Why K-Pop Star DAWN Feels ‘Freer Than Ever’ (Q&A)
DAWN's new single, “Dear My Light,” is much more than your average heartbreak song.
“I think many people will be amused when they first listen to this song because it's different from the music I’ve released in the past. It's an acoustic song, and I focused on my vocals rather than my performance. I put a lot of effort into the lyrics, so I recommend everyone listen closely to the lyrics,” the K-pop star tells PopCrush about the song’s acoustic-driven sound and vulnerable lyrics, which are a significant departure from the bright, electric energy of his past releases.
On the relatable, achingly bittersweet ballad, the stylish musician — who counts rapping, singing and dancing in his repertoire — recalls growing out of a relationship while simultaneously being able to appreciate the highlights of the time spent with the other person.
“I was happy enough to forget myself / It’s okay if I lose everything / As long as I can see you dazzling," DAWN sings on "Dear My Light."
DAWN's honestly is part of the reason why fans are drawn to the artist formerly known as E’Dawn, a Jack-of-all-trades in the world of K-pop and fashion. DAWN began his career with the boy group Pentagon in 2016 before transitioning to solo work under “Gangnam Style” hit-maker Psy’s P Nation label in 2018. Now, he’s beginning a new chapter with producer duo GroovyRoom’s AT AREA label as he carves out a solo space for himself in the industry.
Below, DAWN chats with PopCrush about “Dear My Light”'s striking cover art and music video, how his style and music intertwine, and more.
How does it feel to start a new chapter in your career? Where do you want to go from here?
It feels great to finally share this song with my fans. I wanted to show authenticity and sincerity with this release, and that naturally flowed into talking about my personal story. It came very naturally because it's what I’ve been going through, and with AT AREA I met a great group of creative partners who really understand that. I want to continue creating music where I can fully express myself.
How is “Dear My Light” different from the music you’ve created in the past?
For my past records, I created them with performance and dance in mind.
What was the inspiration for the “Dear My Light” cover art?
I wanted to express the feeling of void. What it feels like to be in darkness, searching for light. The cover art is explained further in the official music video.
What was the biggest difference you felt while making this song, since it’s more focused on vocals and lyrics? Was it more difficult, or did you find any part of the creation process easier than past projects?
The process of finding a way to deliver my message through vocals was challenging because it was something I found very recently when I came to AT AREA. So that is the biggest difference. After learning how to express myself by using my voice, the song came very naturally. I feel freer than ever to speak about my mind and what goes on in my life. I believe in the power of sincerity in art.
What are you most excited for fans to see in the music video?
I tried to convey a feeling of change. I used a lot of imagery to show what it is like for a person to be in despair and what it is like to be in search of hope, light and change. I am excited to see if my fans can feel the same way, too, by seeing the music video.
How does it feel to release such a vulnerable song?
I have always felt the most comfortable by being honest. So it feels very good to release this. I hope this can empower others around me and my fans to believe in themselves, too.
Were there any artists or songs you love that gave you inspiration when making “Dear My Light?”
Not necessarily a song, but my co-creators, like GroovyRoom, inspired me to make this and gave me the strength to deliver my honesty and focus on my voice.
What do you hope fans take away from the lyrics?
When writing this song, I wanted it to be a message for whoever is going through a similar situation as me. Whether it’s a partner, or another person in their life that can provide that bright light, I just wanted it to be relatable.
How do you tie your fashion style and your music together? Or do you feel like fashion and music are separate versions of yourself?
I see style as another way of self-expression. Style and music are all different ways to speak, so I see these together in a bigger scheme. I like to have fun with my fashion style as well, so it is always an intriguing part of my pursuit in art.
What kind of styles are you into right now in both the music and fashion worlds?
Music, it is hard to say because I am not necessarily into any specific genre. I’d say I have been focused on the "message" the most. If there are different styles of music most suited to deliver a certain message, I am very open to it. For fashion, I am into mixing different styles and crossing transparent boundaries; recently, I matched a skirt with biker boots, and that was super fun.
What does being an artist mean to you?
It means to try my best to [incorporate] my message into a piece that many people can relate to, empathize, have fun and, at times, feel empowered. I do not ever take my fans and listeners for granted; as an artist, I feel responsible to always try something new.