Not only a variety character, musician is my identity [SE Weekly Aug 2017] (Jackson)
“Not only a variety character, musician is my identity “
Wang Jia Er who is used to being lively and quirky in front of the camera, this time he would be returning to the audiences with a slightly serious identity: Singer. That year, the 17-years-old Wang Jia Er left his hometown to become a trainee for his music dream. But with his adorable and lovable character, he prospered in the variety circle. He says that he’s naturally suited for variety, play to his heart content and he’ll give an unexpected surprise. But the popularity that variety gave him also gave him his only regret, “that is I don’t have the chance to let everyone know my music side.” Bringing along his initial intentions, Wang Jia Er returned back and established his own work studio Team Wang. Now, he wants to prove to the world: “I’m not only a variety character, my identity is a singer.”
Music is his initial intention
“My thoughts at that point of time was that you only live once, you got to try no matter what”
you how is his makeup and he would also be troubled that his face is cakey recently. When you compliment that his cologne is nice smelling, he would oddly assume this posture to lean over to let you smell it to your heart’s content. Without a doubt, Wang Jia Er naturally possesses the ability to let people be at ease and be happy. The conversation started off with his new identity: Singer. Wang Jia Er took care of the lyrics and melody in his new song <Generation 2> and participated in the arrangement and production. It is more accurate to say that his identity is the producer. A few days before the interview, Wang Jia Er received the “MTV Special Award” at the Asia Music Gala. We naturally congratulated him for his award and who knows he cried stinking fish with an honest face: “That award ceremony was held by the brand I advertise for.” “Just kidding la”. Wang Jia Er regained his seriousness in a second, “This is just my beginning, as a producer, I also think that it’s a good start. End June, Wang Jia Er announced the establishment of his own work studio Team Wang. His development goal is clear: music, variety, drama and his recent point of concentration is music. Previously, running to and fro overseas and domestically to record variety shows gave Wang Jia Er enormous attention and popularity, it also left him some regret: He can’t show his musical side. He seems to also be rather helpless about it, “Last time when I’m overseas, I could only come back for a few days every month. What can you do in that few days? I only could record variety shows, play what music in that few days right? I couldn’t do it at all, I couldn’t film dramas too.” So Wang Jia Er who returned back this time is kind of pressed to let everyone know that, “I’m not only a variety character, my identity is a singer.”
Wang Jia Er became acquainted with music very early. Perhaps people don’t know that it was for music that he gave up fencing when he was 17 to be a trainee overseas. Everything started with this music software for beginners called Garage Band. On top of it Wang Jia Er has written about love and also the story of others. Does he still remember the first song he wrote? This topic seemed to get Wang Jia Er excited straightaway. His low voice suddenly went a few keys higher and his eyes were glistening, “Oh my god, I think I was 13-years-old. You mean first official song or Garage Band song?” He barely finished his line and he excitedly picked up the phone beside him to play us his first official song. He self evaluates it to be “very attractive”. This song was written in 2013 January and then was included in <Roommate>. As for the song he wrote when he was 13 in the Garage band, he said he couldn’t remember it already. To the extent that when we were talking about the next topic, he was still recounting it and suddenly slapped his own thighs. “I remember it now. My first song is called Jackson. I just rapped my own name.” “J-A-C-K-S-O-N, you know his name.” He started to shake his head and rapped his first work. After he was done singing, he showed his signature big smile while lifting his head: “Really too speechless, it’s been deleted by me long ago.”
What gave Wang Jia Er even more degree of freedom was at that time, he was in a rich musical environment provided by his international school. “Many were American and Korean rappers.” Wang Jia Er who liked hiphop and rapping then was incited by a Korean friend to participate in auditions but he didn’t care about it. Until 2008, an overseas management company came up to him when he was 14-years-old. But in the end he let the thought go because of his father Wang Rui Ji’s words “you must be kidding me”. 2011, Wang Jia Er met a scout from his current company while he was playing basketball at the court after examinations. When asked if he was interested in being a singer, this time Wang Jia er did not hold back what he really felt and said: “Alright.” He even showed the scout a dance without any music. “My thought at that time was that you only live once, you got to try no matter what”. Later on in the 600 people audition, Wang Jia Er very smoothly emerged successful.
