Amber Liu is ready to start a new career in the U.S.
At the age of 16, the Los Angeles native found herself moving to Seoul to train with SM Entertainment — one of South Korea’s top entertainment companies — and eventually debut as part of the iconic girl group f(x).
In a new interview with MTV News’s Homecoming, Liu, who is back in the U.S., remembers her journey as a K-Pop artist and shares her thoughts moving forward.
Born to Taiwanese immigrants in West Hills, California, Liu reveals that she comes from a musically-inclined family — and that she’s the only one still “trying to figure things out.”
“My mom is the lead singer of our church and my dad plays bass for the church band, and then my sister originally was like a vocalist for our church.
“Music theory wise, my family’s pretty set. They all can read music, they’re all really good, they have like a good trained ear. I’m just figuring it out and I still am.”
In 2008, Liu was scouted and invited to audition for SM Entertainment — the beginning of her K-Pop career. However, she knew that the road to stardom will not always be thrilling.
“The first month or two months I think I was just really on adrenaline, just like I’m going to sing and dance for my whole career. I was excited to go to classes, learn Korean, but I think after time passed and adrenaline kind of wore off, I really felt lonely.
“It was kind of hard just kind of not having someone to teach you right from wrong. There wasn’t like this person or like this guardian figure to teach me perspective.”
Liu recalls her debut stage with f(x) — a five-member girl group known for their distinctive personalities — and confesses that she was so sleepy when it happened.
“To be very honest, when I debuted, I was so sleepy I don’t even remember … I remember the excitement and like, ‘Oh my gosh, I debuted’ but there was no like, ‘Oh my gosh, I debuted!’”
At this point, the 26-year-old artist echoes the grueling work K-Pop idols have to go through before making a name for themselves.
“We were just really working a lot of long hours. A lot of people know about the long hours that go into K-Pop and you know, everybody’s working 72-hour shifts, probably sleeping an hour a day.”
Since f(x) debuted, Liu has been known for her tomboy appearance, a novelty in the K-Pop scene.
From catchy electropop songs to quirky stage costumes, the group marketed itself as a distinctive, experimental quintet, and fans would know as they never had a fandom name — making them even more unique.
Ten years since her K-Pop debut, Liu plans to continue making music. But this time, things will be on her own terms.
“Right now the craze is all about like, we need representation, which is again, something that I’m very very for and I want to represent my community. I think now being in the industry and seeing that I’m actually being turned away because I’m Asian, I’m like, okay, I get it.
“Now that I’m in the system and I know what goes on, it’s just like kind of sad.”
While Liu says she can release songs in Korean and Chinese “anytime,” she feels compelled to work on English songs for now to represent the identities she stands for.
“I want to represent my community just because I’m a female, Asian, androgynous artist … Why can’t I make this a thing?
“With me and my team and my friends, we always look at the positive and try to figure out and problem-solve around society’s boundaries.”
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