A Journey of Musicality: Introducing Jae's Alter Ego eaJ

Since the beginning of 2020, there are quite lot of surprise happened in the world. The biggest one was COVID-19 outbreak which is still on going, replacing my favourite artists' world tour. And it never seems near to end until the researcher find the vaccine so everyone will be safe and sound. Few months before the outbreak, DAY6 gave us surprise by opening personal instagram account (except Park Sungjin, because he's basically socially detached. I envy him!). And last but not least, Jae introduced us his personal work as eaJ (re: eej not eeyaj). The project eaJ which he introduced earlier this year was so out of the blue. I wonder how long Jae has prepared the project, and since when he planned all of this.

Currently, it's October and eaJ project has released 9 tracks: LA Trains, Otherside, Guess Not, Pinocchio, Rose, 50 Proof, Truman, Pacman, and It Just Is (feat. Seori). Jae even took some hiatus in releasing these pieces due to his health concern. And in this post, we're gonna break down how I think about the tracks and quoting Jae's own explanation about the project.

At first, Jae shared a glance of his collaboration with 88rising a reputable Asian-American label and it took fans on a storm. On his project with 88rising, Jae released 3 songs: LA Trains, Guess Not, and Pinocchio in a project called Sinking Spaceship. At first, I thought it was going to be another collaboration, full song, or probably Jae would join 88rising as GOT7 Jackson formerly did. Turned out, it's just a casual collaboration earlier in 2020. And I still can't see further possibility that Jae might land on 88rising to promote in US. Later on in summer, Jae released a remix of Rich Brian's Love in My Pocket under 88rising but still I can't see anything that Jae would release his alter ego eaJ project under 88rising in the future.

After releasing LA Trains, and that time Jae was so diligent to do an insta-live, he explained that this project is a journey to find his musicality. Few months later, when Jae started Twitch streaming, he repeated this explanation by saying that "eaJ is a personal project which I see as a journey to find my musical style. That Jae of DAY6 and eaJ has totally different style in terms of making music." Therefore, as Jae finds his own style, I find a great artist to be looked up into and of course great music to listen in a long time.

As I usually do with DAY6, it's hard to find which song that I think the best. Though I have one or two favourites, still you can't miss tracks that eaJ has released until now. And it's time to check out how I think about each track:

  1. LA Trains
  2. LA Trains was the first track released in January or February (if I'm not mistaken). It tells about seeing someone on a train and fall in love, somehow reminds me of Before Sunrise. Jae said on his Twitch stream about the reason he released this track first, it's because LA Trains was the closest track to his original musicality. The acoustic sound. He said he started with acoustic guitar and LA Trains was written in that, so he decided to release this song as the opening to his project. The interesting fact about this song was, Jae put up "X" as the last lyric and he let fans went crazy finding out the mystery line. It turned out X was "Chronos must die" which was the metaphor of we have to kill Chronos to freeze time. Just like the perspective of the character at the song, this person liked the other person and to freeze that moment, Chronos who has the power of time must die. Sort of. Personally, I like this song but not that much. I like the intro which include the sound of opening train door, it builds the real sensation of being on a train, watching someone, and fall in love. Jae also added twist by the end of the song, an electronic sound that fades away as the song ends. Not bad for an introduction track to his personal project.

  3. Otherside
  4. The next release was Otherside. I had a hypothesis while listening to this second track, it's talking about someone who had died. I mean Jae raise the death's perspective on this song. And turned out, during his music class on Twitch he confirmed that my hypothesis was right. The song was about one of the significant other dies and they watch their partner feels empty or he/she feels empty. But as a song who talked about death, the melody is not melancholy or dark. On the contrary, Jae flex his rapping skill. And it sounds more into hip-hop rather than ballad. Just like LA Trains, Jae added twist by the end of the song, an electronic synth sounds with beat then faded.

