pH-1 is just like his dog: awkward around people
Welcome to mixed feelings’ Hyperspecific, a profile series of increasingly intimate questions in which we ask our favorite artists, scientists, musicians, and the like to unveil their innermost selves — their weird existential musings.
pH-1 (or Harry, because “it’s more intimate”) is a self-proclaimed goody two shoes who cut his teeth crushing the dreams of dim-witted tweens like me at Kumon, the infamous after-school learning center where kids had to do timed math. He likes math and confirms that there’s a connection between it and music. So it makes sense he got into rap, much to his parents’ dismay.
As we sit over bowls of gochu ramyun at Don Don, a new K-bbq spot that just opened near Bryant Park, we talk about his new music. His songs hit a specific little place in my heart, like “Nerdy Love,” a track that’s funny on the outside, while also being a tender reveal of the imposter syndrome and anxiety within. My personal favorite is “Homebody,” though: Harry’s ode to being at home, seeing no one, and doing nothing.
As I ask our increasingly specific set of interview questions, we celebrate his most recent song “Rosetta” and talk about his plans to create a more melodic album for his Korean fans. See how Harry got Hyperspecific with us below.
Something you’re always hoping people bring up in conversation when you first meet. My dog, my little puppy, my doggo. I have a little toy poodle who’s four and a half years old named Holly. She’s named after Walter White's daughter from Breaking Bad…Because Walter White's my guy. My dog's kind of like me — very introverted. We get kind of awkward in front of a lot of people.
One destructive trait you know you possess and wish you didn’t. I'm going to have to say that I have a very addictive personality. So, whatever it is — whether it’s an activity or a food — if I get hooked, I have to keep doing it until I get sick of it. If I'm hooked on a certain food, I have to eat it every day.
If a bodega were to name a dish after you, what would it be? (Be specific.) It'll have to be Harry's kimchi cheeseburger, because I feel like it's representative of who I am as a Korean-American. Mix them together and I feel like we have something: a regular burger bun, sangchu, cheddar cheese, and Korean hanwoo beef with some fried kimchi.
One song that makes you feel understood. John Mayer’s “My Stupid Mouth”. It's about a guy who feels awkward around people. He just talks too much, crosses lines and loses chance with girls. I feel like that's kind of like me. I'm not just talking about girls, but in life there are times where I look back and think ah, I shouldn't have said that. I have a lot of regrets in my life, so I feel like that song is really representative of me.
Something you think is wildly underrated. It sounds cliché, but traveling and having good conversations with people you really like. I feel like nowadays with the internet and social networks, the platforms are so developed that everyone is accustomed to short-lived messages and seeing the world through a little screen. I feel like traveling is very valuable in terms of building your experience and your personality…traveling and just having good conversation with people over a meal instead of just texting and looking at your phone all the time.
A movie you watch when you want to self-soothe. Definitely Home Alone. One and two. It's Christmas season now and and I guess watching Home Alone brings back the memories of when I used to be cuddled up on my sofa with family during wintertime.
Your problematic fave artist/actor/musician (dead or alive). And why?Like I said before, it’s John Mayer. He's the reason why I started singing. He's the reason why I started playing the guitar. I don't know too much about his controversies, but I've seen a video where someone compiled all the things that he has said…But he's a god-tier level musician and so inspiring to me. It's my lifetime goal to go watch him live.
A line from a TV show/film that plays on a loop in your head. “K.I.S.S. Or, ‘Keep it simple. Stupid.’ Great advice. Hurts my feelings every time.” Said by Dwight Schrute from The Office. Iconic.
Something you bought recently after LOTS of research. The Omega Speedmaster. It's called “Moonwatch” because it's the first watch that they actually wore on the moon. It's NASA certified. I think it took me about five months to get it. I watched a lot of videos and did my history research. It celebrates humankind's achievement of going to the moon for the first time. I bought it after I did my world tour and I after started my own clothing brand. It was like a gift to myself to say “you've achieved these things.”
One time you laughed so hard you cried. I don't even remember what it was, but it was just me and my friend taking pictures of ourselves, making funny faces or something. I can't remember. I just remember us rolling on the floor. We couldn't breathe, but it was good times, man. That kind of laughter you remember.
One time you cried so hard you laughed. I don't want to say when, but it was over a breakup with somebody that I really cared about and I cried, I cried, I cried. It got to a point where it's like I was kind of laughing while crying. It was funny. I lost someone who I thought was my best friend.
What’s an anecdote you usually tell to describe how you were as a kid?
When I was a baby, my mom used to always tell me that I used to swirl my hand inside of a toilet and drink the toilet water. I don't know why my mom didn't stop me. She thought it was funny I guess.
What is your low-key hell and actual heaven? Hell would be waiting. I hate waiting. Waiting for a delivery, waiting for a shipment, waiting in line to get good food, waiting in the green room before my performance. I hate any form of waiting. Heaven for me is very simple. It’s just staying home, watching good shows, and eating good food in Korea with my dog. I think that's the biggest happiness for me.
Share a quote of one of the most meaningful things someone has ever said to you, context optional. It was written in Korean, but to translate it would be, “We don't even have time to love each other, so why would we hate?” That was a quote that was hung up on the wall when I was a kid, but I think either my mom or my dad wrote it. That's why I have this tattoo [on my neck] that says “love.” It's like telling me to use my voice to love people instead of hate people.
Random thing you hate so much for no apparent reason. What I hate, hate is people who are rude to waiters. Let's say I'm on a date, the biggest red flag is if she's rude to the waiters or whoever it is that's working. It could be on the plane, like if they're rude to the flight attendants. I hate that.
How you exit a party. I disappear like a ninja, like Houdini. I don't like telling people, “hey, I'm about to go home”. They never let me. They're like, “Oh, you're a party pooper.” So I just want to disappear. I'm like, “I'm going to go to the bathroom,” and then I already have my Uber ready and I’ll disappear. And the thing is, everybody makes it seem like they care if you leave or not, but the next morning they don't even remember when you left. Fake friends!
How you wanna go. I would want to die of a heart attack. Heart attack caused by excitement. And I don't want to get into details of what kind of excitement, but I just want to be excited when I die.