hairband & dress-VERSACE


On creating meaningful music through vulnerability and connection


Talent: Seori @iam_seori

Photos: 박지우 Jiwoo Park @pakjiwoo

Fashion: 연모모 Momo @momolism

Makeup: 조혜미 @jam__ham

Hair: 조동근 Jo Dong Geun @dgnxxi

When I first got into K-pop, “Shutdown” by Moonbyul and Seori was one of the first songs recommended to me. In the music video, Seori’s vocals, with their ethereal quality, drift in even before she appears in frame, perfectly capturing the video’s cozy vibes as well as the intimacy of the lyrics. Intrigued, I dove right into the rest of her discography, quickly finding gems such as “Running Through the Night,” “Dive with You,“ and “Lovers in the Night.”

I couldn't contain my excitement when I saw the announcement for Seori's pre-release track, "Broken." Four years had passed since her debut EP, ?depacse ohw, in 2020. Released in late January along with a visualizer, it built anticipation for her long-awaited sophomore EP, Fake Happy, which dropped a couple of months later with a music video for her title track of the same name.

Eager to learn more about the creative process behind this comeback, I hop on a video call with the artist herself. As the call connects, Seori greets me with a warm smile. Dressed casually in a black shirt peeking out from under a taupe jacket and a simple necklace tucked under her shirt, she radiates a down-to-earth energy that immediately sets the tone of the conversation. Her thoughtful answers are occasionally preceded by a moment where she looks pensively to the side. But when she refocuses, her smile returns, and her words convey a love for her craft and the care she pours into the music she creates.

One such example of that care can be seen in the music video for “Fake Happy,” where she evokes a combination of nostalgia and vulnerability to complement the song’s introspective lyrics. In the video, scenes of her lost in thought or looking through old photographs and home videos are juxtaposed with snippets of her past and present. The inclusion of camcorders, cameras, and even an older television set scattered throughout reinforces themes of reflection and the passage of time. These were intentional choices on the singer’s part. "I wanted to have my daily life and my past memories inside the music video," Seori explains. “Luckily enough, I was able to find a very, very old camcorder that I used from 20 years ago in the closet, which I didn't know about, and we actually found clips from my family trip to Jeju Island, which is a very popular traveling site in Korea. Thankfully, by making this music video, I was able to also have the time to enjoy looking back at my old memories with my family.”

During this comeback, Seori focused on delivering a message. “Because there was a big gap between my previous EP release [and this one], I wanted to have an album that really was meaningful, not only just for myself but also for my fans,” she says. This intention is reflected in the songs, where she reveals her vulnerability by exploring difficult emotions. Rock-infused pop track “Kill the Day” highlights the helplessness that comes with feeling empty with lines like “I think I’m broken / My brain has stopped / But I can’t stop scrolling.” The chorus in “Fake Happy” deals with self-deprecation and pessimism through the lyrics: “Why do I feel fake happy? / Always thought I've been dreaming / It's like I know I lost innocence / How funny / A life full of nonsense.” At the end of “Broken,” Seori shows her loneliness and insecurity, singing, “I don't want anyone to know about my misery / I just sink quietly,” and in the final track, “and Me,” she conveys a sense of isolation through “With eyes full of loneliness / I think I need to go back home.”

dress-GRACE ELWOOD, ear cuff-DENU
dress & belt-HM

While these can be uncomfortable feelings to process, Seori believes that self-reflection is important in the process of maturation. She shares, “I learned that avoiding problems might work sometimes, but I think what really helps is actually facing the troubles. From this album, I wanted to express the sense of inferiority and loneliness—those difficult emotions that I have.” It was through thinking about how she could best express her message that she learned to accept the fact that she had these feelings. “I think the process of accepting and trying to figure out how to deal with these feelings would help me in the future as well,” she adds and goes on to state that her hope is for Fake Happy to spark empathy among listeners. “When I was writing lyrics and developing the tracks, I thought about the best way I can connect with fans, especially by avoiding forced empathy,” she says. “I thought being myself and being honest would help people feel soothed and feel better. Thankfully, some of the fans have reached out, and they have felt that my songs have made them feel better.”

As with most of her music, Seori participated in the writing and composition of every track in the EP. When it comes to inspiration, she tells us that she tries to find it in various places. “I feel like these days, there are a lot of very good platforms where you can get inspiration,” she says. Typically, she reads a lot of books and watches a lot of movies for ideas, but for this title track, she drew inspiration from her own diary.

The last track, “and Me,” stands out on the EP as one that was entirely written, composed, and arranged by Seori herself. “I actually always wanted to have a song developed all by myself,” she shares, “so this was a great opportunity to do so.” Working on a track by herself offered a different creative experience compared to her usual collaborations. "I believe all artists have their own unique colors and special characteristics," Seori explains. "By working with them, I get different ideas, and I also try to get a synergy effect with them. When I'm working by myself, I tend to focus on showcasing myself more." Reflecting on the song, she reveals that it had been a relatively shorter demo track compared to the others. After a long debate on whether or not she should make it longer, she decided that the original version was still the best one. “I'm thankful that fans have been liking this track,” she says.

jacket & skirt-HM, earrings-MZUU

Musing on her writing process, Seori mentions that one of her methods happens in the shower. “I sing a lot in the shower,” she tells us. “I often like the sound of it in the shower. When I find the good melodies, I use a voice memo, and then I record it. If I've actually found some decent melodies, I will go to the studio and work on developing the songs.”

In her songwriting, Seori often incorporates a blend of Korean and English lyrics. “I think both English and Korean languages are very attractive,” she says. “There are some terms that stick to my tongue better [in one language].” When trying to deliver a specific message, she tries to do so in the language she feels is a better fit. “There are definitely words that are very similar or close in meaning [in a different language], but it's not always exact or doesn't have the same feel to it.”

In March, Seori was invited as a surprise guest performer for one of Moonbyul’s concerts, where she performed both “Shutdown” and “Fake Happy” live for the first time. Reflecting on that experience, she says, “I was really happy to be part of Moonbyul’s first world tour. It was my first time singing ‘Fake Happy’ live so it was a very exciting and interesting experience. When I was singing my song, thankfully the Moomoos [fandom name for Moonbyul’s group, Mamamoo] were very supportive. They made me feel less nervous, and I was able to enjoy myself more. After my performance, I was actually able to sit and watch the rest of her concert. I was genuinely impressed by her performance, and I hope that I can also have a big performance like she did.”

Looking ahead, building a strong bond with her fans is a priority, and she's eager to connect with them both online and offline. “Talking with the fans is a great way for me to feel motivated and also get my energy to continue to grow with my career,” she says. “I'm hoping to develop more content on YouTube so I can connect with my fans more. I also use Instagram and Bubble to get in touch with fans more frequently. Apart from social media I hope to have more shows and more fan meetings to see my fans directly.”

Seori's message to her fans isn't just about gratitude; it shines with optimism and anticipation for the future. “Even though I had a long hiatus, thanks to all my fans for waiting, and thanks for giving me support this time. I was really able to challenge myself, and your support gave me energy,” she says. “Thanks for enjoying the album and for your unconditional support! I hope to see you guys soon.” Her desire to share her music in person is matched only by the eagerness of fans like myself, who can’t wait to watch her perform live on stage and sing along. Until then, we can continue to enjoy her music and support her online, keeping our eyes peeled for exciting new content to come.

Fake Happy was released on March 21, 2024.

hairband & dress-VERSACE
jacket & skirt-HM, earrings-MZUU, boots-CHARLES & KEITH