jackson wang on embracing his flaws and breaking the mold
The GOT7 member delivers his most honest work yet with his first full-length album 'Mirrors.'
Image courtesy of Jackson Wang.
“I’ve been preparing for this moment for over a year,” Jackson Wang says, a couple weeks before the release of his first full-length album, Mirrors, on October 25. You'd think it would be a good time for the the Hong Kong-born rapper, singer, and dancer to take a break, but no. "Rest is not part of my vocabulary. I’m always here, any time of the day or the night," he says.
Over the past five years, Jackson has split his time between Korea and China. He has been in dozens of music videos and TV shows, released eight singles as a solo artist, and launched his Team Wang recording label. As member of the boy band GOT7, he’s released over 10 EPs and albums, and embarked on three world tours. Still, with everything he's done, Jackson is just now sharing his truest and deepest feelings on Mirrors.
“For this album I actually found my true identity. I’ve released a lot of rap songs in the past; In China I release many ballads and R&B songs, so it just came to a conclusion where I felt like the fusion of it all was me,” he says.
That’s exactly what this album covers, from talking about love and running out of time, to the achievements he’s proud of and where he is right now in life. Jackson is unmasking himself and letting the world see another side to the bright-shining personality it's used to (like in the “Jackson Wang Annyeonghaseyo” video). “I feel very lucky I found myself… or I think I did, not sure yet. But at this moment, I think I found myself. This is the true ‘me’ you’re seeing,” he says.
While at first listen you could think most of the songs on the album are about a romantic kind of love, Jackson explains the other person he refers to can sometimes be himself; his demons, fears, or his passions. The early release of "Bullet to the Heart," an emotional track he shared with the world a few weeks before the album dropped, showed this more raw, vulnerable side of himself. “Nothing is perfect, and you can’t be perfect as a human being... There will always be hardships in our lives, and I just wanna make sure everyone out there knows what their dreams are and go after them," he says. "At the end of the day we’re all driven by love, and nothing else matters.”
It’s definitely love that’s driven Jackson to this moment. Love for his fans, for his job, and an immense passion towards music. Throughout our chat he repeatedly mentions he feels very blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to do what he loves. However, in Wang’s case his success has a lot to do with hard work and dedication, and very little to do with luck. Work mode is 24/7 in Jackson's life, but for some time now, he’s been trying to find a balance.
“I think there won't be something like a vacation for me anytime soon. Right now it’s all work, but there's so many things I want to achieve, so I just wanna keep going after my dreams," he says. "When you love something this much, you'll maybe feel tired physically, but mentally I’m always happy. I feel so blessed and thankful that I'm able to still do what I do every single day.”
But the nonstop lifestyle and global fame come with some downsides. "I’m always working instead, it’s getting to my head," he sings on "Unless I’m With You."
“I wanna do this all my life, but sometimes I’m afraid if I keep running like this I could get sick. I hope not though. I’m running 24/7 and by the time it’s midnight [in Asia] the other side of the world wakes up, so it’s nonstop," Jackson admits.
Part of that balance involves learning to let go. The pressure to be perfect led him to extreme diets, intense workout routines, and tons of self-imposed restrictions in order to fit into the mold he was supposed to. Now, being perfect is not one of his goals anymore and he’s opened up to share his journey with his fans, who are extremely supportive.
Before we wrapped up, we asked Jackson to give himself a piece of advice, “Calm down, you’re doing fine. Everything is gonna work out, trust me. You have a passionate team around you, so take it easy. And please don’t share your shake recipe anymore because everyone got enough of it. And remember to always thank all your fans. They’re everything. They are amazing.”