“I Want to Be the Artist Who Gives Hope with Music That Brings Comfort.” – In Conversation with Singer Lim Jisoo

Lim Jisoo, an emerging South Korean singer, came to light in 2019 when she won Vocal Play, a variety show where the singers had to sing without instrumental accompaniment at times. With her powerful and unique voice, Jisoo blew the judges away with the cover of Imagine Dragons’ Radioactive. 

After winning the show, Jisoo was very fortunate to sign with Warner Music Korea, and officially debuted in January 2021 with a subtle and emotional song, Monologue. Just over a few months, Jisoo has gained a large number of fans, not only in South Korea but also overseas. In March, the singer released her second single, Up&Down, to positive reviews. 

Photo © Courtesy of Kreaon 

Jisoo also recorded songs for two K-dramas, Eccentric! Chef Moon and Backstreet Rookie. The singer recently teamed up with the renowned dancer and choreographer, Jay Kim, for a hauntingly beautiful and touching collaborative cover performance of Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved. Filmed at Studio Carre and Pocket Park cafe, and with support of Kreaon [A Global Multi-Channel Network Management Company that specializes in the spread of Korean Content], and with its distinctive and emotional delivery, the collaboration highlights Jisoo’s superb vocal range and Jay’s artistic ability to express himself through his movements.

But was Jisoo’s dream to become a singer? When did she first know that she wanted to be an artist? The singer answered these and some other questions in this interview, exclusively conducted by View of the Arts. 

Music Video © Courtesy of Kreaon 

Prior to signing with Warner Music Korea, you participated in and won Vocal Play, a variety show where contestants were required to sing without instrumental accompaniment at times. Was it your dream to become a singer? When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?

I wanted to be a singer since I was 5. I always loved to sing and dance in front of the audience, and enjoyed going on stage. Music is my closest friend in my life, and so I tried my best to become an artist. Thankfully, I got that chance from Vocal Play to become a singer and I’m so grateful. 

Your voice is sublime – deep, agile and well-controlled. Your live performances on the aforementioned show were breath-taking – your vocal range is also impressive. Did you receive any formal training before becoming a professional singer?

I couldn’t take any vocal lessons before because my parents didn’t allow me to. They didn’t want me to become a singer because they thought that it is not easy, and yes, actually it’s a tough path. So, YouTube became my music teacher, I got tips from it, and always practiced by myself using YouTube. It helped me a lot.

Looking at the performances on Vocal Play, how was it for you to sing live, in front of the judges, including Ailee, a well-known Korean-American singer. Did you get stage fright? 

When I’m nervous, I always try to hide it, especially on stage. I was always nervous during the Vocal Play because I was the only one from Berklee College of Music, so I felt like I had to represent Berklee [well]. I was worried what other people would think of my school more than myself if I messed up on stage. 

Photo © Courtesy of Kreaon 

You recently released two singles, Monologue and Up&Down, what was the creative process behind the recording, and how much of your own input did you have in the recording process? 

When I was preparing my singles, personally, the most important part for me was “what kind of artist do I want to be?” and “what kind of message do I want to say to the listeners?”. Yes, of course, finding cool songs with nice lyrics is important, but those two questions were what I was focused on. The answer was, “I want to be the artist who gives hope with music that brings comfort.” My Debut song Monologue, and second song Up&Down, are those kinds of warm songs which can give listeners comfort. 

You also find pleasure in uploading covers on your YouTube channel, from Park Hyo-shin to Gaho, from David Guetta to Imagine Dragons, proving that your vocal range is truly powerful. Why have you decided to do covers, now that you can actually record your own music?

How I choose and sing cover songs are based on the songs that my subscribers want to listen to. Maybe that’s why I cover songs rather than just singing my own original songs. The artists I cover vary because my subscribers are from all around the world and enjoy listening to different genres. I like to sing my own songs, but it is interesting that many of my listeners are curious how I would remake other songs to my style of music.

In addition to everything, you also recorded I’ll Miss You for Backstreet Rookie. How did you find that experience?

It was an honour. It was interesting to sing the song with the lyrics only in English because it was for the Korean drama. Back then, when I was recording this song, I was still preparing for my debut, so I thought that no one would know who I am. Before the official release date, this song actually came out on the drama, so even when you wanted to search about this song, it wasn’t possible till the release date. But many people messaged me through social media asking if I sang that song, saying that the voice was similar to mine, so I was surprised and touched. I was grateful for this experience.

Looking at the Korean music industry right now, where do you think you fit musically, and where do you aspire to fit in the industry?

I guess Neo R&B styles of K-pop. I aspire myself and my song to be on Melon Top Hit Chart [Melon is a South Korea online music store and music streaming service with over 28 million users]. I released two singles so far and I would like to release a full-length album soon. 

Video © Courtesy of Kreaon; Music © Warner Music Korea

Would you say the music that inspires your work matches what you listen to when you’re a part of an audience? Or are you a fan of genres other than your own?

listen to gospel songs a lot and they inspire my work. Although I haven’t released a gospel album yet, I [truly love] the vibe of gospel which I carry with me whenever I sing my songs. 

When you are not working and making music, what do you do to get away from it all and relax?

I pray, read books, sometimes meet people whom I love, and eat delicious food.

Are there any singers, vocalists or other idols who inspire you musically? Who motivates you to work hard and stay on track?

I would say BTS. They made Korea proud, and K-pop proud. The whole world loves them. I want to be like them so much. 

As you just debuted, what would you say are currently your main artistic challenges and has being an artist changed other aspects of your life?

I was just a girl who wanted to be a singer, and sang cover songs from other artists, but after I debuted, I became an artist and began representing my own songs. These changes gave me more responsibilities to develop myself professionally.

Going back to your work; you recently teamed up with international choreographer Jay Kim for a cover of Lewis Capaldi’s 2019 hit, Someone You Loved. How did the project come to life and how’s your collaboration with Jay Kim?

It was my first time collaborating with a dancer, it was so interesting. Everything was perfect, from the environment to the staff. I used to watch a lot of videos on 1 Million Studio’s YouTube channel, so I knew who Jay Kim was. When I heard that I was doing a collaboration with him, I couldn’t believe it at first, I was overjoyed. It was a memorable experience.

Photo © Courtesy of Kreaon

The role of an artist is always subject to change. What’s your view on the tasks of artists today, and how do you try or will try to meet these goals in your work? 

As an artist, no matter if it is through my music, or through me as a person, I became the one who influences people. I always remind myself that the way I talk, the way I act, the way I sing might affect somebody. I want to be an influencer who gives positive energy and feelings. Through my music and through me, I hope my listeners become happier and feel love.

How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?

“Like, comment, and subscribe.”  Like – enjoy the music they listen to; Comment – express how they feel about the music, what part did they like the best, which part do they think needs to be improved; Subscribe – stay and keep in touch with the artist. 

Although we are all living in difficult times where live music with participation of an audience has been paused, what are your upcoming plans? What do you hope to achieve this year?

It is sad that I am not able to meet listeners face to face and sing live, but through social media, I can perform worldwide. I keep updating my YouTube channel and planning on uploading more songs, and different kinds of content that, I hope, everyone would want to watch. I also wish to release more music, reach the Top Music Charts and achieve 100 million subscribers and views. [In addition] going on a world tour this or next year would be amazing. 

Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler

Photo © Courtesy of Kreaon

View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, arts and fashion, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, arts and fashion, worldwide.

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