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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Sohyang's First Hip Hop Single is a "BLESSING" to the Music Industry

South Korean pop and gospel singer, Sohyang, puts an inspirational plot twist on her illustrious career by releasing hip hop masterpiece, "BLESSING".

Sohyang new hip hop song blessing
Sohyang | Image courtesy of Arkhe Entertainment

Sohyang has been enchanting audiences with her golden vocals since 1996. From that point on, the charming balladeer has graced various stages. From the King of Masked Singer and Begin Again to Immortal Songs, everywhere she went, she left a trail of sparkle in her path.

Solidifying her status as a skilled gospel and pop singer, Sohyang has brought home the title from Immortal Songs three times with empowering renditions of "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Lean On Me", and "One Million Roses". She even made her soul-stirring voice heard on a global scale by becoming the first South Korean artist to perform the American National Anthem at an NBA game.

Fast forward a million milestones later, and this vocal queen has just taken her first steps in the realm of hip hop with her latest track titled "BLESSING".

Sohyang has the voice of an angel, and she recently used it to chat with PopMachine about her new hip hop track, her love for tteokbokki, and her biggest blessing, so far.

Sohyang: A Kaleidoscopic Songstress

★ POPMACHINE: Hello, Sohyang. Congratulations on the success of "BLESSING"! In the song, your voice channels an edgy hip hop energy that contrasts with your usual ethereal sound. What was it like venturing into your first hip hop track?

◆ SOHYANG: Hi! Nice to meet you! I'm Sohyang! Thank you for the congratulations!

I didn't actually start working on the song to try the hip-hop genre. I was just trying out different things with my songwriting team, C.P.K, and we ended up making hip-hop and having a lot of fun.

It was a genre I hadn't done before, but I love trying new things and learning new things, so it was really exciting and fun!

★ POPMACHINE: What was the highlight of collaborating with YDG and the C.P.K. team?

◆ SOHYANG: When YDG was writing this rap, he called me out of the blue to tell me that he was finishing up work near my studio, so I said, "Let's go eat," and while he was driving over he wrote the lyrics on the beat. The sun was so bright, he had to wear sunglasses, and he rapped about the situation. I liked it so much that I called C.P.K (the team gathered by Sohyang, PETRA, Chae Dohyun in Touched). and we started recording right away. That's the rap in “BLESSING (Feat. YDG)” that you're hearing right now. It came out really cool, so we were excited to work on it.

★ POPMACHINE: The music video for "BLESSING" is a haunting work of art. What was the inspiration for both the Biblical and darker references in the MV?

◆ SOHYANG: This track was created by me first. I was learning how to use logic programs from P(PETRA) and C(Chea Dohyeon in Touched) at the time, and I was making music like homework, there was a famous scene from a movie about Mozart's life called ‘Amadeus’ that was in a YouTube shorts, and I was inspired by the first melody line in the scene where he's composing the Requiem, the funeral song he wrote before he died. I thought, what if I put a beat to it, and I think that's what created this mood. The Requiem starts off in minor and then it goes to major and it becomes sacred, and I think that's how I envisioned the process of going from darkness to light. I took that track and developed it with the songwriting team to make it more polished, and it was a fun thing to try.

★ POPMACHINE: What would you consider your biggest blessing, so far?

After we recorded the song in the States, we said, "We've been working so hard, now let's play!" So we went to the Grand Canyon, and it was so beautiful in the morning, and we saw the light coming through the dark valley before the sun came up, and it was like it already knew that we were making a song about “BLESSING (Feat. YDG),” and it was so amazing. "This is a real blessing." We're so lucky to be able to make a song and a video about the transition from darkness to light. If there's another blessing, it's probably the people we're doing this with.

Not to mention the songwriting team, C.P.K. My manager, the music video director, the staff, YDG, and PRIME KINGZ were all blessings to me!

Sohyang Kim
Sohyang | Image courtesy of Arkhe Entertainment

★ POPMACHINE: From your legendary appearance on "King of Masked Singer" to your national athem performance at an NBA game in 2014, you have celebrated a bunch of career milestones. Which one would you deem as your biggest achievement?

◆ SOHYANG: In fact, working on “BLESSING (Feat. YDG)” right now gives me the most fulfillment. It's the first time I've ever made a song that I've put so much effort into, and it's the most fulfilling thing I've ever done because I've put all my energy into it and collaborated with so many people to get it out there. I can't wait to see what else is in store for me in my life that will be even more fulfilling.

★ POPMACHINE: You have such a huge presence on YouTube and social media. What is one specific fan comment or interaction that holds a special place in your heart?

◆ SOHYANG: To be comforted is the biggest blessing for me. I think that's my ultimate purpose in making music, and the reason why I tried to do this this time in particular is probably because I have a big heart for the younger generation right now. MZ's generation’s life is hard, they have to survive in a tough world, stay stable, and they have to climb up in a society that is so competitive. In that situation, I want my music to be a ray of light for them, and if these songs that I made with that kind of heart can reach out to them a little bit more and give them moments of comfort and light without even realizing it, I would be more than happy. It means a lot to me when people say that they were comforted as if they saw my heart.

★ POPMACHINE: You've fearlessly taken on ballads, pop songs, and hip hop. Which genre will you be exploring next?

SOHYANG: I’m not sure, I didn't make “BLESSING (Feat. YDG)” to challenge hip-hop, I met this song like it was my destiny to accept it. So I don't know what other music genres I'll try, what other stories I'll tell, but what I do know is that I don't care what genre I use to tell the story I want to tell, as long as it's effective.