  5. Guess Not
  6. Compared to the first two songs Jae has released on eaJ project, Guess Not was the first song that was earworming for me. I like the first verse "Feels like God's been upset all night long, rain won't stop". Rain and God's been upset snatched me, those two words feel so personal to me and I don't know why. That's why I like this song though I actually don't really like the surprising part in the middle of the song. I liked the 88rising version more than the original one. It shot right to my heart and it feels more melancholy. My favourite part aside the first verse was when Jae is humming and the bridge to the chorus: "Funny how I left cause you were a lie and now I’m one, Cause I said that I wouldn’t, but I miss you so damn much"

  7. Pinocchio
  8. Next one is Pinocchio which talked about being a liar in a relationship. This one too, I prefer the 88rising version. I didn't say that the original version is bad, I just like the acoustic guitar sound rather than the electronic version one. Because I think Jae put too much distortion on the original version. And when you compared the acoustic version to the original version, the original version has this kind of happy vibe, meanwhile the acoustic version has melancholic vibe. The original version apparently feels like "Okay, you lie to me but I'm just gonna party." Pinocchio is good but man, I will tell you what's really good after this.

  9. Rose
  10. Out of eaJ's release this year, I think Rose is still my favourite ever since. Jae came up with photoshoot and he uploaded hints on his Instagram, it drew my interest. What will he release next? Turned out when Rose came out, I fell in love so hard! The lyrics, the music, the MV. Everything that made Rose my favourite are just perfect. I like the tone of the MV and how Jae took inspiration from Little Prince. I like the lyrics which was full of metaphor but it stirred my emotions. I like the melody and the beat. I like this song so much! It doesn't tell about love or relationship. It just probably tell about the world, about us perceiving the world or whatsoever. This one is not too emotional but rather a social critic. I also like how Jae choose words of the lyric that is unusual. However, though as much as I love this song, this one wasn't Jae's favourite. And not everyone else's either.

  11. 50 Proof
  12. This one is Jae's favourite ever, he keeps mentioning about 50 proof became his favourite (and Wonpil agreed on his opinion). When he did music class on Twitch regarding this song, I skipped it so I still can't relate on which part that becomes his favourite. Probably the melody? The feels? The lyric? For me, 50 Proof is good but still not as good as Rose. It tells another break up story with slight metaphor of alcohol. A feeling of losing someone and worrying about someone post break up. It surely has this upsetting and unsettling feeling, and it surely wasn't my top-list. Though I have to admit, Jae did really good on the melody.

  13. Truman
  14. Next one is Truman and I think nobody ever talked about Truman again til this day. The title of the song really reminds me of "The Truman Show" a movie starred by Jim Carrey telling about living as main character. Truman got spotlight since he was born till adult, more or less represents how society has become nowadays. The song itself didn't talk about that. And when I read the lyric, I am unable to decipher what it really means. The track is one of the hardest riddle Jae ever wrote lol. The melody is quite similar to former release such as Guess Not and Pinocchio. And by this point, I slowly understand how would Jae's solo music would sound like.

  15. Pacman
  16. Jae wasn't lying when he said "Pacman was everyone else's favourite". He released this 8th track after taking two months hiatus due to anxiety. And when he finally released Pacman, this song became viral at a time. There was even someone else who seized the copyright of this song on several platforms until Jae took care of it. Pacman became the second favourite for me, I like the style of the song, I like the lyric. I like the intro and I like the killing part chorus. My style is a rock-ballad whatsoever, when I first listen to Pacman it has Harry Styles' Sign of The Times vibe in it. And I just fell in love at an instant. I never get bored listening to Pacman, it shows how good the song really is.

  17. It Just Is
  18. This one was eaJ's latest release, he has given few hints about collaborating with Seori long before he finally released the track. It Just Is probably the first 3 minutes full song that eaJ has made (with the help of Seori). Everyone loves It Just Is, and me too. In this project, Jae also asked a fan to do the MV which I really appreciate on how humble he is. The song itself is the kind of lo-fi song you would listen from independent Korean musician. Surely because Jae also asked Keshi to fill the guitar sounds therefore Jae write ft. Keshi's strat on this song too. Personally, I didn't find this song unique as I found on Rose but this one too is too good to be skipped. This song is really good. Seori's voice matches really well and the lyrics are that poetic as well.

So, that's what I think about eaJ's project. It won't stop just here, there will be more upcoming song that Jae is gonna release on his personal project and he might still work on it aside working on DAY6. From the 9 tracks he has released, I think Jae's style is more into lo-fi sounds with a slight touch of rock. It weren't pure rock or ballad as we listen on DAY6. And that Jae keeps writing short song lol. The only minus from his project are the songs are written in less than 3 minutes. That's it. I'm looking forward for another release and I hope you can also enjoy personal music style as much as I do.