'Idol Producer' Winner KUN Talks China's Idol Industry, Western Music Influence

Courtesy of Billboard Radio China 

Chinese singer KUN performs live Nov. 17, 2018 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai.

KUN (Cai Xukun), a 20-year-old singer-songwriter and member of boy band Nine Percent, attracted nationwide fame as the winner of Idol Producer's 2018 finale, a music reality show that attracted more than 3 billion online views in China.

Billboard Radio China sat down in Shanghai with the rising C-Pop star to talk about the changing dynamics of China's idol industry, his musical influences and what's next for 2019.

KUN said winning Idol Producer changed his life and gave him many fans that support his music. He shared that as audiences now expect the same standards as Western and Korean artists, "Our public's definition and expectation for idols have also changed."

Even Nine Percent -- which recently debuted their first group album, To the Nines, featuring "Rule Breaker" -- worked with major Western producers including four-time Grammy Award winner Rodney Jerkins, who has also worked with Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and Rihanna, among others.

KUN, who has released five singles to date, cites his influences to include Stevie Wonder and Lana Del Rey. "I really like the soul and jazz vibe that takes people on an emotional journey in music," he said. This is clearly expressed in his first English track: the pop, electronic, soul mix "Wait Wait Wait," released in August.

As for what's next in 2019, KUN intends to release more tracks and fine-tune his DJ skills ahead of his 2019 world tour starting in April, and as a big Tiësto fan, he also looks forward to potential collaborations to come. 

Hear the full interview on Billboard Radio China.