Let there be no mistake, becoming a singer isn’t an easy task. However, with a love for music, expressing one’s feelings and inspiring people to do the same, more people are encouraged to take on a new journey of becoming an artist, in whatever capacity it suits an individual.

Born in South Korea, Ben Kang a.k.a. ColorTheBen, has become a new and desirable hip-hop artist who is unafraid to sing. Despite the fact that he has no formal education in music, Ben found his own way towards it. Between 2009 and 2014 he lived in the United States, and after five years of adventuring overseas, he returned to his homeland to pursue a musical career. 

According to the artist, his music is based on prime colours. Each of his releases has a corresponding colour theme. Blue conveys fresh and imperturbable emotions while Green depicts feelings of emptiness and open-mindedness. This year, his audience can also expect a new release called Grey, an EP that depicts his perception of Seoul.

The artist has recently shared his thoughts on his latest release, music and life in general. 

Photo © Courtesy of ColorTheBen 

There are countless artists out there who have their own story to tell about why they were drawn to the profession of a singer/rapper etc. What initially attracted you to music and becoming an artist, and how has that interest evolved?

I grew up always surrounded by music because my mom likes classical music and pop. I got into the rap genre for the first time in middle school and started to be recognised for my talent among my friends. Then, I was captivated by the genre of hip hop because it allowed me to turn my stories into songs. I began recording music with a friend, and I think that has just continued.

It is said that you choose colours to describe your music, including your emotions. Each of your releases has a corresponding colour theme, for example Blue conveys fresh and imperturbable emotions while Green depicts your feelings of emptiness and open-mindedness. Why have you chosen such themes for your work? 

I’m sure people have differing opinions about music and colours, but I have always believed that there exists music that can be expressed through colour. I think all I am doing is expressing the various feelings that arise in me in response to colour through music. 

Let’s talk more about your Blue and Green releases, what was the creative process behind these two projects and how long did it take you to produce both?

The process for Blue and Green was actually not that difficult. Both albums took less than two months to make. But it did take about a month for the mixing, mastering, and the music video filming.

Photo © Courtesy of ColorTheBen 

You recently showcased your music at Studio Carre in Seoul, a multi-functional space for creative people like yourself, how was that for you? 

It was so great because the stage itself is very cool.

Apart from rapping, you are also familiar with singing. In general, how does your creative process differ when you create rap sections from the vocal parts?

I think referring to myself as a vocalist isn’t very clear cut because I make music by writing my rap and then simply applying scales on them. So, I don’t think my rapping and singing are very distinct from one another.

You are about to release your new EP album called Grey, could you tell us more about it?

The album is about the city’s [Seoul] colours and emotions that I sensed. 

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

Difficult situations limit the range of experiences I can have, which is unfortunate. But I tend to make an effort to find experiences for myself nonetheless.

Video © Courtesy of ColorTheBen

Has being an artist changed other aspects of your life since you moved back to Seoul?

There has been no change. Maybe just a little bit of pressure?

Looking at the Korean music industry, and since you became an artist, have you suffered any ‘resistance’ or scepticism from within the industry? What would you say are currently your main artistic challenges and has being an artist changed other aspects of your life?

I think I’m quite happily living my life because I am doing what I want to do. It corresponds to my nature anyways. If I must pick out something, I guess it’s that there is no stability and that I have to be somewhat mindful of the public’s tastes.

On which of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from an emotional and technical point of view?

It’s my song, MITM.

Photo © Courtesy of ColorTheBen 

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 genres other than your own?

For me, the music I am influenced by is the music I enjoy listening to. I don’t actively seek out songs from other genres to listen to them, but if a song from another genre is good, I listen.

Improvisation is a large part of the creative process for many artists. How strictly do you separate improvising and composing in your work?

It’s 70 percent improvisation and 30 percent mindful effort for me.

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

I watch YouTube videos or chat with friends.

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?

My personal goals for next year are to be on more stages and release more EPs. Plus, a full-length album!

Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler

All photos © Courtesy of ColorTheBen 

Photo © Courtesy of ColorTheBen

View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, arts and fashion, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, arts and fashion, worldwide.

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In Conversation with, Korean Hip-Hop, Music


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