The pressure is undeniably always high when it comes to an artist’s first album, but the intensity was arguably much higher and much more personal when it came to Kang Daniel — from both an artistic and business perspective.
As a standout star as a member of K-pop boy band sensation Wanna One before breaking out on his own with a brand-new label where he acts as its CEO, the singer-songwriter says he challenged himself to do something different as a newly debuted solo star. The result was his genre-jumping color on me album that included the low-key, minimalist-pop jam “What Are You Up To,” the dark EDM rush of “Horizon,” a euphoric surging-synth poem “I HOPE” and more. Even in the creative world of K-pop, the record stood out as something fresh and showed promise for an artist looking to blaze his own path.
“I wanted to be different since it’s my first as a solo artist,” Daniel explains in a rare sit-down interview with Billboard in Seoul. “I made the album as I wanted my music to evolve and show my color and character…I wanted to do something I haven’t done before.”
The young star adds that balancing his new role both as an artist and businessman creates an internal struggle, but his focus and dedication to his artistry is clear. “While I’m the CEO of KONNECT ENTERTAINMENT, I keep reminding myself that I’m a singer, and being on the stage and singing is what I do,” he adds.
Daniel’s results with color on me (which broke chart records in Korea for a solo artist) as well as his rising star on Billboard’s Social 50 chart (“The Billboard chart is the chart where my favorite artists are,” he says. “I still can’t believe it.”) as well as new music in the works in the next months, all indicate exciting things for the star as Kang continues to find, forge and navigate a new road for himself.
Watch the full interview above with Daniel where he goes more in-depth on the creation of color on me, talks about his Wanna One band mates, shares how he and his fans encourage one another as well as secrets about his upcoming music.