A rapper, singer, songwriter and producer, Kim Han-bin has been known professionally as B.I since his 2015 debut with the South Korean group iKON. The multi-hyphenate musician is a solo artist now and is promoting his latest album, “To Die For.” That title along with the promotional poster’s YOLO message – dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today – may lead people to speculate that the 26-year-old musician’s own mortality was on his mind when he composed his songs. In many ways, it was. “I realized time and time again how precious each day of living is,” B.I said in an interview from Seoul. “When my last day comes, I hope to be able to smile without any regrets. To make that happen, I believe living each day as if it were the last day on earth is the way to go.”
Q: How does your album title relate to your new music?
A: While I was pondering over the album title, I realized one of the messages I wanted to convey through the album was, “Do you have something you love so much that you would risk your life to protect it?” And I felt that the burning passion that allows one to make such a daring and reckless commitment is what distinctly defines youth.
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Q: Do you have time to write songs when you’re touring or traveling?
A: I do. I find that I tend to write when I have a lot of free time. I particularly find being inside a car to be the best time for writing.
Q: How have your travels impacted your music? For instance, have you heard music somewhere in a different country that influenced your own musical development?
A: I cannot pinpoint exactly where my inspiration comes from, but I do find encountering new places and cultures inspiring.
Q: People sometimes say that fans are different in each country. What do you think are the similarities between fans around the world?
A: They all share a common thread of love towards me and how to really vibe to music, with the only difference being the language they express themselves in.
Q: Your fans will travel to other cities to hear you in concert. Have you, or would you, do the same to see your favorite artists?
A: At this point, I haven’t had the opportunity to do that. But if I could in the future, I’d love to go see Skrillex and Paul McCartney. Oh, and 50 Cent and Jay-Z, too! And Usher!
Q. What trip from your childhood stands out?
A: Hmm. Once during a school trip, I sang a self-written song for a talent show. It makes my face blush when I look back on it.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your travels?
A: Something I personally follow when traveling abroad is keep the phone away, and always eat out. One thing I’ve learned to do over time is to read during travels.
Q: Which cities or countries that you haven’t visited yet are on your bucket list?
Q: For decades, no one thought that a Korean musician would be famous outside of Asia. Were you confident that your music would find an audience outside of South Korea?
A: It was more of an uncertain hope rather than a confident expectation. My music receiving universal love – it’s something I grew up constantly daydreaming about. [Laughs]
Q: What are your five favorite cities?
A: Florence, Barcelona, Los Angeles, São Paulo, Rabat (Morocco).
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items that you always take with you?
A: Lip balm is a daily must-have. When I’m traveling, I always make sure to bring a book. I like to travel light, as you can tell.
Q: What is your best vacation memory?
A: Towards the end of last year, I found myself at home with nothing much planned. It didn’t feel so pleasant. So on a whim, I decided to go to Jeju Island for two weeks, which turned out to be the best vacation I could have asked for.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)