Photo credits: LILAC

Kate Kim talks about alter ego LILAC and her single ‘tin man’

LILAC is Kate Kim’s new stage name. She recently released her debut single ‘tin man’. We were lucky enough to be able to chat about her new music, her new alter ego and being an independent artist.

Who is LILAC?

LILAC is a sassy queen who is out of this world – in her own universe. She’s definitely a lot cooler than I am.

The new name is a metamorphosis from a naive and doe-eyed rookie to an evolved and more established artist. I debuted as Kate Kim under an entertainment company so I didn’t always get to sing and release songs that I felt represented me. All the songs except ‘So Long, Baby’ and ‘Ode to Daydreams’ were written by others. Sometimes I felt like I was just singing the vocals because I didn’t relate to the lyrics or the song. However, now as LILAC, I write and sing my own songs and do whatever I want creatively. And now, with experience and time, I have more skills than I used to in order to make the music that I feel like is my song.

Is your fandom name still CUPKATE? Or will that change with the new stage name?

I haven’t really thought about this yet but I hope my Cupkates are my Cupkates forever! Maybe they can edit the name a little or add a word to it? I don’t know––it’s up to you, my beautiful Cupkates!

‘The Wizard of Oz’

Can you tell us a little bit about your new single ‘tin man’?

‘tin man’ is a song that sort of popped up out of nowhere. I didn’t sit down and plan to release a song called ‘tin man’. It just happened. 

I had been taking producing lessons with a producer and friend of mine named JIDA, whom I have done many collaborations with as Kate Kim and as LILAC. I had to make a song for “homework”. Right when I got home from the lesson, I sat at my living room desk and started making the track to ‘tin man’ and later while laying in bed to go to sleep, I hummed a melody that would start off ‘tin man’ and recorded it on my phone. 

Soon after, I started writing the lyrics and because I wanted this song to be an homage to the 90s girl groups in the US that I’ve always loved. I wanted to give off the confident and fiercely independent “I don’t need you” attitude that so many girl group songs from the 90s and early 2000s have. I wanted whoever was listening to feel like “Yeah, I don’t need someone else. I’m good with just me.” That’s why the first lyrics I thought of were: “I don’t need your number/ I’d rather choose slumber/ keep you having wonder for me”. 

And although I usually like to capture real emotions I feel at that moment in my lyrics, the lyrics to ‘tin man’ were not something I actually felt at the time that I wrote it. Maybe to LILAC, but to Kate, it was fiction. 

However, there definitely have been times I felt this in the past, where I had no interest in a romantic partner at all and loved focusing on myself and my friends. I channeled that energy into this song. It’s a special moment where you can truly embrace singlehood and feel the absolute greatest!

In the album description you wrote that the idea of ‘tin man’ was based on the character in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Is he your favorite character from the film? 

To be very honest, Toto is my favorite character from the film. I mean, how could he not be? He’s a friendly and adorable dog. But unfortunately, I did not write a song called ‘Toto’ (maybe my next song? I’m kidding)

But my second favorite is Tin Man. I have always been very captivated by the Tin Man from ‘Wizard of Oz’ because his story seemed so tragic. Out of all the things Dorothy’s other friends were looking for; the Cowardly Lion looking for courage and the Scarecrow looking for a brain. I always thought the Tin Man searching for a heart was the most heartbreaking one. 

Not being able to love because one doesn’t have a heart is the saddest love story and I wanted to add that element to the song. Yes, the speaker in ‘tin man’ is confident in themselves and does not need someone else, but also they may be at a point in their life where they are unable to love someone whether it be because they are still healing from a broken heart or because they are emotionally unavailable.

‘Superstar K6’

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience on Superstar K6?

If I can describe it in one word: Hunger Games. 

Well, it was definitely not violent and deadly like the Hunger Games, but as it was a televised audition program, I could feel that I was there to be entertainment for the public audience. You had to be more than just a good singer, I needed to be entertaining too. In the end, it’s a reality show meant to entertain people. I was sad that a huge chunk of my first audition song was edited out but again, that’s television! 

The competition part was a little intimidating because there were so many talented people around me that I thought I had no chance, but it was these people I befriended and some of them have become my closest friends. I am not a very competitive person but I loved being able to sing on a stage and on television in front of celebrity judges (I almost cried when I sang in front of Ailee) and if I could do it again, I would do so in an instant!

You’re currently not signed with a record label. How is that experience? 

At first, I felt like I just left home to live by myself for the first time. I was struggling to figure out how to do everything because. Other people at the label used to take care of the logicistics, so I didn’t know what to do.

Whereas before, I just had to focus on my creative responsibilities to write, sing and record music. Now I have to be the whole label myself and take care of every little detail on top of making the music. It was definitely a bit confusing. It was also a lot of work at first but I am slowly but surely getting the hang of it. But also, I am open to work with a record label again! 

What is the message you want to share with your music?

I want people to feel good. I know that sounds cliché but it’s true. For me, music is my therapy. Depending on what song I listen to, I can feel super confident, heartbroken, nostalgic, angry, etc. I want my music to motivate people and to make them feel good. And I hope my music and journey can inspire all people in their own unique walks of life as well, that they too can do whatever they want if they decide they can!

You can find LILAC’s YouTube channel here. Go say hi on Instagram here. Discover ‘tin man’ by LILAC on Spotify here.

Ilse Van Den Heede
A writer with a slight coffee addiction and a tendency to find K-Indie gems in the YouTube rabbit hole.