Korean pop vocalist Lisa is currently visiting the United States in preparation for her debut performance at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City.
Over the course of her career, Lisa has collaborated with a wide range of Korean musicians including Epik High, Seo In Guk, Verbal Jint, and Dynamic Duo. She has released three albums and has held starring roles that have included the recent musical “Bonnie & Clyde.”
Lisa talked to imkpop.com about her career, the process of creating original K-Drama soundtracks, and what it was like to work with SHINee’s Key during “Bonnie & Clyde.”
Have you had an opportunity to attend any Broadway musicals during your stay in New York?
●Yes, I have. So far, I have seen “Aladdin,” “Matilda,” “If/Then,” and “Rocky.” I am planning to see a few more during my stay.
Your discography includes numerous original soundtrack releases including contributions to the “Queen Insoo” and “I Am Happy” soundtracks. When creating a song for a soundtrack are you presented with some background on the drama beforehand?
●Usually they give me a script to read before recording so I can understand what kind of story it is. With some understanding of the drama I record the soundtrack.
In your experience, have the script writers and producer of a drama had input into the soundtrack?
●Most of the time, yes. The script writers and producers care about the music very much. Since many people remember their favorite drama scenes with the music.
What is the difference in the preparation process that is needed for a pop music performance verses musical theater?
●As a solo singer, I concentrate on practicing one or two songs that will be performed for pop music shows. This preparation is mostly done by myself. With musicals, it is very important to blend into your character and be able to communicate well with your stage partners. You have to be able to practice with your partners, not just yourself.
Do you enjoy performing solo better than when you perform with an ensemble?
●As a singer, I am more comfortable performing alone. As an actress, I enjoy performing with an ensemble.
Are there any American artists who have had a big influence on your sound?
●Oh yes! Many! I am influenced by India.Arie, Eric Benet, Maxwell, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Billy Porter. I am going to see “Kinky Boots” which stars Billy Porter while I am in New York.
Please discuss your experience in collaborating with Brown Eyed Soul vocalist Naul? What was the process like?
●I went to visit his studio one day and he told me he had a song that he was working on that I might like. He played the song on the piano and I knew right away that it was my song. So, we decided to work on it. He finished up the song and I wrote the lyrics to it. Then, the song was born.
How did you make the transition from pop to Korean musical theater?
●I always wanted to be in a musical scene even when my albums were out as a singer. Then one day, a Korean musical director called me to work with her on a new show. I joined her and that was my debut as a musical actress.
What has been your favorite role to perform?
●I can’t pick one because I enjoyed being all of them. If I still had to pick, I will say Bonnie in “Bonnie and Clyde!” I totally enjoyed playing her!
Korean musical theater has witnessed an explosion in recent years that is on par with Broadway. Why do you think musical theater continues to grow in popularity?
●Many Koreans started to enjoy musical stages. We had a great improvement over productions and good actors. Also, many idol have starred in musicals which started to draw interest from people.
You performed in the Korean adaptation of “Hedwig & The Angry Itch.” What was your role? How do you think Korean audiences responded to the musical that may differ from American audiences?
●I played Yitzhak. Korean audiences love “Hedwig & The Angry Itch.” Korean audiences are usually more quiet throughout the show but will show their love during the curtain call.
During an appearance on the show “Sae Ba Kwi,” you discussed being fluent in four languages. How does your knowledge of these languages help with your solo and musical theater career?
●This is not true anymore. I have left those countries (Sweden, Germany, Poland) a long time ago. I will just stick to Korean and English.
You recently performed in “Bonnie & Clyde” which received lots of attention from international K-Pop fans. What was your experience in working with SHINee’s Key and ZE:A’s Park Hyung Sik?
● I had a lot of fun working with them. They are definitely hard working idols, who are smart and energetic. I love their positive spirits. I miss all of them.
What are your thoughts on the international K-Pop explosion?
●It has been great how much attenttion K-Pop is getting from all over the world. I feel really thankful!
What is the moment in your career that you are most proud of?
●When I am on stage doing what I am doing.
Which musicians and actors would you like to collaborate with in the future? Who are your favorite musicians or bands from Korea?
●I haven’t worked with Cho Sung Woo, who is one of our best actors in Korea. Also, JYJ’s Xia Junsu who now stars in musicals quite often. I would like to work with both of them, one day. As a singer, I would like to work with American musicians. It would be great to collaborate with Maxwell!
What upcoming projects are you most excited about?
●My first show ever in New York. I will be performing on at Rockwood Music Hall on June 21 with the local musician Big Yuki. Big Yuki will be directing my music. I am singing my Korean songs and I am excited to see the direction that Big Yuki will lead these songs into.
Lisa will perform songs from her Korean catalog during her New York City debut performance at 7PM on Saturday, June 21 at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. Tickets are priced at $10.