[Exclusive Interview] Independent K-pop Artist LIYVZ Makes an Emotional Debut with “Venus”

On February 18, independent K-pop singer LIYVZ has released her debut single “Venus." "Venus" is a K-Pop track with R&B and dream pop influences. The release follows the artist going viral on Instagram and TikTok for her unique artist journey, garnering 3.5 million views across the two platforms.

The 24-year-old British singer-songwriter has been a part of the K-Pop scene for over a decade, including time spent being an individual trainee ("개인 연습생", often seen on Mnet’s Produce and Planet survival shows) in Korea. She hopes to break the glass ceiling of K-pop and her fans are cheering her on along the way. 

Due to her experiences, LIYVZ sees writing and releasing music in Korean as the “most natural” outcome. KpopWise spoke with LIYVZ to learn more about her debut and journey to becoming a K-pop artist. 

Hi LIYVZ! Can you introduce yourself to the KpopWise audience? 

Hi, my name is LIYVZ! I’m a 24 year old K-Pop singer songwriter based in London. My debut single, “Venus” just dropped and I’m so excited to be chatting about it with KpopWise!

When did you start singing? When did you know that you wanted to become a K-pop artist?

I started singing as soon as I could make a sound, haha! My family is very musical, so we sang in the house and the car a lot. As far as formal training though, I started musical theater classes when I was 8 or 9 years old and continued to do that along with vocal lessons and choir.

As far as when I knew I wanted to be a K-Pop artist, the first time was when I was a kid and had just discovered K-Pop. This was when I didn’t understand all the different “conditions” of the industry; I was just a little girl who grew up loving American and British girl groups (namely Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, and TLC). It didn’t seem any different to me than the groups I already loved and aspired to be like, so I started auditioning.

Then when I was around 21 years old, I had been working on my career as a professional dancer and dance teacher in Toronto, but realized I still felt the hunger to be a singer and work in Korea. At this point I knew that my chances in K-Pop were slim, but I wanted to try every possible option. That’s how I ended up going to Korea for training, to really get that professional opinion and improve my skills.

Finishing my training in Korea is what sparked the last realization– which is my current mindset of, “Yes, I want to make music in Korean and work in the K-Pop industry, but on my own terms.” My teachers gave me a lot of guidance in developing as a singer, songwriter, and performer, and thanks to the training I received I gained the confidence and skills to do this on my own. 

Can you tell us about your new song “Venus?”

Venus is a K-Pop song with R&B elements that has an immersive, dreamlike feel. It’s the kind of song you want to listen to on a night drive, or while looking at the stars. Myself and the producer, Kirino Morales, spent a lot of time crafting the soundscape to truly surround the listener and take them into the world of “Venus”. Listening with headphones is such an experience!

Listen to "Venus"


What was the creative process like for this song?

I wrote this song back in December of 2020, after coming back from training in Korea for the first time. I was processing a lot of the feelings I had back then about my dreams, my relationships, and life in general. I actually ended up releasing it in early 2021 with a different title, but I wasn’t really satisfied with the final outcome as far as quality goes so I didn’t promote it much. 

Fast forward to July of 2022, when I met Kirino. We worked together for a gig, and some time after he suddenly sent me a rough draft of a new version of the song. I was immediately like, “Oh my god, can I release this?” and we started working on it! It was a ton of fun songwriting together, and I learned a lot from him about production. I’m definitely still a topliner (writes melody and lyrics) by nature but I’m improving!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent K-pop artist?

The best part is absolutely that I’m 100% in charge of what I put out. I really enjoy writing music, coming up with creative concepts and staging performances, so being able to freely share my ideas and perspectives is a big plus! Also, there’s no company holding me to the traditional K-Pop mold image wise, which means I can truly focus on my artistry rather than trying to be something I’m not.

As far as the disadvantages, a big one is that I have to fund everything myself. I have had so much support from people in my life, and many creatives who met me where I am as an independent artist so I could bring my visions to life. I’m endlessly thankful for them, but I am always looking forward to the day that my music career is something myself, my loved ones, and the creatives I work with can thrive off of. 

Another disadvantage is that I have to manage all my social media by myself. People use it to harass and ridicule people like me who are just doing their own thing, when they could just log off and do something productive. However, I do love to communicate with my fans through social media so I don’t know if I could give it up completely. 

Which artists, Western and Korean are you inspired by?

This question is always so tough for me! For Western artists, NAO and Rina Sawayama inspire me the most– I learn a lot from their songwriting and performance styles, as well as their vocal techniques. I also listened to Brenda Fassie a lot while growing up, and think her vocal melodies have influenced the kind of melodies I default to. 

As for Korean influences, Yerin Baek is one of my all-time favourite artists and inspires my sound a ton! I have studied her vocal and songwriting style so much, and watching her reinvent herself over and over has been so cool for me as a fan and fellow artist. Sunmi and SAAY are also huge inspirations to me! They’re both great performers, as well as amazing writers and producers. There are so many artists who have inspired me and I wish I could name them all.

What is the moment you felt the proudest?

I felt really proud when I got my first viral video. It was just a short video about me making the choice to become an independent K-Pop artist, but seeing so many people resonate with my journey really made me feel proud of the time I spent chasing my dreams. I don’t regret any of the time I spent trying to be a K-Pop idol in the traditional sense, because it helped me develop my skills, but after that video went viral I felt proud to have given it my all because my story has inspired others.

Other than music, what is something you want to learn?

I really want to learn how to sew! One of my childhood dreams aside from being a singer was to be a fashion designer. I did learn how to sew a bit in middle school but that was a long time ago, and I’ve completely forgotten. If I knew how to sew, I would definitely make some of my own stage outfits! I have also been trying to learn Japanese, but it’s way harder than Korean for me.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a recording artist?

Do your research! We are so fortunate to be living in a time where there’s a tutorial for everything, and “how to” lists are all over the place. Learn the skills you’ll need, get involved with your local music scene, check out programs that support new artists. Don’t hesitate, just take that first small step and work towards growth. Study your favourite musicians too! 

Is there something you want to tell your fans?

MYVz, I am so glad that we’re on this journey together. Whether you’re new or you’ve been with me for years, I’m so excited for our future! I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can, appreciate your support more than I can describe, and promise to be an artist you can be proud of. Thank you so much! 

What can we expect from you next? 

One of my main goals is to be perform live as much as I can this year, so look out for live show announcements on my socials! I’m also working on new music all the time, and my next project is in the near future. I am really excited to show the world what I’ve been working towards for so long.

Follow LIYVZ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liyvz/

YouTube: https://youtube.com/@LIYVZ

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@official.liyvz

Spotify: LIYVZ | Apple Music: LIYVZ | SoundCloud: LIYVZ

Thank you to LIYVZ for the interview!

Ciera Reeves

Ciera is the founder of KpopWise. She has been a fan of Korean pop culture since 2005 and writing about it since 2009. Her bias groups are VIXX and OnlyOneOf. She is a 2nd-3rd generation K-pop fan, but she is actively keeping up with the current artists. twitter instagram

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