Kim Jong-in, known by his stage name Kai, is a member of SM Entertainment’s K-pop group EXO and the group’s sub-unit EXO-K. He was announced as a member of the group in 2011 and the group debuted in 2012.
In 2019, he joined SuperM, a group formed by SM Entertainment and Capitol Records. Over the years, excitement for solo work by Kai has grown. On Nov. 30, he released his debut mini-album Kai (开).
Kai released his first solo album
SM Entertainment first announced that Kai would make his solo debut in July 2020. Kai (开) features six tracks: “음 (Mmmh),” “Nothing on Me,” “기억상실 (Amnesia),” “Reason,” “Ride or Die,” and “Hello Stranger.”
“음 (Mmmh)” serves as the EP’s lead single, and Kai released a music video for the song along with the album. A few days after the EP’s release, Teen Vogue published an interview with Kai.
“Over the years I’ve been in the industry, many people have seen me as a member of EXO. I have performed in front of our EXO fans and SuperM fans. This is the first time I’m actually releasing something under my own name,” Kai said. “I want to show people who Kai is through this album. The name Kai means ‘to open’. So, I want it to be open and show a new side of me.”
What he learned from his solo debut
Leading up to his solo debut, Kai told Teen Vogue that he ended up discovering a lot about himself from working on the EP.
“To be honest, I was pretty stressed preparing for all of this on my own, but I think I learned a lot about myself throughout this process,” he said. “Not just myself as an artist, but [also] a lot about myself as a person: my personality, how I deal with stress, and just… what I’m like as a human being.”
With Kai (开), the singer wanted to show fans more aspects of Kai and the difference between Kai and Kim Jong-in.
“Kai is me in my dream state,” he told Teen Vogue. “When I’m sleeping, it’s like my dream character comes alive, and that would be Kai. I’m more of a normal, down-to-earth person. That’s just me, but Kai is this persona that’s on stage… I do notice that when I’m dancing and pulling off all these different concepts, [I’m] like a totally different person outside of myself doing that.”
Kai and his love for dance
Earlier this year, SuperM released their studio album Super One on Sept. 25. Leading up to the release of the album, each member released a video teaser.
Kai’s teaser was released on Aug. 7, and in the teaser he described his love of dance.
“Dance is my first memory and destiny,” he said. “The moment it becomes boring, I’m going to quit right away. But I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.”
Kai is highly regarded for his dance skills, and in his recent interview with Teen Vogue he expanded on how much dancing means to him.
“When I was younger and I first started dancing, I think I just simply loved dancing itself. I was immersed in the art of dancing,” he said. “I loved doing it, but I think as I’ve progressed as a performer, as my career has grown, dancing has not only become something I love to do, but it’s also become a tool [to] express myself on stage and to audiences. Dancing has been part of more than half of my life now. It’s like a friend that I can’t live without.”
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