Gabrielle Solange: Hello, UNBYUL! I’m so happy to introduce your new music video to the Tuned Up community. It’s exciting to see Columbus creatives doing unique things. The visual is what got me. I LOVE reptiles. That gorgeous snake wrapped around that classical dress and your epic hair color are something out of a fairytale world. Tell me about yourself. Let’s start with your name. Is that your actual name or your artist name?
UNBYUL: Hi Gabrielle! A pleasure to be able to talk to you like this – thank you for the love on my latest music video for my song, OUROBOROS! The mv was such a great project to work on with my friend, Pinksoda Videography, and really brought the snake themed vision to life!
My artist name is technically my real name! I go by Annie, but my parents also gave me the Korean name, 은별 (UNBYUL) , which translates to silver star. That’s why in most of my bios I say that I’m a silver star that sings haha.
Gabrielle Solange: Omg your name literally means star?! That’s gorgeous! You were destined to shine, girl. So where are you from and what started you on this journey of creating and sharing your music?
UNBYUL: I’m just a suburban girl, born and raised from Cleveland, Ohio. Culturally, my parents emigrated from South Korea.
I’ve always had an interest in music and arts since I was young. My father was an opera aficionado. My mom loved making crafts of all kinds and my sister was always drawing and writing stories. But my parents were worried about me and greatly discouraged me from pursuing any artistic interests, wanting me to focus on school and get a good job. During that time, I suppressed a lot of my emotions in order to keep the peace and assimilate into a society my parents fought so hard to be a part of.
I didn’t seriously start writing music until after I graduated from Ohio State University and got my first job in the medical field. I did what I was told but in the journey getting there I forgot how to be happy. Luckily I had friends that encouraged me to pursue my passion in music and in my depression I thought “Why not?”. In the following years I dived into the music world and with the support of my friends I eventually found my artistic persona. (I actually have a song called “Awakening” that I wrote about finally waking up as an artist). I write and sing music for myself but I share it in hopes that it brings joy, peace, and/or solidarity to those listening and experiencing similar feelings.
Gabrielle Solange: Wow. I just got a little emotional. I feel like so many artists in relate to your inner battle, but this I’m sure your story is especially important to artists of similar heritage and upbringing. What is the story behind your new song, Ouroboros? Not gonna lie… I totally had to google that word.
UNBYUL: I had to google how to pronounce it, so we are in the same boat, haha! I wrote this song about a time when I felt like I was just going in circles. We’re just pushed along by time whether we like it or not – going along with the motions of just surviving and living. When I struggled more often than I could control, I fell back on unhealthy habits to cope. But I realized I was just shortening my time in this seemingly endless cycle of monotony. My chorus captures this realization, “The life of an Ouroboros with a finite tail. How far can it go before it reaches the end of itself?”
Gabrielle Solange: As a lyrics person and a lover of poetry, that line of the song hits the spot. Talk about the making of the music video. What was that creative process like and how difficult was it to get a live snake? Were you nervous at all having a giant predator slinked over your body for hours?
UNBYUL: I had a very vague vision for what I wanted the MV to be like, haha. When I listened to my song, I could see roman columns, a giant snake, and a greek goddess. My friend Pinksoda took those ideas and made an AWESOME storyboard. From there, she was the captain of the ship and we looked up places and props that would be good for the MV. My boyfriend at the time suggested the local business Captive Born Reptiles that handled and loaned out reptiles for mostly educational events. They were so incredibly cooperative when I called them with my request and invited me to come into the store and check out their snakes firsthand to see what could work. My childhood hero growing up was Steve Irwin and I always wanted to hold an albino ball python since the first time I held one at a zoo as a kid. So I was ecstatic to be able to have not just one but TWO SNAKES in my MV!
They were very good snakes. The albino ball python was super chill and was very easy to handle and move around (totes get how Brittany Spears danced with one, haha). The brown ball python was a bit more tense (he got a LIL tight around my neck) but we just sat and chilled and he ended up being my bestie.
Gabrielle Solange: I love it! I mentioned before this interview that I had a pet snake growing up, so I get it. They’re ferocious animals, but super chill if you handle them right – plus they make a great fashion statement, hehe. So Annie, what is music to you? A profession? A hobby? A calling? An effort to subliminally take over the young minds of the earth? Just kidding. But seriously.
UNBYUL: Writing music is kind of a need for me. It’s my go-to-therapeutic tool in releasing emotions that I suppress. It’s a diary that holds all my light and dark secrets disguised as publicly palatable works of fiction, haha. Like for example, there are events in my past where I wish someone could have said this to me or I wished I could’ve said something to a certain person. You can’t change the past but you can rewrite it in the stories that you create. So I created my own closure in my art. Or I captured a feeling I wanted to remember through writing about it in a song. So yeah. Music to me is just a tool to selfishly express myself. My outlet for expression may shift one day, but so far I’m still having a lot of fun with music and there’s still much more I’d like to explore!
Gabrielle Solange: That answer … poetic gold. I feel that in the deepest way. So tell me, have you performed live a lot?
UNBYUL: Uhhhhh, I would say I have performed a decent amount, but sporadically, haha. I’ll perform if I’m invited or asked. I MAY have a performance for when I release new music. But I mostly choose to perform just to reconnect with friends and get to know the music community. I’ve performed enough that I have my go-to equipment/set up, but the frequency of my performances is very sporadic.
Gabrielle Solange: What is your greatest accomplishment in your music artist journey so far?
UNBYUL: My Future Feels/EVE_ARCHIVE MV series! It was my first BIG project that involved the creative brains of my friends from different music/entertainment scenes. We went all out on props, sets, actors, and effects. Like it was a dream come true to be able to have my music in basically a cool af sci-fi post apocalyptic, cyberpunk short film. Definitely check it out when you can!!!
Gabrielle Solange: Dude, you continue to gain cool points. Who are some of your musical influences and what genre would you describe yourself as?
UNBYUL: This is gonna be random, so bare with me: Nujabes, Maroon 5, DEAN, Ella Fitzgerald, FKJ, and SZA. I would describe myself as Pop/Alternative R&B.
Gabrielle Solange: What do fans and supporters mean to you?
UNBYUL: I wouldn’t be here without them. SOOOO A LOT. I’m happy if someone just listens to it and gives it a chance even if they don’t like it. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude if someone likes it and continues to listen to it and lets me know how it made them feel T-T.
Gabrielle Solange: What do you want people to take away from your latest song?
UNBYUL: Haha, I’m not sure XD Be healthy! Learn better coping mechanisms to live a more fulfilling life even when the going gets tough! You can make it better so don’t give up!
Gabrielle Solange: Do you have anything exciting coming up that fans should look out for?
UNBYUL: I have SO MUCH music that is unreleased still and even more to come. I have an R&B album coming after the OUROBOROS EP is fully released. I also have plans to have a dope af cover album of my favorite songs UNBYUL-fied. There’s a lot to look out for so fans should definitely keep in touch!
Gabrielle Solange: Where can people find you?
UNBYUL: I live on instagram, but I can also be found on Tiktok, YouTube, and Facebook.
Gabrielle Solange: Any closing remarks?
UNBYUL: Follow me on Instagram, YouTube and/or TikTok! Ask me to cover a song and I’ll make a funk, citypop, or R&B version of it XD! Thank you for this opportunity Gabrielle.
Author: Gabrielle Solange