To what seems like good luck to normal people, in Wang Jia Er family’s eyes it was a “gamble”. “At that time a very good university accepted me and a very good scholarship university also accepted me. For fencing, out of those who were young, I was considered the little fresh meat (Meaning like he was the better quality ones out of the pack.). Everyone had expectations of me.” His parents did not want him to go on the path of being an artist. “My dad said if you can get the Asia Youth Champion then it’ll do. At that time no one in Hong Kong has ever achieved that. His words meant that he wouldn’t let me go.” Who knows that the stubborn and persistent Wang Jia Er, in the state of a sprained leg, managed to get both individual and group champions that year. “Maybe it was my normal mindset and plus my luck was good.” From then on, the youth used his capabilities to persuade his parents and smoothly went on the path of music.
Music isn’t easy to make
“I won’t go with anyone’s liking, I just want to do my own music”
Wang Jia Er says that he has 30 over songs in his storage now. His inspiration comes from anytime anywhere. “I can write songs anywhere. For example when I’m in the car, while showering. Anywhere is fine. I’m thinking about it every minute every moment. I won’t fix a time and say ‘Ok, I’m sitting down. Let’s start composing.’ There’s no such concept, I think about it just every minute every moment.” After he became a producer, there are more things he worries about. “For example what’s the music, what’s the theme, the backdrop for MV filming, which venue, which background is more suitable, what hair and makeup… just things that I think of every minute every moment”.
From how Wang Jia Er sees it, as compared to perfection, a real attitude is more able to reflect style. “I won’t go with anyone’s liking, I just want to do my own music. I also won’t let others help me write anything for the sake of better quality. Just like this time in <Generation 2>, this song contains (my) attitude about life.” When people nitpicked “Why’s the lyrics like this, why’s the dance like this”. “I actually don’t really care how people think. In 2017, this is totally how I feel about music. It’s not processed by anyone, it’s totally a Wang Jia Er work”. He also admits that sometimes when he looks back, he would also think that what he wrote is childish. But the important thing is that he can think of “himself at that age and what those people in that generation are thinking”.
It’s not easy doing music in mainland, what everyone goes on about the most is Joker Xue’s, who’s also a “variety character”, tough 10 years road of music. To this, Wang Jia Er has the same thinking: Use variety to regurgitate and feed music. “I won’t do variety for music. I painstakingly do variety because I’m still very happy doing it.” In his speech, he seems to agree very much with Joker Xue’s attitude in music: “He’s just different in music. It’s no joke. I think that that is the real attitude a musician have when making music”. Joker Xue’s 10 years road of music wasn’t easy, is he also ready to suffer for the sake of music? “Of course. Of course, for sure,” Wang Jia Er answered firmly.
But how Wang Jia Er sees it, “burning money” may not be the biggest enemy of making music. He is more worried about being kidnapped by the market and mainstream. “Before, I didn’t care if everyone likes it. I just do the music I want to do. Now, I would think if I should adopt to the customs and have more elements the public can accept inside my music.” The contradiction lies in that I want to do “a music that everyone likes” but I’m afraid of “losing my own character”. Lastly Wang Jia Er said, it only happens when he’s in a bad condition he gets “a little obsessed.” But he understands that this kind of thinking should not appear in his music. “I shouldn’t think that way.”
Natural sense of variety, real and can’t act it
“Why is it called reality show, it’s to see your original character”
Throwing the choice of music and variety to Wang Jia Er, his answer is very “greedy”. “I like both, both are me.” But “variety” to Wang Jia Er, is more like god’s gift to him.
“I got recognised overseas because of variety. When I came back to China, it was also because of variety that people know me.” Wang Jia Er thinks that he is naturally suited for variety. “It’s something too natural. I don’t have to care about effects or not. As long as I play to my heart’s content, I can create surprises.” In the show <Go Fridge> that made his popularity rise quickly, he partnered with MC senior He Jiong. One is in charge of orderly pushing the program flow forward, another is in charge of behaving not according to common logic, creating interesting sparks. This unexpected effect, on one side it comes from Wang Jia Er’s lively and adorable character and on another side it’s the “cultural clash” of this boy who has rich variety experience from overseas trying to blend into mainland variety atmosphere. Those details that made people become fans (of him), was the “Chinese jokes” that was brought about by his not so fluent mandarin. Or his straightforward way of asking celebrities gossip without any malicious intentions, but accidentally getting some hot gossips out from it. It made He Jiong say that they “picked up a treasure”. Diligently advertising, letting people laugh till their stomach hurts but at the same time letting the audience “for the first time, not feel appalled by such a direct advertising”. He even became the favourite of many advertisers. The market is also recognising his talents. After the third season of <Go Fridge>, <Fresh Sunday> < Fighting Man> and other shows came in one after another.
