He’s the biggest multi-hyphenate music star in South Korea and he brought that star power to North America this spring for a cross-country tour. SHAUN has been producing, DJing, writing and more for years but has recently found huge success with his first solo endeavor. We spoke with him via Zoom about this first North American touring experience, his 2018 single going unexpectedly viral and maybe even a few spoilers on what’s coming next.
Atlas Artist Group: First of all, congrats on your tour! I saw all the photos and it looked amazing. What was that experience like for you? Are there any places that you got to visit that you’ve been wanting to explore more?
Shaun: Yeah, it’s been four years since I released my track “Way Back Home” and I felt a lot of my friends and people waited for me to visit here in North America. The show was amazing and energy was amazing, the people screaming was amazing. I [was] really touched by my fans react, so I thought I had to come back really soon in here for a tour.
Atlas: What was your favorite show of this run?
Shaun: Every show was really nice and amazing but I think Montreal- Montreal was another level. That one was pretty crazy.
Atlas: What’s the most memorable thing that happened on this tour? Do you have any crazy stories?
Shaun: I met one fan in Toronto. She said she got a tattoo. The tattoo was the lyrics of my song. So I [was] really surprised of that. That was [the] first time somebody got a tattoo with my line of lyrics, so I [was] really surprised of that- meant a lot to me.
Atlas: You were talking about the fan response a bit already- is there a song or a moment in the show where the fans really reacted to the performance? On the other side of that, is there a song that you especially love playing live?
Shaun: Well I don’t have many danceable tracks, so yeah, this time, “Traveler” and “Bad Habit” was my favorite part of the show. And loudest react was definitely “Way Back Home”.
Atlas: “Way Back Home” really took off in the last few years- I’ve been hearing it everywhere. What’s it like for you to revisit that song now that it’s been awhile and new fans are just starting to discover it?
Shaun: When I wrote that song, I got nothing in my head. Now I’ve got many things in my head-I have to make some hits and numbers and the next show and there’s lots of things I have to do and I have to complete something. But I believe the power of music- well-made music, well-made melody. Just good lyrics and good melody, that’s all. I think that was a key of “Way Back Home”.
[Translation] Even the time passed by and people [are] still finding it on TikTok and singing along to it when he performs, he believes that and he’s thankful that maybe this track was a well-made track as it keeps on going viral and having it sang along.
Atlas: You’ve gone through a lot of evolution in your musical career and now you’re on this solo journey. What’s it been like to change creative paths from debuting to producing to now making your solo music?
[Translation] He started off in the music industry as playing the keyboard and playing the guitar and he went into a band as being a part of The Koxx. His days in [his] twenties was everything about learning. He had a lot of spotlights performing in festivals, working for the new album, and everything was about learning in his twenties. After that, what he learned from being a part of the band and the studio works for the album and the knowledge that he gained from it, he started making his own music and [writing] for other people’s music. Right before he went to the military service, he wanted to put his previous works out before he goes in and the EP that he consolidated all the tracks- that included “Way Back Home”. He released it right before his service and that was the start of his solo career.
Atlas: You spoke a bit about how you value lyrics over everything when you’re writing. Do you normally start with lyrics? Do you create a storyline and the music comes later? What’s your creative process?
Shaun: There is a many way to produce music. So yeah, sometimes I start with a drumbeat. Sometimes I start with a beat and sometimes [I] woke up in bed [with] some melody just pops up in my head. Every case is different- it depends. I can tell you I’ll always produce my music in this way.
Atlas: If you had the chance to tour with or play a show with anybody, who would you pick?
[Translation] It would be great to have a tour with a big artist- it would be so much to learn about from it. But he would also like to go on a tour with someone who he is very comfortable and is very close to as a friend, so that the energy can be expressed on stage. Maybe Yunha, who is a Korean female singer-songwriter- she could be a good example. Other than that, he would like to maybe go on a tour with someone who does a similar type of music. He recently has gone through some singer-songwriters such as Troye Sivan or maybe bands like The 1975 or Lauv or Lany. These are the artists that he enjoys recently so maybe having a tour with them would be great.
Atlas: Outside of music, what’s something that you do that brings you joy or how do you disconnect when you’re not feeling super creative?
Shaun: Anime! Movies also and games -I love games. I collect some comic books these days. I didn’t know that, but I got many hobbies, I think.
Atlas: Are you working on any new music? Is there anything you can spoil for us?
Shaun: I already wrote some brand new tracks for next month and I keep writing some lyrics these days, so yeah, next month.
Atlas: Is there anything else that you want people to know about you or your music, or is there anything you wish you got to talk about more that you might not get asked?
[Translation] He is always so thankful for the people who [have] interest in his music and who [have] been following his career and that is literally the inspiration for his music. When he first started music, he was like the main character of all the works, but as he makes more music and as he gets more interest from the people, the focus is heading to the fans and the interaction with them is touching his heart. Along with that, he wants to achieve his milestones that he had been dreaming [about] and starting off from this North American tour. He is gonna plan to meet each and every one all over the world. One day he will be there and he wants to meet up [with] everyone and perform in front of them so please wait a little more and he’ll be there.
Story by Olivia Khiel
Translation provided by Ethan
Photo courtesy of Shaun
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.