After proving his impact as a solo star when Mirrors hit the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 late last year, Jackson Wang is setting out to share more of himself — and his culture — with his new music.
The singer-producer and GOT7 member releases new single “100 Ways” today, March 20, as the official kickoff to his upcoming second album. While Mirrors felt like a journey of self-discovery with a tracklist that showcased new sides of Jackson as an artist, “100 Ways” has a multidimensional purpose. With throbbing electronic production to deliver a slick slice of modern-day, pulsating pop single, “100 Ways” also comes paired with a visual that pays homage to ancient Chinese culture — with both elements equally important in Jackson’s overall vision.
According to the star, this contrasting approach is the crux of where he sees himself going as an artist moving forward. “I just want people to know the real culture in our world,” he tells Billboard in a first look at his new single and music. “I’m definitely trying to do a mixture…sharing what my life on this side of the planet is like with the western audience.”
“100 Ways” was co-written by Jackson and produced by Lostboy (who’s also worked with the likes of Anne-Marie and Zedd) and marks the stars first release as part of 88rising, the record label and international media collective that also represents NIKI, Joji, Rich Brian and more.
Watch the new music video below and read on for more on “100 Ways,” what’s coming next for Jackson and his positive advice amid coronavirus concerns.
Billboard: Why was “100 Ways” the right way to introduce your next project?
Jackson Wang: As much as I love learning about other cultures, I love sharing my own culture. I always say “I’m Jackson Wang from China” and I just want people to know the real culture in our world. That’s why I chose to express this whole concept in an ancient-Chinese love story. I’m this character who has this love, but I wasn’t able to be with my lover in my first life. He overcomes time and life to find her and tell her in the lyrics, “I’m the only one that you need,” how much she means to him and he needs to see if she feels the same way.
It’s really interesting how the song is so modern, but you’re presenting it with this historic concept.
I’m definitely trying to do a mixture. All the stuff I’ve done in the past up to this point were rap- and R&B style–genres, and every time I release something it’s like an evolution and step closer to find my own true color as an artist Jackson Wang. Even as a person, I’m learning more and more about myself. I feel like my color really is that mixture: sharing what my life on this side of the planet is like with the western audience. The mixture that I have, trying to connect the dots and the in-between of those two sides, that’s the thing that I really enjoy. That’s the thing that I’m really going for.
Does “100 Ways” means a new album is coming soon?
When it comes to my album, I would say it’s probably going to come some time within this year and I’m very excited. It’s going to be a full album. I’m starting to get into the studio now, but at the moment we’ve just been preparing for it and working on “100 Ways.”
You’ve teamed up with 88rising for this release. How does their vision combine with what you’re doing with Team Wang and your other projects?
We’re all family. We’re all Asian, we have the same goals, too, to show a western audience how we’re doing stuff here differently in Asia and producing masterpieces. We’re also trying to speak from our culture, and trying to share our culture into the west.
What else is coming up this year?
There’s been a lot of unfortunate moments in 2020 so far and there are a lot of difficulties we’re facing at the moment. I just wish in 2020 that everyone stays strong and healthy — especially now, please wash your hands, wear a mask, don’t go into crowded areas. But when it comes to me as a better artist or a better person, I want to release my music just to spread joy at this hard time; just to have something to smile about, even if it’s just for one listen.
You’re based both in China and Korea these days, what have your experiences been like among the coronavirus concerns?
I was in China in January and now I’m in Korea for two to three months. But I would say, in China especially, we’re really doing — I feel as a citizen — everything to keep it under control, everyone’s being very careful. Wearing masks, washing our hands, everything is going well and it’s getting under control.
You’ve spoken about your journey to better mental and physical health, how are you feeling personally these days?
Apart from the virus — which is very serious and we have to stay home — but at the same time I feel like in life, in general, everyone really has to do what they love every single day. A lot of people might be working for a big salary or for other elements but, for me, I feel like you have to do something you really love and enjoy every single day. Because the vision is different, the feeling is different. When you do stuff that you love everyday, you won’t get exhausted or tired, you’ll want it to be perfect and you’ll want to go further and further. It’s a different feeling because you’re going to enjoy what you’re bringing to the rest of your life. I just really hope that people go for their dreams — risk it, believe in yourself, and go for the dream.
And I’m sorry to keep going on about this, but at the end of the day, we are all living together and I just feel like there should more loving than hating. There’s no time to waste on hate. Let’s love more and let’s share more.