Popstar Eric Nam shared his thoughts on identity and love in an interview about his most recent album, “There and Back Again,” on the “Zach Sang Show.”
The interview was published on Saturday to the YouTube channel of talk show host Zach Sang, who has interviewed countless notable artists on his show, including Blackpink and Ariana Grande.
As a now-self-funded independent artist, Nam shared that there are challenges but that it is a fake-it-till-you-make-it situation.
“This is a common theme; I don’t know what I’m doing! And so I try to take as much of an educated guess as possible,” Nam admitted with a laugh. “So that’s what I’m doing.”
Despite having a career spanning nearly a decade, he says his stardom still “baffles” him.
As a Korean American, Nam never felt like he “belonged in either place fully,” referring to his move from the U.S. to Korea to pursue music.
“I think for a long time being a Korean American or being Asian American in the States it felt as if it was a hindrance, or it was something that was supposed to hold me back, because we were never seen or we were never heard. I never envisioned myself in certain pockets of industry or situations or society.”
Simultaneously, he felt like “a fish out of water” in Korea because he could not fully understand the language.
Nam claimed that he has “transitioned” his thinking to now seeing Korean Americans — and Asian Americans more broadly — as having a “very unique perspective” as a “third culture,” with access to “a little bit of both sides.”
“What used to feel like a hindrance,” he continued, “now feels like a superpower because we understand both cultures better than anybody else can, and we also can play to the strengths of everything.”
“We are best equipped to bridge the gap in cultures and countries, and societies I should say.”
Nam’s album “There and Back Again” was released in January and is his second all-English work, as well as his first as an independent artist.
Sang asked, “[Have you] been in a relationship as of the last year or two?”
“Not in the last year…or two. It’s been a minute” Nam said, seemingly hesitant.
In reference to the inspiration behind Nam’s songs, Sang asked whether the singer harbors heartbreak for years in order to write while he is single.
“I think I harbor heartbreak,” admitted Nam with a laugh. “I haven’t been in a serious relationship, but I feel like there’s always people in and out of your life.”
Nam explained that he does not like to share too much background to his songs so listeners can apply their own interpretations. He notes that an “overpowering narration” prevents fans from “immersing” themselves in his work.
Sang appeared to disagree, pointing out that singer Olivia Rodrigo went after “a single human being in an entire album” and is “doing quite well.”
“I don’t want to subject people to that though,” Eric said. “Olivia can do that. She’s also really young and I’m much older. I’m like double her age!”
“It’s an old man, graceful way of doing things,” he concluded.
Nam is currently touring in Europe and the United Kingdom and is scheduled to finish at the end of this month.
His app, Mindset Collection, which allows users to listen to life lessons by artists such as DPR, Tablo and soon Bobby of iKON, will release its second set of episodes on June 28.