You have finally debuted.
JAKE: Our debut seems like yesterday, but time flew by because we had a jam-packed schedule from day one. All I think about these days is working hard.
How was the preparation for your debut?
JAKE: I had to work harder than the others because I’ve only been a trainee for nine months. I didn’t want to lag behind. Once we debut, our dance performances have to be perfectly synchronized, and there are fancams too, so everyone can tell whether we’re good or not. I thought a lot about my dancing and singing because I wanted to show everyone that I made progress during the two months of preparation for our debut.
You ranked first in the producers’ evaluation for the first time with “Flicker” on I-LAND. It must have felt special performing it again on the DEBUT SHOW. What did you want to emphasize during your solo shot on stage?
JAKE: HEESEUNG performed the first part of “Flicker” really well on I-LAND. So I asked him for advice and thought a lot about the gestures, expressions, and choreography to find my own style. Whenever I raised my eyebrows or slightly lifted my head, I made sure to put on more relaxed expressions and vibes. I think the relaxed expressions and gestures are what make a performance stand out, so I try to make my gestures look as relaxed as possible.
How do you practice those gestures?
JAKE: In fact, the gestures I do on stage are often different from when I practice them in front of the mirror. The gestures come out naturally under the stage lighting, with the vibe, and in my costumes. I never even thought about flapping the jacket lapel when I was practicing because I didn’t have the jacket on during practice, but it came out naturally on stage.
Then was your impression of a puppy at the end of the performance of “10 Months” also improvised?
JAKE: I love puppies, and I take it as a compliment when people tell me I look like a puppy. “10 Months” is about a 10-month-old puppy, so I thought the impression would go well with the song. (laughs) I did it on the spot, but I thought a little bit about how I should do it before I went on stage.
Where do you get those ideas?
JAKE: Watching performance videos help me the most since I haven’t had much stage experience yet. There have been so many idol group performances with diverse concepts. Because I watch so many of them, I’ve become more mindful of the concepts when thinking about performances, and I try to copy the expressions of the idols that staged those performances. I watch the videos of YEONJUN from TOMORROW X TOGETHER to pick up the playful expressions. I want to look like I’m enjoying the performance, but also cute at the same time.
JAKE: It was changed on the set of the music video during filming, but made my hands relaxed while filming. I like the relaxed look. V from BTS gives me a lot of inspiration because he is so good at that and because he looks awesome. I want to be like him. That’s my goal. (laughs)
In your first close-up scene from the “Given-Taken” music video, you stand face-to-face with JAY. You two look great in the music video, but it might have been awkward since you are so close.
JAKE: It was very awkward. I couldn’t hold in my laughter to the point where I wanted to apologize to the director, so I actually looked a little bit to the side instead. I couldn’t help but laugh when I looked at his face. (laughs) We filmed without making eye contact or looking at each other’s faces. You know how we appear on the music video one by one? We also filmed many scenes where we face sideways, but I think they were taken out because we laughed so much.
You are not a big fan of scary things, but the “Given-Taken” music video was filmed in the forest late at night.
JAKE: I’m not that afraid of ghosts. I’m more afraid of people than ghosts, and I think I’m more scared of horror movies about people than ghosts.
You seemed terrified of bugs, though. (laughs)
JAKE: Wow. I have so many bad memories of bugs. I’ve had enough of giant bugs when I lived in Australia. (laughs)
It looked like there were a lot of bugs when you were filming the music video. It must have been difficult to focus.
JAKE: I really hate bugs, but I put up with it because we had to film. I thought I shouldn’t look scared because the director and many other staff members were waiting.
What did you think the music video was about when you were shooting it?
JAKE: It’s not easy to analyze “Given-Taken,” and I think it has a deep meaning. I think the song describes the determination or fear we have as we enter the new world after I-LAND, so I tried to be mindful of that when filming the music video. I didn’t want my gestures to suggest that the song can only be interpreted in one way. I wanted to leave room for interpretation for the fans. It wasn’t easy because it was my first time filming a music video, but I did my best.
The parts you sing in “Given-Taken” have many high notes. How did you practice singing?
JAKE: From the day after our debut was decided, I’ve been recording every single day, and I think that helped a lot. I was able to hear my voice from an objective point of view, and I thought I needed to change the way I vocalize. Even when I speak, I tend to be breathy, so my voice sounds a bit weak when I’m singing. I asked the producer how I could resonate, project, and sound more solid, and I learned a lot. I also tried to look for solutions on my own.
JAKE: I believe narrations should be able to draw people in. They should tie the whole album together. The title song “Given-Taken” is dark, and I thought it adequately described the fear and complicated feelings that arise when heading toward a new world so that’s the feel I tried to express.
It must have been difficult since it was your first time recording a narration.
