Winner’s Jinu makes his first solo statement: On ‘Call Anytime,’ the singer finally gets to show off a new side of himself
On Wednesday, Jinu, whose real name is Kim Jin-woo, made his solo debut with the single “JINU’s Heyday” and the song “Call Anytime,” a groovy R&B dance track he has been secretly preparing for the right time. It might not be a full-length album or an EP with a variety of songs, but he hopes fans will listen and see it as a chance to “rediscover” the singer.
“I’ve always had the same image as [a member of] Winner. I’m not saying that’s bad, it’s good, actually. But I want to show something completely different in my 20s, before I turn 30,” said Jinu in an interview on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old singer, who is also the oldest of the four-member group, is known as the “good-looking and quiet” member of Winner, as he is relatively shy compared to his out-going colleagues Mino, Seungyoon and Seunghoon. This was also the first time for the singer to hold an interview with the press on his own, marking a memorable chapter in his career.
“But I have a lot of sides to myself, not just one. I’ve always just been the pretty one inside Winner, even in music videos. I felt like I was being limited to one particular side of myself. I have a tougher side and I can even use swear words or get angry at people.”
Preparations for his solo debut began last winter, he said. He made time to personally meet with music producers because he was so focused on starting his solo career. He found the perfect song and finished recording it last year.
“I did think about putting it on a Winner album, but I decided that I will get to show more of myself as a solo artist,” he said.
The music video for “Call Anytime” was made using the concept of a magazine. In the clip, Jinu takes on five different roles to show himself playing new characters. The album artwork resembles a magazine cover, and the hard copy of the single contains 144 pages of photos.
The absence of his agency YG Entertainment’s mastermind and president Yang Hyun-suk did not affect his work process much, according to Jinu. YG Entertainment, along with K-pop’s other major agencies, is known for having the head of the company give the final okay before any song gets released. Yang stepped down from his position in June following a series of rumors surrounding himself and his stars.
“It hasn’t really changed much. He did tell us to ‘do this or try that,’ but now the difference is that we talk to each other about what can be changed and perfected,” he said.
Assisting Jinu during his first big step is Mino, the rapper and fellow member of Winner, who is featured on “Call Anytime.”
“Mino actually asked me if I wanted to do anything on my own when he was [making his] solo [album],” Jinu said. “I wasn’t really prepared back then, and I wasn’t sure if I could pull a song off on my own. I thought about it a lot, then told him ‘next time.’ I remembered that he asked me, and so I asked him in return. He gladly said, ‘Yes, of course!’”
Born on Imja Island in South Jeolla, Jinu spent his childhood years living on the peaceful isle until he entered primary school in Mokpo, South Jeolla. He went to an academy for young performers with the dream of becoming an actor, until when he was 18, when his teacher recommended that he try out to be a singer.
“I did actually dream of becoming an actor,” he said. “YG Entertainment was the first agency that I auditioned for when I came to Seoul to be a singer. Training was hard, and I even cried once when I was younger because I didn’t like my voice. It was shocking to hear my recorded voice.”
He has imagined what it would have been like if he started his career as an actor instead of a singer, but has never regretted his choice.
“I actually think I was really fortunate. I met the members first, they’re the best people I could have met. There are no regrets,” he said.
Being from YG Entertainment, where many of the agency’s artists have recently been mired in scandal, Jinu has developed strong ideas about what it means to be a celebrity.
“As a celebrity, you have to look good and always maintain a certain level of discipline for yourself. It’s a job where what’s seen [by the public] is the most important. How you act matters. I think it’s a duty to the fans,” he said.
In his spare time, the singer used to play video games, but these days he’s into something else: drones.
“I’ve taken the written test for a drone license, and I have three lessons left for the field test,” he said. “I saw someone playing with drones on the TV, and I thought ‘that looks fun.’ I looked up a lot of things, and even tried shooting some things by myself. I like how things look from above. It feels as if I’m actually looking down on everything. I like that view.”
As a 28-year-old Korean citizen, Jinu must fulfill his military duties in the upcoming years.
“Sometime around next year maybe,” he said. “I think the members will be working on their own music, but whatever happens, Winner comes first.”
He added, “I want to change. Whether it’s for the good or the bad, I want to show people something different.”
BY YOON SO-YEON [email@example.com]