Background music ‘Fiction’ (픽션), from Lee An’s 1st album The Birth
Now, get to know Lee An in this EXCLUSIVE K-popped! Interview…
Stage name: Lee An
Real name: Lee An
Date of birth: 27th Apr 1980
Blood type: A
Hobbies: Car racing, Scuba-diving
Family: Grand mother, Father, Mother, Sister and Me
Education: Parkland College, USA
You are currently based in Singapore. Why did you choose to be based there and what do you like most about Singapore?
I had a chance to visit Singapore for a performance for a Korean community event back in 2006. At that time, I was also planning to explore my career as a musician especially in countries outside of my homeland.
While I was in Singapore, I fell in love with the place. I like Singapore for its cleanliness and most of all, friendly people. I also think Singapore is a ‘food paradise’. Apart from that, I think Singapore is one of the most centralised hub that connects to other South East Asian countries. These are the reasons I chose Singapore as my home base.
Where is your hometown and what do you miss most about it?
My hometown is Seoul. What I miss most is my grandmother’s cooking. She always cooks for me when I stay at home, especially when I’m sick. I really miss her cooking.
Tell us about your music – who/ what inspires you and how would you categorise your music?
I like all kinds of music, but I especially like rock. I hope to experiment with other music styles for my next album.
I sang for a rock band back in high school. At that time, I loved to sing Bon Jovi and Metallica songs. Their music gave me the inspiration to start a career in music.
Why didn’t you start your singing career in South Korea?
I did have a singing career in Korea but I was (more) into composing songs for other singers as I was also a music producer then.
I was really interested in anything related to music. After my first visit to Singapore, a local music company suggested that I start my singing career here in Singapore. After some consideration, I decided to do just that.
No other Korean singers have been based around this region thus I decided to take up the new challenge. My wish is that by being here, I can also adapt local sounds and not just (rely) on Korean pop music.
On the scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “having the most potential”, what do you think is the potential for Kpop music in South East Asia, especially Singapore and Malaysia?
I think the potential for Kpop music in South East Asia is a “7 ”. After a couple of years trying to introduce my music here, I realised that each country’s music has its uniqueness. (There are) different songs, and different styles of singing, so it’s impossible to say which is good or not good enough.
Kpop has a good advantage because of the Hallyu, which is made popular by K-dramas and movies. So it’s not only Kpop music itself that is special, as it also receives support from the other forms of entertainment.
As a Korean singer, I would like to say thank you to South East Asian people who loves the Korean culture.
But it does not mean I just use the K wave as an advantage, I hope I can exchange more music experiences with regional musicians. And from there, I hope to create more music which is unique and special, for the people who loves music.
You’ve been actively promoting your music – mostly in Singapore – for the past two years. And now, you have plans to break into other South East Asian countries. Tell us, what do you have in store for us over the next two years?
Yes, my actual promotional activities were mostly focused (on Singapore) in the past year. Before that, I still needed to set up many things as a foreign artiste in a foreign land. I wished I had visited other South East Asian countries earlier, but I did not have the chance until December 2008.
I finally started promotion work in Indonesia in January 2008. At the same time, I had the chance to introduce my music to Taiwan and Hong Kong too. Also, since last year, I have started to work closely with many Korean government agencies in promoting Korea tourism to SEA countries.
I’m very happy to be someone who is able to be a cultural bridge between countries. For the next two years, I will work hard on my music career in the area of Korea-SEA music exchange, introduce Korea to SEA, and also to introduce SEA to Korea.
You were a music producer for 6 years before launching your singing career and during that time, you’ve worked with many artists on their album. Among those you’ve worked with, who would you like to collaborate with as a singer?
My all time idol is Korean singer Lee Seung Chul (이승철), I think he is a great musician who possesses a good voice, which is really suitable for ballads.
I had the chance to work with him on one album project in the past and even a short appearance in his MV. Listening to him has a calming effect (on me) and the lyrics to his songs are very touching, they sometimes bring tears to my eye.
If I have the chance, Lee Seung Chul will be the one whom I wish to be able to collaborate with in singing.
You’re learning Mandarin and have even used the language in some of your songs. Tell us a funny incident while learning Mandarin.
Yes, I practised Mandarin very hard for my EP album, Us. When I produced it in Korea, I used backup singers for the chorus. However, they have never sung in Mandarin before. They had only 30 minutes to practise the exact pronunciation, so it was really too short a time for them!
In the end, I had to record the chorus myself with multiple recordings. After that, I arranged all the voice into one.
Another challenge was the ‘r’ sound. It is a bit difficult for Koreans to pronounce it. So if you listen carefully, you will notice ‘li zi’ in my lyrics. It is supposed to be ‘ri zi’, but even though I knew it, I just couldn’t pronounce it during the recording. (It’s OK Lee An, we still love ya for trying 😉 – Liz)
As for learning Mandarin, I used to tell the media about ‘la bi xiao xin’ animation ‘lao shi’. I learned many basic expressions from the comic character. However, most Mandarin phrases I know were learnt from friends & fans.
One particular phrase which I have learned from a friend was ‘000 jiu shi 000”, so when someone asks me a question that I could not answer due to my limited Mandarin, I will respond in this fashion: “Ni yao qu ma?” (Do you wanna go?), “wo bu yao” (No, I don’t.), “wei shen me?” (Why?), “bu yao jiu shi bu yao” (If I say no, means no).
So now others have labelled this as ‘Lee An’s’ style of conversation! (Laughs) Yes, but I know I should stop using this phrase, otherwise my Mandarin will not improve.
Will you be eating jajangmyeon come April 14? (That is us asking if you’re still single and available? ;-))
Yes, I will be eating jajangmyeon come April 14. It tells people I’m still single, yes. Actually I have already eaten jajangmyeon for pre Black Day celebration with my friends. You can see it in the Video clip! 😉
Please describe your ideal girl and what you would do to show her how special she is?
My ideal girl is someone who is ‘cute’ and ‘feminine’. Most important thing is I need to have a special feeling that I can connect with the ‘girl’. Without this inner feeling the relationship would be meaningless.
When will you be coming to Malaysia?
I hope to be there around July or August with my new album promotion. I hope to meet more people, and to share my music and hope they will like it.
Also, I would love to meet K-Popped! (Sure thing, Lee An…it’s a date. Call us :-).)
Readers…leave Lee An a Black Day message..
K-Popped.com 에서 만나요. 안녕…
Special thanks to Alice of Boom Korea for making this happen.
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Korean singer Lee An is based in Singapore