Although her start was modeling, LiVii has always had a passion for music. Known for her hip-hop and r&b cover songs, she finally made her debut in 2014 with the single Beepx3. In this interview, we learn about LiVii’s creative process, from shaping the “Rich Bitch” image to filming her music videos. She also introduces us to the fellow artists that have helped her along the way.
Translation by Ling
Art by Sam Cello & Gissella Ramirez-Valle
To kick things off, please tell us, who are you?
LiVii: Hello. I’m a singer-songwriter going by the name of LiVii.
I stumbled upon your profile on Facebook a few years ago when you used to model for an online shop. You used to post video clips of you performing cover songs. I’m wondering when exactly did you start singing? Have you received vocal training?
Livii: Many people remember me as a model for Rowky. I was a model for 4 years, from 17 through 20 years old. But even before that, music was akin to my life. This may seem like I’m exaggerating, but simply put, apart from makeup and singing, I was a child who had little interest in anything else, and had hardly any friends. It wasn’t that I made music since young – but from the age of 3, singing and dancing along to idols shown on television was a routine I enjoyed. I was just a young girl who wanted to sing and dance for people to see. At that point, I thought that being a singer was easy. After dabbing in this and that, I’ve come to make music. Although I have done everything on my own, for one month there was a teacher who trained me to be a lot stronger mentally. I didn’t just debut suddenly, without preparing in advance.
How did you choose the name LiVii?
Livii: Originally, for a very short while, I went by the name of RiBii. I wanted to be really rich so the name was made as an abbreviation of Rich Bitch. The person who created my logo made it into ‘LiVii’ by mistake and when I wrote it more, it seemed pretty, so it stuck.
Do you consider your music to be experimental?
Livii: To be honest, I don’t think of myself as a person doing things that are very experimental or extraordinary. I just want to make the music that I like and hope that people will like it too. My music is a mixture of a retro and trendy sense built on a foundation of hip-hop and RnB.
How long did it take to create “C’mon” and “Watch and Learn” from beginning to end? How do you write lyrics? Is it spontaneous and quick or does it take a while to edit your thoughts?
Livii: My first single “Beepx3” was started with no foundation. After the track was made, it didn’t take long before the melody was composed and the recording mix mastered. Fellow artist Kye Bum Ju helped out a lot so even though it was my first single, things went relatively smoothly.
For “C’mon”, it took a little longer as the process included filming of the music video. The melody and lyrics were almost finalized within a few days of composing but the recording was edited many times, such that producing it was a bit tougher. As hard as the process was, though, it was a fun time.
Because it was my first time filming a music video it was a bit difficult, but as the director was very kind, the filming was very enjoyable. The focal point of the video is the style of clothes, which corresponds to my personal style in real life.
I wrote the lyrics for “Watch & Learn” within 10 minutes of listening to the instrumental track. Initially, it was a song made for live performances but as the response received during live performances was good, the song was released as a single. The “Watch & Learn” video was filmed during my birthday party using a small handycam, as we played around.
Who are your icons?
LiVii: My idol is Sailor Moon. Back in the day, everyone said they wanted to become Sailor Moon. Before dying, I want to try becoming that type of person too. Flawless and pretty, plus strong on top of that.
We don’t know what LiVii’s image is like. What is it like?
LiVii: I don’t remember creating a specific image but say, if 80% is A, then the 20% is definitely B, which I possess. The people who want to possess A may say that B is a lie.
You have a really distinct aesthetic in your videos and on Instagram, how did you develop it?
LiVii: Be it the video, album cover or the rest of the aspects, I tried my best to include the things that I like. Even while being very sexual, there’s a childlike side to me and I still like certain things that I liked as a child. It’s hard to define my style because there are so many things I like. I like both PG and 19+ films at the same time.
Do you feel you fit in with mainstream society?
LiVii: I think I’m non-mainstream trying to become mainstream. Compared to my own views, the perception of other people would be more accurate with regards to music and such, but I want to make music that will resonate with the masses. If I don’t become famous, no matter how hard I try to make popular music, wouldn’t that be non-mainstream?
Are you part of a crew or bigger arts movement? Could you introduce us to some of the talent around you?
LiVii: Though I’m not really affiliated with any well-known crew, I have friends whom I always compose with, namely an art director who goes by the name of CoolKid and a producer known as Pein. The two of them began composing with me since the “Watch & Learn” era.
What’s a typical day for LiVii?
LiVii: In the free time that I have, when I’m not composing, I earn and save money and plan for trips that I actually go on. The country that I usually visit is Japan. Also, I drink with my best friends at home or around the neighborhood, or chat and watch movies, visit a noraebang and so on. Ever since elementary school, I’d call my friends over to play. I lead a very ordinary life.
Do you like K-pop? If you do, who are you a fan of?
LiVii: Red Velvet and f(x) because they are so beautiful.
What should we expect more from you in the future? It seems that you will release an album soon, will it be in English? Will you experiment with genres outside of RnB? Please tell us a little bit about it!
LiVii: Before I grow even older I plan to enjoy composing many different pieces. I hope to become a cool person who has no regrets for what has happened in the past. The upcoming single is all in English! However, I plan to keep composing in Korean and Japanese as well! It’s a soothing hip-hop/RnB number with a head-bobbing rhythm. Please anticipate! Bye! Thank you!