When it comes to taking risks and pursuing one's dream, 21-year-old Korean R&B singer, Sam Kim has pretty much done just that.
At the tender age of 15, the American-born vocalist decided to take the plunge and move to South Korea in order to participate in the popular talent show, K-pop Star. Being judged by some of the biggest names in the K-pop business such as YG's then CEO, Yang Hyun-Suk and Park Jin-Young, Kim showed off his flashy guitar skills and mellow voice. Kim ended the season in the top two position and eventually debut as a soloist under Antenna Music.
Since then, Kim has made quite a name for himself in the Korea's music scene, especially with his latest album, Sun and Moon. The aforementioned album is filled with soulful melodies and sentimental lyrics that showcased Kim's songwriting skills and velvety voice.
Recently, Kim performed to a sold-out crowd in his first ever solo concert in Singapore.
E! caught up with the rising star for an intimate chat:
How was your first solo concert in Singapore?
Well, I was really nervous before going up as it would be my first official concert in Singapore. But luckily, I had my rock solid band with me. By the second or third song, the nerves have shaken off and the crowd was so energetic and so welcoming.
I understand this isn't your first time in Singapore. Do you have any memories of this country?
I was with my good friend, Jung Seung-Hwan. We did busking. I had chilli crab for the first time. It was a king crab too! It was really good. We had a really beautiful boat ride circling the city, got to watch the laser show at Marina Bay Sands. I've experienced the humidity of Singapore for the first time, but it was lovely.
How did you come to the decision to move from the United States to South Korea at such a young age?
Being so young, you just kind of do whatever without any thought. So I auditioned for K-pop Star and my parents, at first, were very adamant about me not going. But they were like whatever, how far can you go? Just go try it out. And so I got through the first stage, then the second stage and somehow made it to the last stage. That kind of determined my future and so I moved to Korea.
Was it scary for you?
Honestly no. I didn't know anything. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. It was still a mysterious thing for me. With the knowledge I have now, if you were to ask me if I would go back and do it all over again, I probably wouldn't. But it was still a lot of fun. It was a good experience.
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Only one, huh? Dang! You know what? If I get big enough one day and if I try my hardest, I'm pretty sure I can work with anybody I want that's alive. So I'm going to choose somebody who has passed away. I would love to just learn from Luther Vandross. I watch his live videos today, while I'm practising singing, just to be a student of his… I love his music. I love his voice. I love the way he uses his whole body. His body is an instrument, man. It's crazy!
Help us draw the curtain back on your writing process, what is it like for you? Do you draw from real life experiences?
Yeah, definitely. I've been in relationships before. Everybody goes through those hard times. Those random, meaningless fights with your significant other, all that stuff. There is a bit of storytelling also. Because it's a song, you only have about three minutes thirty seconds-ish so, you only have so much real estate. There is a bit of drama-making in storytelling but most of my songs, they do come from real life experiences.
Who was your music idol growing up and how has he/she influenced the way you play and write music?
The reason why I picked up guitar and one of my main "teachers" is a Youtuber named Gabe Bondoc. You can compare his style and my style and you can definitely tell that like I learned everything from this guy. For three years, I just copied everything that he did. He's one of my biggest inspirations. Also John Mayer. In terms of R&B, Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder. The OGs.
Do you stan any K-pop groups?
I really like TWICE! Musically, I think they're killin' it.
You've written so many love songs. What is love according to Sam Kim?
Dang! Hitting me with a deep one. I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately. You know the whole 7 love languages thing? How I give love is through affirmation and acts of service.
Just make sure that whoever you're giving love to, whether it's a friend, family member or partner, make sure that you know how they want to receive it. You give that to them and vice versa. You tell whoever it is you want to receive love from, you make it clear. I feel like it will go smoothly from there.
Finally, what's next for Sam Kim?
Because I released an album this year, me and Antenna are talking about releasing a single. And then, maybe start working on another album sooner or later. Maybe an English album? Who knows? I just want to continuously grow in my craft and take some time apart to really work on my songwriting and my vocal abilities. So, you guys will find out soon enough.