[INTERVIEW] JAKE $ING on ‘ups & downs’ EP and K-Pop Influences

Jake $ING Interview

Emerging pop artist JAKE $ING has finally released his first-ever EP, ups & downs. Released on December 9, 2021, the ups & downs pays homage to the trials and triumphs he endured over the last three years that he says, “made me realize that part of what it means to be a human is to go through those ups and downs” and that “these moments of ups and downs is what make us who we are.” Through four tracks, “MAKE UP,” “TILL IT HURTS,” “LET DOWN,” and “TOO MUCH,” the EP narrates the different phases of a souring relationship. Although relationships come and go, he says, “all we can do is learn from the love, and heal from the loss.”

The young singer-songwriter describes his artistry as “honest” as he is very hands-on with all aspects of his music. His poetic lyrics and chill sound entice the listener into the journey through the unpredictability of a relationship. “TOO MUCH” is the perfect example of enduring the uncertainties of that connection with another person. With lyrics like “It’s too much too much I’ve had enough/Too late to say we’re going back to us/We crash and we burn” and “We’re running in circles,” the listener is taken on a rollercoaster ride of a relationship. The implementation of beautiful harmonies in “TILL IT HURTS” along with the addition of a haunting echo effect bring a very emotional feel to the EP. A lighter feel is brought with the inclusion of the track “MAKE UP,” a track focused on the feeling of being happy and comfortable with your significant other. The title track “LET DOWN” brings an upbeat instrumental to a song that is all about disappointment with lyrics like “I just wanted you to love me/Such a let down/You never even said I’m sorry.” ups & downs covers all the bases of not just the story of the last three years of JAKE’s life and relationships, but the EP gives the perfect variety of sound ranging from energetic to mellow. 

Born in Shanghai and raised in the 626 area of Los Angeles, JAKE (Jake Sing Chan), was exposed not only to  ethnic diversity, but also to racial discrimination. His previous single “Fresh Off The Boat sang of his personal experiences growing up as a Chinese immigrant in America. Featured in publications such as Rolling Stone India and Flaunt Magazine, “Fresh Off The Boat” became a reflection on ethnic diversity in the United States and an anthem for unity in the face of discriminations during the height of the Stop Asian Hate movement.

Throughout his passage in finding himself through his music, JAKE found himself drawn to K-Pop artists that would soon become an influence on what would become his own sound. The passion, dedication and performances had an impact on JAKE and continue to do so today. The Kpopconcerts team had the opportunity to interview JAKE $ING about his release of ups & downs, his K-Pop influences and more. 

Shanghai-born, 626-raised emerging pop artist JAKE $ING
Cr. Jasmine Lee

KPC: Congrats on the release of your EP “ups and downs”! The tracks depict the beginnings of a new relationship as it begins to break apart over time. Tell us about the creative process and what was the most challenging part of writing and producing such a heart-driven, emotional record? 

JAKE $ING: Thank you!! The creative process really started with the last song of the record, which is “TOO MUCH.” That song is about the ending stage of a really bad breakup, and that was the song I wrote first because I had a lot of strong melodies I liked in that record. When I was writing that song, it made me think about a relationship like that and how so many relationships end up like that. It made me ask myself, they must’ve been happy at some point right? Where was the moment it went wrong? What happened? The most challenging part of writing a record like that for sure was trying to make sure I didn’t try too hard to say anything. What I mean is that, sometimes I feel like when your goal is to say something really specific, you don’t realize the important thing is to say how you personally feel. Because the value in what you say is that you’re the person saying it. It means something to you, because it’s very real to you. 

KPC: Some songwriters shared that they write their best pieces at certain times of the day or in certain situations (Ex. when they’re alone in their room, late in the evening, after working out, etc.) When do you feel the most creative? 

JAKE $ING: I love this question. Anyone who knows me or is my friend knows that I’m up at completely absurd hours sometimes, and I’d be sending them demos or roughs and be like, “Hey, what do you think about this?” I don’t even know when it started, but ever since I can remember I always just had the most motivation after midnight. I guess because I feel like everyone else is asleep, that’s when I can be alone and have the night to myself to just be in touch with myself. 

Shanghai-born, 626-raised emerging pop artist JAKE $ING
Cr. Jasmine Lee

KPC: You started your musical journey from a young age, having found your first guitar in your middle school’s dumpster! Could you tell us a bit more about how that happened? 

JAKE $ING: So it was 8th grade, and I just came back from international school in China after being there for a year. All of my elementary friends found their cliques in middle school, because everyone knows you can’t survive unless you belong to a group back then. I didn’t have one. I moved abruptly, a lot of my old friends forgot about me, I was kind of a loner. I was that kid who’d do crazy things at lunch time or get in trouble on purpose just so people would know me. It was a tough time for sure. Eventually I made one friend during P.E. named Mike, and he invited me to learn guitar with his church pastor. Well, I was like, “Sure! But I don’t even have a guitar though.” Later that week, I found a guitar in the trash bin next to the library parking lot. It was a wild coincidence, or maybe it wasn’t. Who really knows. Then I went to that lesson with his pastor, and they asked me to play in the church band. I started learning pop songs I liked, and it really just went from there. 

KPC: Those experiences eventually led you to signing an exclusive record deal with Sony Music in November 2020, just a year after your official debut! Tell us about what that moment was like and how has your journey been so far as a signed artist? 

