Alex Reid: K-Pop’s First Black Idol
As the first black idol debuted in Korea, Alex Reid made huge waves when she debuted with BP Rania in 2015. Since then she has returned to the U.S. to pursue a solo career. At KCON NY 2018, The Kraze was given the opportunity to sit down with the former idol to discuss her experiences in Korea and what it was like to be immersed in a different culture.
1. For our readers who are getting the chance to know you for the first time, can you please give a little introduction about yourself?
A: Sure. I’m Alex Reid, aka Fairy Godmother Reid aka Top Notch Money! I was the former leader and rapper in the group BP Rania. I’ve been a long time K-Pop fan and was just totally excited to have my chance to be in K-Pop, and now I’m kind of on my own journey where I’m putting out my own music that I’ve written and I’m kind of blending the genres between the [American] pop and K-Pop world.
2. What was your experience like being an idol and living in Korea?
A: Being an idol is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the best thing I’ve ever done. You know, looking back on that time, it makes me want to cry. It was so surreal; I was on stage with the people I look up to and living my dream and being able to say dreams really come true. So I was constantly taken aback by the magic of every moment and at the same time I was getting no sleep, [it was] hard to eat what I could eat because I don’t eat meat, and dealing with the struggles of living in a different country and trying to learn the language in a culture that has such different non-verbals than we do. So [for example] learning when to bow every single time you see someone, that’s something that was hard for me, I didn’t want to offend anyone so it was me living my dream and at the same time, trying to make everybody who is looking up to me proud. [Also] setting a good example and not being the foreigner who just dove in, [but] trying to mesh with the culture.
3. What were some challenges while training and promoting in Korea and what are your biggest takeaways from your experience?
A: My biggest challenge I would say was the language and culture barrier mixed together, because by the end of the time I was there I could really understand everything. There’s a lot of internal things that I won’t go into details on, but it was hard understanding what people meant when they said certain things. Like if I was taking it wrong or making sure they weren’t taking me wrong, that was really stressful because when you’re struggling to meet in the middle on something and you don’t speak the same language its very, very hard. So I would say that’s the biggest challenge.
4. How did you hear about K-Pop? What made you decide to pursue a career in the industry?
A: I heard K-Pop when I didn’t know YouTube was anything besides music. At that time I was listening to IVY, “Sonata of Temptation,” and that was to me was like Britney [Spears] gone darker and heavier choreo. I’m a huge Britney fan so for me it was like “Wait, another big production, larger than life visuals?” So I first fell in love with the visual of the old school like BoA, IVY, and later on T-ARA.
5. What do you miss most about Korea now that you’re back here in America?
A: I miss the overall experience of being an idol and promoting on those stages and really living that life that now, looking back, [I think] did I even really live that? It's so surreal so sometimes I just look back on that and miss it so much. But about Korea specifically, not the idol life, I miss the shopping. Not gonna lie, the midnight shopping in Dongdaemun, [When I was not promoting] I was there every night. I’m not joking. I would eat the buffet at the hotel, go to Dongdaemun and just shop and shop! All my clothes are from Korea, everywhere I go people are like “Wow where did you get that!” and I’m like “Korea, you can’t get it!”
6. To your fans, you are known as the Fairy Godmother; what advice would you give to fans and people in general who are trying to pursue a career in music?
A: There’s a small difference in pursuing K-Pop or music in America. But the thread that’s common between both of them is that you have to be prepared because you can’t control the moment coming to you. I didn’t control getting scouted, but what I did control was that every moment of my life was based around preparing. Every moment of my life I’m songwriting, dancing, singing, doing insanity workout [and] watching my nutrition. It’s all something that goes into being ready when the moment presents itself. So I was in a position where I can say I didn’t learn Korean because I didn’t see that moment coming, I didn’t think it was possible. Looking back, I would have prepared myself that way. So my advice, if someone is pursuing a career in K-Pop, along with the singing, dancing, [and] fitness, you have to learn the language.
7. As an artist who has had experience in the music industry, what are your opinions on K-Pop growing on such a big scale and making its way over to the Western market?
A: I’m so excited watching K-Pop grow like it has, and I’m so inspired watching the fandoms become bigger and bigger and bigger and cross with other fandoms of American acts. It’s so inspiring to know that individuals come together like that for something they’re passionate about. I think K-Pop is doing what American Pop isn’t doing in the way that it’s giving the fans something to be a fan of. It’s putting out an album that was planned out to a tee. It’s putting out visuals that were planned out to a tee. Do you know how hard idols work? Everybody knows how hard they work but I’m telling you, whatever you know, it is [even more than you can imagine]. I mean two hours of sleep a night for two months straight, that type of thing. So when you’re giving fans all of you like that, it makes sense why they want to be fanatics and show up. So for me, I like the influence that K-Pop can give American pop and say “look, if we go back to the Britney [Spears] days when we were put out albums that meant something, that were crafted, the music industry could be booming again.” I think K-Pop growing is going to be huge across the world in the future.
8. Which K-Pop groups have caught your eye as of recently?
A: Last night PENTAGON was ridiculous. I remember watching them when we [BP Rania] were promoting “Start a Fire” and I remember saying to one of my staff, I was like “they’re stars,” and they were like “they are?” [And I answered] “Yes, just watch.”
Thank you once again to Alex for taking the time to chat with us! Be sure to follow her on social media and check out her newest song release!