Korean-American singer-songwriter Eric Nam finally dropped his highly-anticipated EP ‘The Other Side,’ on July 30. This EP is his first Korean EP in over two years and features a diverse mix of songs, with “Paradise” as the lead single for the album.
The title of the album, 'The Other Side,’ is inspired by Nam imagining what life might be like on the “other side” of COVID-19 and other personal events happening in his life. 2020 has been an “insane year” for many, including Nam, who says that he found himself repeating to himself, “'I can’t wait until we’re done with all of this — when we’re all on the ‘other side.’”
Featuring five different songs, the EP is a colorful mix of pop, house, and even ballad tracks. With so many different genres and styles blended together, each song has its own unique sound and vibe — from the tempo of the song to the instrumentals used, there are no two songs that are alike. Nam believes that albums no longer need to be “completely cohesive” because while there is value in having an album with one unified style, focusing on individual songs provides more diverse content for listeners.
“The focus in putting this album together was to just find the best songs that I could and piece them together onto an album,” Nam said. “I think it’s also because I am very much all over the place when it comes to my personal preference of music and what I want to do. I don’t like to be limited in what I can pursue or experiment with and I think that it is best reflected through the eclectic nature of my albums.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic and mandated shelter-in-place order, the process for preparing this EP was different from that for preparing previous albums. Typically, Nam prefers to write in person because the “vibe of writing in person” is one that is “difficult to replicate” over the Internet. This time, however, Nam had to resort to Zoom calls and Google video chats to complete some songs including “Ever Happened.” While there were some challenges to this, Nam and his team were able to come together to complete the album.
“Due to the nature of what we’re going through, I think everyone was willing to figure out how to make this actually work,” Nam said. “It was definitely frustrating, with malfunctioning software, choppy internet, lost files, and tons of lag, but we figured it out and I’m glad we did. It definitely is a different vibe, but as someone who has often had to fly across oceans to write my albums, it’s become easier to be more productive writing online.”
In addition to affecting communication with others working on the album, Nam adds that the unprecedented situation inspired the music itself. Although some songs were already written prior to COVID-19, Nam mentions that lockdown has “significantly affected” his songwriting and added depth to his lyrics. “Paradise” and “How You Are” — which were both written and finished at the onset of the mandated shelter-in-place orders — took on new meanings with the pandemic.
“‘Paradise’ explores this notion of how everyone is looking for their version of ‘paradise,’ a better place, a better situation, a new environment, happiness, etc.,” Nam said. “The song acknowledges that even though times may be tough right now, we’re gonna get through it. It’s interesting because I had originally considered it to apply to me in just everyday life, and then it took on a newer meaning with Coronavirus. ‘How You Been’ was written in this frustration as everyone is locked down, we were forced to deal with new realities of living and socializing. The original emotion in this song was saying ‘I wish none of this ever happened.’ If none of this ever happened, we would be so happy together. We would be able to hold each other, be next to each other, etc.”
Among all of the songs in his album, Nam says that “Paradise” was the most difficult to complete because of the multiple revisions he had to make to the lyrics and the detailed production process. Because of the amount of attention his team put into the song, Nam mentions that fans will be able to find “different little Easter eggs” and “small production tricks” upon closer listen.
While Nam may not be able to engage with fans on stage for this comeback, he hopes to shed some positivity into fans’ lives during this difficult time. As Nam concludes, he leaves a special message for fans: “Try to keep a positive attitude throughout all of this and while that’s easier said than done sometimes, know that you’re not in this alone. Literally, the entire world is going through this difficult time together and we’ll get through it together. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy.”