Interview: Honey J, choreographer, artist, and dance pioneer
It’s time for the dancers to step into the spotlight.
Model, dancer, and choreographer HaNee Jeong, known by her stage name Honey J, is paving her own way into uncharted territory in the dance realm. The leader of the winning group HolyBang in the Korean dance competition Street Woman Fighter in 2021, as well as the main female backup dancer for Korean hip hop singer Jay Park, Honey J is the first artist to be signed to Jay Park’s new label, MORE VISION.
With a vision for a fresh take on the boundaries of dance, the choreographer released the visual film for track “Look” in May, along with a music video for “Honey Drop (ft. Lil Cherry).” The two original songs were creatively directed and produced to highlight her choreography and expression — AKA music that’s optimized to showcase dance, as opposed to dance that’s optimized for music. In collaboration with producers Blase and Bronze, and featured artist Lil Cherry, the tracks “Look” and “Honey Drop” sonically tie in elements of her dance’s dynamic movement with lyrics such as “look, honey drop” and “시오시작” (translation: let’s get started), which repurpose phrases that she frequently uses in her dance lessons and practices into her tracks.
We spoke to Honey J to ask about her collaboration with Lil Cherry, the inspiration for the choreography, and her time at MORE VISION.
How would you describe yourself as a dancer? What would you say is your dancing style?
I hope to be remembered as ‘a dancer who enjoys the stage and a long-time player in the scene.’ I’m trying my best and I wish people would still enjoy my dance even if I get old. I used to be the kind of person who would never follow what others do due to my stubborn pride. Even if I really wanted to do something, I didn’t do it if others already had done it. I guess, because of this mindset, I’m trying my best to achieve ‘Only One’ dance style in the scene by challenging and experimenting different things.
You recently joined Jay Park’s label MORE VISION. How did that come about?
I didn’t have a manager and had to manage the schedules by myself at first. So I went to Jay asking for some advice and then he said ‘let’s help out Hanee’ to his manager sitting right next to him. Since Jay was not actively working at that moment, he could let his manager help me out. They helped me out for about 2 months and then when MORE VISION was established, it was just natural to sign with the label. Even if there was another label that offered me a better deal, I still would have signed with Jay because I wanted to work with a person whom I can trust.
The music video and styling for “Honey Drop” is fantastic. What was your artistic vision for the MV and how was the experience like dancing with your crew Holy Bang?
“Honey Drop” is a dance performance song, so I focused more on the performance itself than the styling or artistic parts. I mainly focused on how to show the performance in the best way I wanted to express, and then I started to think about the styling and other artistic parts. HolyBang members gave me their full support by cheering for the song release and by actively participating in the music video shooting. We’ve also spoken about how we’d love to release another performance song as HolyBang someday.
How did the collaboration with Lil Cherry for “Honey Drop” come about?
I first met Lil Cherry on a magazine shoot. She is so energetic that I get good energy when I’m with her. Also, “Honey Drop” is a Miami bass song, and she is actually from Miami. Her rapping style is unique too. Lil Cherry was the one who came up in my mind for this genre for the performance song, so I asked her to join this project.
Where did the inspiration for “music for dance” come from?
Since I’m a dancer who loves dancing, I got to listen to various music genres and it became clear what I want to express. I love the fast tempo ‘Miami bass’ music which makes you want to enjoy the performance at a party. It was not easy to find ‘Miami bass’ music that I like 100%, so I had this thought from the beginning that ‘if I could produce a song in the way I want to, it has to be this genre’. Then I guess, based on my vision of the song, I could find the right producer and artist. I was inspired by them as well in the process of producing ‘Honey Drop.’
Are you working on more songs fine-tuned to your choreography? What’s next for you and MORE VISION?
There are still so many performances that I want to show you. I don’t have a specific plan yet, but as long as there are the performances that I want to express, I think I’ll keep working on ‘the songs for dance performance.’
What music have you been dancing to recently?
It’s ‘Honey Drop (Feat. Lil Cherry).’ I’ve been constantly uploading the short-form contents (Reels) and it has become the song that I dance the most these days as I collaborate with many artists on shooting the contents.
This interview was conducted over email by writer Nancy Jiang.
Photos used in this article provided courtesy of MORE VISION.
A New York City native, Nancy Jiang is a budding journalist covering music, arts and entertainment, and politics. One day she hopes to interview Frank Ocean, but for now, she’s bumping Endless and spending all her money on vinyl and concerts.