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Jay Park: Seattle's b-boy, Korea's superstar

One of the biggest acts to play Upstream's main stage this year was Jay Park! The Edmonds, WA native and Kpop star is quickly gaining popularity here in the States.

But in Asia, he's already a superstar. In fact, when we told Refined viewers we scored an interview with him, our Twitter had a meltdown! We handpicked a couple questions directly from his fans, and asked him during our interview.

Seattle Refined: How long has it been since you’ve been back in Seattle?
Jay Park: I was just here recently - February to March.

What’s it like walking around the streets of Seattle versus walking the streets back in Korea?
Of course in Korea I’m a little bit more well known. [There are] a lot more people asking for pictures and autographs. As with here it's more like, maybe one out of 100 recognize me, maybe ask for my picture. So it’s much more free in Seattle I guess.

What’s one of the things you miss the most about the Seattle/Edmonds area when you’re away?
It’s just the people, you know. My friends, my family, the nice air. The Seoul air is very polluted. And I think Seattle summers are just the best. The sky looks like it’s computer graphics, it’s so – it looks like it’s CG.

How did growing up in the Seattle area influence your music?
I think everyone kind of molds to their environment, and the people around them, you know? So of course my friends and my environment definitely – not saying that I’m from the streets or whatever – but it definitely, and not just my music, turned me into the man II am today, for sure. And Seattle music-wise, I’ve been getting a lot more into Seattle music recently. Because before I would just hear stuff on the radio, see what’s on MTV, whatnot. But now that I’m an artist, I wanted to come back and tap into the scene out here, because they have a lot of dope, very talented artists out here. I actually recently started a label, and we signed some Seattle local artists, to help them branch off and do their thing.

Like who?
People like Raz Simone, Avator Darko - you know, people who have been in this hip-hop scene for a very long time, and have been getting noticed locally. But I wanted them to be more recognized worldwide, it’s such a waste of talent, you know what I’m saying?

Is that one of the reasons you wanted to come back for this Upstream Fest?
Definitely. I wanted to get more in touch with the city, more in touch with the scene. And I’m pretty established out there, so I wanted to try something new.

We put out a tweet asking for questions from your fans, and WOW what a response! Here are a couple, if you don’t mind?
No problem!

Any tips on jet lag?
Usually, the first night I get in I drink a lot of liquor, so you just pass out. It doesn’t matter what time of day, you just pass out.

Is that a tip or a warning?
Both! I mean, you don’t feel good the next day, but you definitely sleep. So, I do that sometimes. With jet lag, you know – it’s just the hardest thing,

What other artists inspire you?
Everything inspires me. I listen to a lot of different genres of music – people who are poppin’ today like Migos, to Motown like Marvin Gaye, to Michael Jackson, to Brian McKnight. So I listen to wide variety of music. Everything inspires me, I always try not to put myself in a box, so I always have infinite room to grow.

Do you feel more American or Korean?
I feel half and half, because I lived 18 years here– and I’ve lived about 10, now 11, years over there.

What is your drink of choice on a night out?
Whatever gets the job done.

Three words to describe yourself?
Short Asian guy.

What artists would you most like to collaborate with right now?
In Korea I’ve pretty much collab-ed with everyone I wanted to collab with, and I definitely wanted to collab with a lot of Seattle artists, and I’ve been doing that, you know. People like Flavr Blue, and I’ve been getting in touch with people like Gifted Gab and Raz Simone and Black Umbrella and all that. So it’s been great – I kind of just wanted to bring some excitement to the city, for the artists to help inspire and motivate them, because they inspire and motivate me as well.

What do you think of Upstream so far?
I’ve been a little sick, so I’ve been trying to keep my condition, my health in good form. So I’ve just been rehearsal, go home, go to sleep, eat some garlic, eat some organic juices…

What is the best thing to happen to you this year so far?
This year? Definitely the new label. Because, I already have another label – it’s called AOMG – we started that about three years ago, so that’s very established now, it can run without me doing too much. So that’s why I took this opportunity and this chance to make a new label and have the target be more global, more worldwide – because it has Asian artists and it has American artists, and it’s much more fulfilling because it’s people from my hometown.

What are some characteristics you look for in a woman? This one got a bunch of retweets, BTW.
In a woman? Oh wow. I really like nice smiles, I like nice teeth. I don’t know why, I really like nice teeth.

Favorite food?
I really like Mexican food. There’s a spot I always go to – he’s my friend but I’m not just doing this because he’s my friend – it’s a place called Luna Azul. When I come back I eat there maybe two, three times a week. Luna Azul, it’s very, very good.

What do you parents think of your music?
There’s a wide variety of my music, I don’t just do one type of music. So a little more provocative lyrics and provocative music videos they’re not so appreciative of, but more the pop-y kind of feel-good stuff they really enjoy. It just depends on what it is.

Ch-ch-check the full video interview above!

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