Singer Seori on making K-pop with TXT, manifestation and how Avril Lavigne inspired her to pursue music

US-based Asian media collective 88rising, Tomorrow X Together, manifesting her success

The transition from YouTuber to music industry darling is not an easy one, but South Korean singer Seori has successfully done it.

The 24-year-old (born Baek So-hyun) released her first album, ?depacse ohw, in May 2020, and she has been going from strength to strength ever since.

“I consider my voice to be laid-back, smooth and dreamy. I think all these things combined are what really defines my sound,” says Seori, attempting to put her appeal into words.

The theme of night time runs through many of Seori’s songs, such as Running Through the Night and Lovers in the Night. They are atmospheric and impactful – built to both evoke intense feelings and be danced to.

“I think night suits various stories – ones that are happy, ones that are glamorous, ones that are lonely. I think it can carry all of those different styles and stories. I often record my thoughts at night and write them in my journals. I think that also inspires them.” She records her melodies as voice notes, humming a song out before bringing it into the studio.

June 2021 was a big month for the whimsical alt-R&B, alt-pop singer-songwriter, who released Long Night with prominent Korean rapper-producer Giriboy. “I want people to relate to a song about lovers who face loneliness after they part ways at the end of the day,” she says of the song, released by her Korean label Atispaus and US-based Asian media collective 88rising.

US-based Asian media collective 88rising, Tomorrow X Together, manifesting her success

Seori admits to being a bit surprised by her success. Photo: Facebook

Long Night dropped a few weeks after she featured on the latest single from Tomorrow X Together (TXT), 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You). A remix of the K-pop group’s song, featuring Korean hip-hop artists pH-1 and Woodie Gochild, followed in June.

“I liked and wanted to make some alt-rock music, and I was able to work with TXT on a song [of] that style after the band reached out to me,” she reveals. “I already liked them and enjoyed their performances, but I was worried whether my voice would suit their music. When I heard the song, I liked the feel of it and tried my best.”

Her dream collaborator is Avril Lavigne, who she has been a fan of since she was 11 years old. Seori says she would be happy enough if Lavigne – who inspired the Korean singer to pursue a music career – knew who she was, let alone if she could work with her. “In the future, I’d like to create songs that express my style of alt-rock as well.”

Seori, whose breathy, jazzy vocals evoke a sense of yesteryear, works on her music with producer Graphix. Collaborating brings out the best in her, she says, as it makes her challenge herself.

“When I work with other artists, I think it’s important to respect and like each other’s music styles, and communicate well,” says Seori, adding that much of her inspiration comes from conversations with Graphix – as well as her mother.

“My motto is ‘Everything happens the way you say it’, and I learned that from my mum. Essentially, if you talk positively about your future, your future will end up like that.”

Despite manifesting her success, Seori admits to being a bit surprised by it. She sometimes it feels like it’s not really happening, as she hasn’t been able to hold concerts or perform much in front of her fans because of the pandemic, she says.

“I always feel rushed and stressed because I want to succeed, but I haven’t really been able to [enjoy] the success because I feel pressure to do well,” she admits. “I’m trying to enjoy the process more these days by being grateful that I do work that I love. I recently had a chance to meet my fans and it’s helping me feel things more, so hopefully that can happen more.”

Seori is a Korean term for “frost” that can also refer to the action of stealing. The singer says: “I chose the name at first because I liked how frost looks on windows but how it’s still clear and transparent. It also means ‘to steal’, and I wanted it to mean that I hope to steal people’s hearts with my music.”

For all that she wants to win hearts, Seori says her music is about comforting people through an exploration of the human experience. Take for example, ?depacse ohw – who escaped? written backwards to emphasise its off-kilterness.

“The first title was actually Living in the War because I was thinking about living in today’s busy society. There is no end to our busy days and we’re constantly competing, always being jealous of each other, so I was thinking about that, and escaping.”

Seori is working on her next album, which will be less about the struggles of today’s life and more about loving and living in it.

“My first album was about escape, so I’d like to talk about love and the relationships between people,” she says.

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