But as his popularity soared, it was also accompanied by troubles. Wang Jia Er who looks like “he’s going crazy 24 hours a day” on camera, slowly discovers that “funny and quirky” is slowly becoming his baggage. In other words, people are setting his character. “Some program team while going through the script, the staff would get me to perform a sense of variety later on.” He’s troubled as to the word “perform”. “That kind of acting, I can’t do it.” Sometimes when recording variety shows, the cameraman would tell him: “aiya, Jia Er I didn’t manage to capture what you did just now. Do it again.” Wang Jia Er is both puzzled and helpless: “How do I do it again?! It’s like I just fell and really you are asking me to fall again. What’s this called, is this Hollywood acting? I can’t do it.” In Wang Jia Er’s point of view, the most fun part of variety shows and also the most valuable thing about it is in its “realness”. Doing variety shows up till now, as a guest Wang Jia Er has never read the script before. “Instead, reading the script is really not good for me. The whole thing just gets stiff”. Wang Jia Er feels that being intentionally funny for the sake of being “funny” is something he definitely cannot accept. “Shouldn’t it be like this? Why is it called reality show, it’s to see your original character.” So now all the program team know that when inviting Wang Jia Er to attend variety shows, he won’t read the script.
You can only live once
“The state that I’m most afraid of now is doing nothing at home”
“You can only live once” is a phrase that Wang Jia Er frequently mentions. This may be an influence brought by fencing and his trainee experience: striving hard, persevering and the extreme desire to win in a fierce competitive environment. As for his goal for the next step, Wang Jia Er answered in one go: “A singer that’s also recognised well globally, a star, a Jackson’s brand and an icon.” Next, he will successively release his individual single and release his album. Wang Jia Er says that the state he’s most afraid of right now is “doing nothing at home”. “I must find something for myself to do, to raise my abilities in various aspects”. The staff around him also divulged about his “cannot stop” state: “He wishes that he could finish doing all his schedules in one day. Last night he also talked to me about work till it was 3-4am.” From what seems to be a very tightly packed work schedule to the staff, in Wang Jia Er’s eyes it isn’t particularly full. “I’m not doing anything recently, I hope that I can do more things.” After saying that he still remembered to add a line: “Do you have anything suitable for me to do?”
As for the future, this 1994 boy has his foresight and plans. He brought his parents who were originally staying in Hong Kong over to his side and often earnestly persuade his mother: “Mom, you are of this age already. You can enjoy yourself.” As for the work studio he just established not long ago, he has already planned where to go for next year’s team building. Talking about love, this boy who has been single for many years, showed his desire. But he still thinks that he can start only when he is ready. “I just came back and opened my work studio, my whole system hasn’t stabilised yet. I can’t take good care of myself, can’t take good care of my parents and can’t take good care of my staff. How do I take care of others”. Wang Jia Er who’s responsible, wants to take good care of the people around him with his own hard work. Towards love he’s the same. “If I were to get into a relationship, I want to take care of her whole heartedly. I don’t want to be unable to take good care of her because of work and I have something on.”
Serious attitude when talking about music
“I won’t save money because of music, this is a piece of work”
SE Weekly: Now that you opened up your own work studio, are there any changes to your status or in your group?
Jackson: The 7 of us are all busy with our own things. 7 of us all have our own goals, the same for me too, just individual schedules. I also don’t think that once the contract is over, the 7 of us are over. We are all brothers. Actually the contract and whether we renew it or not, this thing is totally dead. What’s real is the relationship between us. I’ve never thought of a full stop. It’s like with family, you won’t think of when you want to separate with them. Never thought of it.
SE Weekly: The feeling you give me now is very different from when you were on variety shows. You are relaxed and quirky in the show, but now you feel a little serious.
Jackson: Because we are talking about music now. This has got to do with attitude. I think that people can be happy, when doing variety shows, everyone will think that this child is like a crazy person 24 hours a day but actually it isn’t like that. I’m human too. Actually I think that when it’s time to get serious I’ll be serious, when it’s time to play I’ll play enjoyably.
SE Weekly: Music and variety, within you, which identity do you recognise more?
Jackson: I’m not biased towards any. Any side is myself. I like both. I said it, that I just didn’t have the chance to show my music side. So I think that at this stage now, I’m more inclined to do music. Because I showcased too much in variety, the years I’ve debuted I only showed my variety side. I think that it’s time to show some of my music side.
SE Weekly: Then in the future which direction does this work studio want to head towards?
