It is difficult to box the multi-hyphenated Eric Nam in one category. Along with being a talented singer and songwriter, he is the host of the wildly popular podcast Daebak Show w/ Eric Nam. He is also the founder of DIVE Studios and Mindset, a mental health and wellness platform and, if all this is not enough, he is an actor too!
In his 11th year in the music business, Eric Nam is an artist who has proven his innovative skills in adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the music industry. His latest album House On A Hill, his third English language album, struck a chord with its evocative lyrics and his mesmerising voice.
In a chat with HELLO! India, just ahead of his appearance at the Lollapalooza in Mumbai, Eric Nam shares his excitement about his Indian stage debut, meeting up with his Indian friends Armaan Malik, and Ayushmann Khurrana and his future plans. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation…
In conversation with Eric Nam
HELLO!: India is very excited to host you. How excited are you for your Indian stage debut and what can we look forward to at the festival?
Eric Nam: “I am very excited to make my Indian debut on stage at Lollapalooza Mumbai. It is something that my team and I worked on for a very long time and so glad that we were able to make it work. You can look forward to a lot of dancing, a lot of music, new and old, and just really good vibes. I hope people come ready to sing and dance and whether you are a new or old fan, or maybe never even heard my stuff, you walk away with a really big smile on your face.”
H!: Whether it is your music or your podcast there is an inherent comforting vibe. How is Eric Nam the person different from him as a multi-hyphenate artist?
EN: “I’d like to think that what you are getting through my music, my shows or podcasts are different parts of myself, expressed through different mediums. Whatever comforting vibe you are getting is me. Having said that, I think there are sides to myself that perhaps people don’t get to see much of, for example, I love to spend a lot of time alone and find that I get most inspired when I am alone, which many find surprising because they think I’m naturally an extrovert, but I am quite introverted.”
H!: I would describe you as someone who brings out the best of both your American and Korean heritage. It could have created a dichotomy for you while growing up, but it seems you have managed to find the perfect balance. What was that like?
EN: “I think it was a long-time struggle. I never felt like I fit into either Korea or the US perfectly. There were always aspects of myself that I had to explain, ‘because I am American’ or ‘because I’m Korean’, but I would like to believe that we are getting to a place in society and culture where we can accept people for who they are, just the way they are. I am both Korean and American, which makes me uniquely Korean-American. There are incredible nuances and intricacies in all cultures and I don’t want to have to pick or choose or diminish any of them to be myself. I think I’ve been trying to embrace all aspects of who I am and my identity and to shine a bright light on all the great things that come with them. It has been a journey to get to this point, but once I was able to embrace them all, it’s become a superpower of sorts, to have all of these cultural understandings.”
H!: You are someone who understands the ‘mindset’ of people in this case the artists, their struggles, and their successes. Did this also come from your own experiences?
EN: “Most definitely. I’ve tried to be open and honest about my struggles with my trusted friends, other artists, and ultimately my fans and the world because it’s important to normalise these difficult and personal conversations. I think my willingness to be open and honest in my struggles led me to a place where others were willing to be open and honest with me. Normalising these conversations may help encourage and allow people to deal with their mental health or internal struggles and in turn, help them lead healthier, happier lives, which I think is something we can all get behind.”
H!: The Nam brothers are a formidable trio, whats a day like when the three of you are together? How do you all strike a balance between work and family?
EN: “It’s usually a packed day. For as much as we work together, we don’t find all three of us, physically in the same room, very often. As such, when we are together we are usually ploughing through a list of conversation topics that range all aspects of our work-related topics, and the time will fly. We’ll usually work all day lol, which is why we decided to take a “retreat” of sorts for the very first time this past January. I knew that if we just met up at the office or somewhere common, we would just work all day and be pulled into meetings constantly, so I convinced them to go to the Four Seasons in Vail, Colorado where we could mix some physical activities with downtime. This allowed us to just be brothers and focus on having fun while mixing in deeper conversations around work and the direction of our businesses.”
H!: You are the perfect example of how important it is to seek your passion and what brings you joy, and it reflects in your musical identity. How would you define your music?
EN: “It’s a passion and it brings me joy, but also is a very painstaking process (laughs). As an artist, I think your job is to always be tiptoeing on the line between pain and pleasure. The challenge is to always be questioning everything about who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Is it good enough? Is it beautiful? Is it awful? Is it too honest and vulnerable? The questions are never-ending. My music is my diary or in some ways, a stream of consciousness. It is fluid, it is fun, it is sad, it is lonely, yet full of life. However, we do it because we love it. We do it because the process of fighting through the pain of creating, pleases us and hopefully, a project, a song, a film, or a show, that pleases us, but also our fans and audiences around the world.”
H!: After the awesome House On A Hill what can we expect from you?
EN: “Thank you for listening! We are always working on multiple projects in music - working with other artists, featuring on projects, looking for other artists to feature on mine, and ultimately hitting the studio to eventually write a brand new album. I’m not quite sure where the next album will take us musically but am very excited to find out. In the meantime, I am working on a few more film, TV, and digital media projects that should hopefully start releasing this year, so please stay tuned.”
H!: What is one of your songs that defines your current state of mind?
EN: “‘Only for a Moment’! These days, more than ever, everything seems so fast and fleeting. It might be the travelling, it may be the ADHD, but I’m trying to take every moment in and appreciate them as much as possible.”
H!: What’s on your to-do list for India? Any Indian artist whose talent or music you’re excited about?
EN: “My to-do list is to eat as much as possible and meet as many people as possible, have a good time and just vibe (laughs). I’m excited to finally be here! I was recently introduced to the music of Anuv Jain and Anirudh Ravichander who I think have great songs and voices, and I recently reconnected with my new friend Ayushmann Khurrana whom I met in Singapore last September for the TIME100 Impact awards, who is immensely talented in so many areas. I’m also very excited to finally see and meet Armaan Malik this week! For as much as we have texted and chatted online and even put out a song together with KSHMR, we have never met in person!”