Isha Singh, New Delhi
Zeboria, aka Rusur (stage name) and Johnny Gr4ves (songwriter name), is an award-winning songwriter/performer making history as the first “Black male K-pop artist!” Recently, he gained even more love and acceptance from the audience, including Lee Soo Man – SM Entertainment founder, when Rusur started posting “English” covers of K-Pop songs. This even led him to begin his new journey of releasing Korean songs produced by Young Minnie. Take a look at our conversation with Rusur, in this interview here:
For people unaware of your astonishing talents, please introduce yourself.
Hey! My name is Zeboria, you know me as RUSUR, and I’m an award-winning songwriter/performer and the first black male K-Pop artist. Nice to meet you 🙂
Please tell us about your musical journey – how it all started? Was it something you always wanted to do?
My musical journey started from the passion to help inspire growth within the people around me. I realised that music is the language that connects us all, so I decided that it would be the best way to connect with others around the world.
You have a songwriter name Johnny Gr4ves and a stage name as Rusur. How did you come up with these two unique names?
Great question! I see these two names as different projects, or representing different parts of my life. It’s really fun to be able to create music for others, and help share their stories, and equally on the other hand, I really enjoy showing my love of life with my ROUGIES. To be honest, I haven’t really told anyone publicly what RUSUR stands for, but I always leave little hints along the way; I want you to have fun learning more about me! One day, I want to go on YouTube and find that there’s a RUSUR iceberg… that’s kind of a selfish goal of mine, but I love hearing a person’s take on my art.
Before making your debut as the first Black male K-Pop idol, you worked on an opening song for the anime – Beyblade Burst Surge and have also been a part of the boy band – Electric Ave. Please tell me about your experience.
A theme song and a boyband: the opposites sides of my career, but the two that brought me closer to the Film and TV industry. I honestly feel very grateful to live the life I have; both the Beyblade theme song and being on a TV show with my boyband fulfilled some MAJOR dreams, and regardless of all the sweat and tears that have gone into this journey, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As I make my steps into the K-Pop industry, I’m excited to continue to demonstrate to everyone how much they can really accomplish when they understand that the way they see the world matters. YOU matter.
You gained colossal popularity globally through K-Pop covers in “English” on various social media, leading to even getting recognized by Lee Soo Man (founder of SM entertainment). How did you come up with this idea? Was there a motive you had in mind when you initially started?
What a lot of people don’t know, is that I was creating covers prior to the K-Pop covers on my Instagram Reels to get comfortable with filming myself. I always want to push the envelope, and eventually, I was ready to test myself with K-Pop vocals; I was totally nervous at first, but you can see how far we’ve come looking through the covers on TikTok, to the full covers on YouTube, to eventually my own song in Korean with Young Minnie.
On June 21st, 2022, you released your first Korean song – One way Home, produced by Young Minnie. Please tell us about the concept, process behind creating this beautiful piece, and experience working with Young Minnie.
“One Way Home” was a really special song for me because not only did it make history, but Young Minnie and I were able to share this monumental moment together! Young Minnie really is my 여동생 (little sister), and I’m so happy to be someone that can give her confidence, strength, and healing. Young Minnie is brave… brave enough to visit a foreign country (Canada), just to come and meet the person that she has been making music with all year. The song, “One Way Home” was actually created for a Chinese boy band originally, but I loved it so much that I wanted to keep it for myself. Eventually, it found its home as my first Kpop song thanks to the help of Yechan for translating the lyrics in such a poetic wain.
As learning Korean and improvising it along with many other languages is one of your interests, you are often praised for your fluency. Please advise your listeners who are learning Korean and wish to enter the K-Pop or entertainment industry.
My entire goal in life is to find ways to connect on deeper levels. I find that learning someone’s language is the best way to show them you care, because there’s no shortcut; when I learn your language, I learn about your culture, and that will always be authentic. First will be Korean, and I will continue to learn new languages to connect with the world! I’m curious to know which one will be next…
Please tell me about your latest single – Puppet, produced by Young Minnie. How did you both come up with this song?
When Young Minnie came to visit me in Canada, I had just gone through a lot of heartbreak. The biggest challenge I have had to face in my life is learning to let people go; the longer I held on though, the more I felt they had control over me. Eventually, I decided that I was no longer going to allow anyone to have control over my emotions, and broke myself free from the chains of heartache. “Puppet” is an ode to that action of waking up to my new reality, and not letting anyone take over my life anymore.
From the start of your musical journey to your latest single, is there any learning or motto you wish to share with your fans?
I want everyone to understand that where I am wasn’t given to me, I didn’t get lucky, all I did was work hard and believe in myself. To anyone reading this…I came from absolutely nothing, to making history because I understood one very important fact:
When you understand that you matter, your opinions matter, your life matters, your life will start to develop in ways you might never have imagined before.
Don’t limit yourself from greatness.
As you are carving your path in the K-Pop industry, is there any impact or change you wish to make?
My goal is to expand the idea of what K-Pop really is, and open up the possibility for more people around the world to participate in such an amazing genre! Hopefully with every step we take together, we will look back and see just how much we have shifted the culture.
Is there any particular concept you wish to try in the future and are there any artists you want to collaboration with?
Currently, I’m in the beginning phases of developing the first black K-Rock project… I’m very excited for this hehe. In terms of artists I would like to work with, one person that definitely comes to mind is Fatou from BLACKSWAN since she is the first black female K-Pop idol! Let’s see if we can make that a reality, 화이팅!
What kind of artist do you want your fans or future listeners to remember you as?
I want to be remembered as someone who did his best to help others realize their greatness.
I’m sure many of your listeners are from India. Is there any message you wish to convey to your fans globally?
As I, RUSUR, have paved the way in K-Pop by being the first Black Male K-Pop artist; I did this to remind you that the boundaries that have been set for you are only suggestions… the only person holding you back from greatness is yourself.
If you have made it to the end of this interview, I want to thank you for your time. Stay curious, stay creative, stay searching for yourself, and stay ROUGIE!
You matter. Thank you! ☺
Thank you so much Rusur for this interview on behalf of our entire team of Hallyuism! We wish you the very best in all your future endevaours.