Music has been in Park Min Jun’s veins, a.k.a AOORA, since he was a young boy; his passion for the arts led him to majoring in dance and art. After debuting as a solo artist in 2009, he was seen as a young and promising artist. Two years later, he launched his career as a part of a boy group, AA, also known as Double A, where he took the position of a rapper and producer. When AOORA’s contract expired, he left the group to concentrate on his already developing solo vocation. 

Photo © Courtesy of AOORA

AOORA released many songs under Double A as well as under his own name. Although often recognised for being in the aforementioned group, he has solidified his artistic career as a soloist for the mature and bold concepts found in his song-writing process. His 69 album was rated 19+ for its sexual nature, nevertheless, it attracted an audience that appreciates the transparency in AOORA’s music-making practice.

Photo © Courtesy of AOORA

On the 25th of September, AOORA released a new song called TWERK, a song that represents a relatively new genre in South Korea: trap and moombahton. Although the genre itself is not yet fully explored, trap music is starting to gain quite a bit of momentum through the ever-growing sub-genres of dance music culture. Even though the artist’s music is mostly influenced by R&B, funk and pop, he is unafraid to experiment with different genres. TWERK is a great piece of music when it comes to sound, rhythm and production itself; it’s full of energy and it perfectly fits the dancefloor. Outside of music, AOORA is into fashion, producing, working out, dancing and playing the piano, and it seems like there is no sign of him slowing down even in these difficult times. The artist has recently shared his thoughts with View of the Arts on his latest release, music and life in general. 

Photo © Courtesy of AOORA

Before discussing the scope of your work, was music a path that has always called out to you – was there a moment when you realised that music was for you? 

When I was in primary school, I wanted to apply to participate in a talent show. I’ve always felt that I loved music and performing. And the shows that I can now perform as a singer and dancer really make me happy and I do enjoy the process of preparing those performances.

Looking at your entire repertoire of songs, one can notice that each of the songs is musically different. How does your creative process differ when you create rap sections from the vocal parts? 

I don’t differentiate from the way I create rap parts and vocal parts. I choose the musical process by creating a track, melody, concept (theme) or lyrics, in advance. The brand-new song, TWERK, was created after making the scene/story of the MV.

On the 25th of September of this year you released a new track called TWERK. It’s a song that represents a relatively new genre in South Korea: trap and moombahton. What was the creative process behind TWERK and what prompted you to use trap and moombahton?

I’ve been interested in the genre of trap for a while; it also inspired me to write Body Talk in 2014. Although I have mainly R&B and catchy types of songs, I always wanted to try an energetic and lesser known genre of music as well. I found the trap, moombahton and EDM beat that matched with my taste in music [and TWERK itself]. 

[In terms of] TWERK, I initially thought of the music video’s narrative and then, after discussing the process and correcting things with the producer, the TWERK song came to mind. Regarding the story of the MV, I tried to depict the Covid-19 situation in the beginning of the song. The end of the track, [on the other hand], is about the future after the pandemic. It is also about hope to get over the situation. 

Photo © Courtesy of AOORA

You also made an absolutely explosive music video for TWERK, where you truly showed that the song itself is full of energy and fit for the dancefloor. What are your personal feelings about that music video and what was the process behind it? How long did it take you to film TWERK?

Thank you for watching and liking the music video. The story of the MV entails the current situation of Covid-19. I’d love to deliver fun and joy to the audience with my music for a short time even though it’s a really tough time. Specifically, I made the details, scripts of the MV and then created the song. And I really enjoyed the process of creating the music, MV, fashion, choreography, marketing, hair, makeup, etc., with people who work and cooperate with me. It took 2 days to film the MV and it was sunny. It was huge luck as it was the rainy season at that time. It took a week, including making extra personal scenes.

Looking at your current life, to what extent do you think your surroundings shaped you, creatively speaking, and in what way? 

I have always loved music; I loved to dance and sing in front of an audience. Those things, from loving music, dancing and performing, shaped me as an artist for sure. I am also inspired by people that surround me. [In addition, the environment I live in] made me who I am now. 

