In January 2021, Mark Tuan moved back home to the United States after a decade of living in Korea as a member of the K-pop group GOT7. Only two months have passed, but he already feels recharged and ready to show the world what he's got to offer as a solo artist. Ever since GOT7 parted ways with JYP Entertainment in January, each of its seven members has been busy focusing on solo projects. So far, Tuan has launched a YouTube channel, dropped a collaboration track with EDM producer Sanjoy, and most recently, released his third fashion line with REPRESENT. Mark Tuan's quotes about his solo career reveal this is just the beginning.
"I've been super happy ever since I've been back. It feels really good being able to spend time with my family and friends, but still being able to go out and work," Tuan tells Elite Daily. "Seeing my family charges me up because I can go to the studio and work even harder."
Tuan says his favorite thing about being in the U.S. is he gets to live a quieter life. "Out here in America, I'm kind of more free because I don't think people recognize me as much as in Korea. I feel kind of carefree with everything," Tuan says, adding that he picked up golfing because it's "super relaxing."
Tuan may have more downtime now that he's not tied down to a label, but that doesn't mean he isn't keeping busy. On Valentine’s Day, he dropped a collab with Sanjoy called "One In a Million,” which marked his first solo song as a non-JYP artist. Fans were so excited to hear it, they managed to break the song's pre-save link due to popular demand. Tuan says seeing fans' excitement over "One In a Million" reassured him they will always be there for GOT7 even through their solo endeavors. "I feel super grateful for them, knowing they are still there supporting us. I feel less pressure knowing fans are there, and they're waiting for us," he says.
Before GOT7's contract with JYP expired in January, rumors swirled that the group was going to disband. However, on Jan. 11, the same day the guys announced they were leaving the company (a week before their contract ended on Jan. 19), Tuan told fans, "Nothing is coming to an end, just the beginning." GOT7 proved they meant it when they released "Encore" on Feb. 20, their first group single as a non-JYP band. "Encore! Encore! We will sing for you/ For the rest of the days," the septet sings on the track.
"We thought it was funny people were assuming the group was going to disband," Tuan says. "We wanted to make sure the fans knew GOT7 wasn't going anywhere because we were scared if we left and came out with a song two months later, the fans would be worrying too much."
While balancing his solo work with group activities won't be easy, Tuan says he can't see himself without his GOT7 members by his side, even if it’s in a different capacity than it was before. "The company was the one who made the group, but now, it's our own choice to stay together," he says.
Tuan teases his solo music will be R&B mixed with pop and other genres, but he has "no idea" what kind of music his members are making or what that’ll mean for GOT7’s sound moving forward. He says, "In the future, when we do come out with [our next] album, we're just going to have so many different sounds come together and I feel like it's going to be 'Oh, this is who GOT7 is."
Besides music, Tuan has been working on another fashion line with REPRESENT. Their latest collaboration, XC3, dropped on March 17. Tuan says he loves working with the company because they welcome his ideas. "I [always] try to create something better than the last drop," he says. "The main goal for this drop was to create some uplifting and inspirational pieces for people who are wearing the brand. There's a lot of ideas I threw at [REPRESENT] and they brought them to life."
Tuan’s fashion line consists of a variety of T-shirts and hoodies with phrases like "Don't be so tough on yourself.” It was inspired by his years of rigorous training to become an idol, as well as his motivation to uplift fans during the coronavirus pandemic. "I went through the whole training thing in Korea. There were [moments] when I had some dark times, [but] I didn't give up," Tuan says. "Since there's so much going on in the world and I felt like it is a pretty tough time for everybody, I just wanted to put those out and be able to help out other people, too."
Tuan is always thinking of his fans, so he's excited to give them some new music as soon as possible. "The plan right now is to put out some songs this year and maybe an album next year," Tuan says. "I can't wait until fans hear [the album]. Hopefully, they don't have to wait too long."