Rising South Korean artist Ithys sat down with NextShark to talk about his latest single “Love All Night (Modern Walks)” and the 10-year journey to his debut.
Although Ithys finally made his debut on May 5, his road to success has not been a straightforward one. The artist, who found his love for music at the age of 17, struggled with homelessness, mental health issues and worries about breaking into the music industry.
Regardless of these challenges, Ithys eventually found his inevitable calling. As a result, hard work and dedication led to him working as a video jockey (VJ) and visual designer. His work can now be seen in numerous motion graphics and 3D visualizers of fellow South Korean artists, including BLACKPINK.
Ithys was accepted to the Seoul Institute of the Arts as a digital arts major, a major turning point in his life.
He was eventually given the opportunity to make his debut with “Love All Night (Modern Walks).”
Opening with a sensual bassline and smooth percussion, “Love All Night” is a mellow yet smoky R&B single that features Ithys singing and rapping in both English and Korean.
Produced by Jordan Lewis, who was collaborated with Travis Scott, Drake A$AP Ferg, and engineered by Thomas Ross Johansen, who has worked with Elton John and Bruno Mars, Ithys’ single is the final product of a collaboration between the Seoul Institute of the Arts and JChung Mgmt.
NextShark: Tell us about your upcoming debut single, “Love All Night.” What was the inspiration behind the song?
Ithys: “Love All Night” is — at the basis — a song that talks about the feeling of love. I was inspired by the Japanese animation “Nana,” which heavily influenced this piece. Rather than a set image I was trying to achieve, I was aiming for an ambiance. I wanted to express a feeling of living like there is no tomorrow despite hopeless circumstances. It depicts lovers in this situation.
A little before halfway in the song, there is a pretty drastic but smooth beat change. How did you come up with this idea?
The idea for the beat change came from Jordan Lewis when Justin [Ithys’ friend] and I were listening to my song. He suggested the idea of a beat change, which I thought would make the song fun and stand out from the rest. I thought that if I combined these two songs, “Love All Night” and “Modern Walk,” it would show the drastic sides of both pieces. As someone with experience with the extremes in music, I wanted to try it. As a result, through the mixing of these two pieces, I think it displayed the variety and depth of my music.
You’re not a stranger to the Korean music scene, but since you’re making your debut, does it feel any different?
It feels very different. Until now, I wasn’t able to receive any form of support when creating and producing my music. From the album cover to finding the right beat to designing, engineering, mixing, mastering, marketing and promotion, I’ve done it alone until now. It took a lot of time – too much time. So, despite releasing music through this long struggle, I was unable to receive a lot of attention. Looking back, there is a significant difference. I think this is a huge opportunity for me, and I’ve been working hard to take advantage of it.
“Love All Night” is a collaboration between both the South Korean and American music industries. What is it like becoming this bridge?
In my opinion, there is a huge difference between the Korean and American music industry. The American industry tends to consume a lot of K-pop. I want to share that there is a broad range of musical genres in Korea in addition to K-pop. Regarding this, Justin and I talked about finding artists within these genres for our project.
So, rather than me becoming a bridge, the bridge was more of an analysis of the music industries and finding a harmonious collaboration between the artists working with one another to showcase the different genres available.
You note that this collaboration is a way to give opportunities to rising Korean creatives. As a creative yourself, do you have any notable experiences or advice you would like to share?
I don’t think I’m in a position to give advice. But if I had to, I want to share a common saying between myself and the friends that I produce with. When producing, it’s important to maintain a ratio between the impulsive and deliberate. This is challenging but simple.
When it comes to the deliberate or planned, it means to not ignore the aesthetic aspect. For example: trends, the story, the sources and the genre. It’s the decision to select and pursue these characteristics as well as analyze trends and the reason for their popularity. So, if you want to pursue a specific genre, you need to know how to go about it and set a plan. For the impulsive part, it’s honestly looking at yourself and knowing what experiences you want to convey and what your message is within your creation. I think this balance is important.
How do you think your experience at the Seoul Institute of the Arts there shaped your artistry and career?
My major is digital arts. When I am working or producing, I am focused on music and combining it with music. As a result, at the Seoul Institute of the Arts, people perceived me to be someone who was creating music. The professors and students there were aware that I produce music and suggested different opportunities and projects that I could take to further my career. I took up these changes without hesitation. Justin and my school have truly encouraged, motivated and helped me. So, I’m very glad that I can be here today because of them.
You began your creative career in high school. Reflecting on this time as you make your debut, what is it like seeing and sharing your journey?
It’s been a really long journey, but I really loved hip-hop when I was in high school, and I listened to a large number of artists from Korea and America. But I’ve made a huge transition as an individual and artist.
When I first began music, I focused on the bright and optimistic. Despite being ignored and downplayed because I was perceived to be unable to make music or rap, I just persevered and continued my path. So, I’ve improved to the point where I can confidently say I’ve gotten better than those who belittled me. But I’ve also found individuals who are phenomenal at what they do, so I’m always working my hardest.
However, when reflecting on the journey, there were times when I was very lonely. So, in the moments where I’ve found myself alone, there were times when I struggled to express myself and faced a lot of challenges. Regardless, looking at where I am now, I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to make my debut and release my single. It’s been a long road to this debut.
You’ve made your mark on the entertainment industry, but you’ve also shared that it hasn’t always been easy. Despite this, you always return to music. What do you find so compelling about music?
I want to carry on my life with music. I have so many things that I want to express and share about myself. And I’ve found that music is the best way for me to do this. Despite trying to find different means of survival to support myself, I always think I need to make music about this or that experience. I’m even thinking that during this interview! So, I always inevitably find my way back to music.
That’s the cool thing about music. I can express myself through unimaginable details.
As we conclude the interview, is there anything else you would like to relay to our readers?
It was such an honor to do this interview with NextShark. Although I was very nervous (to the point where I’m not sure if I spoke properly), I wanted to share the news of my new musical release. “Love All Night” is the result of so many amazing and hardworking people working together, and I can confidently say that it’s a song we are all proud of.
So, I would like to request that you give it a lot of love. Now that I’ve made my debut, all I need now are fans. Please pay the song and me a lot of love and attention!
“Love All Night (Modern Walks)” is now available to stream on SoundCloud.