With his deep voice, boy-next-door looks and growing creative flair, Kang Daniel has elevated himself to a top-tier celebrity status that only a handful of artists can ever achieve — even after first finding fame as a key member of insanely popular boy band Wanna One who hit No. 3 on both Billboard‘s Social 50 chart and World Albums chart.
After striking out solo and launching his own label last year, the phenomenon became one of the highest-earning and most significant male solo acts in K-pop. But despite a near-instant solo success with his debut Color on Me EP in 2019, the 23-year-old seems more level-headed than most artists of his stature.
“I feel more pressure every time I release new music, but it feels good to feel pressure,” Kang tells Billboard Korea. “Releasing a new album always makes me feel like I am taking a step forward, and maturing as an artist and person. And most importantly, I try not to lose sight of why I became an artist in the first place.”
Following the release of Color on Me, as well its impressive follow-up Cyan in the spring, Kang unleashed his massively anticipated new project Magenta on Aug. 3, marking the third installment of his color-themed series.
Not only did the project prove to be his most dynamic and ambitious yet with Kang credited as a songwriter on five tracks of the six tracks, Magenta has already sold more than 350,000 copies in Korea in under a month and topped every major TV music-chart program in addition to charts all around the world.
For his latest, Kang gathered a coalition of established musicians and up-and-comers to help expand his artistic intentions. The carefully curated guest list adds more depth and contrast as the album boasts a number of different genres, best seen in standout track “Waves” which dropped as a pre-release buzz single in July. The seductive number with dancehall beats and 808 bass featuring vocal powerhouse Jamie and rap veteran Simon Dominic.
“When I first heard ‘Waves,’ I visualized a collaboration with artists that had strong characters,” he says of deciding his guests. “I thought the song really matched Simon Dominic’s deep voice and hard-hitting rap style. It felt complete with strong vocals and presence like Jamie’s. Luckily, when I asked them to join, they also liked the song. It’s like a dream to be able to work together with such talented artists. I want to keep working with more artists and do more collaborations. I have some exciting new projects coming up, but I can’t spoil it yet!”
Although Magenta brought great results, Kang ended up cutting his promotional activities early. The young star is instead taking his time off to reflect back on his previous albums to see what he can do more to strengthen his musicality and, without imminent tour plans, engage with his fans more via online content.
“I’m going to start preparing for my next album; start preparing to paint the last circle of my color series,” he says, sharing a tiny spoiler about his music plans. “But, above anything else, I’m going to focus and try to communicate with my fans more. My fans are my priority.”