Dami Im: My Fans Got Me To Eurovision
When Korean-Australian singer and songwriter Dami Im, 27, won X Factor Australia three years ago she never anticipated what would happen next. Now she has just released her third studio album in which she channels her idol, Karen Carpenter, and is gearing up to represent Australia at Eurovision 2016 in Sweden. She is proof that dreams really do come true.
woman with drive caught up with Dami before she headed to Stockholm and talked about her fame, Karen Carpenter, and representing Australia.
When did you first discover The Carpenters?
When I was growing up, my parents would always play their songs but I did not know who they were until I was in university. Then I read about Karen Carpenter’s life. Before X Factor, I sang in small restaurants in Brisbane and would always sing my favourite song – Close to You.
How do you relate to Karen Carpenter’s story?
Karen’s story really resonates with me because she is a clear example of someone who did what she loved. She made music with her brother, Richard, for the love of it and not for fame. They were content with their first hit song but the industry told them they could not be a one hit wonder and that they needed a second hit. Then they were urged to write a third and so on.
The music business is fixated on fame. It is just how music is measured. It puts people under pressure, and in Karen and Richard’s case, so much expected of them that it ultimately came at a hefty price.
In my case, people tell me I need to make it in the U.S. and go beyond what I have achieved by going global. They mean well but sometimes I am happy with what I have achieved. And sometimes I question how much is really enough for people. That is not to say I am not grateful. I truly am, every day.
Also read: 5 Ways To Enjoy Repeat Success
How has fame changed your life?
My life immediately changed after winning X Factor. At first it was really difficult because so many people who thought they knew me would tell me I was lucky and that I must feel fabulous that my dream came true. The reality is yes, I am proud of what I have achieved but I never expected fame or craved it. People always talk about the show and my success but I have so much more going on in my life. I am a person beyond that show yet fame does change your life because suddenly you are recognisable.
Did that take some getting used to?
It did take a while to get used to the fame but I would not be heading to Sweden if it were not for my dedicated fans who campaigned for two years to have me represent Australia. That is one of the biggest compliments.
How would you cope if that fame disappeared?
I am in a very good place with my career right now. I have Eurovision coming up and a 34-date tour around Australia. Yet I know it will not always be like this for the rest of my life. Change is inevitable. It also does not matter how successful someone is because maybe one day they might go back to being unknown. If that is to be for me, I might go back to singing to a room of 10 people or for those in my church.
Also read: 3 Ways You Could Be Subtly Resisting Change
How do you handle being on the road for 34 shows?
I need time on my own to recover from the stress and fatigue of performing. I try to stay in my hotel room for as long as I can. I like to lie low, drink coffee, watch a movie or browse Netflix. I keep it pretty simple.
You migrated to Australia at age 11 with your mother and brother. Do you think life would have worked out differently if you remained in South Korea?
I do wonder what my life would have been like if dad did not decide to migrate. I probably would be living a more ordinary life although I would still have studied music and taught piano. Australia is great in that it encourages you to embrace your uniqueness and chase your dreams, whereas in South Korea it is culturally better to blend in and live like everybody else.
Also read: 7 Places Your Kids Will Love In Seoul
Have you been back to South Korea since winning X Factor?
I have been back four times in three years. We did some filming for a Korean TV show a couple of times.
What childhood memories did you revisit?
I went back to where I grew up, just outside of Seoul, where the international airport is now located. (Australian singer) Dannii Minogue was with me. We visited my old playground and primary school, which seemed a lot smaller than I remember. We walked along the streets where little toys and sweets were sold. It was such a nostalgic visit.
Where do you recommend people go when visiting South Korea?
If you love shopping, I recommend Dongdaemun Market. It is also great for food and young people like hanging out there. If you want to visit traditional castles and palaces then go to Gwanghwamun. It is a complete contrast to the modern vibe of the shopping district and is steeped in history.
You have been a great role model for young women in Australia as a Korean-Australian woman who has made her way up the charts and found success. What impact does this have on you?
I do not usually think about that too much but now that you mention it, I have got goosebumps! Eurovision encourages individual uniqueness and I love that I can represent Australia as a Korean woman who is not the blonde stereotype of this country. I have also had many people from different cultural backgrounds say to me, “please do it for us” and thank me for representing them as a minority. When I think about that, it is a big deal.
Will your husband and parents be joining you in Sweden?
Yes, Noah is coming from Brisbane and my parents are flying in from South Korea. I cannot wait to have them there.
What does Noah think of your success?
He is very supportive and proud. He always reminds me that no matter what happens, we will always be okay. Singing is my calling and passion but he reminds me not to focus on chart positions, money or popularity. Those things are nice but are not the answer to life.
Do your parents offer you any advice?
I think my parents get worried about me sometimes. They always say, “Oh Dami, you must be so tired, darling”. I’m like, “I am fine. I am happy”. Dad always tells me I can go back to my normal life if I choose. I think at the end of the day it is about what makes you feel good. My parents do not push me or have huge expectations. They are there for me no matter what. That is an absolutely beautiful security to have in life. I would not change a thing.
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