Psy Talks ‘Gangnam Style’ and Newfound Fame

"I’m still a nobody here. I’m just enjoying the situation."

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Isaac Brekken / Getty Images

Psy performs onstage during the 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Sept. 21, 2012.

Mere months ago, South Korean pop star Psy, short for Psycho—“because I’m crazy about music, stage performance and show,” he says—was a nobody in the U.S. Now, thanks to his absurdist “Gangnam Style” music video, which mocks materialism in Seoul, Psy (real name Park Jae-sang) is topping iTunes charts, breaking YouTube records and signing with Scooter Braun, a.k.a. the guy who made Justin Bieber famous.

TIME: You’re the first Korean solo artist to have a top-selling U.S. single. How does that feel?

PSY: I don’t want to represent my country like a sports player. I’m just an artist. But everything I’m doing from now on is a first for Korean culture. So I’ve got to be good. But if I meet Britney Spears or Katy Perry or whoever, I don’t get panicked, because I’m still a nobody here. I’m just enjoying the situation.

What’s “Gangnam Style” about?

Honestly, it’s to the ladies, to the classy ladies, you know. I want them going crazy, and especially just for me. We all want that.

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I’m sure there are many American girls coming up to you because they like the song.

Honestly, they don’t recognize me without sunglasses. I’ve got to wear sunglasses everywhere, all the time, even if its indoors or at night time, to be recognized. That’s part of my job. I cannot take off my sunglasses. For me, staying in the United States was so dark because I can’t take them off. [laughs]

What inspired you to write “Gangnam Style”?

These days people seem so stressed so I just want to make fun by music. But I didn’t expect anything overseas honestly. As an an artist and an entertainer and a writer, I think that was my job. Anti-stress.

Are you going to translate the song?

No. When I signed with Scooter Braun and I decided to go overseas to promote my song, the only concern was how should I communicate with the public and the audience with my language. Scooter and I talked a lot about that: should we translate or not? Finally we didn’t, and I think that was a really good decision. Music is already a huge language and for this song even if you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, you can still figure out that there’s fun and there’s energy. But if I release a next one it’s going to be in English.

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Are you sick of doing the video’s famous horse-riding dance yet?

Sometimes, of course. I’m a human being! It’s tiring to be asked the same questions all day long: “What is Gangnam style?” and “Teach me how to dance.”

Of all the celebrities you’ve taught, who dances best?

Ellen DeGeneres is great.

What about Britney Spears?

She’s got to try another time, because she didn’t expect my appearance. Her skirt was so tight and her heels were so high that she could not do what she usually does.

Why do you think the video went viral?

I think this is all about luck. They say some philosopher said, ‘when effort meets chance, then there is luck.’ That’s what I heard form my fan in Korea. Chance was YouTube and effort my last 12 years because I’ve done these kinds of dance moves and video and songs for 12 years. So I really agree with the philosopher.

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So what’s next for you?

Right now, my music video is more famous than I am. If I say, “Hey, I’m Psy.” “Psy?” “The guy from the video on YouTube?” “Oh.” I hate that. I’ve got to be more popular than the video. So I need to keep promoting myself.

Any dream collaborations?

LMFAO, because they have fun with music. And I’ve done the same thing for 12 years in Korea. It would be really funny to have us dancing together.

5 comments
Marlina Koh
Marlina Koh

hahahs, he feels dark in the US coz he can't take off his glasses. Dun worry, soon everyone will know u psy!

makelvin
makelvin

"Any dream collaborations?

LMFAO..."

Wow... I couldn't agree more. That would be an awesome collaboration. I would love to see that happen as well.