“I wished to point out people who I can overcome something, even when it takes a while.”
SUNMI debuted as a member of the Surprise Women in 2007, a woman group that – except for amassing a string of hits over time – turned the primary Korean act ever to seem on the U.S. Billboard Scorching 100 with “No person” in 2009.
It’s a feat that cemented the then barely 17-year-old idol’s title within the pop historical past books without end. And but, she was nonetheless solely simply getting began.
After briefly leaving the group to pursue her research in 2010, she returned together with her profitable first step as a soloist together with her debut EP in 2014, together with her first solo hits, “24 Hours,” and the title monitor, “Full Moon.”
She would finally reunite with the woman group for his or her long-awaited comeback, making an all-too-brief transformation into an ’80s-style retro band for the (nonetheless unbelievable) 2015 Surprise Women document, REBOOT. The challenge discovered the members actively taking part within the songwriting course of, and offered SUNMI with the boldness to start out placing a private contact on her personal music transferring ahead.
The Surprise Women, as is unfortunately the case with most woman teams, disbanded quickly after their comeback, and SUNMI went solo as soon as once more, this time with “Gashina” in 2017.
Nearly immediately, SUNMI established herself as a novel, singular voice within the business – a formidable feat, particularly in a local weather largely dominated by woman teams and boy bands.
Her eccentric visuals, emotionally advanced lyrical themes, fiercely expressive (and, at instances, wondrously wacky) choreography, and naturally, her sonic model of “SUNMI-Pop,” impressed by nostalgic parts of disco, electronica and city-pop, solidified her as a high solo act in Korea.
She went on to launch smash after smash over time, rising more and more concerned within the songwriting and manufacturing of her music with releases like “Heroine,” “Siren,” “Noir” and “pporappippam,” main as much as final 12 months’s “You Can’t Sit With Us,” off of her newest mini-album, 1/6.
Having attained the standing of a veteran in a relentless revolving door of an business, by which endurance is an more and more uncommon trait, the now 29-year-old celebrity has extra lately assumed the position of a mentor, showing as a decide (“Grasp”) on final 12 months’s Women Planet 999, the survival competitors collection by which she helped to whittle down a gaggle of 99 hopefuls into the latest 9-member troupe on the scene, KEP1ER.
And when she’s not busy molding future generations of pop superstars, she’s persevering with to blaze her personal path.
For her first launch of 2022, the Ok-pop titan partnered with Spotify as a part of their EQUAL initiative in celebration of Worldwide Ladies’s Day to launch “Oh Sorry Ya,” the primary tune SUNMI’s composed with a staff of solely girls, alongside English manufacturing duo LYRE.
Thematically, it’s a continuation of her soul-baring English-language minimize “Borderline,” which was launched shortly after disclosing her borderline character dysfunction analysis on nationwide tv in 2020. She describes it as a dialog between the “Outdated SUNMI” and the “New SUNMI,” honoring her personal private development, from the harm woman she as soon as was to the resilient celebrity that she is as we speak.
I had the distinction of talking with SUNMI upon the discharge of “Oh Sorry Ya” to debate the tune, her boundary-breaking legacy, each as a part of a woman group and as a solo star, her lasting affect on the Ok-pop business and past, and what’s nonetheless to come back.
“Oh Sorry Ya” is your first launch of 2022. Are you able to discuss concerning the that means behind the tune?
Everybody has their very own painful reminiscences and scars. Nonetheless, by way of this tune, I wished to let you know that you just’ve change into a lot stronger and extra resilient whereas overcoming these limitations.
You describe it as a continuation of your English monitor “Borderline,” and a dialog between “Outdated SUNMI” and “New SUNMI.”
I puzzled in what state of affairs I may say “Oh, Sorry Ya.” All of a sudden I considered saying sorry to SUNMI within the lyrics of “Borderline.” “New SUNMI” is not sick due to “Outdated SUNMI.” Irrespective of how a lot “Outdated SUNMI” tries to harm, “New SUNMI” has change into a lot stronger.
It’s additionally your first tune composed by solely girls. How was the tune’s creation course of?
The method of discovering all-female groups was troublesome. Apart from that, every little thing else was very simple. Though we had been distant and didn’t even get an opportunity to see one another, we had been very thoughtful, so every little thing labored out effectively.
“Oh Sorry Ya” is a part of Spotify’s EQUAL Initiative. What does it imply to be concerned in that initiative?
To start with, I’m actually grateful to Spotify for proposing this challenge that focuses on producer SUNMI. That is already my second participation within the EQUAL challenge. I often make a robust impression as a performer, however Spotify is at all times extra interested by my music. It’s such an honor for me.
“Borderline” got here throughout Mnet’s Operating Women, whenever you very bravely opened up about being recognized with borderline character dysfunction in 2020. Psychological well being remains to be very stigmatized the world over. Why did you determine to go public, and what occurred after it turned worldwide information? Was it a constructive expertise?
I used to be capable of take braveness as a result of I wished to point out people who I can overcome something, even when it takes a while. That’s why I launched “Borderline.” I hope many individuals hearken to this tune in order that they’ll share their ache and sympathize with one another. It may’ve been a reckless resolution to disclose my weaknesses. Nonetheless, as a result of I overcame all the method and ache, it was not my weak point, and I used to be capable of converse out.
How did the pandemic have an effect on your expertise as an artist? Has it affected your new music?
As a singer who will get lots of vitality by speaking with followers on the stage, the pandemic was completely a darkness. I ponder what it means to sing and dance on an empty stage with out followers. The communication breakdown because of the pandemic, nonetheless, gave me a brand new expertise, such because the Metaverse. Though it’s not as actual because the precise vitality and environment, it was a totally completely different sort of expertise the place I may work together with my followers by way of music.
