The K-Pop Community Highlight is back and starting off the year, we are highlighting Cy! Cy is a writer for quite a few publications in the Hallyu community. This U.S.-based writer loves K-Pop and writing about the K-Pop scene. Cy has a background in writing and, since getting into Hallyu in 2012, recently started proactively writing. The Kraze had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and interview her, and here is her take as to what it is like to be a writer, especially directed towards K-Pop!
Q1: How did you find out about K-Pop?
Cy: I was talking to a friend of mine while I was doing some freelance work and she recommended that I check out this guy and it turned out to be Xia Junsu from JYJ/DBSK/TVXQ. That was my unofficial introduction into K-Pop. So she broke down who they were and that was basically the start of my descent into the deep, dark void of K-Pop.
Q2: What made you decide to start writing about the Hallyu Wave?
A: It sort of was like a natural progression for me. Writing and music, in terms of how important they are to me, writing came second to me after music and [they] sort of gelled into each other. I couldn’t not write about it and so when I was going through my whole journey finding out about TVXQ, once I get into something, I’m completely obsessed and within two weeks I know everything about it. It was a natural progression of me documenting myself being invested in this type of music, then branching into the different types of sub-genres of Korean music.
Q3: What are the challenges you face as a writer and specifically writing about the Hallyu Wave?
A: If we are going to get to the business of it, it’s still a niche market, especially having any prominence in the United States. Nobody is getting paid for it. It’s not something that if you’re getting into it, it is purely a pursuitive passion. It sounds superficial but you have to be able to put aside this desire to make money off of something like this. Very few writers get paid for things anyway. So if you focus it as something so particular as K-Pop and Korean music in general, especially if you’re based out of the United States, you’re unfortunately not going to make a living off of it. In terms of the actual exposure of it, once you get invested into a community you know all the places where you can write about it, you know all the people who spend time with it, so it doesn’t seem like it’s impossible to get your writings and opinion out there but it is a very small community at this point. In terms of people who are seriously writing and reacting about it, we are a very small community, so you are sort isolated from the music population at large that doesn’t actually have a focus on the things that you are interested in. I think that is a few of the challenges but it is still a very real challenge for someone who writes because you’re not a reactor or cover artist, which has somewhat instant gratification because people can see you. Reading on the other hand, nobody sees you or sees what you are doing so it’s not like the views that you are getting if you are on YouTube. There is the adverse effect of not actually feeling like what you say or do is of any real consequence because it seems like nobody is paying attention. From that standpoint it seems difficult but you have to love what you write and you have to love what you are writing about and keep doing it.
Q4: As a Hallyu writer, what has been your favorite piece that you’ve written?
A: All the interviews that I’ve done, I’ve really loved. Getting to actually sit down and talk to the artist that you’re listening to is always a blessing and privilege and it’s amazing.
Q5: Are there any memorable moments for your as a Hallyu writer? (Interviews, attending events?)
A: Well there are two that I can remember, one was my very first interview with a Korean artist, Jambinai, which is a traditional-rock infusion band. It was my very first one and I was so nervous but they were so sweet and that sort of kicked it off for loving interviewing. The second one would be at South by Southwest (SXSW) last year because MFBTY came and I never thought in my wildest imagination thought that I would be able to see Tasha (Yoon Mirae) and I melted into the floor. It was fantastic!
Q6: Any advice for those who want to start writing, specifically those who want to write for Hallyu?
A: As cheesy as this sounds, I say just do it. It is a scary prospect when you don’t know what you are getting yourself into but ultimately, especially if you love to write, then you just need to start writing. Literally, a.) you must have a passion for it (you must love what you are writing about) and b.) you just have to have courage to go ahead and just start writing, even if nobody reads your stuff within the first year or two. It doesn’t matter. If you love it, you just have to do it! Particularly about getting involved in the Hallyu wave, just look around for people who are writing about it and publications who focus on Hallyu and pick something that you adore. If it’s about the shows, then write about the shows. If you write about the music, then write about the music. Passion is the number one thing that you need and courage would be the other.
Q7: If you had the chance to interview a K-Pop group and solo artist, which group would it be and why?
A: The one person I absolutely want to interview is Crush. I really want to sit down and talk to him. His mind for music is frightening (in a good way). It’s the longest of the shots but I absolutely want to interview TVXQ/JYJ. It has to be in a situation where they are going to come together, even for like one year to promote a reunion-type thing. If and when it does happen I have to be in the room when interviews are going down!
Q8: Which K-Pop group or soloist has caught your attention lately?
A: DPR Live shocked me with his debut. I was not expecting a sound like that, especially for a first-time album. In terms of group, one that seems interesting is LOONA. I love their concept! Their videos play a lot on the visual aid aesthetics. They use a lot of shapes and very interesting camera angles. Their choreography is okay and their dancing can get better but they are a rookie group and I just love the energy that they are putting into making things creative and interesting. I love the whole execution of how LOONA is debuting and it’s really fascinating to me.
Q9: Which K-Pop group do you think is going to be a big group to pay attention to this 2018?
A: There are two that I’m thinking of and I may or may not be completely off base because I haven’t paid attention to tons and tons of groups but KARD is the first group I’m thinking of. Mainly because their whole idea with debuting was to market specifically to a western audience (in my opinion). Just with the style of music that they are trying to do, with the type of touring that they did prior to their actual debut and you have a recipe for people getting interested with who they are as a group. The other group is NCT 127, with their latest release, “Cherry Bomb” and I just think with the power of that and how visually dynamic they are. I think they go in with a lot of power musically that I don’t think SM Entertainment has utilized as much as they have with this group. In terms of really grimy, gritty, and heavy music, I feel like NCT 127 could make a really big impression this year.
Q10: Any last words you’d like to tell our readers about you or any upcoming projects to look forward to?
A: I recently collaborated for retrospective of K-Pop for MACG Magazine and MACG Productions, which is a dynamic piece of reading just from the perspective of people within the Hallyu Wave in one shape or another, which is titled “From PSY to Worldwide.” I don’t have anything huge that I know of, I just write all the time. I also write for Rock N Seoul, Seoulbeats, HipHopKr, and Is This How You K-Pop; I’m just all over the place. Also please check out my “Top 100 Albums of 2017” which comprises all the types of albums that I listened to last year, which includes quite a few K-Pop albums as well!
A very special thank you to Cy for letting The Kraze have the opportunity to cover her as the January Community Highlight! Make sure to follow Cy on all her social media and check out her other work!