During his recent trip to Manila, Eric Nam shared with us what a star like him does in his free time, the power of a good conversation, and more.
When international musicians travel to the Philippines, it’s often just for a concert and a limited series of engagements at best. But when Eric Nam made his return to the Philippines in early August, he made the most out of his stay. Not only did the multihyphenate hold a free meet-and-greet with his fans in Market Market (and go viral for speaking Tagalog), but he also made headlines when he entered a partnership with local talent management company, NYMA, and made appearances in a few local TV shows, a first for the artist. It was a lot to take in but to hear it from Eric himself, he was grateful for the moments. And he’s still finding time to get that R&R.
THE PHILIPPINES AND BACK AGAIN
“It’s been hectic, but overall, just a lot of fun meeting a lot of great people and getting to see fans and perform,” reflects Eric on his recent time in the Philippines. In particular, he singles out the passion and dedication he feels whenever he sees his Filipino fans. “I always love seeing my fans, so performing and getting to do all of that was just a lot of fun. I hadn’t performed honestly in quite a while. And so to be able to do it again was fun.”
Needless to say, Eric had a whirlwind trip to the country, and such is the life of a star whose career has expanded into music, acting, podcasts, and more. But, even if his schedule can get busy when traveling overseas, he does try his best to get a day off or two and use the free time to go sightseeing. “At least I’d love to go to like a gallery or two or a museum,” he shares. “[J]ust to look at pieces that are not only local, but also local artists, and history and culture and all that.” For his recent trip to the Philippines, Eric revealed that he did get his taste of the local art scene as he attended the opening of TikTok creator and visual artist Raco Ruiz’s 2nd solo exhibit Surrealicious.
R&R (ERIC NAM’S VERSION)
Understandably, a day in the life of Eric Nam can be busy, so, when it’s time to clock out of work, he does what he wants. “I will typically just watch something on Netflix or Max. But what I enjoy the most is that I wake up whenever I want and eat whatever I want. And I can choose to do nothing if I don’t want to or I can go see a friend to have a meal, go to the movies, get a massage, something very simple and mundane. But that’s because every day is so action-packed. I think it’s those simple things that I enjoy.”
As for the shows that have lived in his mind rent-free as of late, he singles out Peaky Blinders (“really fun”), Bloodhounds, The Bear, and Psick Show on YouTube (which recently released an episode featuring Eric). Though, Eric is not the kind of guy to just scroll mindlessly on a streaming service. “I like CIA kind of espionage, Mission Impossible kind of stuff. And then I like political dramas like Succession, Homeland, House of Cards, or Billions. That kind of stuff.”
And when it comes to his take on whether subtitles are a must, Eric Nam the viewer leans on the no subtitles side. “To me, [no subtitles] makes me focus on the show. I think when you have subtitles, it’s easy to kind of do other things and not pay attention because you’re just reading and glancing. [No subtitles] lets you watch the screen and enjoy the art of cinema, which in today’s day and age is hard to do because we all have such attention spans. So generally, I try to have it off.”
As someone who is practically surrounded by K-pop, both as an artist and in his work on the Daebak Show, Eric keeps up-to-date with all the hottest releases. And like many of us, Eric has been loving the recent comebacks of NewJeans, Jungkook, LE SSERAFIM, and G(I)-DLE. In general, the musician leans towards pop when it comes to his playlist. “I really like pop. So it’s like a lot of pop EDM, dance EDM, and then things to me that are classic, like John Mayer, Adele, or some Harry Styles. Just like very classic pop, but that really depends on my mood. But yeah, those would be my general vibes.”
With a career that has spanned more than a decade in the industry, Eric Nam has listened to his fair share of music. So, with all that experience under his belt, what constitutes a bop to him? “I think it’s always just like a really solid melody. Like a very strong hook. I think a good melody will just win all the time.” What exactly makes for a good melody is something Eric is still trying to figure out. But if the vibes hit, then he knows he’s on the right track. “You just have to hear a melody and it just feels good.”
