Jackson Wang Thrives on "Oxygen"

Jackson Wang Thrives on "Oxygen"

The Hong Kong-born K-Pop sensation is breathing life into crossover music and fashion.

The Hong Kong-born K-Pop sensation is breathing life into crossover music and fashion.

Text: Staff

With a burgeoning solo career, a massive Fendi contract and enviable style, Hong Kong-born K-Pop sensation Jackson Wang gives his all in wherever his talent takes him. But today, he gave his legions of fans (20 million on Weibo alone) a gift in the form of the bonus track and video "Oxygen," an invigorating follow-up to last month's "Faded." And as we discovered in this exclusive interview, Wang's influence is poised to multiply, with a full-scale Fendi collection and solo LP due by EOY. Take a listen.

VMAN Your career is blowing up. How have the past few months felt?

Jackson Wang I am a kid from China who loves music and is really trying hard to share it with people. I don't consider myself famous. Whatever the recognition or reputation is all about the support from my fans. I am blessed.

VMAN How did you first start to pursue music?

JW I grew up in Hong Kong in this really [sporty] family. My mom is a world-champion gymnast and my dad is an Olympic fencer. My brother used to be a rugby player and gymnast too. I [started out as] a fencer. Even when I was an athlete, I was always motivated by music. I'd [play around with] Garage Band, and dream about [pursuing] music. But I was based in Hong Kong, and the entertainment [industry] is based in Korea. And then one day, the chance presented itself [to] me: [casting agents from Korea] just came to our school. They hit me up and said, “Do you want to be a performer?” And I was like, why not?

VMAN What was the next step in that process? Did you audition for them?

JW I was 16 and preparing for my fencing matches [at the time]. My parents said, "[You have] a bright future ahead of you. Why would you even want to do this? It is not a smart move." But I just thought to myself, life is too short. I [auditioned] for six or seven months before I qualified. Then they said they wanted me in Korea right [then].

VMAN What was the training or audition process like?

JW I went to Korea and I went through this crazy training process. I had heard the stereotype that [everything there] was manufactured, was a machine. But it is not. [People who say that] don’t even know what they are talking about. Their system to me is the best in the world. Why do I say this? Because it is a system that imagines you are a [tube of] toothpaste. You [have to] squeeze everything out. They will push you to the fullest and evaluate you every week. But by doing that, you pass the mission, and you stay. If you don’t, you go. It is like in and out, in and out, in and out. It is very [simple]: easy in, easy out. Under that kind of very stressful training system, you get the best of yourself.

VMAN Who were some of your early inspirations, musically?

JW The first song I did for a talent show was "Where Is The Love?" by the Black Eyed Peas. [I didn't prepare;] I just free-styled that. And that is when everything started.

VMAN Speaking of pop groups, your big break was as a member of GOT7. How was it being in a band versus going solo?

JW As GOT7, we have [embody] the K-Pop genre as seven different flavors combining into one song and an album—like a rainbow. But for my solo stuff, you get like 1 out of 7. You get a specific flavor, a specific color. When you are watching my stuff, you are getting Jackson Wang.

VMAN Your solo career took off after you'd aligned with Fendi. How did your relationship with them begin?

JW It started out with a campaign [for them] I did three years ago. [At the time] I was still trying to do my own solo stuff. I had no music released; I had nothing. [But through modeling, Fendi and I] became friends. And then when I started to release my music, they were like, “Oh Jackson, you are capable of doing that?” They watched me grow as a friend. Their vision and attitude are very similar to mine: They don't try to [imitate]. They keep it original.

VMAN You just released Oxygen, as a gift to fans; it doesn't appear on the forthcoming album. What else can we expect? Or are you focusing on the studio album?

JW Yeah, I [have a Fendi collection] coming up but I do not want to spoil it yet. We are doing something big and I am very excited, blessed and honored to be the face of Fendi in China. It is like a dream come true.

VMAN What can you tell us about the album?

JW In June I'll have more singles out, and then the album will come, at the end of the year probably. It's called “Journey to the West.” I want to take [my music] to the American market and share it with everybody. Like, “Hey, there is this Chinese kid making music, if you are down to listen to it, listen." If not, then whatever.

Jackson Wang

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