After writing K-pop songs for BTS, Exo and Super Junior, NIve releases his first solo album, ‘Broken Kaleidoscope’
- NIve’s first album is a step into the unknown for the 28-year-old Korean-American. His songs cover big themes like life, death and happiness
- He says revealing his intimate thoughts leaves him feeling naked, but vows to keep creating music ‘until I die’
“Very, very worried. Nervous.” That’s how NIve feels about Broken Kaleidoscope, his new solo album, which was released this week.
“I’m very excited, because I don’t know what’s going to happen. But very worried, because it’s my first album, and because I’m writing my full thoughts.”
The Seoul-based singer-songwriter’s first solo album comes after several years ofhim releasing not only his own songs but writing hits for many of South Korea’s most popular artists, including K-pop bands BTS, Exo, NCT U and Super Junior and solo artist Heize; he also penned the 2019 hit ballad Beautiful Goodbye for Exo member Chen.
“It wasn’t very easy for me to write my heart out and release it in front of people,” the 28-year-old Korean-American admits about the new album, which is both reflective and a forthright look at who and what he is.
Released on Tuesday, Broken Kaleidoscope explores themes to do with the fragmented beauty of existence that he’s covered in earlier songs – but in a more in-depth, journal-like way. One of the reasons he’s so concerned about how the album is received is because he sings about heavy things like life, death, happiness and mental health.
“I say things in songs I wouldn’t say in normal life, in front of other people. The things I want to say to myself,” he says.
The inspiration for the album came from a phrase NIve aims to live by, and often talks about: “Be yourself, embrace yourself, embrace your emotion.” But, he says, “aside from [2019’s] Tired, I thought I never truly released songs that really talked about myself. And I thought, ‘How can I embrace myself when I can’t be 100 per cent truthful [with] myself?’” From this came the inspiration for a musical project built on his thoughts and how he views the world.
To him, music is “the most powerful tool” and the thing the sweet-toned singer is the best at. But sharing his intimate thoughts and desires in front of hundreds of thousands of people has him feeling emotionally naked. “Through my own decision, it feels like I’m shedding my clothes publicly, and it’s very embarrassing. But I also feel liberated by doing it,” he says.
The album’s title comes from the comforting chaos of a kaleidoscope, which NIve feels reflects how he sees the world, a perspective that doesn’t always match that of those around him. “That in itself is a bit broken,” he says with a small laugh. “I want to write songs that reflect that concept, and say, ‘it’s OK to be broken. It’s OK to be imperfect’.”
Born Jisoo Park, his stage name NIve is based on an Urban Dictionary definition which “means ‘cool’ without actually having to say ‘cool,’ as I’m kind of a dork but want to embrace my brand of coolness”, he says. The album is biggest solo project yet as he continues to figure out what exactly that brand is, and how he can relay it to listeners.
The inspirational pop-rock anthem I’m Alive is an attempt by NIve to show something different from his prior releases, many of which are a bit more melancholic. “It came out of curiosity. This album is my lab. Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone rather than taking the safe path. I want listeners to be shocked. And if people react to the album, it’ll mean it’s doing something to them.”
NIve describes the album as like a menu at a fusion restaurant, where there’s a lot of different options and you want for nothing. While there are elements of rock, pop, and R&B, there’s also some funk, balladry, jazz and even some folk. And there’s a whole lot of emotion.
There’s even a song about how he’s going to dance through his music, namely Perfect Dancer.
“I am a terrible, miserable dancer. But what’s a perfect dancer? In your own way, you don’t have to move perfectly. I’ll keep dancing to my own tune.”
His ideal for Broken Kaleidoscope, aside from revealing his most intimate thoughts, is for listeners to have deep conversations and debates about the topics he explores.
“The whole purpose of this album is keeping it very real. I know it may [feature] some controversial topics.” Referring specifically to the song titled I Want to Die, “if people see that [title] it catches their attention. But the beauty of the song is the lyrics, where it’s not really about death but life. But without going through that phase of darkness, you’ll never figure out how precious life is. I wanted to express that through my songs.”
Though he uses his stage name when he promotes his own music, NIve goes by Jisoo Park for song production, including on this album. The reason for the difference was that he needed to come up with his producing name when he made his first song, Beautiful Goodbye, with Chen in 2019. He was also working on Who I Am, and singing about embracing oneself.
“I was very insecure about that. As I grew, the feeling became bigger and bigger, and I hid behind the name Brian Park. When I got placed with Chen and I needed a writer’s name, I realised I had to go with the name to show people I can embrace myself 100 per cent. It would be beneficial if I used the name NIve as a songwriter, but I don’t regret using my name.”
Though this is only his first EP, NIve hopes he keeps creating music for a long, long time.
“I have no control over anything but my music. I want to do this until I die.”