f(x) girls are considered household names in Korea as they captured the public’s attention through their addictive psychedelic pop songs and quirky dance moves. Led by Victoria, the 5-member girl group consists of Krystal, Amber, Luna, and Sulli. However, Amber is the first-ever f(x) member to debut as a solo singer. The Taiwanese-American member got out of her comfort zone and further proved her talent in music through her solo EP, “Beautiful”.
She debuted as a solo artiste in February 2015 with her long-awaited solo debut track, “Shake That Brass”. Having often featured as a rapper in tracks, the solo debut marks her first time performing as a solo singer.
Amber is best known for her rapping skills and outgoing personality, which is evident in the music video for “Shake That Brass”. It is the kind of song that makes everyone want to leave all their worries behind and just dance. A number of her celebrity friends were featured in the music video, including SNSD Girls’ Generation‘s Hyoyeon, GOT7‘s Jackson, g.o.d‘s Park Joon Hyung, comedienne Ahn Young Mi, Miss A‘s Min and Jia, Busker Busker‘s Brad, Rainbow‘s Woori, Crayon Pop‘s Ellin, NU’EST‘s Aron, and C-Clown‘s Rome.
Longtime Amber fans would know that the singer is a big fan of SNSD’s Taeyeon, which is why she invited her to be featured in the “Shake That Brass”. Fortunately, Taeyeon’s vocals and Amber’s smooth rapping skills worked in perfect harmony as the song instantly put people good mood, along with its fun and colourful music video.
Amber, who passed through SM auditions through singing, showcased her incredible singing skills in “Beautiful”, the title song for her mini-album. The singer explained on her Twitter account that she had held onto the song for 3 years. Unlike the usual dance-pop songs, “Beautiful” is a ballad that sends out a message about self-acceptance.
When she first debuted with f(x), her androgynous look was a hot topic among the mainstream Korean audiences. Through “Beautiful”, she sings about the kind of emotional struggle that everyone had been through at lease once in their life. However, self-acceptance is the only way to avoid being trapped in the darkness as she sings, “Any kind of scar is beautiful to me… I’m just happy, I’m happy to be myself…”
It serves as a great reminder that it is a not a must for everyone to conform to a certain standard of beauty because everyone should be happy to be themselves.
Having covered most of the events organised by our friends from M.E. Malaysia, we were given a chance to interact with Amber, who happily obliged to do an e-mail interview with us!
From the expectations for her new album to her involvement in the creative process to the culture shocks she experienced in Korea, here’s what went down during our interview:
Your solo debut is highly anticipated by the fans who have followed f(x) for years so here’s a question to kick off our interview – what can we expect from your solo debut?
My solo album is definitely something different than what people would think when they think f(x)’s Amber. Especially for this album, I took a lighter, more positive direction. I wanted to focus on what being “beautiful” meant to me.
You have co-composed and co-written some songs in the previous f(x) albums but I read that “Goodbye Summer” was actually your first self-composed track. Now that you’re debuting solo, are you involved in the creative process and what are the challenges you’ve faced so far?
I’ve been working on this album for the past 3 years. I actually have a lot of songs that I did not include in this album. For this album, I co-wrote all the songs with my team and friends, everything was very natural and always fun. We just wanted to create good music and send a good message to the people that listen to it. I think the biggest challenge was choosing which song would be best for this album. I made over 10 different track-lists and finally I came up with the track-list for this album.
Did your f(x) members help you when you were under pressure while debuting as a solo singer? If so, how?
My members have always been supporting me and my songwriting. They really pushed me to confidently give my songs to my company because I was very hesitant to show people the music I wrote.
Who have you approached and included in your solo album? What was it like for you to work with other musicians during the recording session?
I had a really hard time choosing who I wanted to collaborate with since there are so many talented artistes out there. For the song “I Just Wanna”, I decided to include my good friend, Eric Nam, since we always talked about working together and he was a perfect match for the part. For my lead track “Shake That Brass”, I had a list of over 20 people that I thought that could fit the vocal featuring part. At the last minute, I thought of Taeyeon from Girls’ Generation. I just decided to call and ask her if she would like to help me and she said yes right away. Lucky me.
How long has it been since you started working on your solo album and what did you have a mind when you found out that you were going to debut as a solo singer?
There was no set date that I started working on this album. It was an accumulation of years and years of writing and messing around with my crew. When I felt I was ready I brought all my tracks to my company and asked to go solo. It’s still surreal that my album is out, even now.
How is your album is going to sound like as compared to f(x)’s albums? What are the differences you’ve noticed?
For this album, compared to f(x), my album is very light-hearted. I didn’t purposely try to have different songs, I just wrote whatever came to my mind. But I definitely focused on my roots and re-listened to a lot of the music I heard growing up.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in f(x)?
I’d probably be pursuing something in the environmental science field. Science and how the world works really fascinates me, though I’m definitely not sharp these days because it’s been a while since I’ve been in the classroom. But I still watch a lot of science videos and try to keep up with the current events.
Due to your tomboy image and down-to-earth personality, you have gained a huge following since the debut era. So far, what was the craziest experience you’ve ever had with your fans?
I’ve never had a “crazy” experience, but I don’t really know how to react when fans cry when they see me. I want to help them and it’s so cute but I’m flabbergasted.
As someone who debuted in a K-Pop idol group, what advice would you give to someone who’s considering that path now?
I would say to be themselves and to enjoy the music.
During the US tour and playing SXSW, did you have a moment where you felt overwhelmed at all by the reactions to f(x) from fans?
I definitely feel overwhelmed when I go back to the States to perform. It’s my home field and the fact that I have so many supporters at home makes feel reassured that I’m doing something right.
What are some of the culture shocks you’ve experienced in Korea?
Bowing was the biggest thing. Bowing really makes a big difference in the Korean culture. So people get on your bowing skills!
Despite your strong exterior image and outstanding athleticism, was there a time when you feel discouraged?
I know I don’t have the typical girl looks. I do get very self- conscious at times but my friends always help me to keep my head up.
This is probably the place for you to clear off some misunderstandings – what are some of the misconceptions people have about you?
I think anything new or different for people is always going to be up for debate. I don’t represent every tomboy out there, but I’m just me, I don’t want to think too complicatedly about why I am the way I am. It’s pretty simple. I like being comfortable and having fun.
Once again, we would like to thank M.E Malaysia for arranging this interview for us.