From homebody to TV star

The X Factor Australia champion Dami Im is of Korean ancestry and has released a Korean version of her recent hit single, Super Love. But there is little chance of her heading down the K-pop path, however huge the Hallyu, or Korean pop culture wave, becomes.

She says: "When the next album comes out, it will be released in South Korea and I am hoping to do a few songs in Korean, but a full album in Korean? I'm not sure yet.

"I don't know if I am a K-pop artist as such, with a pretty figure and doing dances; I'm more like a musician and songwriter."

The 25-year-old was speaking to Life! in a telephone interview from her home in Brisbane.

Im, who was born in South Korea but has lived in Australia since she was nine, is the first Asian singer to win the reality singing show.

She will stage her first public performance here at the Play:Live 2014 music event at Marina Bay Sands on Oct 4, alongside other acts such as Canadian singer Daniela Andrade and Mike Tompkins, a British artist who uses his voice to create all kinds of sounds.

Im changed from a homebody to one of Australia's most recognised faces after she won the fifth season of X Factor Australia last year.

"My life has changed completely, 100 per cent. I never used to be so busy. Before X Factor, I was always at home waiting for Noah, my husband, to come home from work," she says. Her husband, who is also ethnic Korean, works for a non-governmental organisation.

"People recognise me now so I have to put effort in what I wear and put on make-up whenever I go out. I don't want to disappoint them, so I can't be seen in public wearing pyjamas," Im adds with a laugh.

More importantly, she hopes her win will boost the morale of people from smaller communities.

"I was the first Asian to win the Australian X Factor and I think that a lot of people - not just Asian but also a lot of people of different backgrounds - felt that wow, it gave them permission to come into the mainstream and be proud of who they are.

"So I guess, in the same way, I want to do things my way to change the way that people think about themselves and society," says the multi-talented artist who was trained in classical piano since she was five and holds a first-class honours in Bachelor of Music from the University of Queensland as well as a Master of Arts in contemporary voice from Griffith University.

She set a record when she became the first X Factor winner to have both a No. 1 single and a No. 1 album on Australia's Aria music charts right after she won the contest.

That should have been no surprise since the show's judges were full of effusive praise for her: American singer/rapper Redfoo declared her performance at the finals "the best thing I've ever seen in my life", while Irish star Ronan Keating concurred, saying "it's ridiculous, it's crazy how good you are".

While last year's self-titled album comprised mostly covers that she sang on The X Factor, she says her next album, which she hopes to release next month, will feature a lot more original tunes.

"I try to write the songs myself or co-write with other talented writers and sometimes if I come across a really nice song that I haven't written, I go, 'Oh, damn, it's a shame I didn't write that song'. But I have no shame in choosing someone else's song if it's brilliant.

"But definitely, I make all the final decisions as to which songs are put on the album, even the artwork and video concept, everything comes from me."

Im, whose two recent singles Gladiator and Super Love were on local radio station Hot 91.3FM's Top 10 charts, was in Singapore recently to sing at a private show and is looking forward to returning for a bigger concert here.

Although she is no K-pop star, she is like many of them when they come here - she is looking forward to a certain popular Singaporean dish.

"The last time I was there, I had chilli crab. Yeah, that was my favourite part - eating. That was beautiful."

This article was first published on Sep 24, 2014.
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