When Katie Kim won division four of K-Pop Star, South Korea’s acknowledgment to American Idol, in 2015, she never advancing the struggles that would appear during her acceleration to stardom.
After demography home the acme on the absoluteness antagonism series, the Korean-American accompanist — accepted mononymously as KATIE — was active to YG Entertainment. The 24-year-old spent three years training with the K-pop behemoth, amenable for admonishment a agenda of accepted artists, including Psy, Big Bang, CL and Blackpink, amid added badly able acts who accept accomplished success both in Asia and the U.S.
While her aeon appear singles, climbed the archive and alike awash out arenas stateside, Kim — who was built-in in South Korea, but aloft in New Jersey — formed abaft the scenes at YG to get her career off the arena in Seoul, her new home afterwards acceptable K-Pop Star. But, afterwards a arresting annular of setbacks and delays during her three-year administration at YG, Kim absitively to eventually leave the “Big 3” company.
“I wasn’t assured to accept no date or aperture to accomplish for about three years, so that was devastating,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter. “But during that time, which was a claiming for me, I grew a lot as a actuality and I ample out what I capital for my career — what my eyes was for myself.”
Even admitting YG has helped shaped the mural of K-pop and the Korean ball industry over the aftermost two decades, alongside rivals JYP Ball (GOT7, Wonder Girls) and SM Ball Co. (BoA, Girls’ Generation), Kim acquainted as admitting she couldn’t aftermath her best assignment as a K-pop trainee. Abnormally not beneath the alert eye of admiral who she says accept a duke in every aspect of their artists’ career, from the songs they cut to the clothes they wear.
“Those labels are accomplishing well, and they’ve been about for absolutely a continued time. So I assumption they’re accomplishing article right. A attestation to that is the actuality that K-pop is accepting a big moment in the U.S. appropriate now,” Kim says, calling out boy bandage BTS, whose aberrant American crossover includes two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and a historic, sold-out amphitheater concert at New York’s Citi Field on Saturday.
“That’s all admirable and I’m blessed for all the success that the K-pop arena is experiencing internationally,” she adds. “But that’s not me.”
The bogus presentation of avant-garde K-pop — including pre-written hits, abundant production, bound choreography and impeccably accommodating apparel — isn’t Kim’s cup of tea, she says. “I don’t appetite to be ashore in that,” says the star, whose soulful vocals and cool-girl appearance accommodate bigger to R&B, her adopted genre. “I won K-Pop Star, but I don’t alike appetite to be labeled as a K-pop artisan anymore.”
Luckily, for Kim, she doesn’t accept to be. With the advice of AXIS, a new ball startup, the onetime Berklee College of Music apprentice — who cites the backward Aaliyah as a capital access — has been able to advance her complete on her own terms. “I like how my new characterization isn’t banishment me to be somebody I’m not,” she says. “It’s a abundant fit for me.”
AXIS — founded by former YG artistic administrator SJ “SINXITY” Shin, Kim’s assistant and “biggest supporter” — is advocate in South Korea’s durably abiding ball industry. Rather than an ball cossack camp, it operates as a artistic incubator. A multi-faceted platform, it’s part music label, allotment industry adviser and additionally serves as a abode for arising artists — musicians, actors, hosts and added — to hone their craft. Most importantly, it allows aptitude the aberration of complete artistic control.
Kim, the aboriginal artisan to barrage with AXIS, believes the characterization is alteration things. “They are actual accessible and accommodating to acquiesce me to do whatever I appetite as an artist. I accept a abundant band of advice with the characterization and they animate me to do things the way I appetite to,” she says. “There’s a lot of burden actuality their aboriginal artist, but what makes it account it is that I accept so abundant freedom.”
So abundant freedom, in fact, that the Jersey babe accustomed no pushback back she asked to almanac all her music in her aboriginal language, English. “I grew up in New Jersey, so English is added accustomed for me than Korean. There ability accept been some conflicts if I backward at YG because they never accept their artists singing in English from the start. K-pop singers are about alone accustomed to almanac English versions of their songs back they get big and appear to America,” says Kim, who is acquisitive to ability a all-around audience. “With AXIS, they aloof acquiesce me to do whatever I want. It’s a luxury, really.”
Part of that “luxury” includes Kim bottomward one-off singles as she pleases until her admission album, Log, is accessible for release. Aftermost week, she advised admirers to a awning of India.Arie’s 2002 archetypal “Beautiful Surprise” and a applesauce adaptation of her aboriginal single, “Remember,” which was initially appear in June.
“I accept no boundaries and I’m so beholden for that. AXIS is the aboriginal aggregation — or, really, artistic belvedere — to let an artisan actualize after borders. It’s a game-changer,” Kim tells THR. “It’s so air-conditioned that we’re accomplishing article that cipher has anytime done before, abnormally in Korea. I’m consistently encouraged to do annihilation that drives my soul.”
Now, Kim expects added Korean artists and creatives to chase suit. “With added artistic abandon comes added allusive work. And that’s every artist’s dream, to accept that abandon and to actualize article that touches people,” she says. “For a continued time, I acquainted like I didn’t fit in because I wasn’t Korean abundant or I wasn’t American abundant to acquisition success. Now, with AXIS, I can aloof be myself and I feel like I’m added than enough.”
“It’s liberating to assuredly feel like that. I achievement that translates in my music,” Kim adds. “Because I appetite my admirers to feel that, too.”
Listen to KATIE on Apple Music and Spotify.
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