After listening to your songs, including Mask Kiss, 6ood 9ood, 82 Call Me, Black Sugar, featuring Smilli, and Harder, also featuring Smilli, one can notice that you swing between K-pop, R&B, hip-hop and, with your latest release, trap and moombahton. Are there any concepts, or certain music styles that you would like to try out with your future releases? 

Recently, I’ve been interested in Latin music, Brazilian in particular. The music itself is really attractive and energetic whenever I watch MVs and listen to the songs. I would love to entail great sound and a special sense to the music if I got the ability to create such a tune. 

Photo © Courtesy of AOORA

Would you say the music that inspires your work matches what you listen to when you’re a part of an audience? Or are you a fan of other genres other than your own? 

I love my music, however, I also listen to other genres such as classical, EDM, hip-hop, R&B, Lo-fi music, K-Pop, Pop and Dangdut [Indonesian folk music] as well.

Looking at the Korean music industry, and since you became a solo artist, have you suffered any ‘resistance’ or scepticism from within the industry? What would you say are currently your main artistic challenges? 

I cannot say that working in the music industry is easy, however, I am very thankful that I can still make music; I do think it is all thanks to my fans. Many artists, like myself, have busy lives creating music while trying new things at the same time. I can’t deny that it would be great if I was ranked first on music charts and got rich, but [as far as I am concerned] I am very happy to have fans who support me as well as interact with me and my music – I think it’s distinctive and unique in its own way. However, in some ways, this positive interaction is a new musical challenge for me. 

In 2017 you also became a part of Trophy Cat, an EDM duo. Together with Friday, you made 3 remixes and released two digital singles with Edward Avila. As you collaborated with Edward, what was it like to work with him? Were there any artistic differences between you two during the recording process?

Members of Trophy Cat have been my friends, colleagues and flatmates for a long time. That’s why a lot of music, content, and videos have been created at home. We are basically a family. That said, we do argue sometimes, but we strongly trust and support each other. Most of all, it’s a lot of fun to hang out and make content with synergy musically, from Friday and me, and visually, from Eddie.   

Photo © Courtesy of AOORA

Which song (songs) in your catalogue best describes the sound and style you ultimately prefer and why?

I could say [any song that represents] R&B, funk and pop, because I personally love the R&B genre, and I think my voice and style matches funk & pop [the best].

Is there a music/artist you like which/who never fails to make you feel good?

I respect Teddy Park, a YG Entertainment producer. He is a person who creates songs with cool and impressive concepts.  

The role of an artist is always subject to change. What’s your view on the tasks of artists today, and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?

Whenever I express myself through music, I sometimes show provocative concepts. However, I wish to influence my fans, an ordinary audience and [perhaps] other artists in a good way rather than a bad way. [I might be very transparent with my work], however, artists need to be responsible and respectful towards the audience/fans. 

Photo © Courtesy of AOORA

On November 25th of this year, you will participate in Hallyu Com-on Swiss, an event that will be live-streamed on YouTube. What are your expectations when it comes to the Hallyu Com-on and what would you like for your fans/ viewers to take away after watching your performance on that day? 

I’m very excited about Hallyu Com-on Swiss. I hope I can bring and show great performance to my fans. However, I have to wait until all the details are confirmed as it is an online event. But please look forward to this upcoming event [smiles].

When you are not working and writing songs, what do you do to get away from it all and relax?

Recently, I am [more] focused on working out. I also enjoy drinking coffee and buying wines at shops near home.

The world has been consumed by Covid-19 and made it very hard for musicians, and other creative professionals out there, to organise tours, meet fans, etc. Looking at the current situation, what’s your wider vision? What do you hope to achieve within the next year or so?

Rather than concentrating on a wider vision, I just embrace the situation and I hope to create music and content that will bring me closer to the fans. As ironic as it might sound, creating TWERK was possible because of the pandemic. Even though [we are living in difficult times] I will try to create good music, [at least] this is what I hope to achieve next year. 

Music Video © AOORA

Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler

Featured photo © Courtesy of AOORA

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About View of the Arts

We are open-minded individuals, for whom there are no limits. We always seem to spend our last few pennies on the arts instead of bread and butter! Oh well, it’s worth it! You will always find us in a cinema, at film festivals, fashion shows, concerts, galleries or the theatre. We are a group of female film critics, arts journalists, and photographers.

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General, In Conversation with, K-pop, Music

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