Long time no see readers! You’re in for a double feature today – our first interviewee of the day is no stranger to Korean singing audition program fans! Singing her way into our hearts is one of the contestants of the recently completed third season of SBS’ hit program ‘KPOP STAR’. Without further ado, here is our interview with miss Bae Minah!
Michelle Lee Bae (Korean name: Bae Minah, born June 9, 1999), is a Virginia-born, California-raised Korean singer, most notably a contestant in the top 8 on SBS KPOP STAR 3. Her R&B/pop distinctive vocals earned her a spot in the final 10 contestants during the lives shows, and while she made it until top 8, she is continuing to pursue her love for music while also being a student. Find out what she has to say about her experience on the show and future plans!
My name is Michelle Lee Bae, but most people now know me as Bae Minah! I was a contestant on the South Korean singing audition program KPOP STAR3, and made it until the Top 8. I’m 14, and many people may not know, but I was born in the States. I moved to Korea because of my dad’s work, and have been living here for about 4 years now.
How long have you been doing music for?
I remember loving singing since the moment I could speak. I would always spend hours singing in my room to all my favorite songs, and having my two brothers tell me to be quiet because I was annoying them. However, I was always way too shy to sing in front of an audience. When I got into middle school, there was this audition for the school musical and for some strange reason I had the guts to audition. After that, for the first time in my life I was getting compliments on my voice. Ever since then, I’ve been actively participating in musical related school events and choir.
What kind of artist do you consider yourself?
I don’t really consider myself an artist yet, but if I were to describe my style of singing, I’d say it would be a mixture between a pop and RnB vocal.
As far as music is concerned, who gives you your inspiration?
I have always been a fan of Rihanna. She’s such a talented and unique person. I used to try to follow her voice when I was younger, so a lot of people say I kind of sound like her. That always made me really happy. I also love Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, and recently have been loving the band, The 1975. In the future, I’m hoping I’ll be able to reach crazy high notes like Ariana Grande and Beyonce, and have a ridiculously addicting voice like Bruno Mars or Demi Lovato.
As fans know, you were one of the contestants that made top 10 on the recent third season of the hit Korean singing audition program ‘KPOP STAR’. I have a few questions regarding your whole experience. My first one is….how was the whole process/experience? Did you expect to get as far as top 8?
The entire process/experience was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I learned so much about the music industry not only in Korea, but the States as well, and about what it takes to be a singer. Unlike what most people think, you can’t just be a good singer. You need to have a stage presence, be confident, and not care what others think of you because those who do can break after reading harsh comments by viewers. I had a difficult time being confident while knowing that some people weren’t happy with my performances or how I looked or my voice in general. However, being with the rest of the members of the top 10 really helped me. We had such an amazing time getting to know each other, and they were all so kind. We all shared a passion for music, and for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who really understood how I felt about singing. I was gifted with countless memories I can’t ever forget. As for expecting to get as far as top 8, I didn’t even dream about getting that far. It all still seems like a dream to me. During the entire program, all I wanted to do was show the world how much I loved to sing. That’s all. I never expected to get praised or even get to top 10, let alone top 8. Getting that far gave me confidence, which is something I’ve always had to work on getting. Overall, being on KPOP STAR3 was an amazing opportunity and experience where I learned so much and made so many memories.
I guess the fact that YG, JYP, and BoA were the judges attracts most people to audition, because it’s not that often people get a chance to perform in front of them with their full attention. Although BoA wasn’t able to be on the show, Yoo Hee Yeol did a really great job giving the contestants valuable advice. He made a great addition to the show.
What was the biggest challenge for you, in terms of consistently delivering the best performance you could each week on the show?
I think the biggest challenge for me was trying to show the judges what I was capable of doing during each performance. As many viewers know, I wasn’t one of the members who did well every single audition. I struggled throughout it, and came very close to being eliminated in the first couple of rounds. I still feel like I could have shown the judges I could do better, but because I can’t rewind time, I try to be satisfied with my performances.
What stands out in your mind, in terms of something that greatly improved while on the show?
I think something that greatly improved in my singing while on the show is how I sing in general. I became more confident with my high notes and belting them so that I’m not straining my vocal chords. I also think I became better at singing with more detail while on the show.
Out of the songs you performed on KPOP STAR 3, which was the most memorable performance?
I think the most memorable performance while I was on the show will always be my very first audition, where I sang “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5. I honestly did not expect to be praised at all. I knew I had a lot to work on and many habits to be fixed, but being praised like that really meant a lot to me. It was a memory I don’t think I can ever forget, and will always cherish.
I’m not really sure what’s next for me as of right now. I’m still pretty young, so I’m going to continue to go to school and get an education. What I am sure of is that I want to be a singer when I grow up. I don’t know how or when it may happen, but I am going to work as hard as I can to make sure it happens. I have been approached by some companies in Korea, but I’m still not sure whether or not I want to pursue a music career in Korea or the States, so as for now I have been focusing mainly on school and finishing my freshman year.
When can fans expect to hear original material from you?
Haha, I’m not sure about that. I do write my own songs but in my opinion, no one should be forced to hear those. They’re absolutely terrible. I hope they get to hear original material soon though!
What are your five most played songs currently?
My five most played songs currently are, “Almost is Never Enough,” by Ariana Grande and Nathan Skyes, “Pretty Hurts,” by Beyonce, “Chocolate,” by The 1975, “봄, 사랑, 벚꽃 말고,” by HIGH4 and IU, and “Team,” by Lorde.
Who are some of your favourite artists currently?
My favorite artists currently include, Ariana Grande, IU, Lorde, The 1975, and Sam Smith. They are all really talented and unique artists. Ariana Grande has been blessed with a voice from the gods, IU’s voice is so sweet and relaxing, Lorde is just amazing, The 1975 is really rad, and Sam Smith has a slightly tenor-like voice, which I really love listening to.
I like to make collages! I’m not very good at it, but in my spare time other than singing, I love to sit down and make a bunch of collages using magazines. I also love taking pictures. Ever since I got my first camera for my 11th birthday, I’ve loved taking pictures and having mini photo shoots in my room. I’ve become interested in filming and directing as well. If I become famous, I hope to film and direct my own music videos and maybe even a movie. A girl can dream right?
Name one thing that fans may not already know about you.
One thing people may not know about me is that I can play the guitar! I never got to play during the show because I was worried about singing well, and wasn’t confident I could sing well while worrying about playing a guitar. I’m not the best, but, when my summer break starts, I’m hoping to be able to film some covers using my guitar!
Any advice for aspiring singers and those considering entering a singing audition program in Korea?
I think the most important advice I have is to have fun while you can. I regret not cherishing the time I was on the show more, because everything ended so quickly, and I was too focused on doing well. Even though you should take things seriously and work hard, having fun while doing it isn’t a bad idea. You should have a career that you love, after all.
Any final words for the readers/fans?
I’d like to give a huge thank you to those who supported me throughout the show and cheered me on. It means so much more to me than you’d ever imagine. I had such an amazing experience during the show, even though I did have a bit of a struggle. Also, to the readers, thank you for spending your precious time learning a little bit about me! I hope in the future I’ll be seeing some of you in concerts or shows if I make it in this industry 🙂
And there you have it! Big thanks to Minah for taking time to talk with us, and as always until next time, this has been a rhythm.connection exclusive!