JAKE $ING: When I first got the DM from my A&R manager, I was screaming. I was running up and down the stairs screaming at my sister at like 2 AM. It was a magical moment. Not because I would be like “the real deal” or be able to tote the label name around or anything, but this guy I had never met before in my life appreciated my music and saw potential in me. It felt like everything I did, the down moments I had really paid off you know? It was like someone was out there telling me, “See, I told you you should’ve stuck to it!” 

Shanghai-born, 626-raised emerging pop artist JAKE $ING
Cr. Jasmine Lee

KPC:  After looking at your YouTube page, it seems you have a knack for creating (music and videos). Can your fans expect you to continue to make such YouTube content like the “Coronavirus Song”? 

JAKE $ING: Definitely, at first, making videos was a big part of my passion. I think it makes sense for a lot of independent artists to take things into their own hands (media, content, etc.) because nobody else understands your vision more than you, right? When I started doing videos for my deal with Sony, it was pretty much the same thing! I was still making what I wanted, but I guess the difference was that I felt like I had other people in it with me, too. I was very grateful for that. 

KPC: You graduated from the University of California with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing. What was life like for you at UCR and how did it help shape your career into music (if at all)? 

JAKE $ING: My time at UCR was very wild. It was that weird moment in your life where your mind and your actual actions were in conflict with each other. I think I learned in my psychology class that that’s called cognitive dissonance. I knew I wanted to do music, but at the same time I was pursuing a degree in marketing that I thought would somehow help me become an artist (because maybe I’d know how to market myself or something). It’s crazy the way we’re able to rationalize things to make sense to us, when in reality it makes no sense at all. Definitely going through college made me a lot smarter though. It didn’t teach me what to think, but it for sure taught me HOW to think. And those years at UCR motivated me enough to finally make a decision and choose what to do with myself. 

KPC: There has been such a huge growth in Asian representation in the media the last few years. What are your thoughts on seeing more and more representation in mainstream music and media?

JAKE $ING: I think it’s amazing! I think being able to represent all kinds of ethnic backgrounds in media is the best thing that we’ve placed focus on recently. I think to a lot of us, we’d say things like, “I don’t care what the ethnic background of someone is. If they make good stuff, I vibe with it,” which is completely valid! But, somewhere deep inside of us, maybe subconsciously, we do want to see people who look like us succeed, you know? To feel that someone who is similar to you proved that you should believe in yourself. It’s all about connection, and I think the more ways we can find to connect with others, the better. 

KPC: Having immigrated from China to the U.S., you were exposed to both ethnic diversity but also racial discrimination. “Fresh Off The Boat” is a song about coming to America and having people judge you for the color of your skin while still maintaining your self confidence. How has the #stopasianhate movement affected you and your music? 

JAKE $ING: The most important thing that all that has taught me was that sometimes people aren’t out to get you. People just don’t understand who you are, where you’re from, or what you’re about sometimes. And it’s human nature to reject things you don’t understand, right? That was when I realized it’s meaningless to redirect hate at people who put you down. It doesn’t make anything better. Just be proud of who you are, realize your worth, and bring up other people like you. Hate can’t survive in a vacuum. It keeps going because people get upset, and they want to make someone else feel like that, because that’s their way of making other people understand how bad they felt. You know? 

KPC: Some of your influences include Post Malone, BTS and MAMAMOO. How do these artists influence you and how did you get into listening to K-Pop? 

JAKE $ING:They’re all-around just crazy performers. Real artists. Real talent. Real dedication to their craft. And that inspires me more than you can imagine. To see people who really care about what they’re doing still be able to succeed proves to me that art still has value — what you say still has value, your voice matters, how you make people feel matters. 

KPC: UCR had its own established K-Pop club called HallyUCR. Were you in this group during your time there?

JAKE $ING: I have to be honest and say that I didn’t find my appreciation for K-pop until I started actually pursuing music as a career. I guess after facing the obstacles and problems I personally had in music, it made me appreciate how many K-pop artists and groups overcome the same things at some point and still persevere. The training, the dance practice, the vocal control, the writing, all the endless hours of sweat — those things made more of an impact on me once I was going through similar things, too, and it definitely deepened my appreciation for K-pop. 

KPC: You recently attended the BTS Permission To Dance tour in LA. As a rising musician yourself, what kind of elements would you like to incorporate into your performances? 

JAKE $ING: I saw the way they moved on stage, and I never once felt like I was just watching a performance, but that they were singing to us personally. Their vocal control all while going through such intricate dance routines; it was a sight to behold for sure. It definitely motivated me to be more dynamic with my own performances, and it actually helped me become more comfortable and confident in myself, too. 

KPC: Thank you for your time! Is there anything you would like to share with our readers? 

JAKE $ING: Thank you for all your support! Thank you KpopConcerts for having me ^__^ and if there’s some of you out there meeting me for the first time, I’d like to say, “Nice to meet you!” I hope we see each other more, and I hope that I’ll make more music in the future that will connect with you someday.

JAKE $ING continues to gain a faithful following with new fans and K-Pop fans alike. He remains authentic to his sound and continues to bring relatable stories to his audience through his music. Thank you to JAKE $ING for taking the time to talk to us here at Kpopconcerts.com! We wish him the best and continued success in his career. 

Follow JAKE $ING on his social media accounts and stream ups & downs below!

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