Our guest for today is a singer and composer who debuted in 2009. Later, he again debuted with the boy group AA in 2011. His songs are rated 19+ because of their bold and sexy concept. Some of his hits include “Body Party”, “Harder” and he has recently released a song called “Twerk” (Balanca da bunda). Have you guessed him yet? He is none other than AOORA!
As our interviewer sat in her home with her laptop propped up on a wobbly chair, she was anxious about conducting the interview, “what if something goes wrong?” was a constant siren. Then beep went her computer indicating a guest has joined in. AOORA’s beaming smile and “hellllloooo” got her spirits up!
Watch his latest music video TWERK here:
Read along with the interview for our exclusive chat with AOORA!
KHIGH: AOORA it’s been a decade for you in the industry! You debuted back in 2009, which many people don’t know about. How do you feel? What is the difference between AOORA as an artist in 2009 and AOORA as an artist now?
AOORA: Wow! Has it been so long? I realize it now that you have mentioned. It is true that I debuted in 2009 as a solo artist. Many people think I debuted in 2011 because of my debut with AA. Many people judge that I failed as an artist because of my several activities in my 10-year career. But I am very positive about it. I don’t let that affect me. The difference between AOORA from 2009 and AOORA from 2020 is that I was still a beginner back then. Now I have more experience and knowledge which has shaped my career so far and has helped me do better.
KHIGH: You attended the Seoul National University (SNU) which is one of the top three universities in South Korea. That’s a great achievement! Could you tell us about your time as a university student?
AOORA: It is actually a funny story. SNU accepts 200 students and I was the 201st! HAHAHA I could only do hip-hop back then. There were only two majors at SNU Contemporary Dance and Korean traditional dance. Everyone was in ballet or traditional costumes and I was the only one in my hip-hop costume. HAHAHA So, I wore a leotard over my hip hop costume. I guess they liked that I stood out and selected me, later I learned ballet as well. I was majorly inspired by, Billie Elliot the movie.
KHIGH: You said the movie Billie Elliot inspired you a lot, please do tell us more. Did your parents support your career?
AOORA: I was from a poor background. So, I quit high school early on. Billie Elliot’s story was similar to mine. In the movie, the father of the protagonist is a fisherman and he initially doesn’t support his child. But later on, the father accepts the child’s passion to become a dancer. That movie motivated me to fight against the odds and pursue my passion. when I was in Australia, I went to a bar to become a bartender. I was 110 KG in high school, but I wanted to become a dancer. Later I started taking care of myself and building healthy eating habits and studying to prepare to become a singer. You can say my life is no less than a movie!
KHIGH: Wow, that’s very inspiring, there should be a movie on your life now!
AOORA laughed noddingly.
KHIGH: How would you describe yourself as an artist, since you have experimented a lot with your music like genres, solo career, being a member of an EDM group and also a K-Pop group. What do you see yourself as?
AOORA: I have always wanted to express myself through music, to express the culture and the mood. I like to think of myself as an ‘Entertainer’ who creates music, for people to enjoy. I want to experiment more and more with time. I want my audience to have fun when they listen to my songs. I think my experiences with several collaborations and genres will allow me to make more crazy, cool and entertaining music for my audience.
KHIGH: You are a composer, dancer, rapper and also a YouTuber. You can design too. Is there anything you can’t do?
AOORA: Oh there are many things I can’t do.
KHIGH: Oh we’re sure if you tried your hand at anything, you’ll be able to do it well. You’re so talented!
AOORA: Oh, I got one! I can’t drive! In my early years of debut, I had a manager who drove for me. So, it never occurred to me to actually learn how to drive. And now I like to drink and have fun. So, I rely on my friends or public transport after I drink.
KHIIGH: That is actually commendable of you to be responsible and to care for everyone’s safety.
AOORA: HAHAHA You took it in such a positive way! You made my weak point into a strong one.
KHIGH: You have dabbled in EDM, Punk, R&B… is there any genre you would like to try next?
AOORA: I had a chance to try trot once. It is traditional Korean music, and quite different from what I usually do. But I denied it because I did not want to offend anyone as that time i didn’t have much confidence in pulling it off and confuse my audience. As for the next genre, I would like to delve more into Spanish, Latin, or Indian music.
KHIGH: Talking of Indian music, do you have a favorite Indian song or movie?
AOORA: *instantly belts out Jai Ho* oh I like the song Jai Ho so much. I watched the movie “Hotel Mumbai” last year. I really liked the movie. It saddened me deeply. The movie portrayed real-life incidents in such a realistic manner. It touched my heart. My heart goes out to the people who had to face such circumstances.
AOORA: I would like to visit India. Mumbai, especially. I would like to visit the hotel showed in the movie.
