My name is Kristie Yung. I also go by the name ‘Kali’ in my girl group Am3ition. I am a singer/songwriter born and raised in Vancouver, BC. I have written in a variety of genres including pop jazz, electronic, rock, hip hop and even afro-cuban and African. However the direction I’m heading towards now is R_B/soul. I feel most expressive when I write in this style. It also has a lot to do with my background in dance and my natural attraction to hip hop/r_b.Evaluate and recount the journey you’ve taken to become a successful music artists
I’ve been in love with music for as long as I can remember. In Kindergarten I was the little girl in the corner who would just sing, and sing. Back then, I just knew that I loved to sing. In grade 2, I auditioned for the lead role in my school play and got it. My first solo performance in front of hundreds of students, teachers and parents was at the age of 7. And I wasn’t afraid at all. When my mom asked me for the first time what I wanted to be, I told her, without a doubt in my mind, “I want to be a singer, Mom”.
Besides knowing all my life that this is what I wanted to do, I did receive a lot of guidance and support on the way. Throughout school I was always involved in choir and all the musicals and plays but it was in high school that I really had a chance to grow as an artist. I was in the vocal jazz choir and in the jazz band. I played the congas and/or the djembe. If there was a music event at school, I had either planned it or was a part of it – I never missed an opportunity to perform and give others a chance to share their music. And one of my biggest goals in life is to have the capacity to actually make a difference in someone’s life. Everyone has a voice, and I want to make sure that everyone feels heard. It’s not about whether you’re the best singer or guitar player, it’s about how your music can change people’s lives.
Throughout high school I did formal training through an instructor who taught singing technique at Vancouver Community College. I did classical training; yes I mean opera-style, for a number of years under her training and did RCM examinations for voice. Having a strong classical base is so important for singing.
Although music has turned in a direction where having a phenomenal voice isn’t as important anymore, I still believe in truly understanding your body and how you can manipulate certain muscles to execute particular sounds, in a particular way. It’s no different from training for gymnastics – you have to train your body and your muscles to develop your voice.
I was formally trained for probably about 5 years but once I got into university, I couldn’t afford it anymore because I was responsible for paying for my own education.
Although I started writing music when I was 11, I only took writing seriously at around 16. Since then, I’ve written about 20 songs .I learned how to play guitar on my own – by doing covers. That’s kind of where a lot of my “training” comes from now. If I like a song, I use it to train myself in a different style, genre or to spiff up my guitar and piano skills. Each song has a number of different characteristics, and the more you learn from other people’s songs, the bigger your pool of creativity when you’re writing your own music. My YouTube channel is really something I did at first to distract people from asking me when I will finally release my own songs. It has since become something that I really enjoy doing. And the support I get from it has helped me regain my “I don’t care what people think. It’s my music and I love it” kind of confidence. I’m working on a selection of songs that I’m hoping to put into an EP right now. I’m a good 1/3 way through and I’m so excited about it.Tell us about your group Am3ition. Also shed some insight into your upcoming album
My group Am3ition is very special to me. We first got together through our producer who wanted to put a girl group together under his production house M Music. Our names are Ginny, Jill, Ahl33 and Kali (that’s me!). The center of Chinese media (Fairchild Television) hosts a singing competition much like Canadian Idol but for people of Chinese decent each year. And all four of us were finalists and winners from different years. Our group’s style is r_b/pop. All of our music is original – the beats, the lyrics, the vocal arrangements. Our producer Yuen Mak is a phenomenal songwriter. We’re very lucky that we get to be a part of the production process and have input in the songs we sing. We’re also fortunate enough to have our own studio, Artistic Space Studios, where we do all of our vocal and dance training as well as recordings for our upcoming albums. What is unique about us is that we’re going to be doing a full English album but we’re also doing a Mandarin EP for the Chinese market. The albums are very different from each other but still very “Am3ition”. This past August, we had our very first mini-concert, where we performed 16 of our own songs. We sold out our first show and had to add another show that night. It was the most incredible feeling to know that there are so many people in Vancouver who support us and what we do. We’ll be finishing up the recording this winter and hope to release our album and EP next year with an album release concert in the summer.As a renowned solo artist, how does it feel when you perform with your group? Which do you prefer?
Performing with a group is very different from performing as a solo artist. I have the privilege of being able to experience both. With my group, we’re like sisters. We see each other at 7am every morning for dance training. Then we all head off to school or work and return to the studio for vocal training or recording. Every part of the creative process is based on the fact that we’re a group and that we make decisions as a group. The most incredible part of being in a group is that moment when you’re on stage and four individuals blend so well that it’s almost like we’re one person performing on stage. I get to learn a lot when we’re in a group. I take something from each girl, and I hope that they take something from me too. I’m kind of our dance leader. I choreograph pieces for us to perform and use the mornings to train the girls and teach them the fundamentals of hip hop and video dance. I’ve been dancing competitively since I was 10 – it’s nice to know I can contribute to the group in that capacity as well.
I do like performing on my own as well. Only because I can be quite spontaneous with it. With a group, you have to rehearse performing a song a certain way so that all 4 individuals blend well together. On my own, I can use the stage as my own creative space. It’s liberating, and that’s something I can only get from being a solo artist.
I’m not sure which I prefer. I think I get a lot out of both.What advice do you have for up and coming music artists
My advice would be to not let fear or judgement impair your creativity. I went through a period of time where I couldn’t write, not for the life of me. It was like a 3 year writing block. I was so afraid about what people were going to think about my music, because it’s so personal. People expect a lot from me just because I’ve been chasing this dream for so long. I used to let it intimidate me. And my only advice would be that the best music comes from a free spirit and a free place. If you love music, I hope that you do it for yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail.What the worst thing about the music industry. What makes up for all the bad things the music industry has to offer
I guess the worst thing about the music industry is that they market celebrity like it’s a dream. It’s not. It’s hard work and takes a lot of emotional energy and strength. If you’re someone who values your private life, the unfortunate reality is that when you’re famous, you have to sacrifice your privacy. That’s jus the way it is. What makes up for it is that when you have so many eyes on you, yes, it’s tough because you’re life is suddenly so public, but at the same time, you have the ability to influence the lives of so many people through your music. Have you ever listened to a song that moves you in such a way that you physically feel your body generating raw energy and emotion? I love Justin Nozuka. He’s seriously my idol. He’s only 22 and he is such an incredible musician and writer. The execution of his music is just so powerful – he really puts his soul into his music and it’s so moving. When you know that your music can make someone really feel something, whether it be happiness or sadness, it makes it all worth it.