Ever since your first solo debut, you’ve created a really distinct fashion of music, the place all of your releases sound like SUNMI songs. Not many artists have that. That could be very distinctive to you. How would you describe the “SUNMI-pop” sound?
Once I make my very own music, I get impressed from the outdated music that I’ve admired and been impressed with. That’s why my music appears to have a robust retro temper. My music is characterised by coping with advanced feelings. It’s double-sided; unhappy however thrilling, and thrilling however unhappy on the identical time.
Metropolis-pop/retro disco additionally appears like an enormous a part of the “Sunmi-pop” sound. Are there any new artists or genres influencing your present music?
Hybrid pop and hyper pop genres are new to me nowadays. It’s very fascinating that utterly completely different compositions and genres come collectively to make one and solely type of music.
Your songs cope with very advanced feelings, and you’ll actually really feel that you’re closely concerned within the artistic course of to your releases. Your character comes by way of within the music. By REBOOT in 2015, you began to seem because the lyricist and songwriter on virtually all of the songs. Are you able to discuss why it was vital to you?
Due to the expertise that I participated within the album REBOOT as a lyricist and songwriter, I now turned a solo artist, SUNMI, with a really clear coloration. As a result of I’ve been training trying into my very own sensitivity, feelings, and tales, my character, SUNMI as a solo artist, may very well be clarified as we speak.
Your final launch, “You Can’t Sit With Us,” featured a battle with zombies within the music video. It’s mentioned you educated with the Practice to Busan stunt coordinator. What was the expertise like? Would you ever act in a horror film?
It was my first time performing a stunt, so there have been many difficulties when coaching. Nonetheless, different actors and I labored effectively collectively, so I used to be capable of carry out effectively with out damage. Horror films are good, however I wish to strive motion films. Haha.
Your dance routines are additionally very memorable. What do you search for whenever you’re creating choreography to your songs?
I attempt to make choreography simple and direct sufficient for individuals to know what it means even when the language is completely different.
How do you are feeling concerning the Surprise Women’ affect on increasing Ok-pop into the West?
A couple of decade has handed since I made an enormous problem within the U.S. as a member of Surprise Women, and so many issues have modified. At the moment, individuals barely knew the place Korea was positioned and even what Ok-POP was. Nonetheless, it’s a completely completely different story now. Not solely BTS, but in addition many Ok-POP artists are cherished everywhere in the world, and many individuals have change into used to consuming not solely Ok-POP itself, but in addition different Korean content material. That’s actually superb.
You’ve had woman group expertise, and solo expertise. Is it tougher to be a solo artist within the Ok-pop business?
I can’t say which one is tougher. However working in a gaggle and as a solo appear to be slightly completely different in areas. For the group, there are a lot of members, and every particular person has a comparatively brief period of time to be seen on the display. However, as a solo, there’s solely me for the entire 4 minutes on the display. Since each second and motion is captured, it’s laborious to captivate the viewers if I don’t excel at first.
You’re an icon within the Ok-pop business, and helped different artists pave the best way, together with your participation in Women Planet 999 final 12 months, the place you helped to place collectively KEP1ER. What was the expertise of doing that present?
The duties weigh closely on me as a grasp. I knew every of their goals was so valuable, so I had blended feelings each time. Additionally, it was an opportunity for me to look again on my profession. I believed I needs to be an excellent instance / position mannequin for the ladies.
Did you give any recommendation to the KEP1ER ladies for his or her debut as a gaggle?
Slightly than recommendation, I advised them to deal with their well being. I knew how quickly the system was operating with out a break, and the ladies appeared to have gone by way of a very tough time each bodily and mentally. I advised them, “Let’s meet on the stage later not as a grasp, however as a dependable colleague, sister or singer.”
You additionally collaborated with Ed Sheeran and Jessi on a remix of “Shivers,” introducing your self to much more individuals within the West. How did that come about, and what was the expertise like?
Warner Music Korea provided me to be a part of Ed Sheeran’s Korean remix of “Shivers.” I couldn’t imagine it at first as a result of it’s Ed Sheeran! I believed it’s such an exquisite alternative. It was a extra significant expertise as a result of I labored with my beloved artist, Jessi.
So many rookies cowl your songs over time, together with a member of the brand new group NMIXX. How does that make you are feeling? Do you’ve any favourite covers of your music?
Each time I watch the covers, I feel this feminine solo artist, SUNMI, ought to proceed to develop and be an excellent position mannequin for these pals. So many rookies have lined my songs, and I can’t decide one as a result of each single cowl was superb. “Full Moon” by Sullyoon from NMIXX was so cool, and “Full Moon” by Aisha from EVERGLOW was actually spectacular.
You additionally did your first on-line live performance in 2021. Will you be touring once more sooner or later?
I’m planning for my second world tour within the second half of the 12 months.
Are you at the moment engaged on a brand new document?
Since I’m planning for my tour, I would launch another tune earlier than the tour.
Your 2019 SUNMI THE 1ST WORLD TOUR [WARNING] was unbelievable – I used to be on the New York Metropolis present. It was a tremendous efficiency. What was essentially the most fascinating or wildest expertise you had overseas throughout that tour?
It was completely a stunning and luxurious expertise that folks in numerous languages and nations sing alongside to my songs in Korean. There have been additionally many followers who got here to my present with the identical outfit and make-up as mine. I at all times get goosebumps each time they name my title.
In case you had the prospect to debut once more as a solo artist in 2022, would you do something otherwise?
I wish to strive rock. It’s not frequent for feminine singers to sing and play the bass on the identical time. Haha.
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