Feel­ing up­beat

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music - By HONG DAM-YOUNG

HER husky yet warm voice used to dig deep into torn young hearts pin­ing for past loves.

Fully charged with over­pow­er­ing emo­tions, Korean singer­song­writer Ali (pic) crooned lines like, “If only I can re­move you with an eraser, I want to erase you a hun­dred times over” in her tear-shed­ding bal­lad hits.

How­ever, Ali’s per­sona has out­grown her down­beat past and the singer has de­vel­oped into a young woman in her early 30s un­afraid to ex­plore life.

She now wishes to un­leash her­self from the sad­ness that has kept her un­der pres­sure and live in a world full of laugh­ter, hon­est mis­takes and bright mu­sic.

“My world was all pitch­black at the time I sang bal­lad songs be­cause I al­ways had to dip my­self into that sad emo­tion.

“Maybe that was the rea­son why peo­ple could re­late to my songs. But as I grew older, I started to re­alise that I wanted my life to be filled with less sad­ness, and more joy,” Ali said.

The artiste re­called that the years 2013 and 2014 were a tip­ping point of her life, when both phys­i­cal and men­tal ill­ness dragged her down to rock bot­tom.

Ali said she started to turn melan­choly and mis­er­able since she fea­tured in I’m Not Laugh­ing for now-de­funct hiphop duo Leessang in 2005, be­fore she of­fi­cially de­buted in 2009.

At the time the artiste was only 22 years old, but she had to con­stantly think her­self as a ma­ture woman in her 30s and act out of char­ac­ter in or­der to de­liver the con­vo­luted feel­ings in the song.

“In 2013 I was so de­pressed that I was afraid of meet­ing peo­ple. I used to live with my par­ents, but at that time I left home and even tem­po­rar­ily stayed in a moun­tain area rarely fre­quented by peo­ple,” Ali said.

She felt as if a cloud of de­pres­sion sur­rounded her. Be­ing bound to such emo­tion made her a mas­ter of bal­lads, but it has also ce­mented the singer’s im­age as a poker-faced woman who sel­dom smiles.

“Along with the de­pres­sion came a se­vere prob­lem in my vo­cal cords in 2014. I was to­tally wrecked at that time that I even con­sid­ered giv­ing up on my mu­si­cal ca­reer.

“Af­ter that ex­pe­ri­ence, I’ve been try­ing to trans­form my­self into a happy per­son by singing happy songs and think­ing pos­i­tively. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life mis­er­able.”

Ali now prefers cheer­ful mu­sic to poignant tunes. Smil­ing was hard work be­fore, but now she can laugh with­out hold­ing back.

Although her pre­vi­ous non-bal­lad tracks didn’t re­ceive as much at­ten­tion as her bal­lad hits, she is op­ti­mistic the pub­lic will en­joy her up­beat vo­cals as well.

While the songstress has dropped sev­eral sin­gles and full al­bums since her first al­bum SOULri in 2011, she was mostly well-re­ceived for her im­pres­sive live per­for­mances on mu­sic com­pe­ti­tion show Immortal Song from 2014 to 2015, where she per­formed re­mas­tered ver­sions of old Korean clas­sics.

Af­ter all those years of con­nect­ing with the au­di­ence through her voice, Ali also said she now feels most con­fi­dent when per­form­ing live, which she de­fined as the pin­na­cle of her cre­ativ­ity and pro­duc­tion abil­ity.

“My head is al­ways over­flow­ing with ideas for my per­for­mances, such as blend­ing var­i­ous mu­sic gen­res into one song or spic­ing up old clas­sics with a mod­ern sound,” Ali said.

“If I put more ef­fort into mas­ter­ing my live per­for­mance, I may be able to present peo­ple with shows just as good as Bey­once’s,” she added.

In the in­ter­view, Ali also re­vealed plans to re­lease a new song this month, em­pha­sis­ing that it won’t be a sad bal­lad song any­more.

Photo: The Korea Her­ald/ANN

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