Every so often, there’s someone who achieves stardom all while handling the spotlight with complete grace – despite having the world at their fingertips. As a member of the co-ed group KARD, singer-songwriter, rapper, lyricist, and producer J.seph (@j.seph_) has fought for the right to be one of those monumental names in the business and has wholeheartedly become one of the purest souls to come out of an industry where fame itself can overshadow the importance of dedication and inherent kindness.
Having debuted in 2017, the uncommon co-ed brilliance of KARD became the best modern display of its kind, with each member contributing to the overall creative direction of everything from sound to image. Right from the jump, J.seph’s richly deep and confident verses became a major selling point for a KARD song, with a stillness to his own personality that made him an industry treasure deserving to be protected at all costs.
Over the years, J.seph proved himself to be an anchor to KARD for a unique sound and delivery, but his infectious smile and all-around lovable energy elevated his reputation into being one of the most promising male artists of his time. While facing enlistment and a nearly two-year absence, the artist sought out other avenues to express his creativity – even entering a military-based musical production that J.seph notes only added to his longing to create music with his bandmates.
After recently wrapping up his service, J.seph made a sensational return home where he was greeted by his fellow members, along with the overwhelming support of millions around the world. Now, having daringly reinvented his own image and initiated the first full KARD comeback in almost two years (a KARD best-seller along with their smash-hit single “Ring The Alarm”), J.seph is finally stepping out on his own as our new digital cover artist for his first solo cover yet.
You come from one of the most inventive groups in K-pop, which happens to arguably be one of the most recognizable co-ed groups too. When you joined KARD, what were some of the things you were excited to create together, and what, if any, concerns did you have with trying something so widely uncharted?
J.seph: I think, “something that no one else has tried” was a big part of the idea of course. I did also think that there were many reasons not to try too. But I really wanted to break stereotypes. I wanted to target a niche market and that was also my challenge. It was a bit scary, but I made up my mind to focus on just being excited.
KARD has such a global fandom behind it and I know that’s something you personally really cherish! It also seems like you’ve kind of grown up alongside so many of them, so how would you say your bond feels different from those debut days to now?
J.seph: I missed exactly 1 year and 10 months, and we have finally met again. I felt like I reconnected with a true friend I had known for a long time again. I felt closer because I felt like we’d been suffering together. I am sure that this is love.
Speaking of that lovely bond and away time, you just completed your military service which meant you weren’t able to connect with your fans the way you’d probably like. What about that relationship would you say you missed the most during your service?
J.seph: I really had missed the stage, which was both mine and ours. It was a really serious problem for me that I wasn’t able to sing and dance on the stage with members and [our fans] Hidden KARD. So, The most important and precious thing is me and us, and to perform on the stage now.
While you were gone, your fellow KARD members were able to experiment with creativity in different ways – now that you’re able to get back into the flow, what kind of personal content do you hope to explore in the near future?
J.seph: Of course I want to show you my various talents but I couldn’t because I had a long break. So now, I plan to focus on just being active on stage!
When you were able to come home and reunite with your members, what was that initial interaction like? And what was the first activity you all did together upon reuniting?
J.seph: I actually ate dinner together with members and had some alcohol. At that time, it felt like I had a military holiday again, even though I had been already discharged from my service. Now it feels like the holiday without any return date!
What would you say were some of your favorite things that personally helped make that enlistment period more enjoyable?
J.seph: I watched K-POP girl groups’ music videos a lot especially fromis_9. I started to become a fan of them. I think most soldiers feel the same. [laughs]
You also came back and underwent a big change with your hair which is quite a fun and new side of you! What would you say inspired the new look?
J.seph: When I watched BM’s dyed short hair on the fashion week runway, It was really fabulous. My hair was already short, so I also wanted to try out that feeling like him. I had also wanted to try that color change out for some time.
We were also born in the same year which means you are technically a ‘90s kid, growing up in the pop-culture-heavy early ‘00s. What types of artists would you say inspired you from that time?
J.seph: I always liked 2PM’s performances. I regularly practiced their performances a lot back then. Actually, I even got the 2nd place title in a cover dance contest!
If you were going to create your very own solo song without any restrictions, what kind of track would best capture the essence of J.seph?
J.seph: Someday I would like to try a more retro, funky style song like ’24K Magic’ by Bruno Mars.
You’ve also been heavily involved in writing and producing in the past as well! Do you have any hopes or active ideas when it comes to your next chapter of songwriting?
J.seph: I usually write pretty words on my notepad. I personally like the mood that lovely words make, and that inspires me.
If you had to describe your ideal fashion, what type of look currently has the most natural feel to you?
J.seph: I think that it’s kind of a basic, but typical ‘reject’ style maybe. Something a bit more normal, and plain is my current preference!
Check out J.seph on KARD’s new comeback album Re: and enjoy the music video for their new hit single, “Ring The Alarm” included below!