With a new label and an emotional track behind him, DAWN is ready to go deep and let us in on his new changes.
When it comes to starting fresh, there’s this feeling of hitting the reset button. That’s exactly what K-pop star DAWN did as the past year saw the soloist experience two major decisions in his life and career: leave P Nation and sign with a new label, AT AREA, and break off his relationship with his long-time girlfriend, HYUNA, much to the shook of the K-pop world.
But it’s in these moments and new paths that come with identifying new goals and challenges. For DAWN, that meant building a good relationship with his label since signing with them early this year. “AT AREA, we create a great synergy together. We are great creative partners, and that gives me strength to explore more and be brave with what I believe,” he says.
Born Kim hyo-jung, he began his music career as a member of Pentagon under E’DAWN. After going public about his relationship with HYUNA in 2018, both were controversially let go at Cube. They then went on to sign with Psy’s P Nation in 2019. A slew of singles, EPs, and a break-up later, DAWN now finds himself embarking on a new era with the recent release of his new single, Dear My Light. And by the first listen, it can be seen that DAWN is ready for a new beginning.
A DIFFERENT SOUND
DAWN’s new single, Dear My Light, moves away from the pop and hip-hop sound we’ve come to expect from him as it focuses on vocals and acoustics. When people first hear it, it’s surprisingly different from all the releases he has done in the past. Most of his past releases often put the spotlight on the performance aspect of things. But with Dear My Light, the message takes the lead, particularly with how the song talks about a beautiful time that was shared between two people.
Looking closely at the lyrics, it’s not hard to imagine how the track is his bittersweet way for him to say he’s thankful for HYUNA and everything they did together. “I believe in love, and I am grateful for my emotions. I hope a lot of my fans and listeners can relate to this, and I’m excited to share this with everyone,” DAWN shares in an interview with NYLON Manila, noting that he’s been focusing on finding himself and self-care.
Adds the K-pop idol, “When I start with my ideas, it is clear and I share them with my co-creators along the way. These ideas vary in different forms of art — they can be a melody, lyrics, or even visual pieces. It progresses along the way as I finish into a final piece.”
Coming from a well-known boy group to being a solo artist can be difficult. But for DAWN, he learned to accept it as an artist naturally. He shares, “I looked at it from a perspective of creative endeavors. I think the transition comes very naturally to any artist, and whether I am in a group or as a solo artist, I give my all to express myself through music.” He feels that in recent months, he grew as hyo-jung and is confident in sharing himself as a person.
The same thing goes when he experiments with new hairstyles and outfits. DAWN is a known figure in the Korean rap community for his unique and androgynous style that isn’t afraid to go bold. After all, he and HYUNA were the first Korean celebrity couple to be featured in a Calvin Klein campaign. DAWN voices, “No matter what my hairstyle or outfit looks like, I think I’m the same person every time. To me, fashion is a way to express myself, but no matter what I have on, it is a continuation of who I am.”
WHAT LIES AHEAD
While artists will always have specific genres they lean towards, music these days is defined less by rigid standards and more by how genres often overlap to create new sounds and experiences. In DAWN’s case, he’s been working on all types of genres lately. “After signing with AT AREA, I found more ways to express myself through my voice. It almost felt liberating because I now cherish my voice as my instrument in a way.” Reflecting further, he adds, “In the future, I will continue to focus on my story and what I am feeling rather than limiting it to genres of music.”
As his 7-year career in the industry continues, DAWN is both a veteran and isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Experimentation remains true to his artistry. “In the past, I have also focused on doing this through different performances and dances. But now I am constantly searching for new ways to do this.” And at the heart of it all will be the stories DAWN wants to tell. “I focus more on something emotional that my audience and fans can feel.”
Breakups and big changes in one’s life aren’t always easy things to process. But DAWN is making it clear that has learned how to embrace the new things that lie ahead of him. He happily states he feels inspired and motivated. “I love the new safe space that I have, creatively. I’ve been embracing all these new changes in my life and have been working on a lot of great content for my fans to enjoy this year.” A new dawn has risen for the K-pop star, and as one of the most exciting acts in the industry, we’re all the better for it.
Photos by Cho Gi Seok
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