More than two years after his scheduled performance in the UAE was cancelled owing to the pandemic, K-pop star Jay B finally made his UAE debut.
"The fact that I could come this time around is a relief," he tells The National. "And, to be able to put on a great show and experience the culture here is so fun.
"When I travel I like to experience the city and not the new buildings. I would like to see a mosque and everything that locals enjoy, like old buildings and old culture.”
His performance at the K-Fest, during which he wowed crowds with hits such as BTW and AM PM, precedes the release of his second solo album Be Yourself, the follow-up to last year's SOMO:Fume, and fans can expect a new sound.
“SOMO:Fume was more on the hip-hop and R&B side of the music spectrum,” he says. “This new release is definitely more fun and intimate.
“I tried out a lot of different things when it comes to the album, so please look forward to it.”
He also offered fans an insight into his favourite track from the forthcoming album, Holyday.
“The lyrics and the meaning behind them is so good — it is my favourite song I have released so far.”
The theme for Be Yourself was a collaborative effort between Jay B, 28, his record company A&R and his fans around the world, who sent him suggestions for the kind of tracks they wanted to hear from him.
And he teases that the album's theme will be present throughout all accompanying music videos too.
“Once the theme was decided, I worked on the music videos to match it,” he says.
While Jay B is currently busy working on his solo material, that is just one of many outlets for his creativity. He has also released music under the name Def or Defsoul.
“I promote as Jay B when I am a songwriter, bee-boy or doing photo exhibitions," he explains. "But Def is my producer name, that's the easiest way to differentiate it.”
He’s also been a member of bands JJ Project, consisting of Jay B and Jinyoung, as well as Jus2, where he teamed up with Yugyeom. However, he is perhaps best known for being the lead singer in boy band Got7.
And, while Be Yourself is his current focus, Jay B wants to reassure fans that the band is quietly working together and discussing plans for a comeback. They may have to wait for a little while, but when they do reunite, he thinks the UAE would be a great place for his bandmates to visit.
“I know it might suit BamBam," he says. "But Jackson would have so much fun here.”
Despite the fact that Jay B has already achieved so much, and has been in the spotlight since he was in his teens, he doesn't think of himself as a "celebrity".
“I don’t think I am a successful celebrity, I am just a person," he says. "The way I see it is that I don’t force my thoughts on others, but I like to be clear on what I think, and be humble about the way I go about it.
“If I have a life saying, it would be: 'There is only one life to live, so live it to the fullest without any regrets.”