K-pop musician BamBam said he felt like a small feather when he first moved to South Korea from Thailand over 10 years ago. Taking listeners back to that moment, the singer starts his first full-length album Sour & Sweet with the song Feather.
"It conveys the emotions that I'd felt when I first came to Korea. I still remember the feelings I got when I arrived at Incheon International Airport. I didn't know anything and felt like a small feather. Feather is the start to my story," BamBam said at a press conference for his album on Tuesday.
During the event held Tuesday afternoon in Seoul's Yongsan-gu, just a few hours ahead of the album's official release later that day, BamBam said the album follows his journey as he evolves from that fragile feather into full flapping wings. Wings is the last track of Sour & Sweet.
"Wings portrays the latest version of me. Although I'm not a huge star, I've achieved many dreams and have more to aspire for, now with my fans as my wings," the 25-year old said.
Just like Feather, every track on the new album was inspired from the most intimate experiences of the artiste, some of them sweet, and others, sour. He stressed that the main goal with his album is to unveil his hidden spiciness.
BamBam, mostly known as a member of boy band GOT7, recently became popular with larger audiences through his honest and charming personality displayed on variety programs.
"Although many people see me as a sweet person, I want to portray through this album that I also have many sour sides," BamBam said, a disarming smile still on his face.
Fronting BamBam's autobiographical album is its namesake Sour & Sweet, a city pop score through which he questions the double-sidedness of people.
To emphasize the duality , BamBam appeared that day donned in a pure white suit and gown, with the gown inside splashed in brilliant red. His hair was dyed a grayish white to match.
"The outfit perfectly expresses 'Sour & Sweet.' The white signifies the sweet side, but when you look inside, there's the sourness hidden," he explained.
The message about double-sidedness is manifested in the music video of the title track. In the video shot in Greece, BamBam portrays two contradicting roles.
"I've mostly done concepts with vivid colors until now, but for this one, I wanted to tone down on it to portray a more mature mood. That's also why I put more emphasis on the storyline. I turn into a detective chasing the suspect, who is also me," he said.
Along with Feather, Wings and Sour & Sweet, the five other tracks are Take It Easy, Ghost, Let's Dance, About You and Tippy Toe, through which BamBam carefully unfolds pieces of his life.
With Take It Easy, the seemingly bright singer shares the comfort he had found at a dark moment in life.
"I was mentally distressed when I wrote this song. I wrote the lyrics to console myself, and I still listen to the song myself when I feel bad," he said.
"Take it easy/ take it easy/ I'm not the one/ not everybody needs me," the chorus goes.
Expounding on the song, he said, "I often fool myself that I've become an irreplaceable person to people, but the lyrics of this song brings me back to the ground. It reminds me that the world goes around without me," the artiste said.
The next track, "Ghost," sings of his mixed feelings toward his late father. BamBam's father passed away when he was 3 years old.
"I didn't want to write a song about family at first. But when I was going through a really hard time, I had prayed for him to appear in my dream, but instead, he appeared during a sleep paralysis. It was scary and relieving at the same time. I thought then that I should write about him," BamBam explained.
Let's Dance compares a romantic relationship to dancing, which BamBam said, "is something I cannot speak about my life without." In About You, he expresses his honest thoughts about the life of a celebrity who gets judged and gossiped about by the public and media. "Although it says 'you,' it's actually about me," the singer said.
While all the songs contain different stories, he picked Tippy Toe as his favorite.
"Fans also seemed to like this song the best. ... The lyrics are all in English, and it sings of the fluttering heart of a guy who is tiptoeing in front of his crush," he said.
BamBam debuted as a K-pop singer in 2014 with GOT7, and ventured out as a solo musician in 2021 with his first solo EP, riBBon.
Taking part in every step of the album's production, including the song selection, mixing, mastering and conceptualization, BamBam said he feels 100 percent content with his new album.
"Although it's not something that can be done alone, I personally had a high expectation as it's a full-length album. Even after shooting variety shows, I'd go to the studio to work on the album, even if I had to go home late," he said. "I feel I lived my life to its fullest over the past year."
BamBam has been engulfed in the busiest period of his career since his debut lately, appearing on various variety shows while also continuing his singing career.
Just last week he visited his home country to host and perform at 2023 Kcon Thailand, one of the nation's biggest annual K-pop festivals.
Ten years into his career, BamBam said he has achieved many of the goals he first had when he set out as a 15-year-old boy.
"Debuting itself was one of the goals. As GOT7, we'd landed No. 1, won awards and even held a world tour. During the seven years or so of time, we achieved many of our goals," he said.
After the group's debut under JYP Entertainment in 2014, GOT7 shot to global stardom and rolled out a successful career over the years. In January 2021, their time together seemed to abruptly halt, as the bandmates' contracts with JYP come to an end. They all left JYP to continue on their solo careers.
In May 2022, GOT7 returned with the new album GOT7 to prove that the boy band was not only intact, but ready to start a new chapter as a group. The band promised then that, although it may be slow and difficult, they would all continue their career as a group.
Now, one of his biggest dreams is the resumption of GOT7's world tour, BamBam said.
"We hadn't finished our world tour before our contract ended because it had been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining concerts had all been canceled, including one in a stadium. I really want to have that come true," he said. "Although it may take long, as the Korean members also have to finish their military duties, even with just some of the members, I hope that stadium concert happens one day."
Now a veteran entertainer capable of juggling various roles, BamBam said that as his first LP, Sour & Sweet brings him back to his core identity as a K-pop singer.
"Although I'm grateful many like me through variety shows, I hope that people still recognize me for my performances and music. I think I have to do my work as an idol singer properly," he said, adding he dyed his hair to differentiate his roles. "My start was an idol singer, so I wish to end as an idol singer."
Sour & Sweet was released at 6 p.m. on Tuesday – By Choi Ji-won/The Korea Herald/Asia News Network