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Brooks brings burning need to tell stories to Seoul

Despite more than 100,000 Facebook fans and nearly 20 million plays on MySpace, British singer-songwriter Joe Brooks is humble enough to say he has “yet to reach the top” and is “still on his way up” at the age of 24.

But when it comes to writing songs, the young musician makes it clear that he is pretty sure of what he’s doing.

“It inspires me to dig below the surface and look honestly at myself,” Brooks said in an email interview with The Korea Herald. “The core of what I do is a burning need to tell stories. I believe a good song can reveal depths and work you in layers.”

“The international market has always been the ultimate goal for me,” he added, although he feels the description “world-renowned” is not yet accurate.

Born in Southampton, Brooks’ exposure began on MySpace at the age of 17. In 2008, he was crowned Britain’s “Number One Unsigned MySpace Artist,” armed with nothing more than a guitar and a vocal ability that quickly attracted fans around the globe. 
British singer-songwriter Joe Brooks, who will hold his first solo concert in Korea on Monday. (Sony Music Korea)
British singer-songwriter Joe Brooks, who will hold his first solo concert in Korea on Monday. (Sony Music Korea)

Brooks began to gain popularity among Korean music fans after releasing “A Reason to Swim” here last summer.

Now widely-known in Asian countries, including Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and China, Brooks made his first visit to Korea in August this year, performing at the Pentaport Rock Festival.

During his previous trip to Korea, Brooks appeared on national television and in the Korean editions of Nylon and Teen Vogue, his single “Holes Inside” reaching the top 5 in the Korean pop charts.

The Dec. 19 show will be the singer’s first solo concert in Korea.

“I’ve been looking forward to coming back (to Korea),” Brooks said. “The people are so welcoming ... with fans giving me the biggest bear hugs and giving me all sorts of weird and wonderful gifts. I love receiving gifts that say something about the Korean culture.”

Brooks plans to perform some new songs during his Monday standing concert, “Joe Brooks: Acoustic Christmas Dream,” which will be held at the V-Hall in Hongdae.

“I am so excited. I can hardly wait,” the singer said.

Brooks, born to a trucking-business owner dad and a primary-school teacher mom, said his father has long been a role model for him.

While his father took care of the “backbone part,” his mother was the one who brought out his love of music at the age of 10, when he asked for piano lessons after watching his mother play. Since 16, Brooks has kept a guitar close by as his best instrumental friend.

The musician, who says artists Jack Johnson, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Ray Charles, Jason Mraz and Bryan Adams have inspired him, will be releasing a new album shortly.

“I’ve been writing lots of new stuff and am looking to get into the studio very soon,” he said.

For Brooks, who says he wants to find a girl who makes him “laugh so much that the stomach hurts,” real-life experience and relationships lie at the core of his lyrics.

“Obviously, if I’m thinking about a situation involving a girl, I’ll write about that,” he said, as he did on fan-favorite “My Heart Will Wait” and “Green Eyes.”

Currently based in Los Angeles and planning more worldwide tours, Brooks mentioned three mottos in life.

“Work hard, play hard and eat chicken nuggets,” he said. “See you very, very soon!”

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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