The Interview with Grace Kim Begins…
Quintin Goynes | ManIntheMiddleqg
1. When and why did you start playing?
Grace Kim: I have started playing piano at the age 5. My mother was a piano teacher and she believed that some musical experience in the early age can significantly develop the tonal sense. It really helped to open my ears to music in the very natural way.
2. Which instruments do you play?
Grace Kim: The main instrument I play is the piano and I’m a trained vocalist. Along with that, I can handle a guitar, clarinet, flute, recorder and some other instruments. They are all basically what my mother have taught in her music institute. She had to try on me first!
3. What was the first tune(s) you learned?
Grace Kim: I assume it was ‘Butterfly’. It’s the first song on most of the piano teaching books in Korea. It’s one of the popular nursery rhymes.
4. Is your family musical?
Grace Kim: I would say yes I have some musical background within my family.
5. Describe your family member’s musical interests and abilities.
Grace Kim: My mother is, as I’ve mentioned, a music teacher. She has majored in piano in university and a great choral conductor. And my father has got a hobby playing classical guitar.
6. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Grace Kim: I admire Jack White a lot as a fan. It doesn’t really share the groove with my soul music, but he’s attitude toward music really motivates me a lot. Such a hard working musician he is, and yet the music sounds so raw and instinctive.
7. Which famous musicians have you learned from?
Grace Kim: Frank Ocean and Kate Bush. When I started writing in the UK, they gave me a lot of lessons to get the western sense of songwriting.
8. Who was your first teacher? Other teachers?
Grace Kim: Simply, my mom and there are several teachers who taught me the classical music composition for a long time.
9. Describe your first instrument. Other instruments.
Grace Kim: My first instrument was the piano and then I’ve played the flute, violin, harmonica, Danso, clarinet, guitar.. in the order. I remember I enjoyed playing mostly woodwinds quite a lot.
10. What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town?
Grace Kim: When I was little, I used to like watching my mom playing the piano and imitating it afterward. I remember I’ve tried hard to get the groove like her but it usually didn’t go well. It’s a good memory with my mother in my childhood.
11. Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
Grace Kim: I have some good nostalgia with LP records. Way back, there was the time when I first listened to one of the records of The Doors through analogue set up. I felt the warmth from the record which is totally different from what CD gives me. I still have that feeling in mind when I work on my music and try to shape my sound to be warm and embracing.
12. Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CDs?
Grace Kim: I’ve been enjoying listening to Jhene Aiko, who is not coming with her new music yet but still being my gem. Recently I find Alessia Cara is cool.
13. Have you been in competitions? Fleadh’s? Any prizes?
Grace Kim: Before I came to the UK, I liked to go to some competitions. The main one I won would be the ‘Korean Gospel Song Competition in 2013.’ I won the Gold prize and since then I had performed as a gospel single around Korea for a while.
14. Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV?
Grace Kim: I perform as a singer-songwriter with my band in the Liverpool area currently in clubs and live music venues. I first single “No One” was on air through ‘Radio Mersey Introducing,’ and I’ve performed in some live music shows in ‘Bay TV,’ ‘NVTV’, ‘Latest TV’ and ‘Cambridge TV’ in 2016.
15. Do you play for dances? Step-dancers? Describe the differences.
Grace Kim: Not yet. I’m looking forward to more collaboration with dances in the future.
16. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Grace Kim: Well, I have this sentence in mind. “I will anyway do one mistake.” It doesn’t mean I make mistakes often. It means I will forgive myself and go on for one mistake. This gives me confident to get through the very first mistake, which can shake the entire mood of the set.
17. Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
Grace Kim: I always get nervous. But I like being nervous because that can go into excitement on the stage sometimes. And also it keeps me practiced enough and enough beforehand. So, my body will go regardless of my brain being blank and stop!
18. What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?
Grace Kim: Practice hard before the stage, but let all that go away on the stage. Don’t think too much. If you practiced a lot, your body will do the set for you for your pleasure.
19. Do you attend sessions? What makes a good session?
Grace Kim: I occasionally enjoy jam sessions with my colleagues. I think sometimes some good respect to each other makes good music, too.
20. How often and for how long do you practice?
Grace Kim: Depends on the situation when I’ve got new songs to work on or many gigs coming up. But regular practice is for me, 2 hours vocal practice and endless work on piano-vocal coordination.
21. What do you practice – exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?
Grace Kim: There is a vocal routine I do every time in the beginning and then I go for what I need for the gig planned.
22. Do you teach music?
Grace Kim: I used to teach music theory, composition, sight-reading, aural skills and so on for private lessons. Currently, I am focusing on gigging more.
23. How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children, job?
Grace Kim: I am pretty work-holic. I put work on the top of everything. But, I realized that is a bit too extreme. Now I am trying to set a bit of time a day for myself to meet friends or to relax. It is getting there.