Nayon Kim
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Nayon Kim

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The best kept secret in music


"A Rock Star in the Making"

I met Nayon a year ago in a hip bar in Brooklyn. Since then, I have become a huge fan of her music and her personality. Nayon has so much drive and passion for her life and her art, yet there is a "que sera sera" air about her. Loud, boisterous and fun-loving, yet reserved, introspective and moody, Nayon is a walking contradiction. She's the understated drama queen with a sharp tongue and much hidden warmth. You can't miss her. Here's a chance for you to meet her for yourself, if you haven't already.
It's a muggy evening in August and the East Village bar is relatively empty and dimly lit. Nayon walks in. She is sweaty and reeks of cigarette smoke.
Q: Hey.
N: (giving me a quick peck on the cheek) Fuck, it's hot.
Q: How was your day?
N: Um... You know, the usual. Pretending to hate your coworkers when you actually love them, getting five different ideas for songs but not having anything to write with, blah blah.
Q: So, shall we begin?
N: (to the bartender, who's trying to figure out if Nayon's a celebrity, seeing the tape recorder and all) Apple martini, please.
Q: I thought you only drank beer now.
N: Yeah, then I started getting a beer gut.
Q: You look great.
N: Fuck you. (cackles) (Writer's note: Nayon's never been good at taking compliments)
Q: So... When did you decide to become a singer/songwriter?
N: Ah... so original. (cackles) Um... My parents were huge fans of rock 'n' roll music so I was exposed to a lot of it at an early age. They're also pretty musical themselves, so I think I inherited it. I found that I had nimble fingers for the piano and a knack for singing, and a great ear for music. I didn't start fucking around with songwriting until I was in college, when I was trying to learn how to play the guitar my parents bought me in high school. I started putting my poetry to music and that was pretty much how it began.
Q: Do you have any specific process of songwriting that works the best for you?
N: Not really. Sometimes I hear the entire song in my head but it will take me literally months to put words to it. Sometimes it's the other way around, and sometimes everything comes to me like magic but it's usually shit. But I don't believe in revisions, because I truly believe that the beauty of music lies in the rawness of its core.
Q: What's the latest with your music?
N: There's not much going on right now. I played my last gig in late June, and I haven't booked any more shows because I lost my bassist and I'm too lazy to look for another one. I'm writing a lot of new songs right now after months of being hopelessly constipated. Um... I'm actually meeting with Byron (writer's note: Byron is Nayon's producer/colleague/friend/ex-boyfriend) this week to discuss the recording, and I'm fucking hoping that we finish it soon so I can finally get that part done with.
Q: Is it weird to work with an ex on this level?
N: There have been a couple of uncomfortable moments, but for the most part, it's normal and boring. We dated so long ago, you know? (writer's note: They dated from 1998-2000) We actually started recording while we were still dating, then broke up, then took some time off, then resumed the process on solely professional terms. It's very business-like, which is actually what initially freaked me out, but really we still like each other and respect each other, and we collaborate pretty well. For the most part, at least.
Q: Do you guys fight?
N: All the time. I, as the songwriter, know what I ultimately want in a song and how I want each song to sound, and Byron, being the producer and a musician himself, will have totally different ideas on how the song should sound. So we argue for hours and we usually go with his ideas. (cackles)
Q: Do you ever think about getting back together with him?
N: Constantly. Not because I want to get back together with him right now, but because I am always curious as to what would have happened if the timing was different. He's a great guy - he's actually the most normal guy I've ever dated - but the timing was wrong for us.
Q: Are you seeing anyone right now?
N: Are you asking me out?
Q: No, this is solely for interview purposes.
N: Okay, then... I would prefer not to tell you. (cackles)
Q: Aw, come on!
N: Well, let's just say that... (deep sigh) I am still horribly devastated and heartbroken over my last attempt, and I'm not pursuing anything seriously in that department. But there is one person right now that's sparked an interest in me - something no one's done in a while.
Q: Is it me?
N: No.
Q: Ouch. What's he like?
N: He's intense. He's a kind soul. I can't quite put a finger on him. Really alluring. We're like minds so I think that draws me to him.
Q: Are you sure it's not me?
N: If it was you I think I would have told you already.
Q: You don't harbor secret feelings?
N: Not when it comes to romantic relationships... I wear my heart on a sleeve so if I like someone romantically, chances are they'll know right away. But o - © 2003, Alex Sandler

