An Interview With South Korean Singer, DEAN on Breaking Into The American Market, Working With Songwriter Eric Bellinger and Much More!
Posted On 22 Sep 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Beyonce, Black Pearl, Bobby Brown, Childish Gambino, Dean, Dru Hill, Eric Bellinger, EXO, Halo, Here & Now, I'm Not Sorry, K-POP, Kanye West, Kehlani, Korea, Miguel, Mila J, Motown, N.E.R.D, Nirvana, South Korea, Toni Braxton, Tory Lanez, Universal Records, VIXX, Voodoo Doll
Meet the 22 year-old South Korean vocalist, Dean! He recently premiered his sophomore single/lyric video, “I’m Not There” featuring Eric Bellinger to follow up his debut “Here & Now” which features pop singer-songwriter Mila J.
His music is a collection of tunes that cover a wide range of styles ranging from rock, pop, EDM, hip hop, garage and soul. Dean’s extraordinary lyricism effortlessly capture the wide spectrum of human sentiment unlike any of his contemporaries.
In 2013, he scored his first songwriting hit in the form of VIXX’s “Voodoo Doll.” The song soared to #1 on Billboard’s K-Pop charts. That same year, he also wrote “Black Pearl” by EXO. More recently, Dean worked with with the songwriter and recording artist, Eric Bellinger who co-wrote Beyonce Knowles’ smash hit “Halo”. The fruit of their harmonious labor is evidenced in “I’m Not Sorry,” which is a vibrant hip hop/R&B club track with an undercurrent of DJ influences.
“I’m more concerned with crafting a sound unique to me as an artist. Blending the elements of 90s R&B, hip hop, EDM, garage, indie rock. I want to construct a future R&B sound. There are lots of legendary artists like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Michael Jackson, the one thing that their work has in common is that it accurately reflects the times like no other artists can do. I want to capture the same exact sentiment in my own music. I want people to listen back to my music in the same way and be impacted.”
Learn more about Dean in the following All Access interview:
Growing up, did you already want to be an artist? Was your family always supportive of you and this career path?
When I was little I always enjoyed singing, even if it was just humming around the house. As for when I decided to become a musical artist, I can’t remember exactly when, but I remember watching a video of a famous R&B singer performing. I watched how he performed and then I felt the genuine reaction from the crowd. The whole energy in the atmosphere was so amazing that I started to feel something different inside me. I don’t know the exact date, but I know that was the moment that I decided in my heart to become a music artist. My parents aren’t artists, but they really like singing, dancing, and listening to music and that really helped me to decide to be an artist. So I’m the first artist in the family, but my family did support me a lot in that way.
How did you get connected with Motown artist Mila J? What’s that relationship been like?
My label connected me. It was really great working with Mila because she’s a very professional artist as well as very beautiful. She came across as genuine on the record and really had a sexy vibe to her voice. She completely sold the record and it was a joy working with her.
What it like working with Eric Bellinger who has some huge credits under his belt (He co-wrote Beyonce’s hit song “Halo”)?
I was really impressed with Eric because he is very humble. Everybody knows he is a big artist and a top songwriter, but he never acted like a celebrity. He was more focused on the song and that really impressed me. He also made me feel very comfortable. As for the writing process, it went really smoothly. I put down scratch melodies first, and then he did as well. I discussed the lyrical ideas with him and we figured out the concept for the song together. We went back and forth until we completed the record.
How exactly do you blend 90’s R&B, hip hop, EDB, garage and indie rick altogether in your music? Do you have a favorite genre?
Initially 90’s R&B caught my attention because it was something different than what I had been used to hearing. The groove, the runs, the explosive feelings and emotions within the music really drew me in and I started getting into it. So I try to incorporate R&B music like Toni Braxton, Dru Hill and Bobby Brown and then flip it with other genres.
What musicians have continued to inspire you through the years? Who would you love to work with in the future?
I listened and was inspired by Kanye West, N.E.R.D and Nirvana growing up. They always expressed themselves with such a unique approach, not only musically, but also in a variety of other ways, such as their visuals, their attitude, their performance etc and that all really impressed me. Also, another big inspiration has been the lyrics of other artists, especially soul musicians from the ‘60s and ‘70s. These days, I’m really into Kehlani and Tory Lanez. I would love to work with them. Ultimately, my biggest influence has been Kanye, but I also really love Miguel and Childish Gambino. They’re so dope! I would love to work with them as well.
One press release has described you as “reinventing the future of R&B music”. How do you think you are doing that today?
Honestly, I don’t wanna be just another generic R&B singer. I want to be my own artist. I’ve been trying to make my own brand of style and music, so it’s important to me to come across as different. I see myself having my own sound and style as an artist, and I see people loving it. I see myself creating my own culture and community off of my music and artistry.
How did you get started making music? Was it always your goal to break out of the K-Pop world?
I have been singing since I was in high school, so it’s been almost 5 years now. I have always enjoyed singing since I was little, even it was just humming around the house. And yes I’ve always wanted to break into the American market.
What do you hope is the message of your music?
I want people to know I’m raw, I’m a rebel, I stick to my roots, and I don’t compromise my artistry.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Many of my songs are going to be released in English and Korean so I hope my songs can give my fans a chance to learn about each other’s cultures and make it easier to relate to each other.
Dean and Eric have similar tones. I love their song, “I’m sorry, No I’m not sorry. It may take some time but Dean has what it takes to be a great artist in our music market.