He’s taken the world by storm with Gangnam Style, a number, which has become a Korean pop sensation like non other. The music video of this song has been viewed by nearly a billion people on YouTube and from US flashmobs to jail inmates in the Philippines, right on to pop diva Britney Spears has shaken their booty to his moves.
He’s also entered the Guinness Book of World Records title for the most liked You Tube video ever and has spent more than 10 weeks on the U.S. Billboard 100. Now, in the first ever interview to be published in India, the 34-year-old Korean singer-songwrite Park Jae-sang, or PSY as he is popular called, speaks about this bewitching dance style, life after international stardom and more. The interview is part of a show that was aired on CNN.
K-Pop star Psy performs the Gangnam style dance with Red Bull-Renault driver Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull-Renault driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany before the start of the Formula One Korean Grand Prix at the Korean Circuit in Yeongam. AFP/Philippe Lopez
Q: What was on your mind when you made Gangnam Style? Did you perceive that it would go this big?
Psy: I didn’t expect this kind of thing. I made this song - I made this music video and dance moves just for Korea, not worldwide.
Q: Gangam is like the Beverly Hills of Seoul, right?
Psy: Yes, so I, you know, described the district...that’s my point of view. And I described the district as like normal and calm at the
daytimes and going insane at the nighttime. So I
compare all the sexy ladies to the district. That’s what the lyrics is about.
Q: What did you think of the overnight success?
Psy: It was, like, really touching, you know? And Gangnam Style is really a casual song. It’s not touching or moving song. I’m the writer and I didn’t make this song in that purpose. But the thing is, with the way they are doing, it’s like, ‘Wow’.
Q: People don’t realise that Gangnam Style is a song on your sixth album.
Psy:Yes. Well so, to the world, this was my debut. But in Korea, it was mandatory success for sixth time. So it was like highly pressured. Especially with the dance moves. So this was my first dance moves to the world, but this was like my sixth dance move. And my previous ones got — every dance move was so hit. (But) Not around the world. That means I have five more steps.
Q: Tell us about the horse dance.
Psy: It was such a big pressure with the dance moves, so after (the) song’s done, me and my Korean choreographers like, we spend like more than 30 nights. We got to try everything we see. Literally everything.
Q: And what was it about this one that you think stuck?
Psy: This horse dance was originally — I don’t know about other countries, but in Korea, it was really huge at the ‘80s. One day, I thought about it and my choreographer’s like — he’s like three years older than me and he knew about the dance. So, hey, why don’t we try some, classic ones like, they say, “OK, such as?” And like, “Horse? Horse dance? Horse dance? What is horse dance?” It’s like wow.
Q: It does look easy.
Psy: And I like the part. Because, when people see it and if it looks like, ‘Oh, I cannot do that’. Then they’re not going to do it, right? But if people see it and, ‘Ah ha, I can do it’. And they are trying. And if people are trying, that means viral.
Q: They’ve tried a billion times.
Psy: That’s what I’m saying. So, I just saw like 20,000 people flash mob in Italy. I saw the video footage at the YouTube. And they were doing every move. And they were saying every Korean word. So, when I do performing, I feel kind of sorry to the audience...they don’t have any idea what I’m talking about...but they are so happy.
GO GANGNAM STYLE
Age: 34 years
Famous for: Hit single Gangnam Style
What is Gangnam Style: A Korean pop number that has been in the US Billboard 100 for 10 weeks and entered the Guinness Book of World Records title for the most liked You Tube video
Korean singer opens up about what led him to where he is today
Q: Are you ready to beat a billion views on YouTube with your next one?
Psy: I'm not going to beat that and I cannot beat that. For example, Justin Bieber — he got his debut song, Baby, 700 million. And he cannot beat it. You know, music video got more than half a billion view. But literally not half a billion people recognise me, yet.
Q: Teaching Britney Spears how to do the horse dance on the Ellen DeGeneres show, what was that like?
Psy: So, that was the most nervous moment in my life. Really. Because that was my first national TV appearance. In the United States. And so, everything was so first time. First time meeting Britney, first time meeting Ellen, first time being on national TV. And Britney doesn't know I was coming there, so I got to be hiding all over. So it was like — when screen opens, I popped out. That was the scenario. And right behind the screen — wow, much more nervous than when I debuted, you know?
Q: Tell a little bit about your love for music. And when did that start? Did that start early on in your life?
Psy: Basically, when I was a kid, one of my dream was like being a comedian. Talk show host or something like that. And when I was like 14, 15 years old, in Korea, there was some program that introduce like pop songs, pop videos. And in that program, I saw — I saw Queen. Yes, Queen’s concert in Wembley Stadium. And they are singing Bohemian Rhapsody. When I saw the footage, I was like literally, you know, gone.
Q: At what age, then, did you start writing music and thinking about lyrics?
Psy: Until freshman of college, I didn’t think about being a musician. So I just convinced them that I want to study in the bigger world. So that I can be a bigger businessman. Please, I want to study abroad. So he allowed me and I entered Boston University at the time. And as soon as I get to BU, I quit it and with the tuition, I hang out a bit...feel the atmosphere of United States. That’s why I can speak English.
Q: Ultimately, you ended up at the Berkley College of Music.
Psy: Yes, so I found the Berkley College of Music and, in that period — that was the year of 1996-1997, and it was all about hip-hop at the time in the United States. Like I got influenced by all that kind of hip-hop music.