Everybody has their own unique story and message they want to get across to the public. Everyone is different … Hip Hop and music have brought all of us together. There is strength in unity and that is what we represent
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jay Park, co-Founder of H1GHR Music. Multi-platinum, Billboard chart topping artist Jay Park continues to make his mark on the music industry around the globe. The Korean-American Hip Hop artist has been an icon in South Korea and has now established himself as a leader in the Hip-Hop and R&B genres worldwide. Jay Park launched his second music label, H1GHR MUSIC in 2018. Jay Park originally founded AOMG in 2013, the leading independent urban label based in Seoul, South Korea. As both an active artist and CEO of AOMG, Park’s goal was to support and develop emerging artists and producers organically. By focusing on their individual artistry first, Park has created an impressive roster filled with undeniable talent. Jay Park’s methods have proven successful, within the first two years, AOMG artists have topped all the mainstream music charts not only in South Korea, but in all Asian regions. Jay Park now brings the international music community together with his newly minted label H1GHR MUSIC, which houses artists from numerous countries, including the US, highlighting talent from his hometown of Seattle, Washington. His roster at H1GHR MUSIC showcases, Ted Park, Jarv Dee, Avatar Darko, Woogie Park, PH-1, Raz Simone and many more. Jay developed a genuine enthusiasm for Hip Hop music and urban culture, early in his career. Having always held true to both his culturally American roots, he embraced his ethnically Korean roots creating a harmonious blend and undeniable talent in the international music market. Due to his nuanced, multi-cultural understanding and open-mindedness, Jay has garnered respect domestically in Korea and beyond as a global music icon. Jay Park dropped his latest EP in June 2019, “The Road Less Traveled,” which includes features and collaborations with many of his artists signed to H1GHR MUSIC. His previous studio album, “Everything You Wanted,” landed one year immediately after his “WORLDWIDE” album. Receiving a warm reception in all territories, “Everything You Wanted” charted at #3 on Billboard’s World Album Chart, #3 on iTunes U.S. R&B Chart, and has had various singles charting in Korea’s MelOn Chart. Fueled by his vision to utilize his platform to support important social causes, Jay has partnered with cosmetics brand MAC and InStyle Magazine to support World AIDS Day 2016, with AOMG headlining the World AIDS Day Red Party in Seoul, and with W Magazine Korea for Breast Cancer Awareness. Former Vice President Al Gore invited Jay to participate in “24Hours of Reality” to represent South Korea and Asia in an effort to promote a healthier world. In August 2017, Jay Park announced a partnership with JAY-Z’s Roc Nation, garnering worldwide excitement surrounding his foray into the US market as the first Asian artist to be signed to the label. In 2018, Jay Park dropped his debut US music capsule, “Ask Bout Me” which featured breakout tracks “SOJU” featuring 2Chainz, “YACHT” featuring Vic Mensa, and “FSU“ featuring GASHI & Rich The Kid. The “Ask Bout Me” US debut received tremendous success with the visuals amassing millions of views on YouTube and VEVO. Most recently, Jay Park appeared as one of the judges on Asia’s Got Talent alongside David Foster and Anggun. He was honored and awarded in May 2019 by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, receiving The Game Changer Award in Music in Los Angeles, CA. Stay tuned for much more to come from Jay.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Jay! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up in Seattle? How, if at all, did an upbringing in the US affect your entrepreneurship goals?
I grew up in an Asian household with a lot of family and relatives around. I started listening to Hip Hop and R&B at a very young age and fell in love with it. I started dancing in highschool and always loved to express myself through music and dance, but never thought of doing it professionally. I think always being the underdog and people not really lending a helping hand led me to be more independent. That’s where wanting to prove myself and also wanting to survive in this world kicked in so that’s what inspired my entrepreneurial goals. Now I want to create opportunities and inspire my community and the people around me.
After the success of AOMG, what made you decide to launch an additional label, H1GHR Music?
I started my music career in Korea, so I never got to be a part of the music scene in my hometown of Seattle. I wanted to be more connected and more involved with the scene there, so I started to reach out to a lot of Seattle talent. I organically formed a mutual respect and friendship with several of the artists. I had a group of artists I started working with in Korea as well, so I decided to bridge the gap and create a label with both American and Korean artists under one roof. With my knowledge of the industry and determination, I was confident that I could make it work.
How do you juggle so many different jobs at once?
Time management is key. It definitely is a lot of work and is draining both physically and mentally, but the results and hunger of all the artists keep me motivated. I trust the process and I am not afraid to put in the work needed to succeed.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path? Most musicians strive to be a successful songwriter/artist, but you have gone the extra mile to launch not one, but two labels . . .
I just saw a lot of unfair treatment towards the artists that I have worked with, and I experienced it firsthand myself as well. I didn’t want to be in any situation that I didn’t want to be in, so I created my own. Also, I wanted to create a collective of good talented people and just have fun doing what we do, while being successful at it.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
My career in general is interesting. Many ups and downs, forever evolving and changing with it never being stagnant.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting as a label owner? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
There is no exact formula. Every label and every person is unique and works differently. Through much experience and trial and error I feel we found what we need to do and are continually trying to improve ourselves each and everyday as artists and label executives.
The Seattle music scene is well known for alternative rock and grunge with bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, etc. You are focused on highlighting the Hip Hop talent from Seattle, which most industry executives and artists have not represented before. Why did you feel it is important to search for Hip Hop talent in your hometown?
Seattle has a booming Hip Hop music scene that is often slept on. There are a lot of talented artists and at the same time a lot of real things that are going on in Seattle which does not get a lot of light. This causes a great deal of frustration among the artists and people who don’t have a lot of representation. As an established artist, I’m just trying to use my platform and influence to shed light to Seattle and the artists from there, to put on for our town.
I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in music? Cross genres? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Everybody has their own unique story and message they want to get across to the public. Everyone is different but the beauty of H1GHR MUSIC is, is that Hip Hop and music have brought all of us together. There is strength in unity and that is what we represent on the H1GHR MUSIC roster.
With artists such as Avatar Darko, Jarv Dee, Ted Park and Yultron who all specialize in different styles and genres of music, Do you look for anything specific when signing new talent?
I first look for our connection and chemistry as people. Do we stand for the same things? Do we have similar morals? If that is something we have in common then I look at their individual talent and the potential of the artist.
From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do to help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
Don’t put limits on what you think will be successful. If you are willing to work for it and want it bad enough, be confident that it will happen. Only chasing money and success will put a lot of limitations on everything.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good, to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
The movement I’m creating right now. I lead by example, not by preaching. It’s just to be humble and to be a good human being no matter how much money and success you achieve, but at the same time don’t be a pushover and still stand strong on your beliefs. Do things out of the goodness of your heart and not just for looks and appearances.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m grateful for everybody that has been and is in my life, both good and bad. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. I am especially grateful for the ones who have supported me and helped me along the way no matter how insignificant it might seem.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Nope. Busy enough as is, haha!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@jparkitrighthere on Ig
@jaybumaom on Twitter
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!