In Conversation: Tiffany Young

"Your heritage and culture makes you who you are..."

It’s rare to have the chance to watch one of your favourite artists grow and have the opportunity to check in on them personally as they made music, found themselves and inspired others.

But that’s exactly what happened as I followed Korean-American singer Tiffany Young throughout 2019; watching and listening as she dropped brilliant music – with the latest being the high energy track ‘Run For Your Life,’ released in the tail-end of October.

Interviewing Tiffany for the first time in June – right after the release of the music video for the remix of popular single ‘Runaway’ – as she floated into a new chapter of her life as an artist, the goal for her new music, she said, was to be “unexpected and extravagant.”

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Speaking on the inspiration behind the remix and the video, Tiffany said: “It was about journeying into the unknown. It was about being open and exploring. In society, sometimes you’re made to feel if you don’t know something you shouldn’t do it. The confusion shouldn’t stop you, instead it should encourage you to research and dig further into whatever you believe in.”

Inspired by her fans to keep up the drive to constantly create, this remix of ‘Runaway’ – which featured Korean verse from her Girls’ Generation bandmate Sooyoung Choi, and classical piano arrangements from Asian American diva pianist Chloe Flower and vocals from the legendary Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmunds – was Tiffany’s way of going back to her roots while also amalgamating her American upbringing to create music she hoped would become; the representation of the Korean-American pop diva.

While on the topic of being Korean-American, she reminisces on a piece of advice she holds close to her heart, saying: “Your heritage and culture makes you who you are. We get lost trying to fit in so if you can embrace yourself and others around you – wouldn’t that just make the world a better place?”

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This becomes a good point to delve into her life as a K-Pop artist who has managed the best of both worlds; as she continues to be part of Girls Generation (SNSD) with whom she debuted in 2007 while also building her solo career. So what was the biggest difference between K-pop and pop music? It seems there isn’t much of a difference aside from the language as she answered: “At the end, it’s all about the love of music – it comes in every shape and form you can imagine. Whatever the artist’s truth is will be what connects to whoever and wherever you are in the world.”

However, this didn’t mean that Tiffany didn’t struggle with the aspect of change as she moved out of the comfort zone she’d build for herself as part of SNSD. Explaining the biggest challenge she’d faced in her journey as a solo artist, the then 29-year-old said: ”It doesn’t matter if you’re young or you’re a more experienced artist. The idea of opening yourself up finding my voice, my brand and myself all over again is always a challenge.”

But it was a challenge the fierce, optimistic artist took head on; tour announcements, new music, and her 30th birthday followed as Tiffany took flight as an artist. Soon after that first interview came the announcement for her first 18-date North American tour which she is currently on.

Asked just ahead of the first show in October what her expectations from the ‘Magnetic Moon’ tour was, she replied: “I want every night to feel like a close celebration of togetherness and confidence in self. When I see people in the crowd feeling confident and dancing to their own rhythm, and when they message me after the show saying they feel stronger and inspired -that’s the positivity and therapy I need in my life and I’m glad I’m not alone.”

But before the tour came the release after which it was named; ‘Magnetic Moon’ a “cool, fun, puts-you-in-a-mood, dance record” inspired by Tiffany’s back-to-back late-night writing sessions.

Released on August 2nd as gift she gave to her fans for her birthday – with her only wish being is to have the strength, and grace to give everyone the best show of their lives through the Magnetic Moon Tour – the single seemed to accomplish a lot of the goals Tiffany had set out in our first chat.

The first goal being bringing people together. Earlier on, she’d expressed her hope of becoming someone that supports people. She said: “Supporting someone else is important to me so I’m hoping I can help someone feel powerful, to help them heal.”

And it seemed ‘Magnetic Moon’ achieved exactly that. Speaking about the most exciting part of the release she said, “It’s magical to see people connect and come together. To see, hear, read, and feel how much they love it always feels like a gift.” 

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The second goal was a bit ambitious, and day-dreamy. On a question about collaborations she responded: “I have my eyes set on bringing together a group of wonderful women from all over the music industry to make epic collaboration.”

She quipped, “it’ll happen someday.” Then in August came her new track and its music video – where she collaborated GDW's WOOGIE, HYUNWOO on the project led by CATHY, and DAHYE – working on set filled with “boss ladies” as she put it; her wish to work with powerful women somewhat fulfilled. The power she felt seems to have been carried along with her if her latest track is anything to go by. Working with Cedric Gervais, she comes full circle as describes her inspiration for the track to be her fans.

She explains: “I got into the studio, remembered how I felt so empowered by my fans on stage, and started dancing and moving – talking about moving to your instincts, not being afraid to be yourself and feel fabulous while doing it.”

A powerful, ever-evolving role model, who strongly believes, “there is no change without challenge”, as she attempts to influence the world and make it a better place with her music, Tiffany aptly describes her life, and the changes she herself has been through with own lyrics – “I am finally over my skin, I am not running away, I feel born again”.

From a 17-year-old girl learning to make music that was true to herself, Tiffany Young has been reborn, blooming – over the years – into an inspiration for all; she is as she describes herself “a fierce, independent lioness” fighting against the shackles put on her to remain demure; she is fabulous, she is strong and she’s so much more.

There is no doubt that 2019 was a big year for Tiffany – and having had the honour to experience her growth and metamorphosis – there’s not much else to say or do but echo her sentiment for the New Year; “In 2020 there will be more music and messages to live, love and fight for.”

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Words: Malvika Padin

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