DIVE INTO CONVERSATION
As much as Eric Nam has continued to bless the world with bops and bangers, it shouldn’t also go unnoticed how he helped change the game for K-pop with the launch of Dive Studios, and in particular, his Daebak Show podcast. It broke new ground in how K-pop idols could tell their story in a new medium.
Over the years, Eric has interviewed dozens of K-pop’s biggest stars, and when asked which guest he would like to have come back on the show, he points to fellow groundbreaker and solo artist, Jessi. “I love how honest she is. And she has also been through a lot. She’s very open about having been through so many things in the industry and that she has so many experiences to share.”
Aside from the star power that has appeared on Daebak Show, a key reason why the series has become as popular as it is because of how comfortable the guests are. It’s not an awkward or tense conversation but like a chat between two friends who haven’t seen each other in a while.
There’s a sense of calmness that underlines each episode of Daebak Show, and, according to Eric, these moments of great conversation are born from a common trust between the host and the guest. “Guests have to come willing and ready to just be open, and I will never push or force anybody or ask a question that makes them uncomfortable. If I think it might even make them the slightest bit uncomfortable, I will always preface by saying, ‘If you want to pass, you don’t have to answer this question.’”
As someone who’s had numerous conversations over the years, Eric knows that an interview won’t go well if the guest isn’t at ease. “Having that approach allows people to think like, ‘Oh, okay, I can say what’s on my mind. This is a safe space.’ When people come, I just want them to feel very comfortable, very safe, and that they’re able to be as honest as they can.”
He adds, “When we first started the show, YouTube shows weren’t as popular as there are now in Korea. And so people were always a little bit nervous and hesitant about saying anything. But now we’ve gotten to a place where I think so many incredible people trust me. When they come, they’re very open and ready to talk, which is just great.”
And as for how he deals with guests who may be feeling the nerves, Eric goes the fun route. “We just play games. If I feel like we’re not feeling the conversation, which is fine, just play games. So I will always have games ready. And that’s oftentimes the icebreaker, what kind of gets us through the rest of the show.”
THE NIGHT AIN’T OVER
Following the release of his There And Back Again album last 2022, Eric is back for more musical magic with his new LP, House on a Hill, dropping this September. And serving as the second single of the LP is Don’t Leave Yet, which, according to Eric, is his take on a dance song that delves into that one person in the party who is seemingly putting off his exit for one more drink.
“There’s always that friend that never wants to go home. And at the end of the night, they want to have one more drink. They want to go to one more bar or restaurant. And then oftentimes, it makes me wonder like, are you going through something?”
But instead of delving into the whys of why they don’t want to leave the party, Don’t Leave Yet instead respects the hustle and serves as an ode to extending the moment. As Eric explains, “The song is permitting us to say whatever it is, I don’t care, I’m not going to judge, do whatever you want. Let’s just have a little more fun. So it’s a very feel-good song with a very catchy hook and drop.”
As for its music video, while it does touch upon Don’t Leave Yet’s freeing vibe, it also delves into the anxieties of this kind of lifestyle. “There is also a part of it that is anxiety-inducing. That is very suffocating. That generates a climax of sorts and comes from maybe feeling anxious and suffocated. So it’s like two opposing sides. One person that’s very like, this is my MO and another person who’s like not feeling it.”
JUST GO FOR IT
When Eric Nam left America to pursue a music career in South Korea, little did he know that it would change his life forever. It’s that iconic career shift many dream of. And while a change that big can be scary, Eric would want to tell his younger self to know that the leap is worth taking.
“Just go for it. I think when you’re in your 20s, it’s a time for you to try, experience, and experiment with everything. It can be scary because in many ways for many people, they’re starting their careers, they’re just trying to figure out who they are. But I don’t think you can fully get a grasp of that until you expose yourself to many things, and you have the courage and the bravery to say, let me try it. I think I did do that but I was also very scared and hesitant. So just to encourage myself to be like, just try it, see what happens. And if I had known that it’s okay to try that, I might have started music a little bit sooner.”
Photo Credit: Kigon Kwak