Here’s some exciting, altogether unexpected news about a beloved artist embarking on a new journey. SuG‘s vocalist Takeru – under his solo title Uwakimono -, together with mentor MIYAVI and his J-Glam, Inc., project, will be engaging in a joint venture with none other than K-Pop’s king clown, G-Dragon, under his new global independent label, G-Pop Productions.
So what exactly is the whole story? Is Takeru leaving Japan and rock behind altogether and switching to “the dark side” of Korean pop? Not exactly…
Since Takeru’s first solo release as Uwakimono, 2013’s I Kyou You, some fans have been lamenting about the new direction the artist has taken. Upon the release of the titular song’s PV, the YouTube comments exploded with a mixture of praise and criticism. Many comments – even today – liken the artist’s new work to the arguable king of Korean hip-hop, G-Dragon, and some even dismiss it as derivative or unoriginal.
While the debate is still raging, Takeru himself has been behind the scenes working on new music. Takeru and management have remained tight-lipped about his upcoming project, tentatively titled “Kyou-Pop.” But it has been confirmed through Takeru’s Twitter – by a hastily deleted tweet – that, for his upcoming release, he actually will be partnering with none other than G-Dragon! G-Dragon himself is planning to venture into the production and management side of the biz, and he has taken Takeru under his wing.
Was this in the plan all along, or did fan fervor push him to seek out this musical partnership? Information is extremely limited right now. However, Barks has uploaded an exclusive sneak-peek of the upcoming three-part interview they will be publishing later this month. The excerpt reveals a little bit of why Takeru is heading in this direction and what it means for Takeru, Uwakimono, and SuG.
Tell us a little bit about what “Kyou-Pop” means.
Well, it’s expanding on what I started with Uwakimono, with “I Kyou You.” I don’t want to be limited by genres, I never have, but even venturing out on my own, I felt constrained by the genre I was in. So, I decided, I’m going to start my own genre. That way, the only limits I have are the ones I put on myself.
What does this mean for SuG? Are you unhappy with SuG’s work to date?
No, no, of course not. Please don’t misunderstand. SuG is its own entity that I’m just one part of. We will still continue with our theme of “heavy positive rock.” But actually, even with SuG, while we were under our previous label, it did start to feel controlled and formulaic. Like I was suffocating, you know? And that’s when I started looking outside, when I started “cheating” with Uwakimono (haha). I noticed the Hallyu wave was picking up speed all over the world, not just in Japan, and I started to wonder what was so special about Korean music.
And? What did you discover?
Well, the thing about Korean music is, even in the mainstream, big-name acts, there was so much variety within artists’ own music. Sometimes I would listen to one song by a group, and then another from a couple of years before, and it was like listening to two completely different acts! On one hand, you can really tell that the music follows certain “rules,” but on the other hand, they step out of their comfort zone very often, and they pay close attention to and incorporate changing musical trends. In Japanese music, there’s kind of this idea that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” I think. There’s not a lot of risk or evolution. It gets repetitive, and I wanted to step out of that.
Will you be abandoning Japan? Will you sing only in Korean?
Haha no, no, I won’t! I promise – pinky promise! – I’m not leaving Japan behind. Never! (Haha) In fact, I plan to continue with Japan as my heart and core. I’m just looking for inspiration elsewhere, that’s all, and I’ll be working with some influential Korean producers. I will release Korean versions of songs in Korea, I think. Right now, I barely speak Korean. I can say, like, “hi, how are you” and “thank you” and “excuse me,” haha. So I will be working with a translator, too. But because I like to be involved in the whole process, I’m taking classes.
G-Dragon ostensibly could not be reached for comment at this time, but some cryptic messages on the YG Entertainment Official Facebook are lending even further credence to rumors of his involvement. All signs point to an official announcement by the end of the month, especially since Takeru let the cat out of the bag on Twitter.
The full interview will be published on Barks.jp on April 23rd, so be on the lookout. In the meantime, what do you think of this controversial decision? Do you think Uwakimono has strayed too far?