Singer Jamie embraces the uncomfortable in order to grow
From a young 14-year-old singing for a television audition program to a 23-year-old who now commands her own stage, Jamie has always tried to stay honest and true to herself. And for her latest digital single “Numbers,” she does exactly that.
“The lyrics are very honest and playful,” she told the Korea JoongAng Daily in an email interview held prior to the single’s release on Thursday. “If you watch the music video, I act in a way that’s not just pretty and girly, but I just really have a good time. I want people listening to it to feel cheered up, and hope that people who have deep thoughts about ‘numbers’ just dance like crazy for a moment like I do, while listening to this song.”
“Numbers” is a hip-hop based pop track that uses refreshing piano sounds, with rapper Changmo as a featured artist to top it off. Jamie’s groove and vocals sing the message of “not caring about how others judge me based on numbers.” It might be a far cry from the love songs she had been best known for in the past, but she’s pleased with the opportunity to show off a side of herself that she never has before.
“I have always sung love songs in the past, but this definitely isn’t that,” she said. “The genre of the music is also new, too. I think I was able to get across a concept and natural side of myself that I’ve always wanted to try. I talk a lot with my friends, and I tried to get across the things that I had felt in the past. I don’t want to live like I’m judging myself subconsciously based on numbers, and I wanted to tell everyone who may be living like that, ‘You’re a lot more amazing than that.’”
Jamie made her debut in 2012 as a member of R&B duo 15& under JYP Entertainment, after winning the first season of SBS audition program "K-Pop Star" in 2011. She was in charge of hitting the high notes with her powerful voice, something she also flaunted in her single “Stay Beautiful” last year, which was also her last release with JYP.
“I remember everything, from the moment I signed with JYP to debuting as 15&. I don’t know why, but the thing I remember the most is that Park Jin-young [head of JYP Entertainment] would always coach us on songs that he wrote himself. We recorded [the songs] almost like we were in lessons, where he would have videos on to teach us while we were recording. Whenever I think back to that, those days feel so precious. I become really sensitive whenever I record [a song] and that voice gets stuck with me forever. I think that’s why I always reminisce about those times,” she said.
Jamie signed her contract with Warner Music Korea in April this year, changing her stage name from Park Ji-min to Jamie as a symbol of a new start. Jamie was also the English name she used for herself during her childhood years abroad. This will be her first new schedule since appearing on cable channel Mnet's music program "Good Girl" earlier this year.
In one of the photo image for “Numbers,” Jamie is seen holding an LP of iconic pop star Bonnie Tyler in her hands. Many speculated that it symbolized her strive to be a powerful female figure, but she said that while that wasn’t necessarily true — it also wasn't wrong.
“A lot of fans thought that,” she said. “But it wasn’t something meaningful. I just saw that LP on the set and held it because I thought it would go well with the theme. I think it may be disappointing in a way, but I’m grateful for all the attention I received from that. I know that I’m a female artist and a female solo artist, as well as other things. But I would like to be an artist that people think is awesome whenever I do music, regardless of whether I’m male or female.”
One of the things she’s well known for is her honesty. Even typing her name in a web search will show she's not afraid to be herself, as more photos of her pulling faces appear than of her posing for official photos. There were times when this made her a little upset, but she decided that doing things that were not her made her feeling like she was “losing herself.”
“At one point, I just thought, ‘What’s there to lose? This is all me,’” she said.
Having grown up in Thailand for eight years when she was younger, Jamie said that it was heartwarming to hear all her childhood friends talk about K-pop. As a K-pop singer, she believes that the charm of the genre is that it’s a type of music that can get everyone involved.
“All my friends at the international school I went to in Thailand knew about it,” she said. “They asked me things like, ‘Are you in the same company as [girl group] Twice?’ It felt good to hear them talk about who they like. I think K-pop has that charm, which makes everyone want to try it. Things that were always left with a question mark, like, ‘Can I do this?’ turn into ‘I want to try this!’ All my friends listen to Korean songs. They told me they feel excited from the dance and songs.”
As honest and outgoing as she is, Jamie says that being stuck at home was the last thing she wanted — but now she wants to be nowhere else. The coronavirus has everyone in the world go through their own difficulties and hardships, but Jamie hopes that people can push through it all, because these are the experiences that make us much stronger.
“I hit a massive slump from 2016 to 2018,” she said. “Those were the years that allowed me to think about what music I wanted to do, and made me realize the gravity of the things that I had been doing. There were a lot of times where I got upset, but I remember so little of them now. The things that are left are the songs that I wrote. But without those times, I think I would still be trying to find my own path, asking myself questions like ‘What kind of an artist am I?’ or ‘What kind of music do I want to do?’
“I think going through hardships can make all that mine. But that doesn’t mean you should just leave them the way they are. If you just stay on your own and lock yourself up rather than going outside and trying new things, then that’s what happens. I think new things — no matter how small they are — they make a lot of change, even if it’s just talking to friends. But since we all have to stay at home these days, I think we can start with the little things like making new hobbies or talking with our parents on the phone.
YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]