PSY Reveals the Importance of Intensive 'SUMMER SWAG' Rehearsals, Finding Happiness on Stage After Enduring Challenging Times Below the Stage
Disney+ 'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2022'. ©Walt Disney Company Korea
The 'PSY SUMMER SWAG' concert has been transformed into a captivating live film that immerses viewers in the experience and brings them comfort. Known for its water-soaked performances and energetic atmosphere, 'SUMMER SWAG' has become a signature summer concert brand for PSY. The concert, which combines PSY's dynamic stage production and intense energy, is receiving immense love from the audience.
After a three-year hiatus, 'SUMMER SWAG 2022' kicked off in Incheon on July 9th last year and continued in Seoul, Suwon, Gangneung, Yeosu, Daegu, and Busan. The performances in Gangneung and Yeosu extended the excitement by meeting the audience for seven weeks across seven cities. The concert garnered the highest ticket sales ranking and received an explosive response.
Exclusively released on Disney+, 'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2022' carefully selected the most thrilling stages and memorable moments from the 10 shows, attended by 350,000 audience members. The film captures the heat of the concert venue and showcases PSY's electrifying energy and exceptional performances, captivating and energizing the audience.
The release of 'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2022' on Disney+ holds great significance in the performance industry. PSY expressed his thoughts, stating that while K-POP is something to be proud of, it is mostly represented by boy bands and girl bands, with established singers and non-idol artists having limited presence on OTT platforms. PSY finds meaning in contributing to this medium and expanding the representation.
When considering how to release 'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2022,' options such as movie theaters or other OTT platforms were available. However, PSY explained why he chose Disney+. He stated, "It may sound simple, but they were the ones who approached me first," and he jokingly added, "I tend to be loyal to those who recognized me initially." Regarding his perspective on watching the concert edited for TV after 10 months, he admitted, "I can't be objective." He expressed pride in the result, saying, "It reflects several months of effort in sound mixing, color grading, and capturing the texture of the live performance as faithfully as possible."
©Walt Disney Company Korea
When asked about the motivation behind filming the concert, PSY explained, "At the venue, those in the front row can feel the energy, but they can't see the entire spectacle. On the other hand, those in the back can see the overall picture but may miss the up-close experience and meticulous production on stage." He added, "Through the video, witnessing the grandeur becomes a tremendous source of enjoyment. We dedicated a lot of effort to sound mixing to ensure it's not inferior to being present at the actual event."
"Korean fans are likely familiar not only with PSY's popular international hits but also many songs that were not heavily promoted, such as 'It's Art' and 'Paradise,' among others. However, overseas fans may have limited knowledge of his songs. Therefore, I saw Disney+ as a global platform that presents an excellent opportunity to introduce a wider range of songs beyond 'Gangnam Style,' 'New Face,' 'That That,' and similar tracks. We invested significant effort in creating English subtitles for the songs."
Creating subtitles for PSY's songs was particularly challenging due to their rich Korean emotions and colloquial expressions. Nevertheless, we made various efforts to ensure that both domestic and international fans can enjoy and become familiar with his other songs in addition to the ones they already know. There were concerns about filming a performance centered around water instead of a conventional concert setting. PSY focused on capturing the sense of presence, live sound, and audience ambiance to provide a viewing experience that feels as close to being there live as possible.
"I recently came across a heartwarming story about my acquaintance's nephew, who started college this year. He began focusing on his diet and joined a gym when asked why, he replied, 'I'm preparing for PSY SUMMER SWAG.' Even though my friend questioned him, 'Do you like PSY?' he confidently responded, 'I don't like him.' It seems like attending PSY's 'SUMMER SWAG' in the summer has become a cultural phenomenon, even for those who may not like or be interested in me. It's quite impressive how it has become a cultural point. I believe that when a concept persists, it becomes a style, and when a style persists, it becomes a culture."
During the World Cup, PSY was deeply moved by the heartwarming moments of collective cheering in the streets, where a large crowd dressed in the same color sang and shouted with unity. This inspired the concept behind 'SUMMER SWAG.' He envisioned an entertainment facility with a water theme in the heart of the city during summer, where everyone would dress in blue and experience refreshing moments akin to water.
©Walt Disney Company Korea
The reason behind PSY's performances, directing, songwriting, and all his artistic endeavors boils down to his desire to connect with others. The 'SUMMER SWAG' tour involves more than 1,500 staff members, including sound, lighting, video, special effects, LED, laser, band, dancers, instrument teams, trusses, layers, security, and on-site operations.
PSY shared, "The 'SUMMER SWAG' is a culmination of the collective efforts of 1,500 staff members working together with their hearts. I don't see myself as an individual but as PSY alongside 1,501 people." He takes pride in the trust and seamless synchronization with his team.
"As the years went by, the scale of my concerts grew astonishingly large, and now I feel truly proud to have become a renowned summer concert brand in Korea. It's a tremendous source of pride and self-esteem for a singer to have such a massive concert brand. Last year marked the 10th anniversary since its launch in 2011, and 'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2022' captured the joys and sorrows I shared with the audience during this journey, attracting 350,000 attendees across nine cities. I am amazed at how well it has grown over the past 10 years."
