There’s no doubt SOMI was born to be a star.
Her journey to stardom began when she was just a tween. After making several appearances in variety shows and competing on popular music survival shows such as SIXTEEN and Produce 101, in 2016 she made her debut as a member of K-pop girl group I.O.I. Following their disbandment, the 20-year-old superstar succeeded in making a name for herself, becoming one of K-pop’s veritable “It” girls and a solo artist in her own right.
In June 2019, a year after departing JYP Entertainment and signing with YG Entertainment sub-label The Black Label, SOMI made her solo debut with “Birthday.” The colorful single perfectly encapsulated the singer’s relatable sass and energetic attitude, with playful lyrics aimed at her haters: “Oops, you’re not invited! / Yeah, you’re not invited.” Then, last summer, SOMI turned things up with “What You Waiting For,” a dance-pop banger with a music video showcasing her various alter egos.
Now, a brand new SOMI is in town, as evident on the pop star’s latest summer release — and viral TikTok smash — “DUMB DUMB.” Below, SOMI catches up with PopCrush about her new single, alter egos, finding her voice and more.
What is your new single “DUMB DUMB” about?
SOMI: Both the lyrics and the dance for “DUMB DUMB” are fun. The song is about putting up a front to impress your crush, and in the end it’s like, “Ha! My plan worked! I had you all along!” Really, I’m just dancing on top of your head. The dance is also playful and represents this innocent, yet confident girl.
What was the process like working on it?
SOMI: It was so smooth! I was there every step of the way — I cut my own demos and for the drop we had about 10 different options. All my producers are like my brothers, so I would give feedback and [keep] going until we found the right one! I also participated in the song writing, the choreography and the music video. I feel like the music, dance and visuals really came together into one nice picture. I’m really pleased with this project!
You’ve also become a blonde bombshell! It’s something your fans — and everyone who knows you — haven’t seen since you began your career. Your last single, “What You Waiting For,” showed off different alter egos. Does “DUMB DUMB” introduce a new character? Or is this “blonde SOMI” an extended story to alter egos you’ve already shown?
SOMI: This is the first time we’re actually putting it out there but [the character in] “What You Waiting For” is actually my alter ego, ENNIK. I feel like “DUMB DUMB” shows the new SOMI, and it’s only just the beginning. The new SOMI has plans!
You made your solo debut with “Birthday” in 2019, followed by the summer banger “What You Waiting For” in 2020 and, now, “DUMB DUMB.” Is there a certain image, concept or story you’re trying to tell with your music? If so, what is it?
SOMI: We’re more focused on telling a story and the personal stories I’m going through at the time. “Birthday” was about me being born as a soloist; “What You Waiting For” is about ENNIK telling SOMI, “What are you waiting for? You already know!” If you look at the music video, ENNIK actually kills the timid SOMI. The SOMI in “DUMB DUMB” is the new SOMI.
Your music has always been fun and upbeat, with messages of building confidence and being free-spirited. Do you think you’ve found your voice in your music yet? Are there any sounds or genres you’d like to dive into?
SOMI: Vocally yes, especially for my upcoming album. You guys will hear I have found my sweet spot; my range that I’m comfortable in. We’re still experimenting in terms of genres. I don’t want to frame myself or limit myself to one sound just yet. I want to continue to evolve. But in terms of singing, I have found my voice, range, texture. Now it’s about utilizing my voice and growing my sound in parallel. Also, P.S.: I’m falling love with my wake-up-at-4-AM rap voice.
What’s the greatest thing about being a young and empowering female solo act?
SOMI: I’m enjoying the moment. There’s an old clip of me singing to Hannah [Montana] on YouTube – I feel like her!
Because you’ve been in the spotlight for almost a decade, going on music survival shows, doing variety TV, being in I.O.I., and making a name for yourself, what’s something you’ve learned about yourself in your career?
SOMI: My life is like a movie. I’ve been in every situation, every scenario possible — good and bad, highs and lows. I’ve been doing this since I was 13, 14 — and I’m still only 20 but I feel like a veteran! I’m still not sure where everything is leading to but I feel like I’m at the right place now and I’m excited for what’s next. Bring it on!
What’s the greatest advice you’ve been given along the way?
SOMI: Don’t look outwards, look within. All the answers are there.
What is something you wish people knew more about you?
SOMI: I might look outgoing and positive, but I’m also sensitive and vulnerable just like everyone else.
Is there anything else you’d like to do?
SOMI: There’s still so much more I want to do! I feel like I’m just getting started. I want to continue to write and grow as an artist, dancer, performer, actress, writer, director… But for now, I can’t wait to bring more music to you guys!
Before we sign off, I saw this video and heard you don’t like poutine. Why is that? What would you say should be the national dish of Canada?
SOMI: I love poutine! But I think something maple syrup should be our national dish. I love stuff like maple syrup fudge. I’m getting hungry now…