"From An Obsessed Fan, 2002"

You pop up in my thoughts now and then. I know next to nothing about you, but something there captures my imagination as rarely before... Maybe in the way you hold a cigarette, or the way your voice turns up at the end of your website intro as you sing about the crackling twinkle in your eye. So I guess you really are ethereal... No one's piqued my interest so much in a long time. Makes sense that you're an only child. Forceful personality. Self-sufficient. Maybe a little narcissistic (which can be a really good thing). Are you sure Angelina [ed. note: Kim's middle name] isn't fitting? Could also be taken in the sense of ethereal, or mystical. Besides, angels can be dark, or at least mischievous. I just noticed your link to I like this less 'catchy' stuff even better. Your voice is intoxicating. Did you know you have perfect lips? (another great attribute for a rock star, I suppose). Have you heard of a Spanish band called La Oreja de Van Gogh? Your 'Days Gone By' brought them to mind... So your website already has me a little infatuated... bodes well for your career as a rock star if you have that effect on everyone. Who might you be, the girl of my dreams or something? ...Or too good to be true, perhaps?
L.B. - Author Shall Remain Anonymous

""Underground," But Not For Long"

Nayon Kim and I go way back; I've interviewed her twice, and we've been friends for several years now since we first met at a hip karaoke bar (fitting, isn't it?). Since I moved to LA a few months ago, my interactions with Nayon have been limited to phone and email conversations (which is how I am sending her this 'review' by the way). But once you've gotten to know Nayon, it's difficult to make her disappear from your life. One of the strongest personalities I've met in my lifetime, Nayon is definitely hard to forget.

When I met her, Nayon was singing Guns 'N' Roses' 'Sweet Child O' Mine.' She was absolutely stunning and I had to do a double, no - a triple, take, and had to keep throwing glances her way while pretending to listen to whatever my friend sitting next to me was saying. And her voice - what a voice! It was such a strange, delicious combination of sugar and spice and everything nice and naughty at the same time - so pure and innocent, yet so knowing and wise beyond her years (she barely looked seventeen, yet later she claimed to be in her twenties).

When I approached her she was calm, cool, collected - like someone who gets hit on by guys all the time (which she does). She wasn't the 'rock star' I had envisioned while watching her on the small stage. Instead, Nayon turned out to be one of the most humble, warm and funny creatures I've encountered.

We became fast friends (with Nayon's personality, you can't resist her even when she tells you things like, "Well, I can't be in a relationship with you, but would you still like to be friends?") and soon I was hooked on her music.

Nayon recently sent me a CD filled with new songs she's been working on, along with a copy of one of her live shows for me to review. It's incredible. Nayon has always been an amazing songwriter, but the recent stuff really shows her growth as a writer as well as a musician. New songs like 'Underground,' 'Ugly Boy,' and 'One and Only' still have the Nayonesque-vibe (catchy yet poignant, emotional yet cool, enjoyable) but are much more musically mature than her older pop/rock anthems 'Days Gone By' or 'Hyperion Forgotten.' Which is not to dismiss her older stuff; they are just as good as the new ones. The main difference between the old and the new seems to be that while the hooks and the melodies - Nayon's specialties - are still there, they are much subtler. The chord changes are also much less 'formulaic' and develop in unexpected (and pleasantly surprising) ways, giving Nayon's compositions a more of a mature sound. Her lyrics are still just as captivating and hard hitting; "I'm feeling shy and underground, I don't know who you are, why are you haunting me?" she whisper-sings in 'Underground.' And when she coos, "Are you my one? Are you my only that got away?" in ‘One and Only,’ you think to yourself, 'Nope, still here!'

