Korean-American singer and songwriter Eric Nam defies more limits and territories in his 10th year in the industry.
When I heard that Eric will hold a free fan meet in Manila around the end of July, I was intrigued. With a career spanning a decade now, one may think that Eric would go the conventional route of performing in an enclosed environment, armed with a well-defined script, complete with a strict team that values protocols and approvals. But Eric did exactly the opposite.
He performed in Market! Market!’s Activity Center for free last August 5, where people can visibly see and hear what he had to offer. And yes, everyone stopped, sang, laughed, and took countless photos and videos. Eric spoke directly to fans and went as far as listening and conversing with them and granting song requests. It was a refreshing take, different than usual Korean stages.
A few days before this fan meet, NYMA Management announced that they will be co-managing Eric for all his engagements in the Philippines. Local and international fans tuned in as Eric graced local radio, television, podcasts, digital articles, broadsheets and appeared on Youtube videos. In this short trip, Eric gave the Philippines a taste of how far he has grown, as an artist and as a person.
All of these got me thinking. Why is Eric doing all these? And why now?
FROM NOVICE TO NOBLE
Eric’s approach to his career has always been unorthodox yet calculated. A son of Korean immigrants in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Eric secured his future by graduating from Boston College with a major in International Relations, with a focus on Political Science and minor in East Asian Studies. He got a much-coveted job opportunity in Deloitte to do business strategy and operations consulting. But his life called him in other directions. In 2011, Eric joined a reality television show, Star Audition: Birth of a Great Star 2 in South Korea to make his dreams of becoming a singer come true. He finished 5th in the competition. But South Korea (and Eric) wanted more.
What followed next was a slew of well-received singles, EPs, and albums, as well as a successful foray into television and event hosting such as his stint for After School Club, Arirang TV’s interactive music talk show. In 2018, Eric and his brothers founded EN Management, which was then followed by Dive Studios in 2019. This was soon followed by the launch of his daily self-care app, Mindset, in September 2021, a platform featuring artists telling their own life stories in the hopes of helping the listener in their own mental health journey.
Photo by Kigon Kwak
The shows of Dive Studios and the Mindset app were generally perceived as a safe space for both fans and the stars to become vulnerable and connected. In essence, he marches to the beat of his own drum, but at the same time, he reads and listens to people’s feedback as he continuously improves on his craft.
It is through these endeavors that he was awarded last September 17, 2023 as one of the honorees for TIME Magazine’s TIME100 Impact Awards 2023.
“We do not all need to create platforms. We do not need to be musicians, actors, CEOs, or public figures to create impact. As cliche and simple as it may sound, being and embracing our best and most authentic selves—with all of our beauty and our flaws—is where we can begin. It should be with kindness, with honesty, with grace, even though sometimes it may feel very impossible, that we can remember, and encourage ourselves to be perfectly imperfect,” Eric shared during the award ceremony at the National Gallery Singapore.
Eric’s songs can be described as mostly pop. But as you dig deeper, under the dance melody lies the gut-wrenching narratives of longing, pain, and love. In particular, his song, I Wish I Wasn’t Me, the fourth track in his latest album, House on a Hill, is an honest narration of what it feels to be pressured and be haunted by self-doubt. In a day where most audiences crave for an escape, Eric seems to want the listener to sit with the emotions in order to find one’s answers from deep within.
Eric Nam’s House on a Hill album
“I hope they walk away from the album with a lot of introspection. The album came about as I was really contemplating what it is that really makes us happy, what really motivates us as people, and what makes us want to wake up every day and fight for what we fight for, stand for what we stand for. A lot of that will be heard in the music,” Eric explained during the press conference held in Manila last August 3, 2023.
With the success of Korean entertainment all over the world, every artist is competing with the shorter attention span of the audience. Yet for Eric, one can tell that he is more focussed on longevity and expansion. He is using his influence and skills to break stereotypes and shed light on social issues such as racism with the help of his loyal supporters called the Nam Nation.
CONQUERING HEARTS AND COMMANDING ATTENTION
Eric continues to pave the way, quite literally. Last September 16, Eric surprised everyone when he presented the Pirelli Pole Position Award to Carlos Sainz Jr. of Spain during the Singapore Grand Prix.
As of press time, Eric just announced his partnership with Booking.com for their Explorers 2023 campaign. Smart move for someone who is traveling the world for a concert, and for someone who has always excelled in writing, presenting and performing. And not to mention he just began the US leg of this House On A Hill World Tour.
Regardless of who your bias is, you will see Eric imprinting on your psyche, be it through his interview with your idol, doing a TikTok dance challenge or through his old and new collaborations with artists and producers.
What makes a great king, you ask me? He should be someone who genuinely cares about his people. And if Eric continues to prioritize the impact of the content that he creates, he will successfully rule both the West and the East. But this will only happen when all of us, the audience, are truly ready to fully-accept the lessons and lyrics from this brilliant, hard working king.
Continue Reading: From There And Back Again, Eric Nam Is Happy To Be Here Now