POPMACHINE: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now, 10 hours from now, and 10 minutes from now?

◆ SOHYANG: In 10 minutes I'll probably be out to writing a song, in 10 hours I'll still be writing a song, and in 10 years I'll probably be making a movie. (laughs)

★ POPMACHINE: Based on your concept photos and Instagram feed, you have a stellar sense of style. What is one fashion staple that you can't live without?

◆ SOHYANG: (Laughs) I'm so grateful to hear that. I never had a fashion sense, but working on this song made me realize the importance of styling. The styling and photos came out great because all the staff cared a lot and helped me, so thank you again.

Sohyang and YDG collaborate for "BLESSING"
Sohyang and YDG collaborate for "BLESSING" | Image courtesy of Arkhe Entertainment

★ POPMACHINE: On another note, your voice has the ability to sound both angelic and fierce. Do you have any specific rituals or methods you use to condition it before a performance?

◆ SOHYANG: l clear my throat with a Mariah Carey or a Tori Kelly song half an hour before I go onstage because they have a lot of range. More importantly, they have a voice that can go from low to mid to high, and it's so great to practice. I need to warm up and perform that way so I can sing in a soft state.

★ POPMACHINE: You have already collaborated with many talented artists. Who's up next? Or do you have any dream collaborations?

◆ SOHYANG: First of all, I'm already set to do a duet with Petra. I'd love to do a duet with him because he's the P in C.P.K. and he has amazing vocal abilities. I'd also love to collaborate with Justin Bieber because his vocals are so captivating and I'm a fan. He's captivating many people with his musical talent, so I'd love to learn from him. I'd also love to collaborate with artists like Jacob Collier and John Batiste!

★ POPMACHINE: If you could go back in time to a certain moment in your life–not to change anything, but just to relive a moment–where would you go?

◆ SOHYANG: I wish I could go back to the first time I made this song (laughs) because it was so much fun!

★ POPMACHINE: In the unlikely event of a zombie attack, the item closest to your right hand is your weapon. What will you be using to defend yourself?

◆ SOHYANG: Maybe it's a machete, you know, the kind you use to cut bushes in the jungle, you need that to slit their throat. In the movies, zombies only die when their throats are slit (laughs), anyway, it's too cruel......

★ POPMACHINE: Singing is your obvious talent, but do you have any hidden talents that the world should know about?

◆ SOHYANG: Imagination? This is a talent that I really like and it makes me happy. I want people to imagine and dream like I do because you can do anything with it!

★ POPMACHINE: Given that the weather is so cold nowadays, what is your favorite winter comfort food?

◆ SOHYANG: Tteokbokki! I love this food the most in the world!

★ POPMACHINE: Tying in with our previous question, would you rather never eat your favorite winter comfort food again, or trade your voice with Donald Duck's voice for one year?

◆ SOHYANG: I'm going to swap voices with Donald Duck for a year if I can't eat for the rest of my life. It's horrible to think about. Donald Duck's voice is cute. (Laughs)

I think it would be cool to have a Donald Duck voice for a year. It's so hard for singers because you have to take so much care of it. You can't eat too much because your throat is an instrument, and you have to be careful of the cold air when you bathe, and you have to dress warmly in the winter, and you can't drink cold water... If you have a Donald Duck voice, you don't have to do any of that for a year!

★ POPMACHINE: What is the funniest or most useless thing you ever added to cart?

◆ SOHYANG: I’m not sure, I don't think there were any. One day I ordered a pair of leather boots because they looked really nice, but when I got them, I realized they were just made of vinyl. (Laughs) So I had to send them was just like, "Oh, no." (Laughs)

★ POPMACHINE: What's one unpopular pop culture opinion you have that you feel strongly about?

◆ SOHYANG: Jazz, classical, Korean national music, or even music that is used in movie scores sometimes inspire me a lot, and the fact that they have survived to this point is proof that they were once mainstream. I don't think that just because something is mainstream now doesn't mean that it will continuously be mainstream in the future. Music is a tool that can speak to the soul. I think mainstream or non-mainstream, it's just different ways of doing it, and different times when it becomes popular. I think it's the new take on the way they were leading that creates another trend. Like “BLESSING (Feat. YDG)” brought Requiem, but it became a genre called hip-hop. There are quite a few hip-hop songs that have hit, not just “BLESSING (Fea.t YDG),” that are sampling classical or old music. Times change, but I don't think it creates anything new.

★ POPMACHINE: Which of your songs or performances best represents your essence as an artist?

◆ SOHYANG: I don't think it's out yet. I want to make the music that best represents me, and the music I've done in the past has definitely represented me, but I need a song of mine that I can think of. In retrospect, so this is what I've done and what I'm going to do in the future. I can't wait to show it to you.

★ POPMACHINE: Do you have any words of advice for singers aspiring to put their names on the map?

◆ SOHYANG: Be crazy! Whatever you do! Whatever music you do! And don't give up! There's a saying that goes something like this: do it for 10 years to be the best at it! If you're crazy about something that makes you crazy, there's no reason to give up! No one can beat someone who perseveres while being crazy!

★ POPMACHINE: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! Do you have a message for your fans and the PopMachine readers?

◆ SOHYANG: Thank you for reading and listening to my long story! I wish you a very Happy New Year 2024 and I hope you dream beautifully and create wonderful days in your life. Please love my song “BLESSING (Feat. YDG) a lot and be healthy! Thank you. I love you.



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