What was once a childhood dream to become a performer has effectively guided singer-songwriter and actor Choi Young-jae (or Youngjae/@333cyj333) into the potent magic of music. In fact, it’s that exact same endearing yet incomprehensible spark that would actually become a part of his destiny – unknowingly introducing him to a calling for sincerity through artistry. Now, at only 25 years old, Youngjae is a rare example of a solo artist that’s fortunate enough to reap the benefits of undying passion.
From very early on during his childhood, Youngjae sought out every fragmented piece of music he was able to experiment with, which at various points ranged from singing with his own family to gaining the respect of instructors and recognition of major labels. Naturally, Youngjae then found himself in a promising space to effectively navigate a future within the industry, and would then choose to pursue the next step as a trainee before debuting in the superstar group GOT7.
As a unique brotherhood, GOT7 secured unpredictable achievements, yet not without experiencing turbulent shifts after years of enduring the complexities associated with an artist losing the reigns on their own passion. Despite hardships, Youngjae’s consistent drive for music and admiration for his musical brotherhood would fortunately keep him close to his fellow members throughout those challenging times, giving him a chance to contribute to a group existence like no other before delving into a logical switch-up for solo music. (Of course, a recent GOT7 reunion would cement this bond as unshakable and eternal.)
To make his rapidly growing career even greater, the artist’s year thus far has been one comprised of several highs with the game-changing GOT7 comeback, enjoying a breather in between various acting roles, expansive hosting inclusions, and most recently, a taste of his own sound on the 2nd mini-album, SUGAR. Within the boundaries of the titular pop track, “SUGAR”, Youngjae manifests a confident, carefree side of his well-trained vocal abilities, having nothing to prove with this a delectable offering to 2022 K-pop. And nothing is sweeter than that. Well, maybe his Pokemon card collection… but perhaps that depends on perspctive.
With Youngjae having finally dropped his optimistic mini-album, the renowned soloist and timeless GOT7 member took time out of his schedule to be our new Vanity Teen digital cover artist to celebrate his well-earned successes and a wholesome career.
You’ve had such an unimaginably busy eight years since debuting, with several magnificent accomplishments under your belt so far! Looking back at your road to get where you are today – what has probably been the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far?
Youngjae: A major obstacle was the vocal cord tubercle. Actually, the memory of singing in a bad situation at that time still remains a trauma to me. But now, I try harder to overcome it.
People can genuinely tell that GOT7 is the epitome of a ‘found family’ which is rare in a wonderful, but also challenging industry! Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine that you’d receive such a brotherhood through music?
Youngjae: I never thought such a thing would happen. However, because we were together, we got along better than anyone else. It was amazing.
If you were to envision your own ideal reunion for the group in a musical capacity, what’s something that you still would hope to achieve or try out with GOT7?
Youngjae: More than what I want to achieve or even try, I just want to be with the members all the time!
You’ve also spearheaded your own solo work with marvelous results. Based on your previous music, what feelings or emotions would you say more commonly fuels your creativity?
Youngjae: I think it was because I went to many places and experienced and learned. Thanks to this, a lot of creativity has been created and the way of looking at it seems to have changed.
Throughout your career, you were able to gather a lot of songwriting experience that has gone on to evolve over the years too! What has been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about what works and doesn’t work for you personally in terms of songwriting?
Youngjae: I’m glad that you think I’ve been able to tell my story well through the songs and experiences I’ve been through. And, ‘I’m sorry that I’ll give my opinion more…’ was the initial thought. But now, my opinions are growing a lot and I think that it’s good for me. Music doesn’t seem to have an answer.
As a decorated main vocalist and a total powerhouse performer with a lot of insight to offer – what are some of your own performance rituals or warm-ups that you’ve picked up on throughout the years?
Youngjae: I’d suggest getting up early and warming up before getting ready. Also, loosen your neck a little and do a lot of warm-up by jumping as much as possible.
You’ve also had some experience with various drama roles as well, which takes on a total aspect of performance! What is something that you find to be fulfilling from acting that you might not experience as a musician?
Youngjae: [In those roles] I learned a lot in a new and fun environment and I felt another charm that I hadn’t been able to before.
Your vlogs give fans a different, more personal perspective of Youngjae! What would you say is the biggest difference between your performance, on-stage persona and your everyday life?
Youngjae: If I try to show a lot of things that fans like on stage, I think my daily life really shows me who is not oppressed by anyone.
Now that we’re going into the sometimes unpleasant heat associated with summer, what are a few Youngjae must-have items that get you through those hot, unbearable days?
Youngjae: It has to be an air conditioner! In summer, air conditioning is just the best.
If you currently had to pick a song, movie, or tv show that accurately describes this current chapter of your life, what would you choose?
Youngjae: It seems to be progressing from “Lonely” to “Vibin”. Actually, there were many more lonely and difficult days. Of course, I still sometimes feel that way, but I hope that in the future, I will only do things that make me feel good.
Your second solo album SUGAR was released! How would you introduce this particular album?
Youngjae: Most of the song titles in this album are reminiscent of sweetness, but if you look closely at each song, you will be able to feel not only the sweetness but also many different flavors.
“SUGAR” really does show a very light side of your music, which is a fun change of pace! How would you describe that particular track?
Youngjae: This track is a dance-pop song that compares unstoppable and addictive love to sugar!
What genre or style of music did you initially hope to show with this album, and what would you like to focus on the most in terms of how it pertains to life?
Youngjae: I wanted to show you a little more mature. Musically and visually, in every way. If you listen to the songs on the album, you’ll know how much thought I put into making this album!
Any final thoughts for Vanity Teen readers and fans who have been waiting for your exciting comeback?
Youngjae: Thank you for waiting for my new album! From the title song to the b-side songs, all the songs are really good, so please listen carefully. I didn’t want to show disappointment, so I worked hard. Please give me lots of love!
SUGAR by Youngjae is available now and the music video can be viewed below!