Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Face to Face: An Interview With Christina Chung Part 2

You touched on your writing and there is confusion. Did you write a song that someone else sang or did someone else write it?

The producers and writers that I work with have worked with these major artists. Frankie Storm who I wrote Pressure and At The Exit with her, she wrote some of Rihanna's music. I've been very fortune to work with her and Claude Kelly. He's been writing for Akon, Lady Gaga, Leona Lewis. All these huge names and I actually wrote the songs for my EP right before they got really huge! Now they're traveling around the world, they're so busy. It's hard for me to even meet up for lunch with them. It was a blessing work with them. They're incredibly talented and really nice people.

Are you going to split time between writing for yourself and writing for other artists?

Right now I'm just writing for myself. If I write a song that sounds like it would be great for someone else I would consider submitting it but right now I'm being kinda selfish [chuckle]. A lot of times people get caught up writing for other people and they forget about their own recording. Right now I've been writing a lot, trying to continue developing my sound and my style and also performing and promoting the music that I already have.

You love dancing and I had a chance to see you rehearse with Jason Lee.

I was traveling and performing a lot with Snacky Chan the rapper. Chan and I actually grew up together in South Jersey. We grew up in the same neighborhood like he was two streets away from me. He's a little bit older than me but we became friends through the music thing. Chan and I were doing a show in Toronto and Chan knows Jason so Jason came along. He helped us fine tune our performance. After that I hired Jason to do choreography and get dancers.

Before Jason you had someone else.

A friend from Columbia helped me out then Jason had this whole vision so I said 'ok fine Jason!' [chuckles]

The two women you had dancing with you, are they officially with you if you go on tour?

They're extremely professional. Lisa, she's danced with Shakira and toured around with her. Both of them have done all sorts of incredible things. Right now I haven't locked them in exclusively. It does get complicated because we travel a lot too. Even just setting up my Circle show I had to make sure my schedule matched the girls' schedule matched [CircleNYC owner] Joe's schedule so it was all working. I would like them to stay with me as long as possible. We'll see what happens. Like for my Chusok Festival I'm going to have to find someone else. ..... is going to be in L.A. It's not like a permanent thing but I love working with them. They're really sweet girls.

To stop some other confusion among some readers, your name is Chung which is known usually as a Chinese name but you are Korean?

Chung is a Korean name and Chinese. The original pronunciation is 'yuung' so sometimes you'll see some people spell it Jung. But yeah it's a Korean name. Actually I have relatives who are really famous classical musicians in Europe and Korea. The Chung Trio. They basically pioneered Korean love for classical music. The reason why Juiliard is like 90% Korean so music is in my blood even though both my parents are physicians [chuckles]. My dad was like the black sheep of the family because he was the only on who didn't go into music. He was in his punk rock band in college and medical school and briefly entertained the thought of going into a pop career then decided he wasn't creative enough so he went into medicine. Sometimes he would be very worried for me because he knows being a musician is a hard life. He knows that first hand but he also knows that if you're passionate about something you'll see it through. Once my parents gave me their blessing it was a lot easier for me to feel good about pursuing my career. [chuckles] So all this came from my last name being Chung!

I've seen some of the pictures featured on MySpace. Do you see yourself modeling?

I do some modeling. The tough part is for high fashion is you have to be 5'9". It's funny because this person who was sort of managing me at one point she was like 'Just go to all the agencies, to all the open calls. I don't care what they say about what the minimum height is! Just go and see what they say!' And as soon as I walk in the door 'How tall are you?! Minimum is 5'9"!' And it wouldn't even be like going through the door. I do commercial print modeling but that's a totally different kind of thing. It's normal people modeling. Also tv., film. Those are all in the future plans. Right now, since I'm so concentrating on music, I haven't been pursuing the acting hardcore but that's something. I see myself as a worldwide performer and do everything.

Would you like to talk about your E.P.?

