Jinbo is one of those artists who’s name I was always vaguely aware of but I had never explored his music for myself. Until this year that is. This interview doubles as an Artist Highlight piece since this is my first time writing about Jinbo’s work!
In my interview with rapper Young Lion last year, Jinbo was shouted out as one of the artists he hoped to collaborate with. He featured on my favorite song from Hoody’s On and On album last year, ‘By Your Side‘. Jinbo has many other notable features in the realm of Korean hip hop, R&B and soul music.
Jinbo’s first LP Afterwork, produced and released independently in 2010, won ‘Best R&B/Soul Album’ at the Korean Music Awards. He has worked on projects with Peejay and Digipedi. He is probably best known for his KRNB projects, the first of which was released in 2012. KRNB is described on Jinbo’s Bandcamp site as “a collection of altered and renovated hits, smoothly tucked into a cohesive project full of nostalgia, and innovation – all of which pay homage to the greats (Seo Taiji; Kim Gun-mo; Deux) and acknowledge the current heavyweights (Girls’ Generation; Taeyang; 2NE1)“.
Jinbo’s KRNB, Pt. 1 EP was released in June of this year. My friends and I recommended some of the tracks on the podcast but I never got around to writing a review. I highly recommend this album. Jinbo brought together some of my favorite artists – Sumin, G.Soul, Hoody, and Crush.
Please check out this awesome documentary from The Cut showing the creative process!
You can find more music from Jinbo below the interview!
- Please introduce yourself.
저는 JINBO the SuperFreak 입니다. Music Producer, Artist 이고 SuperFreak Records를 운영하고 있습니다. 그리고 저는 east-west, underground-mainstream, street-media를 crossover 하고 있습니다. Crossover 하는 것과 Hybrid 해서 새로운 걸 만드는 것을 좋아합니다.
I’m JINBO the SuperFreak. I’m a music producer, an artist, and I’m running SuperFreak Records. I’m a crossover between east-west, underground-mainstream, street-media. I like creating new things by doing crossover and hybrid music.*
- How would you describe your music? What or who has inspired your style the most?
여러 스타일의 음악을 섞거나, 여러가지 시대의 음악을 섞는 것이 바로 JINBO 스타일 입니다. 한국음식 중에 “비빔밥” 처럼 여러가지 재료를 섞고 비비면 아주 영양가 있고 맛있어 집니다. 저는 Dali 와 Picasso 를 좋아하고, Thelonious Monk 와 Miles Davis 둘 다 좋아하는데, 이 얘기를 하는 이유는 제가 Freak 을 좋아하기도 하고 또 아주 CLASSIC 한 것도 즐기기 때문입니다. 뮤지션 중에서는 The Neptunes, Teddy Riley, Babyface, Timbaland, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Kay Gee, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, R.Kelly, 2Pac, EWF, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach 등이 제게 영향을 끼쳤습니다.
My style is mixing different styles of music or mixing music from different times. If you mix various ingredients, like in the Korean food “bibimbap”, it can be very nutritious and tasty. I like Dali and Picasso AND Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis; I’m telling you this because I like ‘freak’ and enjoy very classic things. For musicians, The Neptunes, Teddy Riley, Babyface, Timbaland, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Kay Gee, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, 2Pac, EWF, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, and other artists like this have inspired me.*
- When did you start producing music?
처음으로 프로듀싱을 했던 것은 아마 1999년이였던 것 같은데, 친구네 집에 있는 아타리 컴퓨터로 친구랑 같이 Mobb Deep 스타일의 음악을 만들었고, 나 혼자 만든 것은 아마도 …. 2001년 정도? 처음으로 내가 만든 음악이 씨디에 담긴 것은 2002년쯤? 그리고 인터넷에 올라간 것은 2003년!
The first time I produced something was probably in 1999, when I made Mobb Deep style music with my friend on my friend’s Atari computer at his house. I produced something myself probably…around 2001? The first music I made was on CD around 2002? And it was on the Internet in 2003!*
- What’s the hardest part of being a music artist?
좋은 게 나올때의 행복함과, 좋은 게 안나올 때의 답답함을 계속 왔다갔다 하는 점.
The constant swing between the happiness of having good things come out and the frustration of not having good things come out.*
- Do you think Korean R&B has it’s own distinct flavor?