KHIGH: We would like to host you when you do come to Mumbai! We look forward to having you here!
KHIGH: Let’s talk in-depth about your new release “TWERK”. We’d like to know everything in regards to the process that went into the making of it!
AOORA: I made the song with rapper ColorTheBen. We had eight different choreographers for the song. We connected the pieces by each choreographer. I didn’t want to change their feel in the song. So I kept it as it is and added my own pizazz to it. I took inspiration from a popular Brazillian YouTuber. I collected all sorts of references for inspiration for the music video. I actually thought about the music video first and then I connected the video clips from the producers to make a song. It was a small budget music video. The wardrobe for the music video was made by my friends Jimmy, Friday and Minie. We have been friends for 13 years now. My manager who has been with me since 2007, helped a lot to get proper contacts and equipment for the music video. To add a flavour of comedy we decided to put a parody clip to the American movie “White Chicks” for the lyrics that say ‘From LA TO SEOUL’, it turned out to be a lot of fun filming it and a one highlight point for my MV as well! Through my music video, i want to share a message that we can meet and have fun when the COVID-19 crisis ends. I want people to forget their worries and dance and have fun.
KHIGH: Your songs have a fun vibe and often are R-Rated. From where do you get the sexy and risky concept inspiration for your songs?
AOORA: When I was in AA, I had a cute vibe. I was at SBS Inkigayo, and next to me were powerful artists like BigBang, Shinee, EXO that captivated us all with their unique style. I felt that I need to re-create my image, my vibe. So that I could stand out too!
KHIGH: In addition to concept, your songs have risque lyrics, you are free with your music. The industry is quite conservative. So, did that act as a hindrance for you or your music in anyway?
AOORA: I wanted to try and challenge the conservative perception. I wanted to see if I can show my real self to my fans. I am proud of my personal life. I keep it very private and I am glad that I don’t have my name in any scandal as well. I did not want to offend my fans in any way. I wanted to be a part of Produce 101. But my image as an artist was that of a bold one and sexy one so I couldn’t get in. But I’m glad and thankful to my supporters who understand my true message of songs which is “accept yourself and others as they are”.
KHIGH: It is never easy to have a bold image in the industry. So how do you cope with the reaction and comments from the audience?
AOORA: I don’t take it to heart. In fact, I learn from negative comments and use them in my songs. You can say my anti-fans serve as an inspiration for my music. I remember I was once subjected to comments like “you should do porn”, so instead of getting upset I created a humorous song in regards to that!
KHIGH: You have often used the number 69 in your music videos. Does the number hold a significant meaning to you?
AOORA: 69 is my favourite number. 6 means love and 9 means humanism. So I included that in my music video. I made 9 songs for six months, so I had to include the number 69!
KHIGH: You have worked with several artists now. What would be your dream collaboration?
AOORA: A collab with Anitta, the Brazilian artist would really be a fun one! She is very stylish and I think I can add a fun vibe to her music.
KHIGH: I think you would match well in a collaboration with Rosalia as well!
AOORA: Oh yes, she is a great artist too. I would love to collaborate with her as well.
KHIGH: Tell us about your next project. Is there anything new in the works?
AOORA: I have a few projects in the works actually. My second album is releasing on the 9th of June next year. I haven’t begun working on it yet. I will proceed with it after finishing my promotions for Twerk. I am releasing a new song this weekend as well with my very good friend. It is highly confidential but I’ll let you in on this secret. It is very different from my previous genres. I am trying the R&B genre in this one. *He played us a snippet of the song*
KHIGH: I love this, it makes me want to go on a long drive with the windows rolled down.
AOORA: You know what long drive is actually the main concept of it, you got that right!
KHIGH: Lastly, if you don’t mind, will you please tell us about gender fluidity in the music videos? You are quite open when it comes to wardrobe and themes in your work. Were you inspired by your personal life?
AOORA: Oh, I don’t really mind. You can ask me that. Yes, I am very open-minded about gender fluidity. I had a transgender friend in high school. My motto is to embrace the minority. It is a difficult situation in South Korea. I want to show people that sexual orientation should not make a difference in your perception of a person. I want my audience to embrace my motto as well. My close friend, Edward Avilla came out and the industry did not accept him earlier. But now they have embraced him as the artist that he is. I don’t care what a person’s sexual identity is. I support them completely. Love and Humanism are all that matter.
KHIGH: As a popular artist, it is great that you support the LGBTQ Community. On behalf of the community, we thank you for your solidarity. I hope your message reaches far and wide. Human is Human and Love is Love.
AOORA: Exactly! I just want to spread the message of love through my music, make people happy and entertain!
Thank you so much AOORA for your time and a lovely and inspirational chat! We can not wait for new music from you and till then we shall stream “TWERK“!
Interviewed by: Nikita Gupta