[INTERVIEW] AleXa: K-pop fan from Oklahoma now living dream as K-pop star

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[INTERVIEW] AleXa: K-pop fan from Oklahoma now living dream as K-pop star

K-pop star AleXa is set to release her new single, “Tattoo,” Jan. 6. Courtesy of ZB Label

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

By Dong Sun-hwa

Maybe Alexandra Christine Schneiderman was destined to be a K-pop star.

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Born to a Russian American father and Korean American mother, the young girl from a tiny village in Tulsa, Oklahoma, became enamored with K-pop in 2008, when she was 11. Back then, K-pop was not a hot commodity in the U.S., but Schneiderman immediately fell under its spell after coming across “Replay” (2008) ― a debut track by K-pop boy band SHINee ― by chance.

“I have always loved performing since I was young, so after being mesmerized by K-pop, I naturally began dreaming of becoming a K-pop singer,” Schneiderman, who is better known by her stage name AleXa, said in Korean during a recent interview with The Korea Times at a studio in Seoul’s Mapo District.

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“My parents expected me to be a doctor, so they did not approve of my career choice at first. But they gradually changed their mind as they saw a lot of people giving me support on my social media accounts, where I shared my K-pop dance covers… In fact, another reason that I decided to become a K-pop singer was to help my mom find her family who live in Korea. At the age of 5, she bid farewell to her brother at an orphanage in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, and was adopted by a family in the U.S.”

It took 11 years for AleXa to fulfil her dream. In 2019, she debuted with the digital single, “Bomb” and has since carved out a strong presence in the K-pop world with tracks such as “Do or Die” (2020) and “Revolution” (2020). The music video of her debut track, “Bomb” had exceeded 10 million views on YouTube as of Jan. 4.

[INTERVIEW] AleXa: K-pop fan from Oklahoma now living dream as K-pop star

AleXa debuted with the digital single, “Bomb” in 2019. Courtesy of ZB Label

But as she recalled, the road to her debut was quite bumpy. The first opportunity knocked on the door in 2016, when she was crowned the winner of K-pop community Soompi’s “Rising Legends” audition program. After winning the competition, AleXa had an interview and an audition to join a K-pop label as an idol trainee, but she failed to make it in the end.

Undeterred, the singer threw her hat in the ring again and won Soompi’s audition one more time in 2017. As a prize, she grabbed the opportunity to film a TV program titled, “Legendary: Making of a K-pop star,” as well as her own music video in Korea. This led her to have a fateful encounter with Zanybros, the iconic music video company that had worked with a legion of prominent K-pop acts such as BTS and EXO.

“After watching my music video, Zanybros’ CEO Kim Jun-hong, who saw potential in me, got hold of me to ask if I wanted to join his new talent agency ZB Label and become its first idol trainee,” AleXa said. “I accepted his offer without hesitation and immediately headed for Korea to kick off my training. I was very lonely in the beginning as I felt like I had no one to rely on, but the ZB Label officials took good care of me and now I feel all good. CEO Kim, in particular, is a father figure for me.”

AleXa seemed truly joyful when talking about her life in Seoul. Donning a pink plaid outfit set, the singer kept giving off a positive vibe during the interview.

After joining ZB Label, AleXa soon appeared on Mnet’s popular audition program, “Produce 48” (2018) and made her name known to the public. Although she did not rank high on the show, she still honed her performance skills through the program and used the opportunity to gear up for her solo debut.

“I think Zanybros’ creative power has taken my music to the next level,” AleXa said. “As you can see, the scale of my music videos is so large that they remind people of blockbusters.”

[INTERVIEW] AleXa: K-pop fan from Oklahoma now living dream as K-pop star

AleXa / Courtesy of ZB Label

Another remarkable feat by Zanybros is that it crafted a fictional universe for AleXa, where she is an avatar in the multiverse, a collection of different virtual universes. The avatar of AleXa cannot feel human emotions, but in her upcoming single “Tattoo” ― a dreamy and emotional English-language song dropped Jan. 6 ― she discovers a way to connect herself with human beings.

“AleXa is an emotionless avatar, but this time, she happens to find a stopgap solution to feel human emotions,” she explained. “So she falls in love with a man, but soon breaks up and returns to her original status. But even after losing her emotions, AleXa cannot completely get rid of them, as if these feelings are still engraved in her mind like tattoos.”

She then moved on to explain why she decided to release her track in English.

“K-pop is going global these days and many other artists like BTS and Rose of BLACKPINK have already rolled out songs in English,” she said. “So I also wanted to give it a shot. And I was very fond of the original English lyrics.”

“Tattoo” is a testament to AleXa’s chameleon-like versatility, as it sheds light on her voice, which has grabbed relatively less attention than her dancing. Since her debut, AleXa has mostly been bringing her wildness and powerfulness to the forefront with her surreal body movements, but her latest release is a fascinating change, highlighting her voice and the ability to epitomize her emotions in a song.

“Everyone will find it easy to get into the groove of this song,” she said. “I always crave to pull off different genres and showcase something new to people… I actually thought it would be great if I could form a project group with other singers like soloist Chungha and Wheein of K-pop act MAMAMOO.”

She added, “I want to walk in the footsteps of singer HyunA and SHINee’s Taemin, who know how to command the stage.”

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