Talking Music and K-Pop with Megan Lee
From idol to independent artist, singer, songwriter, and actress, Megan Lee has got it all. We got the chance to catch up with her during KCON LA 2018 and talk to her about her experiences in the music industry. Check out our exclusive interview down below!
Q: For our readers who are getting to know you for the first time, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: I’m a singer-songwriter and actress. I started acting since I was around 10 years old and I kind of got my start in music, well I always had passion for music, but I started posting YouTube videos when I was 13. I was very fortunate to build up an audience through that. A few people might know me through some of my music in Korea. I also was a lead actress on a show called “Make It Pop” on Nickelodeon.
Q: Who and what are your inspirations for getting into music?
A: Really, honestly it’s just my family and friends. Music is like a universal language, and that’s so cliché to say, but it really just helps me cope with any kind of emotions I have, whether it’s happiness, sadness, or if I’m going through something hard in my life, music is always there for me. I think a lot of people can definitely relate to that. I grew up in church, and music is such a big part in church so definitely I think that played a really big role in my life. My mom played piano, my dad is a rockstar in karaoke. Just growing up around music all over.
Q: What is your creative process when it comes to making music? Are there any challenges you face? How do you overcome those?
A: It’s been really interesting for me these past few years, I’ve been tapping into songwriting for other artists as well and experimenting with lots of different genres and telling different kinds of stories as well. I think the biggest challenge that I face mainly is when I’m writing a lot at once and I go through writer’s block. I usually hit a writer’s block with lyrics mostly. Sometimes I don’t know what are the right words to say. Usually if that happens, I just take a break, go outside and take a walk, or watch a movie, something to spark another inspiration and then just get back into it.
Q: In terms of favorite genre that you like to create, what is your go-to that you always enjoy writing the most?
A: It’s always Pop. I’m a very Pop person. I grew up listening to Pop and that made me who I am. I think Pop is a very broad genre, there’s a lot of hybrid genres within Pop. But nowadays I’ve been very into Pop EDM, music that anyone can relate and listen to.
Q: This is not your first KCON—what are your thoughts on how huge KCON has become?
A: Honestly, not only as a Korean-American, but as an Asian-American in general, seeing a cool culture like this be so positive and have such a positive influence on everyone. Everyone from all over the world, from all over the States, just come together to this one convention with all the same interests. Whether it’s K-Beauty, or K-Pop, or dancing in general, anything—I think that’s really, really cool and inspiring to see, and to see it grow over so many years, I feel really proud.
Q: What was your experience like being an idol and living in Korea?
A: It was a very good experience, that’s definitely something I can say. There have been struggles, and whatever that is on the internet is not entirely true, but from what I can say for my own part without going too much into the details is that, for me, I moved to Korea at 15 years old just to pursue music. The reason why I went to Korea is because at that time, I was an actress since I was 10 years old, and I realized the social issues of not really finding a place in the entertainment industry as a colored woman. I realized that, and I noticed the discrimination. I’ve been to so many callbacks and the final stages of getting casted for a show or a movie and realized that I don’t get it because I lose the role to a typical blonde-haired blue-eyed Caucasian [actress]. I realized “Oh, I don’t really know much about my roots.” And I felt like no matter how American I say that I am and how American I feel, my face will always be Korean. I will always look Asian and ethnic to people. I realized maybe I wanted to try going to Korea and seeing what was out there for me. And so I went there, and I got signed to a label, and honestly, it was life-changing going to a new country. I didn’t know the language at all, so just finding that cultural barrier, that language barrier, and surpassing that and learning how to overcome that. But also dealing with being a teenager, it was very challenging but at the same time very eye-opening. I learned so much about myself and myself as an artist. All those long training hours honestly were worth it, no matter how it ended up in the end. I’m actually going to Korea this summer. It’s my first time after I left four years ago, so I’m really excited.
Q: What do you miss about Korea now that you’re back here in America?
A: It’s been four years since I left Korea, I miss the food, and I love how hipster Korea is, in Seoul. For those who haven’t been to Seoul, it’s so crazy and so busy and amazing. I feel like a lot of Asian cities are very futuristic, like top-of-the-line technology. It feels like they’re 20 years ahead than here in the States. It’s always like a cool, new experience, everything just feels new. I miss having to walk around everywhere and everything being so close.
Q: Which K-Pop groups have caught your eye recently? And what is a song that you can’t get out of your head?
A: I love TWICE. I really love “What is Love?” I also love “Dance the Night Away,” their new song. I love Red Velvet. “Red Flavor” is something that’s really catchy. All of their songs are really great, even their newest songs, but “Red Flavor” is actually my number one favorite song! It’s so poppy and cute.
Q: As an artist who as experienced the music industry in K-Pop and outside of it, what are your opinions on K-Pop growing on such a big scale, making its way over into the Western market? Do you think there are other groups who can do it like how BTS has done it?
A: It’s crazy to see how much K-Pop has grown over the past decade. I always feel like, whether solo or group, it’s always a goal for them to branch over to the States. I think that’s everyone’s goal from anywhere around the world. Everyone wants to come to L.A. in the end. But I feel like starting in the past three years, it’s actually happened successfully. Seeing BTS perform at the [AMAs] and the Billboard Music Awards, that’s unthinkable. It’s different from when PSY was a huge phenomenon, because it was almost kind of seen as a joke too in a way. Of course, I have huge respect for him, but there are some people who think K-Pop is just that. [In Korea] he’s a very well-respected artist. To see people seeing K-Pop and Korean culture as this whole phenomenon is really interesting. That makes me feel more hopeful about the entertainment industry in America in general, for people to become more open to other cultures. Like “Oh I didn’t know Korean culture and music are this cool, I’m going to try listening to C-Pop, I’m going to listen to J-Pop” and branch out to Bollywood and to other different cultures as well. So I think it’s a start.
Q: For aspiring musicians, what is some advice that you can give to them for pursuing a career in this field?
A: It’s so cliché, but believe in yourself. Don’t give up. Whatever industry it is, but especially in entertainment, it’s a tough world. I think the most important thing is just to have that solid gut. There’s going to be a lot of negativity, a lot of crazy people that will come into your life, but if you keep solid people around you, stay grounded, and just believe in yourself, then you’ll make it through. That’s still what I’m trying to do.
Q: Are there any updates, information, or future plans that you’d like to tell our readers or your fans?
A: I wrote a song for EXO’s Baekhyun. It’s called “Psycho,” and he’s already been performing it for their tour. It’s really exciting, hopefully they can have the digital release very soon. I’ve been doing a lot of writing for K-Pop artists, so hopefully there will be more placements coming up soon. There’s some almost there but I can’t talk about those yet. I’m also working on my next single and a new album as well, so look forward to that!
On behalf of The Kraze, we thank Megan Lee for taking the time to have this interview with us! Keep up with Megan Lee on social media!