Jihae (@JIHAE_music) (pronounced “jee-heh”) is a South Korean-born, alternative rock singer-songwriter, composer, and artist, that’s currently based in New York City. Her music’s main focus is on people’s awareness, or lack of, and how that contributes to the great social, environmental, and cultural divide that defines our time. “The nature of our social psychology encourages us to thrive on multi-layered illusions that lead us to deny simple facts in favor of curving logic, and this is a central theme of each of my projects,” says Jihae, in her site’s biography.
She is a creative force beyond belief, and that’s recognized in all her endeavors. She makes music, does multimedia art, is/has been involved with multiple charities and has one of her own, and she has a label called Septem, that serves as a community for artists, and it’s also dedicated to music for license and social cause-based projects. Before I get into her music, let me talk about some of her other stuff first.
[divider]JIHAE’S MULTIMEDIA ART[/divider]
To give you an example of some of her works, let’s begin with the “Elvis Is Still Alive” video. It’s said to be her social commentary on the world’s starry-eyed celebrity, idol worship. The video starts with human body Tetris, then cuts to a video collage of various movie clips, that showcases an exploration of human emotions, like shock, disgust, fear, happiness, laughter, and excitement; in a bigger picture, it’s a look at our general fascination with the celebrities on the screen. The video is Jihae’s reinterpretation of Marco Brambilla‘s ‘Sync‘ (NSFW), and Miri Shin‘s ‘Block’ video art pieces. It premiered on the IFC website, in 2010. Watch below.
About the video, Jihae said: â€œWe buy into all kinds of lies that are sold to us from advertising to Fox news or from the Vatican to Goldman Sachs. While hundreds of thousands of other peopleâ€™s sons and daughters have been at war for a decade and most the world is in turmoil,â€ She said truthfully while commenting on the video. â€œMany find ourselves in this strange consumerist entertainment bubble where celebrities have become the golden cows of our time that we love to worship and destroy.â€ — [SOURCE]
She scored a song for a film, called One Dream Rush, and also did the “Faint Remix“, for the trailer. She co-created and co-directed a rock opera, called Fire Burning Rain, with Academy Award-winning playwright/director John Patrick Shanley, and it was based on her concept album of the same name. She was also featured in it, of course. The opera was described as being, “Inspired by Joan of Arc, [and] it is a futuristic tale of a heroineâ€™s journey to free â€˜the lightâ€™ to save the dying earth and humanity.”
[divider]JIHAE’S CAUSES AND CHARITIES[/divider]
Jihae is also involved with various causes and charities, including one of her own, called Simon Says Sing For Peace. It’s an interactive musical peace movement that invites people of all ages to express their ideas and messages for peace through art, song, and dance, in efforts to give voice to the children affected by war all over the world. Watch her heartwarming video and song for “Simon Says” below, and get involved with your own by visiting the website for more information.
In 2012, Jihae recorded and performed a duet with Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics), called “Man To Man, Woman To Woman”. It was chosen by Hillary Clinton as the theme song for the 2012 Hours Against Hate–Walk A Mile campaign, which was a global campaign initiated by the US State Department, in efforts to stop bigotry and promise respect across the lines of culture, religion, tradition, glass, and gender.
Dave Stewart and Jihae have been frequent collaborators, in fact. He’s featured on her new album, they co-wrote a song with Leonard Cohen, called “It Just Feels”, and more. Dave said her music sounds “Like Bowie whispering to Velvet Underground“, even. Watch her live performance video, where she covered Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ magnificent song “I Put A Spell On You”, with Dave Stewart on guitar, at The Viper Room, 2013.
Now, let’s get to her music, which is how I stumbled upon Jihae in the first place. I found her on NoiseTrade, where she has a 5-track mixtape available. It’s a compilation of sorts, where she included “Pink Sands”, a song from her debut, 2008 album, Elvis is Still Alive; “My Love”, “Eyes Wide Open”, and “Tuilerie” from her 2010 album, Fire Burning Rain; and the title track from her latest album, Illusion of You.
My introduction to her was through the music video for “Illusion Of You”, though. Visually, I was intrigued by her striking black and white makeup, where half of her face was drawn as a side profile face, creating an interesting illusion. Vocally, I was taken back and captivated by her androgynous, smokey, sultry voice, as she sang about falling in love with an illusion of someone. Watch that video below!
I had to hear more, so I clicked play on the rest of the mixtape (the one embedded above). While this is a small smorgasbord of some of her albums’ work, this greatly showed her vocal versatility over the years. Listening to “My Love” and “Eyes Wide Open” made me think of a 90’s Carly Simon (vocally, that is–maybe that’s just me, though, haah), with her deep, rich voice, over percussion-driven, synth-laden beats; while “Tuilerie” was feathery soft and like a lullaby, as her voice floated atop delicate strings and wind. “Pink Sands” is an upbeat, electro-rock duet, with Ivan Evangelista, about strangers turned lovers.
If those five songs strike your fancy, you’re free to download it via NoiseTrade. You could also peruse her discography as a whole, on her website and/or Soundcloud (a couple of her older albums can be found there). Do this while you wait for her latest album, Illusion of You (which was fully funded via KickStarter). Illusion of You was co-produced between Jihae and Jean-Luc Sinclair, and executive produced by Dave Stewart. The album is scheduled to be released on June 5th, 2015. So, click this PRE-ORDER link to buy it digitally, on CD, on vinyl, and more. Look out for it.
About her new album, Jihae said in an interview: “My first album was very eclectic and very soft as a vocal expression. This new one is more rock and more raw. Dave kind of pushed me in that direction. There’s more soaring tracks, a lot more energy, high energy, a different kind of energy. Very dynamic. Probably more friendly than everâ€”without compromising.“