[Interview] ‘Verse 2’ JJ Project, Rising Again Like a Phoenix


[by Kim Young Jae] “Around 98 to 97 points?”

“Given enough time it could happen. However we really didn’t have time” (Jinyoung), “The period is like that. After we debuted as JJ Project for two years we re-debuted as GOT7. With a rookie heart we were on a celebrity ban for 3 years. (laughs) The time of JJ was 3 years and GOT7 is also 3 years, we have done it longer than the members for 2 years.” (JB)

Jinyoung added on “It was a prison-like lifestyle” making the reporters and JB laugh. “It’s a promise. If you make a promise you have to keep it.” The hardships an idol faces as an entertainer are witty to anyone, and earnestly recollected in this place. The story of male duo JJ Project’s first mini album ‘Verse 2’ became known, and it was a place of sharing.

JJ Project, “Now everyone gather here/in front of my microphone/ now let go of all the worries/ stacked up in your heart”, JYP Entertainment’s ambitious duo, with their title song Bounce released on May 20th, 2012 gathered as much popularity as possible through their lively adolescent energy as teens.“ After the two members were on a hiatus for a year and a half, and became members of Got 7. The duo of memory through the unit JJ Project has found the general public’s side after 5 years as GOT7. The unit craze in the music industry of ‘separate and together’ is applied in GOT7’s case as well.

“We are coming back after 5 years. I’m very happy. Firstly, as we became a two-member unit before the other members, I feel apologetic and responsible. In the future I will diligently promote our activities. As much as I am responsible, JJ Project is JJ Project but I will work hard to promote in order for GOT7 to become more known.” (JB) “We represent GOT7 and come out that way so I prepared a lot in order to promote without shame while showing a lot. Please anticipate a lot.” (Jinyoung)

What helped JJ Project’s engine compress and explode again? JB opened up first. JB conveyed a lot to the reporters in this interview to the point of sticking out. It might be because of his burden as the leader. “We were in the middle of a GOT7 meeting when talk of it came up. ‘It would be nice if we had a unit group, if that unit group was JJ Project, that would be nice’ there was this response.” Beginning with the talk, questioning the head of JYP singer Park Jinyoung, Jinyoung vigorously asked with curiosity “To the company officials”, “We were actually confused as well. ‘GOT7 hasn’t even debuted for 3 and a half years, is it okay to have a unit group?’ we carefully questioned.”

Jinyoung added, “We worked on the album with the burden that ‘we hope this becomes an opportunity to develop GOT7’. Thus without avoiding the members, we started working on an album that would be of help to GOT7. We had that mindset.” In relation to this, the two members participated in composing and writing lyrics for all the songs, boasting off their singer songwriter skills.

JJ Project’s new mini album ‘Verse 2’ is a mini album with a total of 8 songs that includes Jinyoung’s ‘The Day’ and JB’s ‘Fade Away’ on the CD only. There are 8 songs but the mini album includes EP (extended play). Of course, recently albums that are listened to in a short time and replayed instead of being coined ‘non-full album’ it is now called ‘mini album’. However, in the past, albums with 8 or 9 tracks were recalled as full-length albums thus we can’t help but think that the mini album ‘Verse 2’ is full of 8 tracks.

Also, instead of a ‘split’ product, the segmented product is circulating in the music industry in diametric opposition to the current trend. Weren’t there any objections from the company? Of course there is the meaningful insistence from the entry of music fans. JB disclosed the key to allowance of adding more tracks and the album’s segmentation, “At first we questioned if it would be alright to just put it on all 10 tracks. The company dissuaded them saying ‘However it’s still a mini album.’ 8 songs is a lot too. There were a lot of opinions like this so we ended up having 8 tracks.”

Mentioning their first song ‘Bounce’, back then both of them sang of their characteristic energy as teens. However, penetrating through their new music ‘Verse 2’ is their personal feelings of serenity, ambiguity, melancholy etc., and message. ‘Coming Home’ is ‘now I’m back’, the title song ‘Tomorrow, Today’, is ‘Where should I go?’, ‘On&On’ is the world’s rules. The time of ‘Bounce’ was their teens. They are going onto the stage ‘Tomorrow, Today’ in their 20s but there is a conflicted feeling.

