Please introduce yourself?
My name is Hee Young. I’m a singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, now I’m a part of Pastel Music in Korea. I have one EP out, So Sudden EP, and recently I released a full length album called 4 Luv, which you should check out.
How would you describe your music?
People ask me that question all the time. It’s, I wouldn’t say, I wouldn’t call it folk music cause folk music is very distinctive. It’s singer-songwriter, female singer-songwriter music. I don’t know indie pop, singer-songwriter stuff.
What are your influences?
Growing up, I listened to a lot of American old pop music because of my parents, but also I listened to a lot of Korean old pop music, so I think that’s the background of my music. But then when I was older, I started listening to a lot of singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Elliot Smith. I love Sheryl Crow because she’s still doing it, she’s old and I love her. So also other also singer-songwriters. I think of myself more as a songwriter than singer. So yeah, really awesome songwriters.
How did you get signed to Pastel Music?
I self-released So Sudden EP in late 2009 and I was just sending the CD everywhere, to reviewing websites and blogs and some labels. And I was just curious how Korean people would think of my music so I knew Pastel Music and I sent it to them with a letter, a handwritten letter and they got back to me like a week later. So yeah, so like ok. I know you guys, I know your work and if you want to release my album – awesome. I’ll work with you.
Is there any new music or upcoming tours?
I’ve been writing tons of new music. Even though 4 Luv is a new album, it just got released, I wrote all the songs two years ago. And we worked on the album for over a year and it took a while to release it. So now I have a lot of new songs, just looking for the right time to record them, with the right person. No tours yet, but a lot of song writing and also making a music video for “Buy Myself a Goodbye.”
When you record, would you prefer to record in the US or would you ever want to record in Korea?
I just haven’t, I’ve always recorded here like professional stuff and I have a group of friends who work as session players and Saul Simon MacWilliams, my producer, so it felt natural to work here. I don’t know, if I find the right person to work with in Korea, then yes. I don’t know anything yet.
Is there any Korean musician, past or present, that really impressed you?
I like, also I really like Korean singer-songwriters, like now he’s being all funny on television, but Jung Jae Hyung. He’s also a writer, I love his writing. You know his song. “내 눈물 모아” is my favorite ever, every time I hear it, I get teary, I listen to it over and over again. I really like him. And 80s group sound music when there were a lot of bands playing back in the 80s, I really like their playing, they’re awesome players.
Also I like Shim Soo Bong. Do you know? It’s really old. She plays piano and writes her songs and I like her music.
What was the question again?
Any bands that you like in Korea or even here, even in the US?
What’s the one album that you’ve listen to a lot lately?
Well, I listen to Elliot Smith every day. It’s like eating food. I feed myself some Elliot Smith every day a little bit and I just started listening to Ryan Adams. Weirdly, I don’t know a lot of music for some reason. And my friends always introduce me and they’re like “You don’t know Ryan Adams?” I’m like, “I’ve heard of the name, but I don’t know.” “You should listen to this album,” so I started listening and I really like it. That’s what I’ve been listening to lately. I was just listening to Prince on the way here.
Is there any artist you want to work with, either in the US or Korea?
I want to write, like an epic Korean ballad with Jung Jae Hyung. Cause I know it’s somewhere inside of me, even though the music that I play is pretty Americanized. I know somewhere deep down there, I know because that’s how I grew up in Korea when I was little so I want to write a really sad epic ballad with him. And I want to work with Ryan Adams. I like his arrangements.
What are your experiences in Korea compared to the US?
When I was in Korea this Spring, there are fans coming to my show, just out of nowhere, it was like, well it’s the first time to be in the US to play all these shows, and I had show that were just me, I didn’t have any other bands playing, just my show and people came and there were some people who kept coming to my show, every time I played and in America it’s harder to get shows, especially in New York, there are shows everywhere, every night and everyone’s busy so it’s hard and it’s a struggle.
But in Korea, I got such support, I felt really awesome and appreciated. So that’s one big difference as far as Korea goes.
How about personal experience?
I honestly struggle so much in between cultures, because I’m totally in between right now so I struggle so much like because I’m a Korean and I look like a Korean and I can speak Korean fluently, but then I grew up here so it’s a struggle to be like, people have expectations.
I try not to go crazy American on them, I try to act like a Korean. I don’t know, Korean food is awesome, food is awesome. I have family there so personally it feels like home. But it was also kind of odd to be back, go two months after a while, to live there and be like I felt a little bit like a foreigner, going to all the touristy spots because my friend was visiting. It made me really appreciate Korea, to see from a different angle. I don’t know, it’s a very broad question.
Well, you’re really the first artist that I can ask that question to.
Yeah, Korea and America. Yeah, they’re different places. They’re two different places.
What do you think of the popularity of Psy and Kpop in the US?
On my god.
You’ve probably seen the video at least once.
I’ve watched it so many times because my friends will be like, “Hey do you know Psy? Have you watched this video?” And I’m like, “Yes, do you love it?” And they’re like, “Yeah we love it.” And I’m like, “ok I’ll watch it again with you.”
I watched it again in San Francisco because my friend was like “You’re Korean, well have you…?” It’s awesome, I saw him on SNL the other day. I was like, I am really proud he sings in Korean, you know. And I know the reason he’s famous because of his obnoxious, really funny video but I think it kind of opened up so that people are curious about, oh ok, what is there in Korea? And maybe someday once people are really into Kpop music, maybe they’ll pay attention to indie music or singer-songwriter stuff, maybe it would open up a little bit, I don’t know. But I hope so.
Anything you want to say to fans?
Thank you for paying attention. I’m on Facebook and I post a lot of photos. I’m on Instagram and Twitter if you want to get a little more about me. And also pay attention to my new songs, I really like them and I think you will like them too.
Song credits: “Solid on the Ground” and “Are You Still Waiting (Korean version)”