INTERVIEW: Korean rapper ARTLOVER opens up about her first music video and being the 'Queen of Retro'
ARTLOVER is an upcoming Seoul-born rapper and singer based in London who successfully transitioned from the fashion industry to the music industry with the release of her debut single 'Want U Back' and its accompanying music video. Her background as a stylist and makeup artist has a major, discernible influence on the visuals in the music video, as she dons a number of chic, retro outfits and antique pieces of jewelry influenced by vintage fashion.
The rapper, who once worked with ELLE, Rankin, and Vogue, decided to pursue a career as a rapper as she noticed that her sense of fashion was attuned with her musical senses. In fact, she is credited as the creative director on the music video for her new single, having successfully combined her two aesthetics to create a soulful pop track whose throwback sound mirrors the retro influences of the costumes in the music video, shot in the Swedish countryside.
The track has been produced by JYP Entertainment's Lee Tae-sub who has previously worked on some of the biggest K-Pop stars' tracks, with Twice and Day6 tracks to his credit, as well as Swedish producer Max Billion, who is currently working on ARTLOVER's new EP that will drop in June, 2018. The upcoming rapper opened up in an exclusive interview with Meaww about her major influences and her aspirations in the industry.
Meaww: How has the transition from the fashion industry to the music industry been? What is the biggest difference you've experienced?
ARTLOVER: I would say it’s quite the same kind of creative process. They both require collaboration between talented people. It was kind of a challenge for me to switch from thinking about the visuals to start thinking in terms of sound.
Meaww: Despite being based in London, your first musical endeavors target a Korean audience. Do you plan to return to Seoul at some point to collaborate with artists and producers there?
ARTLOVER: Yes, Korea is my home but fans of Korean music are everywhere in the world, including London, so my idea was to establish myself in the UK first.
Meaww: Can we expect English releases from you in the future?
ARTLOVER: It’s possible, I might start work with more English lyrics at some point. In a way the style of my music is already quite European, and I hope it comes across as fresh to K-Pop fans.
Meaww: Who would you say are the biggest influences on your sound and style?
ARTLOVER: My biggest influences are Madonna, Michael Jackson, Shania Twain and Eminem.
Meaww: The most successful female rappers in the industry are also known for releasing chart-topping ballads - take Heize and Yoon Mirae for example. Is that a direction you would be open to moving in?
ARTLOVER: Yes I want to communicate with my audience through my music, and I think that ballads are generally great for communicating with people, especially Koreans.
Meaww: What do you think of 'Unpretty Rapstar,' a show that has made numerous female rappers household names in South Korea? Given the chance, would you ever be open to participating in a reprisal of the show?
ARTLOVER: It’s not impossible, but I’m not sure; I would consider it if they offered me an opportunity to be in it.
Meaww: Name three underrated tracks by female rappers you wish would gain some spotlight.
ARTLOVER: The following three Korean female rappers are some that I’ve been listening to quite a bit lately: Nat2 (애정)'s 노란꿈 (Yellow Dream), D-Day's Homesick (ft. San), and MATO's 만나 (Meet).
Meaww: Who is a producer you would love to collaborate with in the future?
ARTLOVER: Jin-Young Park or Benny Blanco. I love their style and the music they have done in the past. I’m currently working on finishing up my EP with Swedish writer / producer Max Billion who’s worked on songs for UK artists such as Tobtok, Embody and Lilly Ahlberg. He has kind of a similar style.
Meaww: How was the experience of shooting your first music video?
ARTLOVER: I worked on several music videos as a make-up artist, but this was the first time I worked in front of the camera. It was a great experience. At first it felt a bit strange, but as soon as I found a way to focus into the camera, it went really well.
Meaww: As a former makeup artist, did you have any say in the styling and costumes that went into the music video?
ARTLOVER: I call myself the Queen of Retro, and I did all the styling with vintage clothing from different eras. For example, I wore a pair of antique, French, 19th century earrings. They had a beautiful old style in the way the diamond was hand cut, which is very rare to find today. I think that I gave them the new light that they deserved. I hope people will enjoy my music video for 'Want U Back!'