Last week, New York-based composer and multimedia artist Jihae played an intimate industry show at The Viper Room along with friend and collaborator Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics. Showcasing songs from her soon to be released album Illusion of You, the rangy Renaissance woman packed the room and packed the stage with a seven-piece band of industry vets that included members of Abandoned Pools, Sabrosa Purr and other notables.
Before picking up the mic, TSS.com spoke with Jihae about the new record, her rock opera and how to correctly pronounce her exotic name.
For those that don’t know, what is the proper pronunciation of Jihae? And is there any meaning/translation behind it?
My name is pronounced "Jee- Heh," with the emphasis on the "Jee.” It means wisdom in Korean.
Tell us about the upcoming album Illusion of You. What can we expect?
I co-produced the album, which is due out this fall, with Dave Stewart (The Eurythmics) and composer Jean-Luc Sinclair. I'm very excited! It was a great honor to have two legendary songwriters, Dave Stewart and Leonard Cohen, as guests on this album.
I’d say this record has a gritty rock and raw energy feel but is also quite intimate and minimal at times.
[As part of the release] I'll be collaborating with artists and filmmakers on short films exploring various kinds of illusions that rule our lives as individuals and as groups/societies. I will also be curating a group art exhibit based on the same concept.
You’ve been part of quite a number of very high-profile shows including opening for Sean Lennon at the Cannes Film Festival, an evening at the United Nations and other philanthropic events. What’s been your most exciting/nerve-racking performance thus far?
I'd have to say the Fire Burning Rain Rock Opera based on my last album was the most intense and exciting performance experience. I co-created and co-directed the piece with John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck, Doubt) who is a renowned playwright/director with a great sense of humor and wit. We had a cast of eight musicians, ten dancer/actors, a contortionist and an aerialist.
It was a huge responsibility producing, co-directing and starring in the production. I was quite inexperienced but both times we did this in 2010 and 2011, it was magical.
The storyline is a futuristic tale where earth is depleted of all natural resources and light. I played the female heroine that journeys to the underworld to slay the beast to bring back the light and save the world.
Who/what would be your dream collaboration project?
The list is long… but the one that comes to mind at this very moment is David Lynch. It would be a brilliant experience to collaborate with David Lynch who is also very musical.
As an artist, musician and philanthropist, what do you think is the most important/vital lesson you can impart to your fans looking to make a difference in the world?
The biggest lesson I've learned in my artistic career is to be honest to myself and honest in my expression. Staying true to my essence is what makes my art unique.
Ghandi said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.”
We have to start with ourselves first, but it would be too easy to make a difference in the world just by being one’s self. It's important to be active in supporting causes you believe in and spreading the word. Making change comes with action.
Photos courtesy of Genie Sanchez
For more information about Jihae, visit www.jihae.com.