The title is Face To Face. I realized that it was just a common theme running through my songs. Two of my songs actually have a line of 'face to face'. In all my lyrics I try to very assertive and honest. You'll never see me writing whiny, submissive 'why? why?' kind of songs. That's just not my personality. I'm not like a girl power kind of person but I believe that a woman should assert her opinion when she has something to say. I try to be very honest in my lyrics. Take You For Granted is probably the most honest song on there and that's the song I completely wrote myself. I wrote it on the piano and then brought it to the studio and laid down the track beats. And that song is partially religious. A lot of times there are people in our lives we only turn to them when we are really sad. That song is kind of an exposed look at being selfish and being able to admit it. The other songs are fun club songs as well as, I try to mix in little metaphors here and there. Some songs can be silly and simple but I don't them to be really dumb. [chuckles]

I'm very addicted to Pressure but you only have a snippet on MySpace.

People like Pressure and Ghost. It's always hard to know how much should I be putting out there because I want everyone to be hearing my music but then you don't want to overexpose music and leave a little bit of mystery. It gets confusing how much I should put up there and how much I should leave out.

I can imagine you in the future on WKTU with Danielle Bollinger and some of these other dance people.

Yeah I have a cool dance remix of Ghost on MySpace with a young producer, Joel Hirsch. Joel approached me through MySpace. He wanted to do a remix. He's really young and still in school but extremely talented. It worked out really well.

The following piece was done through emails.

I was thinking about different reactions or motions you had during the interview and realized, when you went to autograph the cds you flipped the marker around like a drummer spins a drumstick. Do you are play the drums or learning to play them? If so, can we expect some drum fun in your next album?

Haha the pen flipping is actually a habit that I developed in middle school after a friend showed me how. I went to a small school back then, so everyone in my grade saw me doing it and somehow became obsessed with twirling their pens in class. I ended up regretting it everyone was always twirling their pens and it was so distracting! Later, I noticed a lot of my Asian/Asian American friends do it, so I don't know where it first came from. Unfortunately I don't play the drums though...I wish I could!!

I would like to put in information about your dancers. Can you tell me their names, how long you've been working with them, where their from, etc?

The girls I've been dancing with are Stacy Hanson (the brunette) and Lisa Marie Cordoba (blonde). Another girl Laura Franco also danced with me recently, because Lisa was in LA. The girls are all really sweet and extremely professional, so hopefully I'll be with them for awhile.

Are there any specific forums and/or cities you'd love to perform in?

I can't wait until I start performing internationally, in Europe and Asia, and there are still US cities I've never been to, like Chicago! It's fun doing different types of shows...the bigger shows are more glamorous, but smaller shows are more intimate and you can talk to people after and interact on a more personal level.

Are there any stories you'd love to tell about your touring, producing, etc that fans might find very interesting to read?

Some of my funniest stories are actually from the random modeling things that I do. My agent sends me on a lot of commercial print castings, since I'm petite and can't really do a lot of fashion. Modeling is very different from being a recording artist, because it's about being someone else, not yourself. You have to fit a particular look or mold that the client is looking for. They want someone to sell Advil, for example. I'm such a diva, that sometimes I have trouble with that. I went to an ipod casting once and they wanted us to dance all crazy. So I thought "Yes!! This is something I can do!" We had numbers, so the lady said to me "Ok number 43, we want you to look less naked, so put on that sweatshirt." (I was wearing a tank top). "Ok dance!" So I'm dancing, and she's like "number 43!! Too sexy!! It needs to be more like MIA!" So then I start dancing like a nut, what I thought was like MIA. Suddenly she's like "Stop! ok, number 43 you can go home." So sad, I felt so rejected! Hahaha. You have to go on so many castings to book a job, it's very hit or miss.

Do you have any advice or tips for people wanting to go into the music world?

As everyone will tell you, pursuing a career in the music industry is not easy. I'm still learning new "do's and dont's" every day. There's a lot of mind games you have to play, and people that say they believe in you are not always telling the truth. Find people you trust and stick with them. Music is super fun at times, but very tricky and stressful at others. I tell people to be prepared to work your butt off. As an artist, stay acutely aware of the business aspects of your career. Trying to be a professional recording artist is a lot more than just singing in your room and trying out for American Idol. If you're truly passionate about what you do, you'll find a way to make it work. And save up your money!!! Being an artist can be expensive!

Thank you very much for this interview! You have been really great.

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