Singer-songwriter Lydia Lee (Courtesy of the artist)
In 2015, Lydia Lee, then a teenager studying music in high school, took the internet by storm with her cover video of Adele’s “Hello.” The viral video led to Lee appearing on popular US TV talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and speaking of her dreams to be a singer.
Fast forward seven years, Lee has now earned the title of musician and is free to roam her musical universe at her own pace, sharing her thoughts with the world through her words.
Popping in and out of the local music scene since her official debut with the single “Blue” in 2017, Lee, whose real name is Lee Ye-jin, returned in July with a new single, “Ways We Change.” It came two years after she released her first EP, “The House that I Live in,” in August 2020. Spending her summer vacation in Paris, Lee spoke with The Korea Herald over email ahead of the new single.
“Since the EP, I’ve just been living my life: writing songs, going on TV shows, writing music for commercials, and always adapting to life and enjoying it,” she said.
While many hopeful musicians choose to develop their careers in the local music scene, Lee, after becoming a viral sensation, opted for something very different; she flew to Paris to study art.
During her time studying at the Paris College of Art, Lee said she did not work on her music. She needed time to explore herself and her art if she was to continue to create music.
The cover art of “Ways We Change” was from a picture she drew as part of a school project about “Perception and People,” she said.
“I am extremely introverted, so I’m always scared of approaching people. I wanted to challenge that trait of mine through this project.”
She went around the city and asked people if she could take their picture. She picked out nine of them and drew them in her unique style.
“Photography can depict exact reality. Once it goes through one’s eyes and mind, it becomes a perception of someone which can be altered and distorted. After writing ‘Ways We Change,’ I thought this project was a perfect fit for the song since it is about my perception of the world and how it has changed.”
Cover art image of Lydia Lee’s single “Ways We Change” (Courtesy of the artist)
“Ways We Change” is a song that she wrote following a period of confusion as she tried to define herself and her music. During this phase, Lee says she wasn’t completely happy with her work.
“Even though I was proud and satisfied with my music right after it was released, after a while, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Is this the right fit for me?’” she said.
“Then I realized I was changing day by day. I am not the person I was when I first wrote the song. That change is natural, and there is no reason to think less of yourself throughout that change.”
The 25-year-old said she realized those changes were what had liberated her, and looking back, she said it was love that had guided her through her journey.
“My world will continue to evolve, with continuous destruction and creation, forever. While this process may be confusing and chaotic, love and freedom will lie inside,” reads the description of “Ways We Change.”
Sharing the emotions she had felt through the process of realization, Lee said the new song is “a declaration of freedom.”
For the lyrics, the singer-songwriter tried to use her most honest words.
“There are times when I have to really dig in to find the right words for a song, but this time it came naturally. I tried to be as honest as possible, and it just flowed.”
For the single, she teamed up with Grammy-nominated producer Illuid Haller again, who she worked with on “The House That I Live In.” Describing Haller as one of the closest people to her, Lee said he understood how her mind functioned and knew how to make her imagination come to life.
“This single is very close to my heart. I was able to be completely free with the sound,” Lee said. “There are sounds that may be eerie or even annoying and messy compared to my previous songs. I was trying to show my ideas in detail, which made me self-conscious at times but so very liberated.”
Lee hoped the song also grants a piece of freedom to the listeners.
“I really hope this song liberates people just like it did for me. If not, I hope it can be just a fun little song to enjoy for its 2 minutes and 51 seconds.”
The artist says her life is an excursion seeking inspiration for her creativity. While all experiences can be a source of inspiration, we should focus on the moment diligently.
“Sometimes inspiration can be like a mystical creature that suddenly exists and then vanishes, but when you look at things closely, you can always find.”
She plans to gradually expand her presence within the local music scene. According to Lee, she will release a few more singles, leading to an official album within the next year.
Although her mind is now packed with thoughts on how she can make “an awesome album,” Lee will continue to concentrate on having fun on that ride.
“I want to be a musician who constantly explores and experiments and want to be remembered as someone who always has fun with music.”
By Choi Ji-won (email@example.com