[Exclusive Interview] Charmaine Koh Embraces the Uncertainties in Life

Video Message from Charmaine to KpopWise readers:

Charmaine Koh moved to Seoul, South Korea from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at 17 years old. Moving to a new country may be scary but Charmaine learned to embrace the uncertainties of it. Embracing the uncertainties in life is the overall message of her Dreamin title track from her EP Sunflower at Sundown. She tells us that “we, ourselves are the only ones that can control how we react to those changes” and gives us growth opportunities.


Representing Malaysia for the 20th World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA), she was awarded ‘Champion of the World’ in two categories. Competing in music competitions strengthens her mental fortitude, confidence, and courage. These qualities attest she is a musician who is still a work in progress.

Thank you for taking the time to interview for KpopWise. Your title track ‘Dreamin’ is about different aspects of change in one’s life. Do you have advice to those who feel unsure about changes happening in their life?


Charmaine: I like most people, feel afraid of change too - and I think that it is so valid to feel that way and even a little thrilling to experience something so daunting! We might not see it yet, but feeling that sense of detachment, hollowness, and uncertainty in the process only allows us to get to where we want to be - and it takes courage and trust for sure. I am still struggling with that, and will continue to do so I think, but shifting our focus to having faith that things will turn out alright puts us in a place of control. So, I hope even if only a little, I hope you ‘ll find comfort in this because at the end of it all, change will happen anyways no matter how we deal with it.

Since you’re from Malaysia, you moved to South Korea for your music career. What made you decide to move to South Korea?


Charmaine:I wanted to use South Korea as a playground to explore, learn, and grow as a musician, and an opportunity to completely invest my energy and time into my skills as an artist. When COVID started, I spent most of my time in isolation discovering so many new artists that I now love and look up to, and so one day it occurred to me that I just needed to be in that space to uncover the kind of artist I wanted to be.”

If you had a signature fragrance, what would you name it and why?


Charmaine: ‘Maine’s’ - short and sweet


Camp Rock and High School Musical are your musical inspirations. Which East/West Asian artists do you look up to for musical inspirations?

Charmaine:I look up to Lee Hi, a South Korean artist because her soulful R&B songs resonate with me musically on so many different levels. Crush, is also based in South Korea because they just feel so good. At the end of the day, they embody the very thing I want to achieve with music - to make people feel good.

Charmaine loves to dance aside from creating music. She sees how interrelated songwriting/singing and dance are. Working on these skills uncovered part of herself that she hasn’t been able to do so. This made her how to be a better person and it translates into art eventually: “because of its outwardness (dance) which also carried into my music: it expanded my genre of music… and allowed me to explore new ways to create music”. Recently, editing videos is a newfound form of art she’s been passionate about.


Your EP cover “Sunflower at Sundown” features a sunflower by itself with a light shining down on it. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind it?


Charmaine: I released part of the EP as individual singles before the full launch. All of them were centered around the main sunflower with a different background symbolizing the meaning of each song. With this approach, I thought that it portrayed the essence of each song well in a subtle way. So, I thought for the actual EP art, let’s shift all of the focus to the sunflower and put it in a dark setting. This way, it really expressed the true essence of the EP which is light amid the darkness.”


What is a tv show or series you’ve been addicted to watch recently?


Charmaine: I’ve been catching up on the series ‘You’ on Netflix. Honestly, I have been scarred by the horrifying plot twists. Nevertheless, it is such a good series to binge. P.S, I am a TV show binger.”


Asian representation in music is now important than it was in the past. As one of today’s emerging Asian artists, in what way can you encourage others to listen to Asian artists like yourself?


Charmaine: I think more than ever, being Asian is one of the strongest weapons us Asian artists have today when wanting others to listen to us. With Asian culture being popularized globally, we live in an era where more opportunities are given to us than in the past to share more of our music. We’re making history every day in the period we live in now which is so empowering; and I think that art breaks language barriers and translates across borders when it stands out. And we do now. Given our diversity that is shown through our music and style, I think we will continue to bring something new to the table that is hard to ignore.”

Lastly, she shares with us the last person she texted and what was it about: “It was my brother, he randomly sent me a video of military men dancing!”




Thank you to Charmaine Koh and Gramophone Media for the interview. 

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