Today’s episode features Heejun, who you might remember from American Idol, Season 11. He made a name for himself on the show with his snarky sense of humor, and heartfelt ballads. The new music video from, “Bring Back the Love” has everything! It’s got Pusha T spitting a rap, lots of PRETTY GIRLS and is a departure from anything he did on Idol. The single, produced by Kadis & Sean, will be available on iTunes, TODAY September 17 (link included at the bottom). The video is produced by Riveting Entertainment and directed by Sylvain White. We talk to HeeJun about life after Idol, his hustle, and his upcoming EP that is sure to surprise his fans. Read below for the full Q&A…
You are in a really great position at the moment to become a really big artist, who just happens to be Korean. Aside from Psy, why do you feel like there is a void in Asian and Asian American mainstream music on U.S. radio?
HeeJun: I don’t think enough Asian artists tried with the right concept. Psy definitely opened a lot of doors to other Asian artists and I believe you’ll start seeing more Asian artists on the map of mainstream music industry including myself.
Why is it so difficult for American Idol alums to receive record label contracts? You would think going out on tour and beating out the odds already would be impressive enough?
HeeJun: Top two finalists usually get a record deal from a major label. Others have to find their own way survive after the show. American Idol brand definitely helps you with your music career but some executives think that the alums already showed everything on the show and there’s nothing more to show anymore. That’s why it’s important to evolve and grow as your own artists after the show.
So do you have a blueprint on how to obtain crossover success? Living back in Korea and signing to a Korean label might have limited your overseas appeal but that doesn’t seem to be the case! Was that something you were worried about?
HeeJun: I was only in Korea to finalize my deal with the label over there. They were 100% supportive of my career starting in US and it really didn’t limit my appeal to my fans who were just waiting to hear my new music no matter what label it’s coming out from.
I know soul/R&B is the music you listened too growing up. Is this the kind of artist you always wanted to be and incorporate that in your debut album?
HeeJun: Yes, I love R&B/Soul music and I always will. I have a R&B ballad song in the EP that’s coming out in November. I’m also recording an acoustic version of “Bring the Love Back” and that version will be included in the EP as well.
How did the inclusion of Clipse member Pusha T come about on your single ‘Bring the Love Back’?
HeeJun: I’ve always been a big fan of Clipse. I listened to them a lot growing up in NY. I wanted to have a rap feature where you knew who that rapper was as soon as you hear his voice. And that was Pusha T in my mind. Luckily, he really liked the single and wanted to jump on it as soon as he heard it. I was very honored and shocked at the same time that he was willing to collaborate on my single. Very thankful.
I also heard that the first single for you almost didn’t happen. Why did the producers feel it wasn’t a right fit for you and why did you push back believing it was indeed, the right single to lead off on?
HeeJun: Producers of this song, Kadis & Sean first played me few other records they had in mind for me. This song was something they just played in our downtime during the session. Something clicked for me as soon as I heard the song and I persuaded the producers and my manager to have me record this song and the rest is history for me.
Could you tell us what ideas you have cookin’ for future single releases or any big surprises on the album?
HeeJun: I’m going to focus on my single promotion for now. My goal is to put out much music as possible for my fans to hear and hopefully it’ll lead to a success some day.
What did you learn from the American Idol tour that you can use when you go off on your own upcoming tour? Any valuable lessons?
HeeJun: I had no clue how these tours worked. I toured 50 arenas in each cities and it was an amazing experience. I’ve learned to better connect with my fans and that’s the most valuable lesson from that tour.
Do you have any favorite Anime?
HeeJun: Attack on Titans is my favorite Anime.
Lastly, do you have any advice for any singers out there trying to achieve success?
HeeJun: Don’t ever give up! I believe everyone has their own timing. If you really put your heart into it, I believe your timing will come sooner or later.
Want to stay up to date on HeeJun’s world? Follow his cookie crumb trail below:
Purchase his single available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bring-love-back-feat.-pusha/id703011354?ls=1\