frequently … but they eat and never do the dishes.” (laughs) I heard you and HEESEUNG eat at night so often you’re called the Ramyeons.
JAKE: HEESEUNG and I never seem to gain any weight. He still eats midnight snacks by choice. I started to eat late with him and it kind of became a habit. It used to be almost 90% ramyeon, at least in the past, but now I’m trying to eat a variety of healthy options, too.
In the behind-the-scenes video for the DIMENSION: DILEMMA concept photoshoot, you went to a nearby abandoned building in the evening with HEESEUNG and NI-KI. Weren’t you scared?
JAKE: I’m not really scared of ghosts, anyway. Haunted houses are different because that’s just people dressed up. I’m scared of people popping out and surprising me, but I’m not worried about seeing any ghosts.
What was it like dancing with NI-KI in the dance breaks for the 2021 Melon Music Awards [MMA] and the 2021 Mnet Asian Music Awards [MAMA]?
JAKE: Regardless of if it’s NI-KI or one of the backup dancers, I felt bad that I had to step on their backs, but I tried to do it as lightly as possible. I’m important, but so are they. And I love playing sports, so I’m good at the part where I catch the rugby ball midair. I think they took notice and gave me that part in the choreography. (laughs)
You had a lot of strong points on display for your MMA performance of “Tamed-Dashed.” The little details in your facial expressions, like when you go from a piercing stare to a softer look in the “just dash” and “show me the way” parts, are really impressive.
JAKE: I think my face naturally changes when I carefully consider the atmosphere and concept and look out from the stage. For “Tamed-Dashed” I thought about light, comforting feelings to make myself look that way to fit the concept even if I wasn’t smiling, and during the dance break I tried to look more powerful and charismatic.
You collaborated with TOMORROW X TOGETHER for KBS Song Festival.
JAKE: It was our first time doing a collaborative performance, so I was nervous and really worried, honestly. Still, it was TOMORROW X TOGETHER, which was a big relief. We couldn’t talk to each other much at the company because everyone’s busy, so I really wanted to bond over this. I’m really happy we grew close after being together all that time.
You were preparing for DIMENSION: ANSWER while doing all that, too. What was that process like? I’m sure even more people are looking forward to your comeback now.
JAKE: When we see news about how we’re doing, I think, Wow, this is dope (laughs) but we still haven’t been able to do many in-person concerts or performances. So I want this whole situation to clear up soon so we can have more of that feeling. I’m glad we get to perform for people a little more often when we make a comeback like this.
The camerawork for the “Blessed-Cursed” performance shows a new side of you. How was it to practice that?
JAKE: I think this is the first time we’ve done choreography where some of the members move aside in the middle of it. There’s only three of us for my part during the first verse. The movement has become a little complicated but it felt original since it was our first time doing it. And your physical strength is really important when you dance, of course. Our choreography’s always on the difficult side, but this one was the hardest yet, so I practiced the choreography like a beast (laughs) to improve my strength. Actually, I didn’t even know about dance up until a year ago. I gradually picked it up from the others on I-LAND and I got a lot of lessons around our debut so I became a little more interested in it. Sometimes we invite outside instructors to teach us and I learn their choreography styles whenever that happens.
The vocals for “Blessed-Cursed” is also great. “I thought it was out, flame of summer burning in me”—that part really brings out the feeling of the beat.
JAKE: Since none of our songs are ever totally sung by only person, there are roles for each part. My part’s in the first verse, so I tried to sing rhythmically to suit the mood, rather than create a huge rise in tension. And since it’s a rock song, I expressed it through a kind of hoarse voice. I’m learning a lot from the producer these days. They taught me basic vocalization to what kind of mood and vocals match the song the most, starting with basic vocalization. I tried out a lot of different things, too. You can open your vocal cords a little or tighten them up, so when you open them up you get a soft, easy sound, whereas if you tighten or close them your vocals will sound strong and hard. And if you do that even more, you get that kind of hoarse sound. I tend to vocalize with them slightly open, so I think I tried to consciously close and tighten them up while recording.
In that case, it sounds like you sang on “Polaroid Love” with your voice slightly open.
JAKE: I think it was the most ideal song to showcase my voice. It was easy for me to sing it on the recording and at live performances during the fan meeting concert. The first part of the song was up to me, and personally, I feel that the first few seconds of a song are important because people will judge the song to some extent based on what they hear. So I felt a lot of pressure, but I was able to work hard at recording for that reason. The song’s not officially dedicated to fans, but I like that the lyrics and the mood of the song feel like it is.
What was it like recording the voiceover for “Outro: Day 2”? Your soft voice suited it really well.
JAKE: There’s no guideline for the voiceover and nothing is set in stone, so I recorded it as we went along, discussing it with the producer. It only took one take, so I was really surprised. I was like, Shouldn’t we try that one more time? (laughs)
Wasn’t it hard going through the whole process? I would think it would take a lot of effort to get those kinds of results.
JAKE: I tend to get really stressed out whenever I do something and I didn’t quite nail it or did something wrong, so the hardest part was when I would get disappointed with myself. That’s why I’m trying to boost my confidence. I’ve learned how to organize my thoughts now, whether they’re related to performing or not, so I’m a little more relaxed. If you think about the goals you absolutely must accomplish and the processes behind them, and follow through on that, you’ll never get flustered. For example, musically, I really want to improve my vocal and performance skills. I don’t have time right now but I’m going to learn guitar and I want to learn producing soon, too. And I mastered how to release stress fast. I find relief from even extremely trivial things. I find a little bit of joy even in going home and having a late-night snack with HEESEUNG or playing games with the other members. (laughs)
In a previous interview, you were talking about the other members and you said it was the first time you had someone you could give your all to.