Jackson: Music, film and television. If I want to say that I’m a singer, I must have my own work.
SE Weekly: Did you work with your friends from the entertainment circle?
Jackson: Actually a lot has already been arranged. A lot of them are good friends. They too know that I do music and they arranged a lot too. I asked them “hyung, noona do you want to make a song (together)”. They said they wanted to a long time back but they just saw me doing variety shows. It’s time you show people your music. Like a lot of hyungs and noonas will tell me that.
SE Weekly: What artists would you like to work with in the future?
Jackson: This is a surprise; if I told you then it wouldn’t be one.
SE Weekly: Then what kinds of music would you like to make?
Jackson: Hiphop and R&B.
SE Weekly: Recently, the hiphop kind of show has been quite popular. Did you watch them?
Jackson: I don’t follow them. I’m just doing my own music. In music there isn’t one you are amazing or I’m amazing answer. It’s just whether you have your own style. No one says that on the path of music, the way you are walking is right. There is no such thing. If you are good, you are good. If you have your own style, very strong style then it’s good.
SE Weekly: If we get you to freestyle, what would you want to express?
Jackson: Many people say that for hiphop music you must speak up about the faults of others. I think that hiphop isn’t all about girls, isn’t all about cars, isn’t all about money. Hiphop is about your story. This is the important thing. Many things are all about your own experience. I watch many movies, story of others, my inspiration all comes from here. As long as you write what’s true.
SE Weekly: Do you think that it’s easy to do music in mainland now? Its quite money burning and the results don’t show so quickly.
Jackson: But you can’t save on the money just because it takes a lot of money to do this thing. I won’t save money because of music. This is a piece of work. If you want to save money because of this thing, then you might as well don’t do it. Because of saving money, you lower the quality of the thing. I think that it’s not worth it at all. No matter how much money it cost, at least it won’t affect your quality, which is the vision I have in mind when I first start off making the song.
SE Weekly: What kinds of singer do you like?
Jackson: Eason Chen.
SE Weekly: What’s good about him?
Jackson: He has his own style and won’t go try out something just because the public likes it. He has his own style.
Acting still needs more hard work
“Want to act in action films, if you ask me to film a romance show now, I might not be able to do it”
SE Weekly: Is the difference big between you on variety shows and privately?
Jackson: That’s also me while doing variety. There’s no difference at all. When I’m high I’m like that. I was serious in shows too but they didn’t edit that in. They only edited some parts where I was going crazy.
SE Weekly: What influence does variety have on you?
Jackson: No influence. Just regretful, the only influence was that I could not showcase more things for others to see. If I showed it earlier, then others would not think I’m so simple, just variety.
SE Weekly: You are more against people setting your character?
Jackson: Just acting, I can’t act it. I’m not afraid of others scolding me and not afraid of what others think of me, up till now I’ve been myself. I think if you don’t like me, you have a thousand reasons to dislike me. I won’t be that Wang Jia Er in everyone’s eyes. Just because people don’t like me, I don’t want to change myself till they do. Then I can’t live. Right? Be myself, work hard and not regret it. That will do.
SE Weekly: Variety shows brought you very high popularity, when did you notice that you were popular?
Jackson: I really don’t think that my popularity is high. Now at the airport no one recognises me. In the past, everyone would ask who’s this who’s this. If referring to the public, I still don’t feel that I’m popular.
SE Weekly: How is that possible. Fans?
Jackson: Yes. But honestly it’s a very embarrassing state. Those that love and support me come pick me up at the airport, I’m very happy. But when I’m inside, those staff would ask who is that. Staff is the general public, like those who are not interested about anything. Actually I also don’t know you, but I didn’t say anything. Why did you say that you don’t know me? (Gives the haughty and slightly angry face)
SE Weekly: You hope that the public gets to know you through music?
Jackson: I hope that there’s 3 ways to showcase myself: Music, variety, and acting. But I showed a bit too much on variety. I won’t act in a reality show. But film and television is a piece of work, so I hope to challenge myself in film and television.
SE Weekly: What kind of theme?
Jackson: Action films, fighting shows, martial arts film, police and thief film, like those that move around. You ask me to film a show breaking up with a girl, cry and then pester her saying baby please don’t go, don’t break up with me. You ask me to film romance shows, I might not be able to do it. I can’t do it and I don’t like it. Look at the idol saying I love you I don’t love you, then breaking up, then getting into a love triangle a love square. Wow… How do you act this out, quite amazing.
SE Weekly: What’s the one thing that will make you excited right now?