Another thing Nayon has going for her this year is the two incredible musicians she added to the bill. Geoff Gersh, who has been playing the guitar with Nayon for the past two years, brings all sorts of rock to the mix. While Nayon composes all of her songs entirely, her somewhat limited guitar skills (she refuses to take lessons), well, limited her in elaborateness. Geoff Gersh picks up from there and conveys what Nayon could only hear in her head. Gersh is a seasoned musician and composer who currently plays the electric zither for the off-Broadway show Blue Man Group, and his talent, most evident during his solo in ‘Gunshy '79’ will blow you away. Matt Hankle, another professional musician, joined the team more recently. Hankle, who plays the drums for Broadway shows Chicago, Mamma Mia and the off-Broadway Blue Man Group, is the 'roll' in 'rock 'n' roll.' His precision, steadiness, high energy and solid talent really tie the band together.

While Nayon has yet to recruit a permanent bassist to complete the band, she feels really lucky and happy to have Gersh and Hankle on board. "They are such talented musicians, and they play so well together. I really love what they bring to my music," she says, over email, "I'm so excited that they'll be playing on the recording."

Ah, the debut album. Where? When? Going from producer to producer, recording the CD seems to have been a "futile attempt to open the door, a never ending frustration" ('Mudpie'). "It's hard to ask a producer to make time for you when they're your friends and they're recording you for free," says Nayon, who is undoubtedly frustrated with this 3 years and still ongoing project. "But it will get done. One way or another." And I believe her. It's hard to keep Nayon down. And when she resurfaces, you will notice.
- Alex Sandler, ©2004


Nayon has a great voice, soft and melodic. If you were to ask what she sounds like, I'd have a tough time pointing at current artists. Nayon's music is fun to listen to and is well paced rock. Let your hair down and listen to "Hyperion Forgotten." Her band provides an eloquent and stable platform for her to showcase her melodic voice, especially evident when you listen to Catatonic. Enjoy the pics and visit Nayon's website. I really like her music!
- ©2004, Muneeb Khan


"Singer-songwriter and rock 'n' roll cowgirl NAYON KIM delivers sexy tunes." - NY PRESS, ©2005

"Interview with"

Bio from her website:

NY Press called her tunes "sexy." Recently billed as one of the "ten top Asian-American indie luminaries," Nayon Kim's songs are honest & poignant, with an uncanny feel for lyricism. From haunting ballads to fast-paced rock'n'roll that will make you want to "let your hair down," it's worth checking out. With a distinct sound, strong lyrics and even stronger hooks, it's hard to forget Nayon's songs once you hear them.

Nayon picked up her guitar and started composing songs during her college years at New York University. Since then, she has performed in many accomplished music venues in New York City, solo and with her talented band. Nayon also plays bass and keyboards for the avant-pop-rock band Comrade Red, and bass for the all-girl rock outfit, My Ugly Phase. In her spare time, Nayon occasionally models and acts in various stage and film productions. She has also won many honors as an essayist and a poet.

Booking and other information: . Lo-Fi Entertainment also does booking for her.

1. When did you come to the States?

I came to the States when I was ten years old, from Seoul, Korea. Since I shouldn't really be revealing my age, I won't disclose what year it was that my family moved here. My parents were bored with their lives in Korea and decided to try out New York scene (we already had lots of family living in New York and L.A.).

2. Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised an only child in Seoul, Korea, as were both of my parents. I spent the first ten years of my life raising hell, being a tomboy and beating up lots of school boys. When my family moved to New York, we did the typical Korean immigrant thing and did a year's stint in Jackson Heights and Flushing. When the Queens public school system proved to be horrible (I was getting picked on on a daily basis and not learning any English because they didn't have a proper E.S.L. program), my parents decided to move to New Jersey - which is where I spent the rest of my childhood before coming back to New York City for college.

