Lonely Artist Club had the pleasure of sitting down with singer-songwriter Siahna Im to discuss her craft and creative passions in both music and life. Let’s jump in…
Thanks for meeting with us Siahna. First and foremost, we want to talk to you about your art. What medium do you work with and how did you come to find it?
Music is my thing. I always joke that I’ve been singing since the womb, but it’s true! It’s been my passion my whole life. I started songwriting when I was 15 or 16 and I began playing the guitar around 17. I have a vivid memory of the first time I fell in love with music. It was during my third grade music class when my teacher played a video of Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful.” Looking back, it seems kind of funny that this particular video struck something inside my 9-year-old self that, ultimately, led me to start singing soul music. It was truly a powerful moment that guided me closer to my passion: music.
"Music is my thing. I always joke that I’ve been singing since the womb, but it’s true! It’s been my passion my whole life."
We want to hear more about your music, but first can you tell us a bit about who you are outside of your creative work?
I grew up in Washington State in a small town about 50 minutes outside of Seattle. My family home was deep in the boonies surrounded by forest and constant rain. Growing up, I hated it. There was nothing to do and the closest grocery store was at least a 20 minute drive. I dreamt my whole life about moving to LA where it was sunny everyday and I could have more opportunities with music. I finally moved to LA when I turned 18 for both university and, of course, music. Then when COVID struck, I moved back to Washington for a few months. However, my impulsive personality couldn’t handle that for too long and I ended up traveling back and forth to Europe for the next 2 years for new opportunities in music and to be closer to my partner.
I am half Korean and half French Canadian which was somewhat of an identity struggle for me when I was young; something I think people who are half and half of anything can relate to. Now that I am older, I realize it doesn’t really matter if I belong to any sort of group. It’s pretty awesome to get to be connected to different cultures, mindsets, and traditions.
Although I consider my appearance to be quite feminine, I am a major tomboy. Throughout my life I have been mislabeled as passive and gentle when in reality, I am actually very competitive and aggressive. I attribute these traits to my two older brothers and dad. I am only half joking when I say that my dad had us kids for free labor. Growing up my brothers and I were constantly helping him fix cars and do work around the house. I can’t complain now because when I moved out, I learned that a lot of the things my dad had us do when we were young turned out to be very useful as an adult.
"A few other things about me: my favorite food is Korean Fried Chicken, my favorite movie is School of Rock, and I love dogs with all my heart."
Almost every artist, at one point or another, experiences a creative block, right? Would you mind sharing your personal experience with managing and overcoming creative blocks or ruts?
1000% agree. When I am in a creative rut I feel emotionless and numb. I believe that emotion and creativity go hand in hand. Though it sounds dramatic, when I feel nothing, I have nothing to say in my art. It sucks because sometimes this happens when I really want to be creative, but there’s that voice in me that’s like: “nope, not today.” I used to get angry at myself when this would happen, but I realized this voice inside is actually something I need to listen to. Literally, “not today”, as in stop trying for now. If I don’t have a set deadline to create a song or prepare for a show and I am unable to create for the sake of creating, I let it go. Whether it be for a few days, weeks, or even months. Eventually, I know an idea will come or a new spark of inspiration will arise. It is simply a matter of being a little easier on ourselves. I think patience and an understanding that not every moment is the right one is important to getting out of a rut.
"Throughout my life I have been mislabeled as passive and gentle when in reality, I am actually very competitive and aggressive."
Creative blocks are challenging to overcome. Is there another aspect of your work as a musician that is equally, if not more, difficult to manage?
The biggest challenge about creating music is wondering if people will actually like what I create. At my core I know that my art should be for myself and only matter if I like it, but at the end of the day, I am creating music to share and connect with others. In some ways what others think of my work could help me become a better artist. It could allow me to remove myself and see it from an outside perspective, perhaps creating something I wouldn’t have initially. But on the other hand, it could make me question “is my work truly mine?” or is it infiltrated by what I believe others may think. It’s certainly a balancing act.
"At my core I know that my art should be for myself and only matter if I like it, but at the end of the day, I am creating music to share and connect with others."
This next question is a bit more vulnerable. Do you have any fears surrounding your art?
The main fear surrounding my music is giving it up. There are many moments where I hate everything about music and just want to stop altogether. There are countless ups and downs that go along with being a musician. Sometimes I think I’d be happier and more emotionally stable if I just quit - there’s been many times I’ve come close. With that said, music is also the most beautiful thing in my life. It has brought me to so many unique places that I would never have gone and connected me with so many beautiful people I may have never met. There is nothing like the high of being on stage or the exhilarating feeling inside a studio when creating a song you’re truly proud of. These things make up for all the negative aspects I see in my music, plus so much more. That is why I always go back. When I am 80 years old looking back on my life, I will know that if I gave up music it would be something that I regret. Having this regret is my biggest fear surrounding my art.
"There is nothing like the high of being on stage or the exhilarating feeling inside a studio when creating a song you’re truly proud of."
What are your thoughts on social media and its effects on art and artists? Is there any part of social media that you wish you could change?
Social media for musicians is a double edged sword, but I tend to have a more negative opinion especially when it comes to music on TikTok. For the most part, the fastest way for an artist to gain recognition nowadays is by pumping out singles - one by one - hoping that their 15 second song-hook can become a trending TikTok sound. This rushed process has oftentimes overshadowed the craft of creating a quality track that tells a story and takes listeners a journey much longer than 15 seconds.
Everyone looks for something different while listening to music. If fun pop hits with curated dance routines are your thing, that’s totally cool. I indulge in listening to these myself from time to time. However, I prefer an overall listening experience that makes me think, feel, challenges authority, and sparks passion inside me. Sometimes I wonder if The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, (fill in your favorite classic artist here), would be just as beloved as they are now if they were around today. Would they be able to cut through the oversaturation of social media, or would we scroll past their reels because the first 5 seconds of Strawberry Fields Forever didn’t quite “capture” our attention?
After all, the music business is a business and money correlates with numbers and social insights. So, it’s totally understandable from a business standpoint that the current influencer-to-musician formula is working. However, great artists can oftentimes be overlooked because they may have a smaller following. For me personally, I feel obligated to grow my social following in order for labels or managers to give me the time of day. This often leaves me feeling inauthentic while also touching on my previous point about my art being influenced by outsider opinion.
If I could change anything about social media, it would be to take away all of the numbers. No likes, no follower count, and no view count. Although this is unrealistic, I think it would take away a lot of the pressure and mental headache that comes with social media for artists. Plus possibly opening our feeds to things that could inspire us rather than overwhelm us with what is “trending.”
"I prefer an overall listening experience that makes me think, feel, challenges authority, and sparks passion inside me."
Lastly, before we say goodbye, what advice would you give to other artists out there?
I think all artists should have a creative outlet outside their main form of art. It is important to have something creative to go to simply to bring you joy with no ulterior motive. For example, I like to do yoga. When I do yoga, I don’t have anyone to impress or anyone to compete with. It is something I do just for me. I find creative expression in my movements and I am less in my head and more in my body. I think all artists struggle at one point or another of being too much in our own heads. So, finding something that you love that is an almost therapeutic relief from the internal pressure we give ourselves is invaluable.
Thanks again Siahna for sharing your work, your story, and your thoughts on the current digital landscape. It was truly a pleasure getting to sit down and chat with you. Wishing you all the best as you continue creating music and enjoying life.
If you want to learn more about Siahna Im, check out her socials:
Browse Siahna's Music: https://tr.ee/U9zVxWb2dU