It is said that long-term contact with music improves cognitive function. There is no denial that music is the embodiment of beauty; it makes everyday activities more pleasant and often transfers the listener into “another dimension”. I have never thought that I would be grateful for social media, such as Instagram. Searching for new artists there has become one of my hobbies nowadays. Without a big budget, management, and other commercial support, many singers have begun promoting their music online independently.
Kyle Lo, a South Korean R&B singer-songwriter and producer, has truly impressed me as an artist. One thing that makes his music distinctive is that he generally varies his voice in order to reflect the message of the songs. Kyle Lo is versatile and able to sing riffs and reach top notes of the higher rage effortlessly. Often singing in Korean, the artist doesn’t shy from singing in English either. With both languages, he is able to strike a balance among the different tones while trying to be coherently understood without the necessity of exaggerating and over-articulating every line.
The singer-songwriter has worked with many established Korean artists, including Babylon. He collaborated with Jvde on many projects, such as EP Mutual Love (2021) and the single Should I Get Back on It? (2021). Kyle Lo also participated in the composition of CHEETAH’s song Kick It and worked on Blame with Jword, an American R&B artist.
Kyle Lo is about to release his new music in March, and prior to that, we managed to interview the artist and chatted about his musical journey and his plans for the future.
Image © Courtesy of Kyle Lo
What was the role of music in the early years of your life that made you want to become an artist?
Many members of my family are classical instrument musicians, actually. My mom was a professional pianist, so music naturally became a part of my everyday life ever since I was young. I just organically grew into someone who does music because music was always with me – as part of life, as part of every day.
Back in 2021, you released the EP Mutual Love alongside another R&B singer, Jvde. You also collaborated with Babylon on a single Baby be Mine, then with Jword on Blame. You also participated in the composition of CHEETAH’s song Kick It. Just before the end of 2021, you released a new single called Body, a truly passionate song. What was the creative process behind Body like? And what prompted you to write such a song?
Body came about randomly. I was just listening to music one day and suddenly wanted to make a song that’s more mainstream and easier to approach! So, I wrote a song (the original version of ‘Body’), but that first version came out darker than I expected. So, I actually scrapped that entire song and started over [laughs]. But I think that’s why the final song came out so well and I’m very proud of it! I hope my song can inspire people just like how I listen to and get inspired by other artists’ songs.
As mentioned before, you collaborated with a few artists already, what was that experience like for you? Were there any artistic differences between you and the artists during the recording process?
I have honestly worked with many, many artists because I’m not just an artist but also a producer. Working with many people gave me many different experiences and a wide range of insight! I produced almost all the songs on Babylon’s album last year, for instance. But I also always feel like I’m experiencing something new when I work with a new artist.
In general, what kind of approach do you use when writing your lyrics?
I think I’m the type who writes lyrics really slowly. Of course, there are times when I’m totally captured by an idea and I finish the lyrics quickly. But looking back, lyrics that hit me more profoundly are the lyrics that I thought a lot about and invested a lot of time into.
I also watch movies, music videos, etc. When a certain scene captures my interest, I watch just that part repeatedly, immerse myself in that scenario, and then write the lyrics accordingly!
Image © Courtesy of Kyle Lo
Looking at the Korean music industry, and since you became a singer, have you suffered any ‘resistance’ or scepticism from within the industry? What would you say are currently your main artistic challenges?
I think Korea’s music industry is really narrow. You start to know almost everyone in the industry if you get connected a little through people you already know. That feels like a wall to me sometimes, more than you would expect. I say that because it eventually becomes almost impossible to collaborate with a new artist you don’t already know.
To be honest, I also wish that collaborations were based on how good of a musician you are, not who you know. As for me, I think I need to be more active as an artist than I have been! I have worked more as a producer than as an artist so far. But from now on, I want to expand more as an artist and be more active than before.
On which of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from an emotional and technical point of view?
I think it would have to be Body [laughs]. I’m also working on a remix of Body, by the way!
Looking at the music industry nowadays, emerging artists are given more of a voice, especially through social media. What are your thoughts on social media and its role? How do you feel social media has impacted the music business?
I think social media definitely has a huge influence. Even though I don’t post a lot on social media myself [laughs].
Are there any singers, vocalists or other artists who inspire you musically?
Jacquees, Bryson Tiller, Trey Songz… There are way too many [laughs].
Image © Courtesy of Kyle Lo
Who motivates you to work hard and stay on track?
It’s myself. Every day, I think: how much longer can I make music like this? How much work did I get done today? Thoughts like that. But as long as I have passion left in me, I don’t think I will steer away from this path.
Looking at your life, to what extent do you think your surroundings shaped you, creatively speaking, and in what way?
I think my surroundings shaped almost every part of both my life and my music.
Is there anything you would like to change in the music industry that might help emerging artists get bigger exposure in domestic and foreign markets?
I don’t think any music sites outside of Korea grades music, gives it a score, and evaluates based on that numerical score. That’s what I would want to change, make it so that we don’t prioritise scores or rankings when it comes to music.
Which aspects of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?
I think the biggest upside is that I can do any and every type of music I am capable of creating. Every time I work on some music, I feel happy that I can be free! But it’s also true that as an indie artist, there are challenges in promotion/marketing and artist management.
In your free time between producing music and writing songs, what helps you relax? How does your perfect day off look like?
I usually do nothing, watch a movie, or visit my parents’ house. My heart is just so at ease when I go to my parents’ house. I feel like I’m going camping whenever I visit them.
Looking at the current situation, what’s your wider vision? What do you hope to achieve within the next year or so?
For this year, the number one goal is to release a lot of creative results! I’m thinking of several singles and albums. Of course, I would need to get a bit into the production to see but…Thank you!
Written and inteviewed by Maggie Gogler
Featured image © Courtesy of Kyle Lo
Music © Kyle Lo
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