Interview by Claire Liu - Illinois, USA
PC: @tyelltakes on Instagram
MUA: Trinity Kenney (@ttrifectabeautyllc)
Self doubt is never easy. Add onto that the pressures of a cookie-cutter society and the challenge builds. Rather than succumbing to these struggles, LA-based singer-songwriter Hyejin has responded and used these emotions in her music.
"Music has always been a part of my life," Hyejin said. She began her journey in music at a young age, singing in her church's choir and taking a strong interest in musical theatre. Still, the decision to pursue music as her career was not easy. Hyejin first began taking music seriously as a member of a nationally ranked choir in middle school: "After that, I knew that what I wanted to do for the rest of my life was singing," Hyejin said. Once meeting her manager and making greater connections in the entertainment industry, she decided to take a shot in the arts.
After positive response to a hook she wrote for her upcoming song, "Cocoa Latte," she dedicated herself to song-writing and recording. "When the final product came out... I knew that 'wow, this is it,'" Hyejin said.
At the start of the pandemic, like many around the world, Hyejin was struggling with her own self-doubt while quarantining. Nevertheless, Hyejin has accomplished many achievements despite the difficult circumstances this year has presented, "I had a lot of doubts... I was having so many conflicting feelings... I was able to vent all of those thoughts by writing 'Cloudy Thoughts'," Hyejin said. The release of her first official single, "Cloudy Thoughts," was accompanied by a performance for the Virtual Lunar New Year Festival with the Joy Ruckus Club and contribution to an official sound for Snapchat this year.
Hyejin credits much of her success to her release of "Cloudy Thoughts" which currently has over 2,000 views on Youtube. After releasing the single, she gained confidence and trust in herself to continue her journey in music, "stop making excuses, just do it. You have nothing to lose," Hyejin said.
She hopes that through her music, specifically with "Cloudy Thoughts", listeners will feel comfort and be encouraged in the face of rushed expectations from society today. "Everybody goes through these thoughts... we're all human. I hope they can feel that 'I am not alone' with these doubts," Hyejin said.
Hyejin describes her music as "Lo-fi" but eclectic. She finds inspiration in artists all around her. From musical theatre to K-pop to Linkin Park, she makes an effort to listen and learn from a wide variety of genres. Still, she credits two artists as major role models for herself: BIBI, an artist in South Korea, and Zico, former leader of the group Block B and current solo artist.
From her experience with music as a child, Hyejin was already well versed with the intersectional discrimination and challenges she faced. "When I was in middle school... I was made fun of for the way I looked, the way I dressed, racist jokes... I got less opportunities because I was Asian," Hyejin recalled. Especially after being cast as a stereotypical, racialized Asian villain in a school musical, she was extremely aware of the lack of roles and representation for Asian artists in the entertainment industry.
"The thing that helped me not feel ashamed was when I started listening to K-pop," Hyejin said. Listening to popular groups such as Wonder Girls and EXO helped her change her mindset and gain pride in her identity. This is still present in her music today, as she uses both Korean and English in her lyrics. Despite being scouted by a K-pop company, she turned down the opportunity to focus on her own music, mental health, and create her own path as an Asian-American artist.
She hopes that from her experience, other independent artists will also continue their path into their passions, "go 200% with your effort... because having talent is not instilled in everybody. You should take the chance no matter what," Hyejin said. She recalls the criticisms and obstacles others pushed when she began her career as a singer and encourages other starting artists to ignore such remarks. "They don't know you like you know yourself," Hyejin said, "Work hard. Work really, really hard."
In the future, Hyejin is looking forward to creating new music and working on collabs. In addition to releasing "Cocoa Latte," she currently has a collab in work with singer Miranda Black and is also writing songs for other artists. She hopes to grow her skills in music-production and dance and perform live once it is safe to do so. While she frequently connects with her fans virtually through Twitch, a game-playing dominated live streaming service, she is excited to begin performing her music in-person. When the opportunity opens, we can't wait to see the music she continues to create.
This or That with Hyejin:
1. Books or movies? - Movies (anime specifically!)
2. Winter or summer? - Winter
3. Singing or dancing? - Singing
4. Cake or pie? - Both (depends on the flavor)
5. Chocolate or vanilla? - Vanilla
You can connect and follow Hyejin at the following links!
Cloudy Thoughts (Official MV, turn on CC for English lyric translation): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz8QB1ZH5sE
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/hyejin/1549779626