Former K-Pop Star S4 contestant, Ellen Chee, recently held a K-Pop singing class at the Sydney Korean Cultural Centre. We caught up with her to have a chat about her experience on the singing competition show, where she made it to the fourth round. She revealed what it was like going through the audition process and the behind-the-scenes filming of the TV show.
Here is a performance she did of Micheal Jackson's "Beat It" with fellow contestants Katie Kim (1st place winner who eventually signed with YG) and Esther Kim (Top 6).
Q. How did you get into singing?
I always listened to BoA when I was a kid, she was the first K-Pop artist I listened to. I grew up singing at home, church, here and there.
Q. How did you get into K-Pop Star?
Back in 2014, I started uploading piano and singing covers to YouTube. Through that I was asked to try out at the Sydney auditions. I got through the initial two rounds in Sydney and they asked if I could go to Korea to do another round.
Q. What happened next?
I flew to Korea and somehow got through the next round. I was surprised as I made a lot of mistakes. My voice was dead and I was so tired but I had to get on stage and sing my song, which was Whitney Houston's "I have Nothing." Somehow JYP liked my vocal performance and I got through.
After that, I passed the 2nd, 3rd and 4th round, which is where I ended. Every round, I didn't know I would get through as I was always sick before the rounds with the Korean winter being a big change from summer in Australia.
Q. What kind of comments did the judges say after your performances?
First round, I remember JYP saying he liked my performance because I didn't sing like someone else and sang as I am, like how I would speak. As he would always say, have your own voice [laughs]. But YG didn't really like me and Yoo Hee-yeol wasn't sure of me. That's why for the first round, I thought I would be eliminated but luckily I got through.
Second round, I sang a ballad song from 'Dream High'. Yoo Hee-yeol liked my vocals this time but YG still didn't like me. He thought it was just the same as the first round.
Third round, I was with Katie and Esther. They all liked our vocals but didn't think we were strong enough with our rearrangement of the song.
Fourth round, unfortunately I can't really remember what they said.
Q. Did you meet any other Australian contestants?
Yes. I saw Lily M [4th place] who went on to sign with JYP. She was from Melbourne and she was so cute, such a little kid but she was really good. I also saw Gemma and Erin from Sydney. I was surprised when I saw in the waiting room that there were quite a few people from Australia. I was like "Yay, I'm not alone!"
Q. How long did you stay in Korea for the show?
Around four months. We had filming every three, or four weeks. Before the filming, we would do self-practice or practice for our team performances.
Q. Which company would you want to join if you had the chance?
I would love to work with JYP as I want to learn a lot from him. Also, Antenna Music as they've got a lot of good musicians.
Q. Who is your favourite artist?
IU at the moment. I'm loving her recent comeback. I loved her 'Twenty-three' album, 'Chat-shire' and I feel this album, 'Palette', is like a response to that album. I love her songs and lyrics. My favourite song from her new album is 'Ending Scene'.
Q. Are you going to any of the upcoming K-Pop concerts in Australia?
Yes!! I'm very excited about G-Dragon coming and I'm definitely planning to go. I went to two of BIGBANG's MADE world tour concerts, the one that was held in Sydney and one in Seoul.
Q. Which artists would you like to see come to Australia next?
Red Velvet or IU. I reckon IU can definitely can do a solo concert in Sydney.
Q. If you could see an Australian artist and an Asian pop artist collaborate, who would they be?
It would be nice to see Sam Kim and Lee Jin-ah do a jazz collaboration with Australian jazz musicians. A live jazz show would be so cool.
Also, Sia and Baek Yerin from 15& would be amazing.
Q. Any winter songs you would recommend?
Winter is full of sad break-up songs [laughs] but I would recommend "Snow Flower" by Park Hyo-shin.
Q. Go-to song at Karaoke?
Lena Park's "PS, I Love You." It's my all-time favourite.
At the end of the interview, she also sang for us a short acapella of "Galaxy" by Bolbbalgan4.
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