By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Korean-American singer Brian Joo is known as one-half of the popular R&B duo Fly to the Sky. But with the release of his first solo album, ``The Brian,” last month, Joo shows what he can do on his own.
``I just want to get my name out there. I'm always known as Fly to the Sky's Brian, but I want them to know me simply as Brian,” Joo told The Korea Times in an interview backstage at SBS Kongge Hall in Mok-dong, Seoul, on Sunday.
Wearing pinstriped brown pants, a crisp white shirt and a vest, Joo was relaxing backstage after performing on the TV music show ``SBS Popular Song.’’ He received the show’s Mutizen Song award for his single ``Kajima.’’
Joo, a native of Absecon, N.J., in the United States, said he wanted to try a different pop sound on his solo album to distinguish himself from Fly to the Sky's signature R&B sound. He originally planned to do all the songs in English but wasn’t able to because of lack of time. The album contains one song in English, ``All I Know.’’
Joo’s solo venture doesn’t mean a divorce from Fly to the Sky and fellow member Hwan Hee. The duo plans to release a seventh album in May. Joo added that he is not following any trend of boy group members going solo.
Once Joo starts talking, you get the feeling that he's not your typical K-pop star. Sure, the 26-year-old singer has the look, the voice and the moves, but he's also down-to-earth and humble.
Joo, a Christian, said that religion plays a big part in how he deals with the stress and the pressure of entertainment. ``If I didn't have my religion, I would break down. This is not an easy career for young people,” he said.
He was a 16-year-old high school student in New Jersey when a friend signed him up for an audition. The audition landed him a deal with top Korean agency S.M. Entertainment. In 1999 he made his debut as part of Fly to the Sky in Korea.
``When I was a kid growing up, my goal was to be the Asian Michael Jackson. That never happened, but this is just one step for me,” Joo said.
`` When I was growing up, I never thought I’d go to another country and become a singer. I’m happy with what I'm doing right now. Hopefully in the future, whether it's the U.S. or Asian market, I'm going to try and do it.’’
For the many kids who dream of becoming entertainers, Joo has some words of advice: ``I have some friends who are top singers who call me up at 2 o’clock or 4 o’clock in the morning, weeping and saying how hard it is. It's a lot of pressure. If you can't handle it, then don't do it,’’ he said. ``You have to discipline yourself and realize this field is not going to be nice to you. You’ve got to be strong because people will try to break you …’’
Joo also wants to pursue acting in the future. ``Acting is one thing I want to do. But it’s not happening right now. Hopefully, one day they'll have a part in a movie or drama where they’ll say: ‘Oh, Brian is that character’... Or maybe even in Hollywood,” he said.
K-pop stars like Rain and Se7en prepare to break into the U.S. market this year, but Joo is waiting for the right opportunity.
Right now he’s trying to become closer to his fans in the U.S. and other countries by opening an account on the popular social networking site My Space. He tries to check his account (http://www.myspace.com/thebrian110) at least once a week to respond to the messages left by his fans.
Source: The Korea Times