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[Herald Interview] K-pop artist AleXa says single with Arab singer shows ‘mix of culture’

K-pop artist AleXa (Spotify)
K-pop artist AleXa (Spotify)

With a distinctive reggaeton beat, K-pop artist AleXa and Kuwaiti-Saudi-based singer Bader AlShuaibi sing back and forth about their affection for each other in three different languages in their new collaborative single “Is It On.”

“It is a mix of culture. We have Arab side from Bader, then we have me singing in Korean and English,” AleXa said during her interview with The Korea Herald. “I tried multiple times to figure out what my interpretation of the song is. I figured we are having like a flirtationship kind of battle.”

The animated version of the album’s cover, which features characters that resemble the two singers sitting on the top of two different buildings facing each other, also shows the song’s theme, the artist added. 

A billboard placement in New York’s Times Square promotes AleXa and Kuwaiti-Saudi-based singer Bader AlShuaibi’s new single “Is It On“ on May 21. (Spotify)
A billboard placement in New York’s Times Square promotes AleXa and Kuwaiti-Saudi-based singer Bader AlShuaibi’s new single “Is It On“ on May 21. (Spotify)

“There are buildings (in the background of the cover) that are recognizable from where he lives and then buildings from here where I live. So it is kind of cool little combination if people catch these details,” AleXa said.

The song, released on May 21, was created as part of Spotify’s Radar program. Radar is a program provided by the global music streaming platform which aims to help emerging artists around the world strengthen their connection to listeners. AleXa was selected as the first Radar Korea artist as well as the first to take part in the cross-border collaboration program.
 
Cover of AleXa and Bader AlShuaibi’s new single “Is It On” (Spotify)
Cover of AleXa and Bader AlShuaibi’s new single “Is It On” (Spotify)

Two teams --Radar Korea and Radar Middle East and North Africa -- worked together to make the collaboration possible. The support that the program offers includes the cost of production and promotions such as a billboard placement at Times Square in New York as well as social media support. The track will be fully owned by the artists’ respective labels, according to Spotify.

AleXa also shared her experience using Spotify service.

“It’s nice because I am someone who honestly struggles with finding new music that I like. I tend to stick to just what I listen to,” she said.

Along with the release of the new single, AleXa, who is passionate about dancing, also released a short dance challenge on her TikTok account on Saturday to promote the song. The young K-pop singer said creating the dance was her team’s idea.

“I couldn’t not dance to this song. It is in my nature. I hear a good beat, I dance,” she said.

The artist also added that one of her early memories of how she fell in love with K-pop as a girl born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, also involved dancing.
 
K-pop artist AleXa and her parents (Spotify)
K-pop artist AleXa and her parents (Spotify)

“On a family vacation trip to Florida, I locked myself in the hotel bathroom and learned to dance ‘Change’ by HyunA, in like four hours,” she said.

Toward the end of the interview, she talked about the unique reason behind her ambitions for success in Korea.

“Because my mom was adopted, I would like to try to figure out family here in Korea. My mom doesn’t know anything about her family,” she said.

AleXa believes that if she gains more fame in Korea, there may be a better chance for her extended family or relatives to recognize her and reach out.

The K-pop artist also talked about her parents in the US.

“They are my biggest pillars of support,” she said. “He (AleXa’s dad) reads all the articles of me. My parents keep up with everything. Even if they are in Korean they will run them through a translator.”

Aside from the collaborative single, AleXa has been preparing for her comeback next month.

“I’d say it is a solid 180 from what people have seen. I think people are going to be very surprised. It’s colorful,” she said about the upcoming album.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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