JAKE: It’s really great and fun when we see each other even if we’ve only been apart a short while. When we’re constantly together I don’t feel that way, but if we’re busy with our own work for a while and then meet back up, it’s really nice.
I saw in the “Jake Vlog” you posted for your birthday that you went fishing with HEESUNG and NI-KI during your vacation.
JAKE: My family and HEESEUNG’s family live in Korea, so we can see our parents on vacation, but NI-KI was always at our home alone. I felt a little bad for him, and we all like fishing, so we said we should go together sometime and we found a good place, so we went and had a nice time. I was thrilled that NI-KI liked it so much. He was so cute. (laughs)
Isn’t it true that you and NI-KI play soccer a lot and get called the Ball Boyz?
JAKE: NI-KI and I play soccer in the practice studio almost every single day. Soccer is my favorite sport and I was on a Korean soccer team when I was a little kid, before I went to Australia. When I played soccer, I was a forward—I played left wing. Left wing has to go back and forth a lot and take shots on goal, making physical strength important, so I worked hard to improve my strength. My dad still sends me vitamins, insisting I take them, so I keep taking them to make me stronger. (laughs) He’s been taking care of me like that since I was a little baby.
You and SUNGHOON are the same age, share the same blood type and have the same MBTI. That was so funny when you were on V LIVE with him and said MBTI boxes people in too much, but then when it came time to choose a slogan, you said you couldn’t “because I’m ISTJ.” I don’t put absolute faith in MBTI, of course, but do you possess the characteristics of ISTJ?
JAKE: I think I unconsciously deal with things rationally in every situation rather than emotionally. I don’t cry from emotions much. I almost never cry, except for at fan meeting concerts. But I think as a musical artist and when working I need some level of sensitivity or emotion.
That’s a little surprising, because when you went bungee jumping on EN-O’CLOCK, you said things like, “Are you really nervous? JUNGWON will do well,” and also, “JAY, jump. I’ll hug you!” So it seemed like you were good at empathizing with others.
JAKE: Because those were the things I would want someone to say to me if I were in the same situation. I’m a firm believer in “what goes around comes around.” (laughs) And because I’m always with the other members I can feel something, and I’m happy when they are too.
In EN-O’CLOCK you also said you’re good at figuring out how much water to put in rice because you cooked it with your mom for five years. So your daily routine was to take the vitamins your dad got for you and then cook with your mom.
JAKE: In Australia, I made dinner with my mom almost every day. I thought that was the norm, so when people said I was good at cooking I was a little surprised. My mom’s a fantastic cook. She cooked me all kinds of different foods, but what I remember best is how good her bibimmyeon with meat was. The first time I ever had it was in Australia.
You must have a lot of good memories from Australia.
JAKE: When I first went to Australia I would run around with my friends in a swimsuit and bare feet, climb up trees, and jump fences on my way home. I’m also familiar with setting up tents because I’ve done it so many times. And do you know the show Problematic Men? My mom and my brother really like it, too, so we watched it every day and solved the questions together. They’re like quizzes—a little bit like the questions on math tests in Australia. The questions are long, and if you don’t show every step of your work, you don’t receive any marks.
And after that you came to Korea with your dog Layla. How’s she doing?
JAKE: I have a lot of videos of her on my phone from when we were in Australia. She’s definitely put on some weight. She was really skinny back then, but now she’s gained a lot of weight, but she’s still healthy. (laughs) It must’ve been hard on her, flying over from Australia, but she’s adjusted well and living a happy life.
Have you adjusted well, too? I can tell from the old saying you used a minute ago that your Korean has improved a lot compared to the interview you did a year ago.
JAKE: You’re right—my Korean has improved a lot. When I watch videos on my phone to set things up or whatever, I do it in English since there’s a lot of things I don’t understand in Korean, but when I talk, I always use Korean. But it’s still a little difficult when I have to listen to Korean and then talk in English, I think. If someone asks me a question in Korean, I start thinking in Korean, so it gets confusing to change it into English.
Even when you’re on V LIVE, you read both the English and Korean comments.
JAKE: Like I always say, without ENGENE, there is no JAKE of ENHYPEN. I keep thinking how everything I do as JAKE of ENHYPEN I do for ENGENE. And it keeps me thinking about them. So I feel amazingly close with them. I think I feel comfortable speaking to them and can discuss my inner feelings. I haven’t really cried in front of the other members, but I cried in front of all those fans at the fan meeting concert.
EN-CONNECT: COMPANION, the fan meeting concert you had back in November, was the second one you did, right?
JAKE: We did the same performances during the rehearsal the day before as we did later at the fan meeting. During the rehearsal, I said to HEESEUNG, “Just think: By this time tomorrow, we’ll be doing it for real, in front of fans, not just rehearsing.” But the time passed so quickly. It was an unforgettable, precious time. I think I enjoy it a whole lot more when I do it in front of fans like we do at the fan meeting concerts. I want to do more performances like that.
You said in a “-note” that, as an artist, while you want to find your true colors, you also like the way you are now, so what is it you’d like to show to your fans?
JAKE: I guess it keeps changing. (laughs) First off, making good use of my voice, putting on cool performances on stage and making sure the audience has fun and the feeling lingers. I’m an entertainer and a performer. I still don’t really know myself, but I think it’s my job to keep searching.
What do you see for this process of finding your true colors going into the future?
JAKE: I think it’s better if I don’t worry about it, whatever it is. If I ever get nervous on stage, I end up regretting it. So when I go up there, I just try to enjoy it. If I do well in practice, I can just do it exactly like that on the stage. That way, the performance is fun.