By Quek Yoke Ling and Delia Chew
Korean-American singer-songwriter Sam Kim performed in Singapore for his first-ever official concert as part of Cross Ratio Entertainment’s cross-over music movement initiative on 26 July.
Setting the tone for the night was home-grown music act The Fleurist, made up of Joshua Wee and Marcus Tay – the latter which some may recognise as the runner-up of last year’s edition of SPOP SING!, a Chinese singing competition.
Sufficiently hyped up from The Fleurist’s opening performance, the crowd roared in approval when the star of the evening finally ascended the stage. Dressed in black sans a loud plaid shirt, Sam Kim opened the show with the song Sun and Moon – the title track which his latest album was named after. Backed by soaring instrumentals courtesy of his 5-piece band, Kim’s smooth and soothing vocals completely took command of the audience.
Fans were treated to a setlist filled with new hits, alongside old favourites from previous releases such as his debut EP, I Am Sam. Sam Kim’s musical versatility was on full display as he effortlessly switched between upbeat bops and jazzy laidback tracks – making one marvel at his ability to express amply displaying his versatility and sensitivity in expressing emotions through his songs.
He certainly had the audience at the back of his hand, with the crowd bopping along with upbeat numbers like DANCE and TOUCH MY BODY in one moment, or standing in awed silence to tender ballads like Your Song and Sunny Days, Summer Nights in another. Of course, Kim didn’t fail to bring out the hits, with tracks such as Make Up and It’s You meeting with raucous response as the audience sang along enthusiastically. In addition to the scheduled setlist, the singer even treated the crowd to short snippets of songs such as Englishman in New York, originally sung by Sting, and Seattle, upon audience request.
Sam Kim’s natural stage presence, easy banter with the audience and charm bely the fact that this rising star is merely 21 years old. With all of this, it is little wonder that the runner-up of music reality show K-pop Star 3 has secured himself a solid fanbase: one which happens to include many (extremely) vocal male fans, who unabashedly proclaimed their love for him with shouts of “I love you, Sam Kim!” between songs. Apart from Singaporean supporters, a sizeable number of foreign fans were present at the scene, too, with some flying into Singapore just to be part of the occasion.
While Kim’s voice did not disappoint, it was the little things that increased his appeal tenfold (and – dare we say – possibly more). Think dislodging-seat-from-chair, spontaneously-using-water-bottle-as-prop kind of moments – moments which were saved with a bashful smile, or some light drumming in the background. His band definitely deserves a special mention for gamely backing him up, and working magic with anything that was thrown at them.
The night came to a bittersweet end as Sam Kim closed off the concert with the energetic track No 눈치 (No Sense), followed by a heartfelt rendition of Would You Believe.
“A [sic] concert was amazing, the food was amazing, so the experience was just really good for me, I really thank all of you guys for welcoming me, so much love and support. I will be coming out sooner or later with a new song. Hope you guys enjoy it. Thank you so much and take care!” Kim says.
Following his successful concert run, Sam Kim took the time to answer Campus’ questions about his career, musical inspirations and more. Read on for our full interview with Sam Kim:
Where do you get inspiration for your songs?
In terms of inspiration, I thrive off a moment of inspiration, for example, today I was on my way to see a friend and I felt really hot sun on my back, so it just puts me in a mood for a certain kind of vibe or a certain kind of song. Inspiration can strike really whenever but I think for me, it’s just a moment of my life and I also take inspiration from other artists.
Name 3 of your favourite artists, and your favourite songs from each of them.
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop, for example, BewhY and Giriboy, and back into my roots, I listen to artists like John Mayor, Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes. They all play guitar, they all make that acoustic pop kind of vibe and rock all that stuff, so I’ve tried to get back to my roots.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in the early stages of your singer-songwriter journey?
I think actually in the early stages, because you don’t know anything and you have no standards yet, it was quite easy for me to write songs. But now, I think my greatest challenges so far in my career, I am facing them right now, now I understand how much I lack and how far I need to go now that I have my certain standards and all that stuff, it’s like a pressure for writing a better song.
How do you feel about having your first ever concert tour?
It was great, I was really nervous. I had a Europe tour (a) few months back, and that was just like me being alone with a DJ. But this time in Singapore, I had the foundation of my band, so it was a lot less lonely. Obviously, I think I shine the most when I am with the live band because it is so much fun. I was having actual fun and the people in Singapore really welcomed me, so I had a lot of fun.
Of all the songs you have composed, which is the most meaningful to you, and why?
The first that comes to mind would be either “The Weight” or “If”. I think it’s just because those songs show more vulnerable side of me. Another one that comes to mind is “Seattle”, you can tell what those 3 songs have in common, they are just very vulnerable, very raw, and they show other sides of me that I didn’t show very often. I think writing those kinds of songs really helps with acknowledging this feeling, I feel catharsis when I write those emotional songs.
Apart from what you’re currently doing (composing songs/singing etc.), what else would you like to attempt in the future?
I just want to get a farm somewhere and raise my crops, raise a few horses and put a fish pond. I really like nature so that’s actually a goal of my life in the future, haha… but if I answer this question seriously, what I am currently doing, I feel like my image (currently) is more of a performer and all that stuff, but later I would like to take songwriting more seriously. I really want to write more for other artists and really focus apart of my career to better my songwriting skill, just kind of spread my songs and spread my name via other artists.
What kind of person (e.g. kind, friendly) would you like to be known as?
I would like to be known as friendly, that guy who you can always depend on. I don’t know if I am that guy yet, but I am working towards it.
What quote do you live by?
There is one I wrote on my wall: “Always be a beginner”. I was talking about those standards that I set up for myself, that burden of having to constantly be better than my last song, be better than yesterday, be better than a week before, but I think when you are in the mindset of you are a beginner always, you don’t have any expectations, you are always ready to learn, so I think that’s the quote I am living by lately.