After moving to London from South Korea for her studies, musician Nijuu dove deep into her ever-evolving thoughts and inner world to create two EPs, the first one being aptly titled Nijuu In The Sea, and the second and most recent one titled Nijuu In The Forest. These helped her process her darkest feelings and start focusing on herself, but it also taught her to focus on others like her, who are also struggling with depression and their mental health in general. Get to know her curious mind and introspective songs through a sweet conversation on her dreamy, melancholic music.
For readers who might not be familiar, can you talk a little about yourself and the music you create?
I released my first EP last year and I'm now releasing my second one. I was born and raised in South Korea and I was studying in the United Kingdom, so I made my first and some of my second EP in London. I've come back to South Korea as my visa expired and Covid-19 started to spread around the world.
Your single Totti has a very melancholic, upbeat pop sound. What led you to create the track in this way, and can you talk a little about why you decided to release your first love song?
I wanted to write a fairy tale story song which has ‘happily ever after’ ending. First of all, I came up with the word for the title and I was thinking that it could make for a very catchy melody. In the first demo, there are no intro and outro melodies as I only started with a verse. And I want to add a more fairytale atmosphere, so I put a melancholic and dreamy intro and outro melodies. Most of my songs are pretty sad, even if the melody's more upbeat the lyrical content is always sad. So this time I wanted to make a really lovely love song.
What is the significance of having the lyrics in Totti be in both Korean and English? Was there any specific reasoning behind this?
My mother tongue is Korean and I feel like there are some feelings that I can't describe in other languages. I think translating words also slightly change their meaning. Through the first EP I realised that the audience could hear the feelings and emotions through the music and not the language, so I wanted to let the audience guess the meaning of Korean lyrics and let the Korean audience guess the meaning of English lyrics.
How does your upcoming EP Nijuu In The Forest reflect who you are as a person and what is the biggest thing you want your fans to take away from these tracks?
When I wrote my first EP, Nijuu In The Sea, I was only concentrating on myself. I wanted to be something different, I wanted love myself and focus on me. However, through the journey of making the first EP I realised who I am, and who I wanted to be. So, this time my focus was not only me, it was people who feel like me, who are struggling with depression and who feel lonely, who need courage. I said it before when I released my first EP, but this time my focus was people and the world.
Is there any track on the EP that you feel particularly connected and attached to?
나에게로 Come To Me and Papa. I know they are quite deep and calm, however, they mean so much to me. I wrote the former in 2018, when I felt most insecure, but the song contains lots of encouragement. And I wrote the latter in 2020 when I came back to South Korea, it's a piano piece and it includes a hymn I love. My teacher who taught me music in high school played the song on the piano for me.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself while creating Nijuu In The Forest, and specifically with Totti as well?
I feel like I learned how to be ready before flying. I haven't flown yet, even in this EP. But before flying you should prepare everything, make sure that you run, you're safe and brave... And the EP gave me so much bravery and made me independent even with growing pains. I learnt a lot. Specifically with Totti, it is kind of the beginning of my new music style. Not only when it comes to the sound, but the lyrics and everything else. I will tell you more about it when the third EP comes out!
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In what ways does your new EP Nijuu In The Forest differ from your previous collection Nijuu In The Sea? What is the significance of having both of these titles reflecting you in some aspect of our natural world?
Nijuu In The Sea is about a little girl who just got away from home, learning to find her way out of the darkness. If Nijuu In The Sea was like a little bird who just broke out from the egg then the other one is a little bird trying to learn how to fly and how to move its wings. Like learning to have a more mature awareness (mentally and physically) to be a better person.
What would you say is the main theme or idea of your latest EP?
The key theme is growth. It's about the journey to find a new place where I could learn more and be more independent.
Your music always tells enveloping stories in a beautiful way. How do you find inspiration for these stories? What are some of the influences in your life that contribute to this?
I love to imagine enveloping stories in music. I just think about me and my life from a third person perspective or I imagine some ordinary person's life from my perspective. In this EP I'm especially inspired by other stories, for example, I've been inspired by The Bible. Other inspirations come from nature: the mountains, the seas, even just a tree and water.
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Are there any other art forms outside of music that you want to start incorporating into your own work in the future?
Anything related to art, like drawing, making collages, sculpting, etc. I'd love to collaborate with different artists like my friend Hokma. We will try something different in the future.
How do you think growing up in South Korea but also living in London has impacted your sound? Do the differences between these two places have any influence on the music you create?
Living in London, it's like a really wide sea, and when swimming, you can sometimes dive in the deep sea because no one knows you and no one knows who you used to be.
Also, I feel like both countries love music and dancing so much. I love K-Pop, and K-indie and also I love Brit-pop and British indie music as well. They are slightly different but we shouldn't divide music by the country. Especially in 2021, the internet just connected all kids since we were young, so I feel all the people around the world share music together.
What are some of the things you do in order to stay mentally and inspirationally aligned with your music?
I write in my diary – it helps a lot with my mental health. I move my body, as I realised that the body and the mind are linked to each other. I learned this from yoga. And I also pray and look after my spirit – spirit exists, if you don't care about it it is going to be sick as well. Those three things give me lots of inspiration and help my mental health.
What does the future look like for Nijuu? Do you have any upcoming shows or tours? Any music you’re sitting on waiting to be released?
I want to keep being more me, and I want to be free and brave. I really want to have world tours, I want to go everywhere. But for now, I'll be gigging around small pubs in Seoul.