당연히 있다고 생각한다. 우선 언어에서 나오는 독특한 사운드가 있고, 한국 알엔비는 좀 착하다. 한국 사람들이 좋아하는 chord progression이 있고, 하나가 잘 되면 다른 곡들이 그 스타일을 따라간다. 아마도 다양한 인종이 살고 있지 않아서 그런 것 같다.
I definitely think so. First there is a unique sound coming from the language, Korean R&B is similar. If there’s a chord progression that Korean people like, and one song does well, all the songs follow that style. 아마도 다양한 인종이 살고 있지 않아서 그런 것 같다. *
- You brought together many different artists for your KRNB2 Pt. 1 album – I enjoyed watching the live sessions. Can you talk about creating KRNB2? How is it different from your first KRNB album?
KRNB1 was done by myself almost entirely so the statement was that “I am KRNB”. Whereas KRNB2 is about celebrating the growth of Korean R&B. Now we have a R&B “scene” in Korea and we draw a lot of international attention with our “Made in Korea” music. 이런 날이 오기를 오랫동안 기다려왔기 때문에 기념하고 싶다. (I’ve waited for this day for a long time so I wanted to celebrate it.)*
- What direction do you think Korean music is going in?
I think it’s going good. I just wish Korean Music becomes more diverse. I hope it meets more international fans and international influence so it can grow into something that will be helpful to the entire world.
- In college I listened to ‘Don’t Cry’ by 드렁큰 타이거 – a song you are featured on. Back then I didn’t know who you were. Will you work with any more hip hop artists in the future?
Of course. I wanna work with Dok2, The Quiett anytime, I feel like I should’ve been on Beenzino’s last album, I wanna work with Swings on his album. There is also Keith Ape, Khundi Panda, Yun B, Don Malik, and of course a lot of young talents who are striving their ways up!
- Your R&B/Soul Album of the Year in 2010 – how have you changed as an artist since then?
My mom is happier than before 🙂 As an artist though, I have more room space to be progressive and fearless now. My standard has gone up also so I want to be innovative with my next albums.
- Do you think it’s easier now to be an independent artist in Korea compared to when you started?
It is way more easier these days to be an independent artist due to the internet and all the apps and mediums. For example, you can release your music and videos on Instagram and just promote the heck out of it and become a star. Someone told me this a couple days ago, “you lose if you’re lazy”. So be busy on your phone and you’ll make your name famous on the net!
- What song do you listen to often these days?
Frank Ocean – Skyline To
Miguel – Told You So
N.E.R.D – Lemon
Grizzly Bear – Glass Hillside
The Killers – Run For Cover
Frank Sinatra – L.A. Is My Lady
T Pain – May I
유재하 – 내 마음에 비친 내 모습
- What artists do you enjoy listening to?
Everyone knows that I’m a huge huge Neptunes/ N.E.R.D head. I’m listening to all of their songs. I also love Machinedrum and a lot. My club bangers are Jimmy Edgar, Full Crate, Kaytranada. Frank Ocean makes me really listen to his music. Stevie Wonder is always the truth. Herbie Hancock is also the truth. Steely Dan is like my go-to textbook. Frank Zappa lights up my creative fire. Lately I’ve been listening to 빛과소금, 유재하. They are Korean legends.
- Is there anything you wanted to do besides producing/singing?
Scientist, Entrepreneur, Actor.
- Do you have any hobbies other than music?
I do boxing. I love to go hiking and surfing.
- How do you feel about the spread of Korean hip hop/music globally?
I think it’s a good thing. From getting 0 recognition 40 years ago and look how much recognition we’re getting now. It’s amazing. But don’t forget we are only starting to rise.
- Are there any artists in Korea that you have not worked with that you would like to?
Kim Gun Mo, Seo Taiji.
- What is your advice to young people who hope to pursue a career in music?
유행을 따르기만 하지 말고, 자기만의 것을 창조하길 바래요. 우리는 늘 새로운 걸 원하니까!
Don’t just follow the trends, create your own. Because we all want new things!
*This is my first time attempting to translate an interview myself, so some of the Korean –> English translations are a work in progress. Just wanted to get this up before Christmas because I’m excited/impatient! Check back for more accurate edits soon haha
Jinbo’s recent single with Chancellor
Jinbo’s recent single with Jay Park
More clips from KRNB Pt. 1 EP
In the documentary (link above), Jinbo called Sumin the hottest R&B artist in the scene right now. Check out clips of him performing with her here.
Thanks for reading!!