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by Malvika Padin

With a soft-spoken voice and a shy demeanour, L.A.-based singer KATIE’s ultimate goal as an artist is to "find myself and find my happiness" through her music.

South Korean-American artist Katie Kim, known simply as KATIE, won K-pop Star 4 in 2015, signed to YG Entertainment, made a name for herself with her debut EP by moving away from K-pop, and now she moves forward—working relentlessly towards her dream future. 

Following up her debut EP Log in 2019, where she left behind her K-pop origins to carve a path of her own through jazz and old-school R&B, the rising star is building up to a big 2020.

“Though the release date is up in the air, my latest single is an easy love song that connects with everyone,” KATIE tells tmrw about what’s ahead. “With my music to be released later in the year, however, I’m hoping to express more of my feelings and go deeper.”

Now given the gift of creative freedom, KATIE says she is fully committed to pursuing her dream R&B sound. She says, “It’s too early for me to say I’ve evolved, but I’m hoping to develop a newer sound soon. I’ve been trying to pursue a R&B sound, and I’d love to go deeper into that because it’s what I love most.”

Delving a bit into her current sonic placement, she says, “The songs I’ve put out so far after Log, I’ve been working with the producers whom I really vibe with. I have made a lot of songs that I’d love to put out those songs at some point in the future. Sonically, because I’ve been working with the same producers, my old music and new sound similar. But the upcoming single I’ve worked with a different producer, so it’s likely to sound pretty different.”

Lyrically, she explains, that while she hopes to draw from her own stories and emotions someday, she is still working towards that goal. “For now I take inspiration from outside as I feel I am still limited in my life experiences,” she says. “So instead I think, What if this or that happens to me?, and use that in my music. “

However, it’s neither her soundscape or her lyrics that she is focusing on. Her main focus is building her audience. “I want listeners to focus and like my voice,” she says. “I’d love for people to not only find the stories I tell interesting but more importantly be able to understand and pay attention to the feelings I’m trying to convey through my voice.”

It’s possibly for this reason that KATIE enjoys the aspect of live performances so much. She discloses the best part about music for her is singing for people on stage. “I really love being vulnerable and open in that way, it excites me though it does make me nervous. It makes me feel alive,” she adds.

The 26-year-old is refreshingly honest when speaking about the frustrations of her job. Asked what she thinks of as the most memorable moment of her career so far, she nods toward learning to accept what she can’t control. “To do what I want to do, I have to compromise and do things I don’t want to do,” she says.

Similarly, her future goals are simple and humble. She admits that while releasing music that tops charts is great, her real ambition lies in something far more personal. She says, “In the past, used to write so many things I wanted to achieve but as I grew older I realised that’s not what I want. I want to be happy making music and learn who I am through my music. Just working towards being better as an artist and person.”

Candid, endearing and bravely forging her own path, KATIE is a force to be reckoned with. Her melodious yet quiet voice does not bely the independence and strength that clearly shines through.

Full credits:

Photo/CP: Undine Markus

Styling: Amanda Mariko

HMUA: Peter Phung

Assistant: Quincy Q

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