Natty is a super rookie in the K-pop world who debuted only a month ago with the single “Nineteen.” Among fans of the genre, however, her name is not unfamiliar.
Having been an idol trainee for six years, Natty was a contestant on a JYP Entertainment and Mnet girl group competition in 2015 called “Sixteen” that created Twice. She was also on Mnet’s “Idol School” in 2017.
While not able to make the final cut in the groups then, causing her to doubt herself at times, it all seems to make sense now as she exudes confidence and charm on the stage as a solo artist.
A talented dancer and vocalist with a killer smile, Natty told The Korea Herald that she arrived in Korea at the age of 13 not knowing she would spend the next six years here.
“I hopped on the plane because I simply loved to dance and sing, and wanted to become better at it. At the time, I innocently thought I was just going to learn and grow a lot and had no idea how complicated the training process would be.”
“Neither did my parents. I don’t think they would’ve let me go if they knew I was going to be away from them for this long,” she said.
Over the years, Natty heard more than once that she could be part of a new girl group to debut soon, but the plans never materialized. Miraculously, she was able to debut through a performance she gave last year at KCON Thailand -- the country where she was born and raised before leaving to become a singer in Korea.
“It was on that stage that the company saw some potential in me, and suggested debuting as a solo artist. My parents were also there to see my performance and were incredibly happy, much happier than I was actually, when they heard the news of my debut.”
Natty’s debut track, “Nineteen” is a tribute to her past challenges and the optimistic attitude she clung to despite them. It has reflected her request; she asked that her first album be authentic and incorporate her personal experiences.
She particularly liked the lyrics of the song: “Sometimes you want to give up/Just like everyone/But you start all over again/That’s who you are.”
“When I first came to Korea, I didn’t know the language at all except for ‘Hello’ and had to cram learning Korean as much as possible, as quickly as possible to join conversations and express what I wanted and thought, to survive,” she said.
But the toughest part of her training years was the uncertainty. Nothing was set in stone, and each day was a repetition of the same routine.
“I relieved my stress by turning off all the lights in the practice room and dancing however I liked or running outside by the river. That helped me to start over again with regained energy.”
Nowadays, she copes with her stress by meditating. Having practiced it for a year and half, she said it helped to reflect on herself and think about what she really wants to do in life.
“I realized I want to be a good influence in this world. Through my music, whatever genre it may be, R&B or hip-hop or even jazz, I’d like to give energy to people and make them happy.”
By Kwon Yae-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)