JAKE: The producers and I worked really hard, and the members would tell me that I went into the studio with lots of energy and then came out looking exhausted. (laughs) It was my first time narrating, and there were many parts that were just my voice without any background music. There were so many things I had to be mindful of, like how to bring out the right emotion. So I would set a heavy tone in the studio with no lights on, and brought up a lot of different thoughts. You usually stand when you’re recording, but I sat down sometimes because it took so long. But I think my narration in the first trailer turned out pretty well because I did it after I got some practice from recording the Intro and Outro.
Your Australian accent from the narration received a lot of attention. What was it like living in Australia?
JAKE: Life in Australia was the definition of a chill life. I would get off school at three, and I didn’t have many things to do. The pace of life in Australia is slower, and you have a lot of time to think. So I found the Korean culture very different, with everything being done so quickly. I liked being busy and having a routine while living as a trainee for nine months in Korea, but these days, I sometimes miss the relaxed atmosphere of Australia. (laughs)
I heard you became a trainee after passing the global audition with the odds of 500:1.
JAKE: I found that out when I watched the show. Until the morning of the audition , I still debated whether to go or not. But my dad suggested we give it a shot, so I went without thinking too much about it and I sang Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.”
Were there any challenges to adapting to life as a trainee?
JAKE: Honestly speaking, I never knew it would be that hard. (laughs) It was okay on the days when I had lessons, but when I didn’t, I didn’t know what I should be doing all day long. But I prepared for the monthly performance tests, got lessons, and became more interested in dancing and singing. I think that’s when I started making a lot of progress.
You also got a lot of attention on I-LAND for consistently making progress.
JAKE: I spend a lot of time thinking about the feedback I receive, and I think I was able to make progress because I focused on fixing my problems. I try to think that if I keep thinking about ways to improve my performance, I’ll be able to perform better next time. And whenever I’m rehearsing or performing on stage, I don’t worry too much about it, and I try not to. I’m going to be on many different stages from now. I try to enjoy myself because I think I make fewer mistakes throughout the performance when I’m truly having fun. When I moved to Korea from Australia, I had to transfer to a Korean school, and that along with becoming a trainee was completely new to me, so it wasn’t easy at first. But once I got used to my life as a trainee, it was fine.
Moving to Korea to become a trainee must have been a big decision.
JAKE: I made the bold choice to leave behind a lot of things in Australia to come here. My parents and I were very concerned because the path of a trainee is rife with uncertainties that can disappear all of a sudden. But when I get hooked on something, I have to see it through to the end. I think about it all day and become obsessive. (laughs) Ever since I started dreaming of becoming an idol, my goal was to debut no matter what. So even when people told me that being a trainee will be difficult, I thought of it as a step toward my dream.
JAKE: Enhypen will be a part of me for the rest of my life, and I really think of the members as family. You know, BTS is famous for their strong teamwork and a tight-knit relationship, and it shows in their videos. We want to follow their example.
You said that you get along with SUNGHOON very well because you’re the same MBTI type and have a lot in common.
JAKE: We depend on each other a lot. We have so much in common, and he has even more things on his mind. When we were choosing our in-ear monitors, he thought it over for three more days (laughs). It’s interesting because he often reminds me of myself before my personality changed. We share the same blood type and MBTI type. So when he is concerned about something, I often tell him what I would have wanted to hear if I had been in his situation.
The members born in 2002 will enter your 20s very soon.
JAKE: This year has been very hectic for me, moving to Korea and becoming a trainee, and the next thing I know, I’m almost an adult. Honestly, I don’t have big expectations and haven’t given much thought about it, but I’m happy that I’m becoming an adult with the members who were born in 2002, like me.
What do you want your 20s to be like?
JAKE: Above all, I’m an artist now, and I feel a sense of anxiety and tension about the fact that many people are watching me. So I’m determined to show a more mature version of myself. I’m 19, which means I’m the second oldest member of the team. Many of the members are younger than me, but they seem to think I’m cute, and honestly speaking, I don’t think I’m acting like an older member either (laughs). So I want to become close to them, and be someone they can turn to when they’re feeling down.
Then as a member of ENHYPEN, what kind of artist do you want to be?
JAKE: I was an ordinary teenager until a year ago, and even now, I don’t think I’m very different from other people. I just think of myself as a performer and a musician. So I want to sing and dance for many people.
There are fans out there who love your performance and music.
JAKE: This is still very new to me, and honestly, I’m so grateful and I don’t think this feeling will ever go away. (laughs) It’s my first time having fans, and I’m absolutely overwhelmed. It was my birthday a while ago, and I’ve never received so many congratulations from so many people. I was really grateful. I was all alone in the practice studio on my last birthday, calling and texting my family, but this year, I was so happy to see not only my family but so many fans rooting for me and sending me love.
It’s a shame you can’t meet them in person right now.
JAKE: Like I said, I dreamed of becoming an idol watching idol group performances, and I dreamed of going on stage at a concert and screaming and shouting with the fans. I don’t know when that’ll be, but when I finally get to perform in front of our fans, I think I’ll be unimaginably happy.
Unauthorized reproduction and distribution prohibited.