Love has always been an overarching influence for Kim Hyojong, better known as DAWN. Seeking it, having it, losing it: Love has shaped his experiences and music, ultimately constructing parts of his identity. The Korean singer-songwriter even referred to love as his "lifetime assignment."
"I'm still in the process of what it means to me and what it means for the world," he told USA TODAY.
"I somewhat made progress in figuring what love is through this album," the 29-year-old said.
DAWN got his start in the music industry in 2016 with boy group Pentagon and was one of the main rappers and composers. In 2018, after he and soloist HyunA confirmed they were dating, the two musicians were booted from their label, despite rallying fan support for the relationship.
Following the departure, DAWN embarked on a new venture as a solo artist. He signed a contract (as did HyunA) under PSY's then-newly established label P Nation in 2019. DAWN became the first male artist to join P Nation. With the label, DAWN released one solo EP "Dawndididawn" in 2020 and a collaborative EP with HyunA "1+1=1" in 2021.
In 2022, DAWN and HyunA left P Nation, choosing to not renew their respective contracts. Later that year, the couple announced their breakup.
DAWN joined K-pop producers GroovyRoom's label AT AREA earlier this year. He released his first single with the label "Dear My Light" in April, ushering in the latest chapter of DAWN's story.
The acoustic track brought forth another side to DAWN, and "Narcissus" continues this exploration into his complex artistry.
'Narcissus' turns the page to DAWN's new chapter
The eight-track EP furthers a sonic shift for DAWN. He credited joining AT AREA as one of the catalysts.
When he began working on new music, DAWN was asked what stories he wanted to tell. This was different from previous sessions where genre was the emphasis.
"It kind of all sparks from there," he said. "The way I approach music also changed and the outcome of that is the different tone in my music."
"Narcissus" dives deep inside DAWN's journey with love through its range of styles from pop and ballad to R&B. The EP also marks DAWN's first English-language offerings.
The conflicting emotions in love
The EP's name takes inspiration from Greek mythology. In that story, Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection. But in DAWN's, he finds himself in his lover, mirroring them and learning to love himself along the way.
Each track examines an aspect to love. If you were to divide them into parts, Dawn said there's three: falling in love, being in love and parting from your love.
Even though the songs speak of distinct emotions, "it's the same situation," said DAWN.
"When we're going through an experience, our emotions sometimes contradict themselves," he said. "We would think one thing, and then feel another."
DAWN's main goal as artist is to keep creating. Through his music, DAWN hopes his fans and listeners can feel what he feels.
"The beautiful things that I see, the fun things that I see and all these emotions; I want to relay that and share that with everyone," he said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: K-pop artist DAWN talks new EP and how love has shaped his life