'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2022' is creating a buzz with a special guest appearance. Actor Ma Dong-seok made a surprise appearance in the concert's opening video, bringing a unique concept and signaling the start of the energetic performance.
"Ma Dong-seok hyung didn't know that I was a fan of his, and I didn't know he was a fan of mine either, but by chance, we had the opportunity to meet. We were both excited and called each other 'Seongdeok' (mutual fans). Just because we had a simple liking for each other, I took the initiative and suggested, 'Let's take a photo together.' He graciously agreed."
Additionally, BTS's Suga made a surprise appearance during the performance of 'That That,' a song he helped produce and was featured in. This drew enthusiastic singing and explosive cheers from the audience. The presence of Ma Dong-seok and Suga created a synergistic effect, as they were both great fans of each other.
"In the episode, the main concept revolved around intense training from Ma Dong-seok hyung during the summer and enduring concentrated attacks. To make it more realistic, we filmed physically demanding scenes like me maneuvering on ice blocks or hitting my hand on a furnace, reminiscent of martial arts movies. These moments were physically challenging and left lasting memories of extreme cold and intense heat. Initially, Dong-seok hyung found it amusing, but later he became deeply involved, and there were a few instances where he even got hurt. (Laughs)"
PSY can now look back and laugh, but the pandemic has been challenging for him as well. The 'SUMMER SWAG' has not been held for three years. He believes there are two difficulties based on his past experiences and being a pioneer, but the global and Korean pandemic situation is a new and significant problem. He feared that something he had only seen in movies would happen, causing his daily life to come to a halt. The uncertainty of the future left everyone in the performance industry fearful and anxious.
Last year's 'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2022' garnered attention and created a frenzy in ticket sales. The passionate audience and electric atmosphere left a lasting impression, with some even being called fanatics. PSY believes that in order for him to enjoy being on stage without worries, the director must meticulously prepare every aspect of the performance. Park Jae-sang, the director, takes care of everything, from small details to large-scale preparations, until the moment 'Singer PSY' appears on stage.
"We rehearse intensely to ensure that the essence of 'SUMMER SWAG' is not forgotten. However, even before that, we invest significant thought and make numerous modifications during the planning and production stages. We practice for a long time as well. Ultimately, the lengthy and challenging moments offstage create the conditions and energy for happiness when we step on stage. 'Director PSY' meticulously thinks and prepares the overall environment in advance to create the happiest time for 'Singer PSY' and ensure the audience's enjoyment."
Disney+'s 'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2022,' released on the 3rd, received explosive attention from subscribers as it showcased the hottest moments of PSY and the audience during the live concert film. As the signature concert brand, it truly displays PSY's power. The 'SUMMER SWAG' playlist features PSY's hit songs, making it easy for anyone, regardless of age or gender, to sing along. Even for those experiencing it for the first time, they can fully enjoy all the exhilarating moments of 'SUMMER SWAG."
During last year's performance, some members of the audience commented on PSY's body shape, expressing concern. PSY responded, saying, "I initially thought it was a joke, but they were genuinely worried," and he added, "Although I have lost some weight compared to my peak, it's amusing to see articles claiming that fans are concerned about my weight loss." He proudly stated, "One thing I take pride in is that among active singers in South Korea, I seem to be the most popular among people who are not thin."
©Walt Disney Company Korea
This year, 'PSY SUMMER SWAG 2023' will be held in nine cities across the country. It starts on June 30th in Seoul and continues to Wonju on July 8th, Yeosu on July 15th, Suwon on July 22nd-23rd, Boryeong on July 29th, Iksan on August 5th, Incheon on August 12th, Daegu on August 19th-20th, and Busan on August 26th-27th. PSY approaches this year's performances with his characteristic passion, not just because it's 'special' or 'different,' but because he always gives his best, surpassing any other expression.
During PSY's 20s, the average age of his audience was 25, and even in his 30s and last year's performance, it remained 25. PSY believes that the significance lies in his 'consistency.' To maintain his 'active' status as he transitions from his 20s to his 40s, he, like anyone else, puts forth even more effort. As 'Director PSY,' he dreams of an upgraded and more flawless stage production from the moment the performance ends until the next one. Almost a year has passed since he started envisioning these dreams. PSY said, "I view it not as 'change' but as an 'upgrade.' I take pride in saying that 'SUMMER SWAG 2023' will be a more fulfilling performance in many ways."
"Not only 'SUMMER SWAG,' but also 'singer PSY' and other popular brands that thrive on the love of the public have a common expiration date. They serve their purpose and remain relevant until they are no longer needed. If there continues to be a demand for 'SUMMER SWAG,' it will continue to be held. If there continues to be a demand for PSY, he will continue to dance and sing on stage. Thank you for your ongoing interest in 'SUMMER SWAG.' I hope that more people can attend the performances, and I look forward to meeting you at festivals and on the scene."
Interview by Glenda Park, Editor-in-Chief at Avec G.
*This article is simultaneously published in Seoul Wire's 'Glenda Park's Blue Ocean'.
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