Jackson: Releasing song, making music and when making every new piece of work, I’ll be very excited.
SE Weekly: What makes you feel disgusted?
Jackson: I don’t want to rest; I don’t want to do nothing at home. At this age, I should strive hard and should be making something. I don’t want to let myself stop. I can rest but I can’t stop. I don’t want to do something that is not contributing to myself.
Desires to be in a relationship but the timing isn’t right
“Love reality shows are even more hypocritical, it’ll make me want to be in a relationship”
SE Weekly: Have you had a do nothing life before?
Jackson: I dislike such life the most. When I first debuted and before I did my first variety show, there was 4-5 months. Of course I won’t let myself stop, because when I was a trainee, there was also a lot of time to do nothing. There was really nothing to do. In a day it’s 15-16 hours of practice. Sometimes it’s really 5-6 hours I’ll sit in my room, look at the mirror and think what am I doing, why am I here, like just zoning out. Then I would think that it’s such a pity, because after debuting, there’s no time to practice even if you want to. So if you don’t practice during your trainee days, you will really regret it. Like during the trainee period towards the back, I really practiced quite a lot and put a lot of heart into it. Those trainees that trained with me in the same company (who are opted for debut during the same period as me), the moment we compete we could tell who practiced more during the trainee days. The moment you compete, you know the person’s capabilities.
SE Weekly: Training regime is actually quite cruel.
Jackson: It’s cruel but also done well. I think that it should be done this way. You want to succeed; you want to be in comfort, you want to be good. There’s no such comfortable thing in this world. When I first went over, I was a foreigner. I can’t sing, can’t dance, if we were comparing looks many people were better looking than me and if we were comparing singing I also can’t win others. No choice, I can only train hard.
SE Weekly: Was there a time you couldn’t hold on?
Jackson: No choice, if I couldn’t hold on who do I tell. At that time the other trainees were in a competitive relationship with me too. How is it possible to tell my parents? Even if I eat well, he would also worry about me. If I tell him that I suffered, he would surely say buy a ticket and come back quickly. My father is that kind of person, I couldn’t tell him at all.
SE Weekly: When you were a trainee then, did you think of quitting and go back to fencing?
Jackson: No, I didn’t want to show others that I lost. Even if I go back, I want to be holding a victorious successful flag. Like when you fight a war, you also must hold onto the flag of success.
SE Weekly: If you didn’t encounter the auditions, will you still continue fencing?
Jackson: I would. I would be a great fencing athlete now, would have graduated from a very good university and playing fencing.
SE Weekly: You only live once is your pet phrase, did your athlete career influence you?
Jackson: It’s also a state of thinking of an athlete. I think that humans, suddenly talking about science…Humans are really small, it’s like an ant passes away and you don’t even know. It doesn’t have that influence. Just like when a person passes on, then he’s really gone. You don’t’ know when you go and when it becomes nothing. You must be clear why you live everyday. You must let this life, which is only lived once, be meaningful. I don’t hope to live without any thoughts. For example, a person works outside. Does he really like this job? Or is it for the salary at every end of the month. Am I happy about the pay? Or happy about this job? Or that I’m happy I’m in this line of business? This makes a very big difference. If it were me, I would rather do something I like. Less pay is fine.
SE Weekly: What is the status that you want?
Jackson: As long as I don’t regret it. When I die and pass away, I would like to think that I lived quite excitingly, like there are quite a lot of stories. Like it doesn’t matter if I pass away or not, the very happy kind. I don’t’ want to be like aiya when I’m passing on, there are so many things I didn’t do. I regret so many things. I don’t want myself to be like that.
SE Weekly: Will you try the love reality show?
Jackson: I think that this is more hypocritical. Like you want to eat this grape but the grape right in front of you and a glass is in the middle. You can’t touch it at all. This is more cruel, more hurtful. You ask me to go for a love reality show and you make me want to be in a relationship so much but it’s impossible to be in a relationship with her.
SE Weekly: You can date her privately?
Jackson: Then it ruins my career. I want to prepare myself before I consider a relationship.
SE Weekly: What are your criteria for choosing your other half?
Jackson: Many people would say they look at the heart, the inner side but I look at both inside and outside. If she’s very pretty, figure is very good but she’s a very annoying person inside, then I would be disgusted too. I think that two people together, they should understand one another, with no scheming and no narrow mindedness. Thinking for everyone, talking through things no matter what it is. Taking a step back and talk about it calmly. I don’t like those crazy kinds; no one likes those who like to go crazy.