We’re excited to bring you our next exclusive interview with Hiphop/R&B Artist Dean of Joombas and Universal Music Group. Dean originally started making moves in a hiphop crew alongside Keith Ape at the age of 16. Later, after having showcased his songwriting abilities with hits for music groups such as VIXX and EXO, he decided to begin working on his own projects and released his first single with Grammy Award-winning R&B artist Eric Bellinger entitled “I’m Not Sorry“. In addition to his work with Eric Bellinger and Mila J earlier this year, he recently dropped two collaboration singles with Hiphop artists ZICO and Dok2.
Thanks for agreeing to do the interview with us, Dean.
Fans seemed to be really excited about sending in questions after finding out you were doing an interview with us. It was interesting to see how much of a role those living overseas play in the make-up of your fanbase. They brought up some great points that I think will be helpful in learning more about you and where most of the inspiration for your music comes from. Our first submission came from Bryana Williams, who asks,
“Hello Dean, fan from Florida, USA. [I] just want to say, in a short time I have really enjoyed you and your music. You have really become a top favorite of mine. What made you start wanting to do your own music?”
At first, I started as a rapper. However, what really made me want to pursue music was the idea that it was possible to express my thoughts and create my own little drama, in a sense, and fit it all into a 3 minute song.
That’s an interesting concept. The stories you incorporate into your songs seem to carry a lot of emotion. Chelsea Knight helps us to see where some of that inspiration comes from with the question,
“What artists do you listen to for personal enjoyment?”
I personally enjoy listening to Bryson Tiller, Phony Ppl, and Partynextdoor
Being a Hiphop/R&B artist, I’m sure incorporating rap vocals in your work in addition to your own R&B vocals has always been apart of your creative process. SeonJae Lee sent in a question asking,
“You said you used to rap! What made you switch to singing? Any plans for rapping in the near future?”
I do plan on rapping in the near future! Due to the fact that Hip-Hop and R&B have the same roots, I was able to explore R&B, Soul, and other similar genres. While exploring, I ended up watching Omarion singing on Bow Wow and Omarion’s collaborative album called ‘Face Off’, which had a big impact and influence in me wanting to pursue a career in singing.
It seems like you pulled from a number of different sources of inspiration for your recent releases. I can imagine that is probably one of the reasons your fans enjoy your approach to your projects. They’re able to connect with the elements that they’re familiar listening to, while also walking away with your own personal flavor that you put into it. As a result, a lot of people are looking forward to more work from you. Vonnie C asks,
“When can we expect an album from you? When are you coming back to the US?”
I am planning to release my album with two different concepts in Korea and the US. I am planning to return to the US in the beginning of 2016 to focus on both working on music and performances.
I’m curious to learn what the creative process was like when working on this upcoming album. I’m sure there were times you struggled to express the ideas you had in your head and communicate them appropriately on the track. @RamenButterfly sent in a question addressing this by asking,
“Hi Dean! Do you ever have writers block? and what do you do to get ideas to start flowing?”
Yes, I do! Whenever that happens, I try to base my writing off a movie scene or a picture that can really fit well with the BGM (Background Music/Track). However if all else fails, just go out and have fun with your friends!
You mentioned you would be heading back to the US at the beginning of 2016. Although music is often referred to as the universal language, I’m sure there were some cultural differences. @Suuzi_1D says,
“What is the main difference working with someone of America and Korea? What’s easier or harder? Love from Swiss.”
The American artists are more instinctive and intuitive, so unexpected things come up. However, the Korean artists are more careful and calculative. More than trying to describe who is more difficult to work with over the other, it’s probably more accurate to say both sides have their own advantages.
Along with your talent in being able to lay down some mean R&B vocals over tracks, you also have done a substantial amount of work as a producer. However, your producer name varies slightly from your name as an artist. @NieyNie brought this back to our attention with the submission,
“Why did you choose Deanfluenza as composer name. [Is there] any story behind it?”
The first part Dean is the name I go by as a producer and writer. With the idea of wanting to make an impact or influence in the music industry in a similar fashion to the way a virus is spread, I combined the words influenza and DEAN together, which ended up being DEANfluenza.
Over time, both the songs you’ve produced as well your own personal songs have gained a considerable amount of attention. @wonhonie asks,
“What does it mean to you seeing your songs ranking progressively higher on the charts?”
It feels great and I am very thankful. It really motivates me a lot to see my songs progressively going up higher on the charts! Please continue to make me feel this way! *Dean laughs*
In addition to working on your upcoming projects, being an artist, I’m sure you spend plenty of time listening to music as well. @HanMiann sent in a question asking,
“What would be on your playlist for a perfect day?”
It really depends on the occasion, but when I’m driving, I usually listen to Newness by Musiq Soulchild and Team Player by Eliza Doolittle.
Musiq Soulchild is one of my personal favorites as well. You mentioned earlier that you pull from the songs you listen to as well as going to other sources of inspiration when working on your releases. You recently put out two great collaborations: Pour Up (풀어) and I Love It. @Beenzion2 asks about these with the question,
“Why did you choose to collab with Zico and Dok2 for the two recently released songs?”
Dok2 is one of my favorite rappers. At the time, I was working on the single “I Love It,” and I thought he would be the perfect person to come in and kill this song. And later, I was able to collaborate with him through a producer I know. Zico has always been a close friend of mine since before I debuted as an artist, and I really wanted to release my first single with someone who meant something to me. He did a phenomenal job!
Not too long ago, a video surfaced of you in a listening session of some of your upcoming releases with participants such as Karina Pasian, Jeff Bernat, Eric Bellinger, and others on Youtube. What was it like preparing for the session and how was the experience?
First of all, the fact that I had the privilege to play my music in front of musicians that I liked and are well known made me very excited and curious to see what they would think of my music. More than feeling nervous, it was thrilling and breathtaking experience that I cannot forget.
I saw you recently came back from touring the US and stopped by a couple cities including one in my hometown state of Florida. I know that even within the U.S., audiences in each city can give off totally different vibes from each other. How was performing in the states compared to your performances in Korea?
There were mainly two types of reactions I got from performing in the US. People asking “Who is this kid?” And, “You’re telling me this Asian kid wrote this? That’s crazy.” But for the most part, they accepted me, showed they were interested in my music, and gave me more motivation ideas to create new things in the future.
Along with your performances in the states, you’ve also collaborated with some definitely noteworthy names in the American music industry including grammy-award winning Eric Bellinger as well as Anderson Paak who featured on a total of five songs on Dr. Dre’s most recent album Compton: A Soundtrack. Do you plan to continue to focus on bringing more music to the international market or focus more on your Korean fans in the near future?
I will continue to release new albums in Korea, but I am going to continue to challenge myself to develop my music in the US market as well. I don’t want to be known as a K-Pop star. I just want to be known simply as an artist.
As each one of your singles and featured tracks come out, fans seem to enjoy your work and anticipation grows around your upcoming releases. A couple of our readers have been wondering if you’ll be releasing a full album anytime soon. Is that something we can look forward to?
Yes, I am currently working on many new songs. Shortly, I will be able to present the results of my hard work to everyone. Please continue to look forward to my projects and I’ll promise to return with great music for you all!
Thanks again for coming through with the interview. It’s been great talking to you, fam. If you have anything else to say to your fans, feel free. It’s been real.
Thank you for reading my interview. I’ll be back with more exciting music soon!