Behind the Words and Melodies
"If you write the truth and you're writing about your life, it's going to be country." - Loretta Lynn
What I love most about my songs is that I can explain every line, even those which have the most complex back stories. Since entering my 20s I've encountered several opportunities for self-discovery, but with them can come anxiety. Just by describing my own experiences I hope that listeners will be able to relate and if so, recognize that they can overcome challenges as I have. My back tattoo says in my native Korean: "At the end of hardship comes happiness." I try to pass on this idea to anyone who simply comes up and asks me what the characters read, and now I hope to ingrain this thought into listeners' minds.
Music is therapy; it always has been for me. I hope any relatable aspects of my songs will provide just that. I've been fathoming releasing my own music for over a decade, and I am ecstatic to share it with the world.
About "Aesthetics" (my debut EP)
"Aesthetics" wasn't even an idea that came to mind when I wrote the first two tracks, "Once a Babe" and "Arizona Boy," in April 2019.
There were a few nights (that turned into early mornings) where I couldn't sleep and had to release thoughts, which I'd always been great at doing on paper (I've collected diaries my whole life and started working in journalism when I was 20, with a focus on the branches which allowed for more creative writing). I thought maybe I'd show the songs to a few close friends, but that's it.
My now executive producer encouraged me to bring the songs in and play them. I was apprehensive; songwriting was one of my weaknesses when I was pursuing music in my teen years and also felt that having a time gap in my music career wouldn't help. However, I felt more confident about these two songs than anything I'd tried writing between the ages of 14 and 18.
I played and sang "Once a Babe" and "Arizona Boy" for the studio producers, after which the executive told me, "Those are fantastic. We need to record those and start doing artist development work." My jaw hit the floor. I was receiving an opportunity to pursue one of my biggest dreams of almost a decade.
"Once a Babe" and "Arizona Boy" were released as singles in June 2019. The responses I started getting were amazing. Then, soon after, I went on a songwriting frenzy. I crafted maybe eight within a few weeks, on any and every topic I could think of, but none resonated with me. One thing was for sure, I was capable of writing music that people liked listening to.
Then came the idea of an EP. I'd need three more songs to complete a five-track record. Even if none of the potential songs I'd written during my writing "frenzy" appealed to me, I knew something would happen and spark inspiration. When something hits me, everything flows right out.
Just like that, I'd end up in a situation in late June which would inspire "Smoke Show." Check. After I released it as my third single in August, I realized I liked the country rock vibe and wanted to integrate it into my country pop sound.Among the collection of "maybe's" was "Adhesive," one of the few I didn't end up scrapping. It wasn't complete, but I played what I had back in May for one of my best friends and she told me the lyrics were clever and would make people laugh, in a good way. I decided to tweak the melody and chord progression a little bit until I was satisfied. With just one more track remaining, my brain began itching for ideas. I wrote about the story behind "She Won" from multiple different angles before settling on the idea of a woman managing to keep her significant other despite him showing outright signs to another woman that he's unhappy in his relationship.
I've always been very open about my thoughts, feelings, and experiences and creating "Aesthetics" has allowed me to recognize that I can be extra creative in the process. As a teenage musician I wanted nothing more than to be able to write songs and creating this record has proven to me that I can.One of the greatest responses I have gotten from listeners (of all ages, backgrounds, music genres and preferences, and the like) is,"I'm not particularly a fan of country music, but your sound is excellent." Additionally, the EP has been aired internationally via official radio stations and streaming platforms, but "Arizona Boy" in particular has reached a double-digit number of countries across the world on almost all continents. This is THE song I never thought I'd release.
With the utmost levels of motivation, I decided, shortly after the release in September 2019, to create my first full length album which will drop in 2020. I can't put into words how excited I am. Major thank you's to everyone who has reached out with supportive and uplifting words. It means beyond the world.
Preview: My Debut Album, "Just Drive"
After the completion of my debut EP, "Aesthetics," and the positive responses I received, I felt compelled to continue showing the world my creativity, delve deeper into my thoughts and be more transparent, even about topics which some might feel are "touchy." (For very understandable reasons)
I briefly befriended and collaborated with another musician in the fall of 2019. Our music tastes were completely opposite, though we each grew to respect the other's. During our partnership, they grew to love the songs I'd begun writing for the album, which I've decided to title "Just Drive." Particularly, they gave me significant praise for the title track, which details my experience with partner abuse. This is an issue I have tried to be transparent about since ending the relationship in 2016, be it through speeches, online "campaigns," and, now, music.
After hearing (and playing along to) "Just Drive" and some of my other new songs, including one I've titled "Gold," this music colleague told me my lyrics were brilliant, relatable, I was beginning to develop my own sound, and that they absolutely loved them. Once again, this came from someone whose taste in music was almost anything but mine. I felt even more moved.
Now, as far as the album title, the song may detail a point in my life which caused me distress, but driving away is what soothed me. Outside of that situation, I thought about the times when I would drive, alone, between my hometown San Francisco and various parts of Southern California (for any reason) and how relaxed I would feel. I'd crank up the music and focus on pleasurable thoughts, one big reason I love long drives in general.
The best way I can word the message of the album title is, "Wherever you're going, focus on the road and sights, disregard stressors, and just drive."