Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Face to Face: An Interview With Christina Chung Part 1

I recently met with upcoming diva Christina Chung in the heart of Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District of New York City for a quite interesting and fun interview. I had the pleasure of seeing her rehearsal with hiphop dance choreography royalty Jason Lee then perform at the Korean dance club Circle NYC in the heart of Times Square.

Here is a look into the life of this hot future Grammy award winner:

I'm Christina Chung. I'm an independent recording artist. I guess the genre of music that I sing is pop music. I have a lot of eclectic influences. It's urban but it also has a little bit electro, a little bit of soul. So I just combine that for my new sound. I've been pursuing my music career full-time after I graduated and it's been a blast. You know it's tough. Everyday it's up and down like sometimes I'll get really exciting phone calls and everyone's like emailing me about all this stuff then there will be a week where things are slower and I get all stressed but so far I love doing what I'm doing and I'm really enjoying it and it's just incredible to be pursuing something you love. I thank God everyday that I can be doing this.

Would you consider yourself somewhat of a new Korean Christina Aguilera?

I try not to compare myself to other artists. People always ask 'What are your influences?' 'Who do you sound like?" because they want a point of reference. It's hard to describe myself. I'm just me. I like Christina Aguilera but I do have my own sound. I'm trying to be an Asian-American artist without imitating other artists. There will be similarities because it's pop music and because it's overlapping producers and writers that you work with but I don't want to be the next Asian Rihanna or Asian Christina Aguilera. I want to create my own image and identity.

Who do you listen to?

Growing up I was a huge Mariah fan, huge, every single album. When I went to see her in concert I cried. She is the one artist that really really gets me and for a while, in the beginning, I would try to sing like her but it's Mariah and you can't sing like Mariah. I'm sorry but people try. I'm also a huge Alicia [Keys] fan so that influences my music especially when I'm sitting at the piano. I love her soulful sound. She's just so down to earth. But no one wants me to be Alicia Keys either. So I just combine all those influences. I'm also a really huge hiphop fan. For a while I was listening to hiphop more than anything else. Now I'm branching out into listening to more experimental music to open up the range of sounds that I can produce so they don't like that generic Britney [Spears] sound. So I think for the next music that I will be recording I want to get a little weirder. Get a little more quirky.

Are you going to bring your piano into it?

Yes! I play piano when I write. I always write on the piano. I don't always perform with the piano partially because of logistics. Hard to lug it around. Partially also because I like to move and dance and interact with the audience. I also listen the Eurythmics and some of those old school 80s stuff so it will be interesting to see what I come up with next.

Do you have any Asian influences?

I studied a lot of Asian music in college. My music major was concentrating on ethnic musicology which studying music and culture and social and developmental aspects of music. I studied Brazilian music, Asian music, Latin American. I really enjoyed those classes. I don't overtly use Asian songs in terms of instrumentation. I think more my Asian-American culture upbringing influences my point of view. I'm not going to be singing Korean folk songs. Some people do that and they do it well but some people try to do it and it sounds forced. If I hear something and I'm inspired by it I'll incorporate.

You wouldn't try to cover Alicia Keys in Korean or something like that?

Not yet. Not yet. My Korean needs a lot of work because my parents are actually very American.

Is it more American born Korean?

Yeah. A lot of people say 'Why don't you go to Korea? Why don't you go to Korea?' but I'm not just Korean and not just American. I'm Korean American. I grew up in the States. That's where I live. New York is where my heart is. I want to stay here. If an incredible opportunity arose I wouldn't go ruling it out but I think the climate is right, right now, for me to be able to succeed here.

Well you had a very successful concert at the Korean American club Circle NYC already. They were very accepting.

I think it can work on both fronts. I would hope that Korean-Americans as well as Korean people will love my music either way as well as the non-Asian community. I have a lot of non-Asian listeners, especially on MySpace. Although starting out, all the concerts and things I've been doing have been at mostly Korean places, I definitely plan to be branching out into, not just the national market but the global market. Some people find my cds in Germany. That's really cool.

Let's hope they like you more than David Hasslehoff. I am so ashamed to be from that country because of that.

[chuckles] Yeah.

Check out Part 2 of Face to Face: An Interview With Christina Chung coming soon with pictures from the CircleNYC performance!

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