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[Herald Interview] Singer-songwriter Minsu returns with funky dance pop

The cover of Minsu’s “Healthy Food” (Magic Strawberry Sound)
The cover of Minsu’s “Healthy Food” (Magic Strawberry Sound)

Breaking away from her usual dainty, dreamy sound, South Korean singer-songwriter Minsu is attempting her first dance tune with “Healthy Food.”

With her skin tanned and her hair tied back, the 25-year-old’s transformation was evident in her look too.

“While preparing for this album, I thought the most about what I could do apart from singing,” Minsu said during an interview with The Korea Herald on May 24. “I love dancing, so I thought why not try that? And with that as the start, we put the emphasis on making changes in terms of my music and visuals for this album.”

In deviating from her usual indie pop and acoustic R&B sound and veering toward funky disco pop, Minsu explained, her goal was a song that made people want to dance.

“I think it’s been one of my biggest goals -- to make a dance song people could naturally move their bodies to,” Minsu said, adding that she had been a dancer since she was very young.

“I’ve grown up listening to those kind of songs, and I suppose I just didn’t have the chance to make one until now. Last year, I had the chance to work with producer Park Jun-woo, who helped me to better express myself through music.”

Venturing on Minsu’s new journey with her was Park, an up-and-coming music producer who had previously worked with popular artists such as Zion. T and Giriboy. Together he and Minsu composed and arranged “Healthy Food,” while the singer-songwriter single-handedly wrote the lyrics.

“I was interested in being healthy, and to be healthy, you have to eat a lot of healthy food. As I was humming along to the melody, putting words like avocado, broccoli, acai bowl and coconut together sounded fun. That was how the lyrics were created,” she said.


Minsu (Magic Strawberry Sound)
Minsu (Magic Strawberry Sound)

An all-English song comprising a list of vegetables and fruits and phrases related to health and diet, its lyrics are simple and its melody addictive.

“I feel we consume so many heavy foods these days, and the music video shows me trying to escape that unhealthy diet, find my own natural and unique beauty and become more comfortable with myself near the end.”

Minsu, whose full name is Kim Min-su, debuted as an independent singer in May 2018 with “Happy Birthday.” Since then, she has gained a following among indie music fans thanks to her uniquely husky yet airy voice.

“Isle,” a song she released in August 2018 as an indie artist, and “Minsu Is Confused” from March 2019 remain her most popular songs. She put out the latter soon after joining the agency Magic Strawberry Sound, and in 2019 it was featured in a commercial for Apple Korea’s iPad.

Undoubtedly a versatile singer-songwriter, Minsu said becoming a performer had not been in her mind for long before she took action to make it happen.

“When I was 17 years old, I started thinking about what I should do to make a living. One day I came across this interview of Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson’s producer, and I found his work so interesting. I thought I had to make music like him.”

The instant she decided, Minsu knew where she was headed. She asked her school to organize a music club but got turned down.

So she left school.

“I was kind of reckless back then. My friends were studying at school for their careers, but nothing seemed right for me then. So I quit school to do what I wanted to do. And searched for places where I could study music.”

After taking the high school equivalency exam and studying music writing in college, Minsu kicked off her songwriting career but still didn’t sing her own songs. She would ask her friends to sing them -- but to her surprise, she was told her own voice suited them the best.

“I couldn’t listen to my own voice,” she said, cringing as if reliving the embarrassment. “Singing was not easy for me. I practiced hard and tried to discover the best tone for my voice. Now, I don’t regret starting singing back then.”

A shy yet free soul, Minsu said she was up for more challenges as long as she could create her own music.

“For me, making music is like eating and sleeping. It comes naturally and gives me a sense of relief. It makes me feel alive,” the singer-songwriter said.

She said she hoped for more dance tunes among her upcoming songs.

“The whole production of ‘Healthy Food’ was like a marathon. It was fun yet difficult at the same time. I feel the sheer thrill in making a music video out of my own song, and taking steps further, choreography to match the music. It excites me just thinking about people dancing to my songs and enjoying themselves.”

By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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