We asked about the gap between their past style and current one. JB first answered, “There was at first.” Jinyoung agreed adding on “There really was.” “Even when we thought about it our ‘Bounce’ image was really strong. Thus there were opinions that we should have songs that were bright and energetic like that. However, there was talk that we should (do songs about) what we have felt, experienced and worried about in these 5 years, and we agreed.” (JB) “We had luminosity in the past. But now we don’t have as much. In our current state, more than doing ‘Bounce’ music, we thought that wouldn’t it be paying back fans if we did music that suited us and came out that way?” (Jinyoung)

Jinyoung added, “The title song ‘Tomorrow, Today’ is a story when you don’t know about tomorrow, about the decision of the concern surrounding whether or not the choice was correct, living with an anxious heart. To be honest, it’s a concern that anyone can have and think about. Also, making a decision is something everybody does. 5 years may look short but it’s long. Even if we didn’t go through that much, during that time we had those types of thoughts and we naturally changed into the image we have now. We wrote down the concerns we had for 5 years into the album.”

However ‘Tomorrow, Today’ exhibits its own individuality apart from the rest of the album. When asked, along with the words “stands out”, Jinyoung began to speak, “We thought it would be nice to have music that we could add a dance to for our title song.” “The singing is nice and the beat factor is big. You might feel that the other songs are a bit weak when a dance is added. In addition, ‘The Asiansoul’ Park Jinyoung wrote the lyrics for ‘Tomorrow, Today’. “Park Jinyoung PD wrote it for us. ‘I also experienced those things. Because of that I can understand and help write.’ We have never felt the age difference. It’s because he lives young.” (Jinyoung)

When asked what songs he cherished, JB introduced two songs. These were the fourth track ‘Icarus’ and the fifth track ‘Don’t Wanna Know’. “When I first listened to ’Icarus’, the contents of running towards your dreams came up. It seemed like it fit well with the Icarus tale. ‘Don’t Wanna Know’ is the story of the troubles I’ve felt and also about youth.”

They also promoted their ‘CD Only’ tracks. Jinyoung stated, “We put in songs of different styles. Hyeong sang a song of a R&B style, I sang a gentle ballad song. You can listen to it colorfully”, he further introduced the songs, “Because we only put in our own voices, no matter how much I only want to listen to hyeong’s voice I have to listen to ‘Fade Away’ and If I want to listen to my own voice, I just need to listen to ‘The Day’.” Also, in a shy voice he said, “Please listen to it a lot, a lot”, his shyness made the entire set burst in laughter.

To the question, “How would you assess this album dispassionately?, JB replied with satisfaction “Around 98 to 97 points?”, while Jinyoung showed his agreement “I would give a high score also.” What is the goal of JJ Project who is in the midst of promoting ‘Verse 2’? “First off we hope many people will listen not only to our title song but also to the entire album. We hope they can identify with it. We may have told our own concerns, but I think these are not only our worries alone. I hope the songs can speak for the agonies that those people have. It would be good if the songs become songs that share feelings in which listeners will think ‘Ah, that’s right’.” (JB)

In the middle of the interview, we asked which was a heavier burden, ‘Verse 2’ or their debut single ‘Bounce’. This is because ‘Bounce’ was held onto with a fresh rookie mindset while we are curious if ‘Verse 2 ‘ has some weight as it is after GOT7 activities.

“It’s heavier now. ‘Verse 2’ has a lot of our stories and feelings. To be honest we worried a lot more compared to the time of ‘Bounce’. I think we naturally got into the things we learned and experienced in these 5 years. We didn’t deliberately put it in but the things we’ve learned and experienced are imbedded into our body so it comes out more detailed.” (JB) “No matter how I think of it, every time we release a new album, it gets heavier. Also, we also kept working for a complete album and I think that makes the heart heavier.” (Jinyoung)

Like this, JJ Project who thought it was the end has risen again like a phoenix. Also, now it’s not JB and Jinyoung’s ‘JJ Project’ alone but they have become GOT7’s unit group ‘JJ Project’. Jinyoung disclosed, “The members gave a lot of advice. Especially in Mark-hyeong’s case, he said ‘You guys have to work hard. We can do it’. I had a pleasant feeling of responsibility.”

Even if they didn’t start as GOT7, JJ Project has become the start and future of GOT7. The realization of Mark’s concerns and hopes is high.  Singers are people who have excellent singing abilities but they are stronger when they can convey their individual thoughts and sensitivity. Thus a singer songwriter’s song has the charm of making listeners think constantly about the lyrics and melody. Filled with their heart, putting in efforts, the charming reason of JJ Project’s song this time is this.

Meanwhile, JJ Project released their first mini album ‘Verse 2’ including their title song ‘Tomorrow, Today’ on July 31st at noon and have started full-scale promotions. (photo by JYP Entertainment).

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