The South Korean soloist, singer-songwriter, producer and actor found time in his hectic schedule last month to answer interview questions ahead of the next leg of his “FIRST PARADE World Tour” in North America and Europe. He began his tour with shows in Seoul back in August of last year.
It truly is a wonder how he made time to chat. To recap his 2022, he started the year with his acting debut on the Disney Plus K-drama “Rookie Cops,” which shot to No. 1 in South Korea and Taiwan. He released his first full-length album, “The Story,” then followed it up in May with his U.S. broadcast debut, becoming the first male solo K-pop artist to perform on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.” August saw the premiere of “Street Man Fighter,” an iteration of the 2021 Mnet dance competition show “Street Woman Fighter,” which Kang also hosted. Offscreen, he is the CEO of his company KONNECT Entertainment, overseeing artists such as CL and former Gfriend member Yuju.
When asked who he will be in 2023, the artist says he wants to focus on his “main job more.”
While countless people declare themselves to be multi-hyphenates, soloist-CEO-producer-fashion icon-actor Kang Daniel has earned his hyphens and then some. With so many titles and responsibilities, it may be easy to forget that his main job — and the one that he identifies with the most — is being a singer and a storyteller. “I’ll focus more on my activities as a singer, there are things I haven’t shown,” he tells NextShark. “There are many things I want to show, so I hope my fans look forward to it.”
Kang catapulted to fame after winning the South Korean survival reality singing program “Produce 101.”
He and 10 other aspiring artists would go on to form the K-pop boy group Wanna One. They debuted in 2017 and their contracts ended in 2018, but they managed to amass 99 nominations and 49 award wins.
A year later, Kang’s debut EP “Color on Me” set a new record at the time for the most albums sold within the first week of release for a South Korean soloist, selling over 400,000 copies in the first three days. He has sold over 1.7 million units across his four EPs and first studio album, and his released music videos have received over 150 million views in total.
Even with all of that, Kang says he still has more stories to share and is doing it his own way.
His repackage album, “The Story : RETOLD,” features newcomers “Nirvana, Ghost” and “Selfish.” “[These tracks] were already set,” he says. “I thought I should add it in the next album. I had these songs since I released the album ‘MAGENTA,’ so I was thinking about when to add them in, and I thought this repackage album would go well with the world tour’s ‘theme song.’”
Eagle-eyed fans, known as DANITY, will notice that he has rearranged the B-side “Parade,” the fourth song from his album “The Story,” to begin the repackage.
For the songs to work, Kang shares that “the expressions of the lyrics must match [his personality].”
While his previous works center around his personal experiences, he is now more inclined toward crafting narratives from elsewhere.
“I wanted to talk about a variety of fun stories in a different way, so I tried that,” he says, noting what makes his repackage album special.
When asked about his creative process, he cites video games as a source of inspiration, viewing them as their own distinct worlds.
“I feel like I get new inspirations when I play games. The game also has a worldview, and each game has a different story line, different characters and different emotional lines, so I think it’s a movie that I play directly,” he says.
“God of War: Ragnarok” is one of his current favorite games, while “Chainsaw Man” is an anime he’s loving. On which film genre he would be, he decides on sci-fi. And as for which movie character he would be? Kang says Star-Lord from Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
These are all avenues of escape to other realms, but when it comes to our own, Kang is confident about facing the next chapter of his global prominence: his first time touring around Europe and North America as a soloist.
When asked if there were any challenges with transitioning his songs from his album to his world tour, he simply says, “There was no difficulty. It was prepared so smoothly.”
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