Interview Anujin Natsagdorj, Photos Kang Mingyu
Known in part for being a member of the well-loved crew, Club Eskimo, MISO started her career posting self-produced tracks on Soundcloud and as a part of Red Bull Music Academy’s Class of 2015. Not long after, she began deejaying for Korean R&B singer DEAN and at other events, including the F is for Fendi x Boiler Room party during New York Fashion Week and at Fake Virgin’s Women’s History Month Special: Bae Tokyo in Seoul. In the past few years, her efforts as a songwriter, singer, and producer have been paying off—her first official single, “Take Me,” reached third place on the United States Viral 50 on Spotify, and she’s racked up several features and songwriting credits with Crush’s “Castaway,” and more recently, with DEAN’s “love,” millic’s “Igloo,” and offonoff’s “Cigarette.” With two successful tours in North America and Europe under her belt, it’s clear that this is just the beginning for MISO.
EVERYONE STARTS SOMEWHERE—WHAT TRIGGERED YOUR PASSION FOR MUSIC?
MISO: Growing up there would always be music playing in my house... whether it was classical or rock music, so the passion grew naturally.
HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION WHILE MAKING MUSIC? DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC ROUTINE?
MISO: Ideas honestly come out of nowhere… they sometimes appear even when I’m sleeping. There isn’t a specific routine but I like to light up some incense sticks because scent helps to clear my mind before I start working. I also like to keep the atmosphere a bit dim with minimal lighting. I like to imagine I’m on a spacecraft just leaving earth about to start a new journey. Sometimes it feels like it’s really happening haha… I’m a night person, so I feel more active during the nighttime, which helps with the creative process.
DID PARTICIPATING IN RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY AFFECT YOU AS AN ARTIST IN ANY WAY?
MISO: Yeah, my experience at Red Bull Music Academy really helped me strengthen my determination to work harder on my music. Meeting different artists and people from all around the world and interacting with them musically really inspired me. I’d go again if I could!
DO YOU HAVE AMBITIOUS GOALS AS A SINGER AND BEATMAKER?
MISO: My ultimate goal is to master both. As much as I like to write songs, I love creating them. I feel like being able to produce your own beats gives you 100 percent full control of what kind of creation you wanna put out there.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL FROM THE MUSIC YOU MAKE?
MISO: I feel a sense of relief. If there’s a certain emotion I wanna express and I feel like I succeeded, I feel relieved.
WHAT DISTINGUISHES YOUR MUSIC?
MISO: I wouldn’t say my music is so different. It’s just music. Every artist has their own sense of style and color. I think it’s the world that determines that.
DO YOU FIND THE KOREAN MUSIC INDUSTRY CONFINING AND RESTRICTIVE FOR R&B, HIP HOP, AND NON-MAINSTREAM ARTISTS TO RISE?
MISO: I’d say it really depends on what you wanna achieve as an artist. If you wanna be different, you’re gonna get some kind of criticism. But that’s how new ideas start and are accepted. So I’d say you shouldn’t be afraid of doing what you wanna do. I’m no expert, but I’d say music in Korea has developed a ton. It’s less restrictive now and a lot more hip hop and R&B artists are getting recognised, which is good. I hope the same happens for other genres too.
WHAT PUSHED YOU TO KEEP WORKING TOWARD YOUR DREAMS, DESPITE ANY HARDSHIPS?
MISO: I had a rough upbringing and knew there was a ton of evil in the world. Music is what kept me going. Even in the darkest of times, music was like a friend to me. I guess when you’ve been in pain for a long time you start to feel numb. The numbness kind of makes a protective shield. That, and still trying to see the good in things, working hard, and keeping a positive mindset got me through a lot.
ANY ROLE MODELS WHO YOU LOOK UP TO OR TRY TO EMULATE?
MISO: Here’s a story. During my teen years, my role model was model Daul Kim. She was a Korean fashion model and painter. At that time, she was fucking awesome and so unique. She used to write stuff on her blog about her life and it was inspiring. She inspired me to really be myself. When I heard how she committed suicide when she was just 20 back in 2009, I was devastated. We even shared the same birthday and I felt a connection with her even though I never met her in person. I really wanted to be like her. She will always be in my heart.
MUSIC ASIDE, ARE THERE OTHER MAJOR INTERESTS YOU HAVE?
MISO: Whenever I have time on my hands, I draw. I was gonna major in art before deciding to pursue music. Besides that, I love collecting new information, and I’ve always been interested in fashion and beauty since I was young.