3. So how did you get started as a rockin' folk singer?

I started singing in choirs in elementary school, and was also a pianist at that time. In high school I played the guitar and sang for an all-girl punk cover band called Betty Krocker With a K. It wasn't until college that I started pursuing songwriting. Up until that point I was considering poetry as a career path. Then one day, in my NYU dorm room, I started putting music to some of the poetry I had written. Then I fell in love with songwriting and haven't fallen out since. My first public performance as a singer/songwriter was for a showcase my friend put together. It was probably the most nerve-racking experience of my life (even though I am a trained actress), but at the same time I had never felt such exhilaration from being on stage in any other capacity as I had playing my own music. So I got hooked, and here I am (I still get nervous).

4. How do you feel the Asian American music scene is? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of being an Asian rocker? Does it make a more difficult to be accepted?

The Asian music scene is still somewhat foreign to me. When I think of Asian music I immediately associate it with K-Pop, J-Pop, C-Pop. In the past year or two my eyes have opened a little wider and I am aware that there are Asian musicians out there who are more like myself. The American music industry is similar to the film industry, in that no matter how talented the artist, it's inevitably a little tougher to break into the industry as an Asian. I've only recently begun to see the breaking of the stereotypical Asian molds and roles in film; I am very much hoping that the music scene will follow its lead and break new ground. I personally don't see it particularly advantageous or disadvantageous being an Asian musician in America. It's a tough industry no matter what - most artists struggle. Granted Asian bands are not what you see everyday on MTV and we are still in the minority, I don't let my ethnicity factor into my music or how I perceive other music. Music is universal. If it's good, and if people can relate to it, in the end your ethnicity is really trivial.

5. Who are your major musical influences?

I don't listen to a whole lot of music nowadays, but I grew up listening to the Beatles a lot and I still love them. In high school I was fortunate to have so many female musicians to look up to and idolize: PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland, Luscious Jackson, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Kelly and Kim Deal of the Breeders, Tonya Donnelly of Belly, and other female fronted bands such as Elastica, Huggy Bear, and Hole. The 90's alternative rock music scene influenced me a lot and probably still creeps into my style of writing.

6. What do you do with the Blue Man Group?

Like most New York City musicians who are not yet fully established, I hav - Han ©2006


-"Hyperion Forgotten" and "Days Gone By" were featured in 'Acme Underground's Best of the Best Rock' compilation CD, 2003.
-"Lone Star" was featured in 'Bridge to Music: Indie Sounds From Brooklyn's Underground' compilation CD, Harris Radio, 2003.
-"Mudpie" was featured in 'Just Another Day,' an independent film directed by Maniner Saini, 2001.
-"Hyperion Forgotten" received Honorable Mention in 2003's John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
-Various songs have received streaming airplay on
-"Hyperion Forgotten" and "Catatonic" have been featured on
-Venues performed include: Acme Underground (Best of the Best Rock showcase), White Rabbit (AARYV Voter Registration benefit), Tonic, Luna Lounge, Pete's Candy Store, Swift, Greenwich Cafe, Blackbox Theatre, Cabaret 88's, Cafe 111 (Womanrock showcase), Provincetown Playhouse, Galapagos, Arlene's Grocery (Tsunami benefit show), Cutting Room (Urban Erotika showcase), Trash Bar, the Pussycat Lounge, Rothko, Rare (Music Industry Showcase), Continental, and Crash Mansion.
-Nayon's debut full-length album, title tbd, is currently under works.


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Indie luminary" Nayon Kim was born in Seoul, Korea and found her love for music at a very early age. Since moving to New York at the age of ten, Nayon has been actively pursuing her music career. As a former child virtuoso on the piano, she has always had a great ear for music, but it wasn't until her latter years at New York University (where she studied within the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at the Steinhardt School of Education) that she picked up the guitar and began composing songs. Since then, Nayon has performed in many accomplished music venues in New York City, solo and with a band. Her music has also been featured in various films and compilations, and she recently won honorable mention in 2003's John Lennon Songwriting Contest. While Nayon Kim has been compared to the likes of Sheryl Crow and early Liz Phair, her music is definitely in a league of its own. With a distinct sound, strong lyrics and even stronger hooks, it's hard to forget Nayon's songs once you hear them.