Norman Kim

Norman Kim

BandPopSinger/Songwriter

Slanty-Eyed Acoustic Soul Music. "Sounds like a 60-year old Black man, looks like my ambiguously gay math T.A." I strive to pay respect to old-school soul and blues, and create music that tells stories that not only entertain, but maybe, just maybe, give you "one to grow on.".

Biography

"Sounds like a 60-year old Black man, looks like my ambiguously gay math T.A."

Never having had geographical roots, I like to think that my music reflects always having my metaphorical feet straddling often widely divergent worlds. Born in South Korea and raised in Chicago, my family did the typical George and Weezie "movin' on up," from one-room apartments to multiple rooms to a Rockwell-esque little suburban tract-house. I've been greek, polish, irish, black, and jewish. Simultaneously easily able to fit in but always the proverbial "other."

My one constant, cliche though it may be, was music. Like every other asian-american child, I learned piano. Unlike the other asian kids in my class, I insisted on playing "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong" for my first recital. Pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

Fast forward through choirs, musical theater, and a high-school U2 cover band, I spent my senior year of high school as an exchange student in Germany. Mostly I spent that year getting on various trains with enough money for a one-way fare, and the goal of earning whatever money I would need to get back by playing music. I learned that in addition to Davids, both Hasselhof and Copperfield, Germans LOVE long-haired asian boys who can sing, demonstrating a "remarkable command of English," and play American folk songs. And U2.

College brought an impressing-a-cute-girl inspired foray into militant and self-righteous vegetarianism, a cappella music, more musical theater, and several important realizations: 1) that I was not going to make a living as a composer of subversive children's musicals that were really gospel and blues tinged variations on Mahler's Requiem, 2) that I was not going to become a rock-star by writing poetic satires entirely in the form of Elizabethan heroic coulets, and 3) that I was a ginormous NERD.

But I also realized that I was a nerd who made people double-take when he opened his mouth to sing, not because it was good but more because the voice SO did not match the thing out of which it was spewing, as if Barbara Bush were to somehow channel Billie Holiday.

Graduation begat graduate school in Los Angeles, where everyone from doctors to rent-a-maids has a headshot or demo. And a dissertation later, mostly just to fit in, a singer-songwriter was born.

So what is Slanty-Eyed Soul? My music is mostly my working out of my deep shame at the recognition that sarcasm is just a safer way to express hurt and pain. I endeavor to surprise on any possible level, and I strive to pay respect to old-school soul and blues and create music that tells stories that not only entertain, but maybe, just maybe, give you kids "one to grow on."

But mostly I do it because I just need a big hug.

Lyrics

Slanty Eyed Soul

Written By: Norman Kim

I’ve never stepped foot in Oklahoma
Don’t know the Ozarks from the Poconos
Didn’t grow up in either Carolina
Spelling is the only thing bout Mississippi I know

But I felt connected to the music of the mountains
And the shouts and calls of the dusty fields
Grew up in Chicago, and had plenty of jazz and blues
Had a calling to explore my roots, to see if what I felt was real

Chorus: Cuz you know I got me some slanty-eyed soul
My eyes ain’t big and round but they get me where I need to go
My face looks different, but my heart aches with the blues
It don’t matter what I look like cuz the music tells my truth

Headed for the hallowed streets of New Orleans
Took out my guitar and I started to sing
When I took my breaks people asked me questions, and I said
No, I don’t know karate, I don’t have a store or anything

Took my songs to the city of Memphis
Went down to Beale street like I knew I should
I started singing for my supper
When I stopped, I heard a voice say "My but your English is good"

Ch: So I hit 'em with a dose of my slanty-eyed soul
My eyes ain’t big and round but they get me where I need to go
My face looks different, but my heart aches with the blues
It don’t matter what I look like cuz the music tells my truth

Bridge: Always felt different underneath this skin
No matter where I go I don’t seem to fit in
But that don’t hardly matter when the music takes control
And all that anyone can see is a slanty eyed brother with some soul

So I went back to Massachusetts
To spend time on the cape with some friends
Met all the neighbors, who held open their arms and said
Welcome to our country, you seem a fine young man

So I gave them a taste of my slanty eyed soul
My eyes ain’t big and round but they get me where I need to go
My face looks different, but my heart aches with the blues
It don’t matter what I look like long cuz my music tells my truth

Starbucks Girl

Written By: Norman Kim

Woke up this morning, couldn’t rub the sleep out of my eyes
Stared at the ceiling, wishing that the clock could lie
Throw back the covers, I try to fight through my sleepy haze
But then I think about you, and realize how badly I want to start my day.

Jumped in the shower, grabbed the keys to the car
Your fragrance calls me, and I know just where you are
It’s automatic, don’t need to think ‘bout where I want to go
And my heart starts racing, cuz I can see you through the window

Ch: Starbucks girl, you pick me up when I’m feeling down
Every morning when I feel worn out
I love the way you stimulate me
Starbucks girl, you know without you I couldn’t start my day
You know my first name and how I like to pay
You always know just what I need

And that's why every morning, I pray and hope for a longer line
I stand and wonder how to make the most of our special time
Get to the counter, I love the way that you push back your hair
The smile you serve me, shows me just how much you care

As I wait, I see you talk to the next guy in line
I still get jealous, can’t help it even after all this time
But I got something, and I know that you can see
That I want your lovin, even more than I need your caffeine

Chorus:

Bridge: You look like an angel in your white and green
The sweet enchanting smell of coffee beans
And I hope to God that you're over 17
How can I find the right way to tell you

Starbucks girl, I wish that I could take you away
If only I could find the words to say
That I love the way you hypnotize me
Starbucks girl, I wish that you were brewing just for me
So we could live in caffeine ecstasy
You’d be the only shot I need

Cigarettes

Written By: Norman Kim

Found your hair on my favorite sweater
A stray sock fell out my bed
Wish I could say I saved every letter
But I seemed to save the ones I wrote instead

Lipstick traces tell a story
Can't say I tried real hard to clean them off
The many faces you tried so hard not to show me
Can't blame me if I didn't know you at all

CH: But it's the fire that we started that I'll remember
And not the ashes that we left in the end
Though the smoke tends to linger, I can forget about all the rest
But it's the cigarettes and breaking my heart that I'll remember best

Found a picture of us I'd forgotted
Fell out the pages between some magazines
I should've known by the way you never just dropped in
You weren't as happy as I seemed to want you to be

Bridge: The things that you thought that you knew
That we could work it all out, just by slowing it down, by giving it room
But the room got too big to get close, got harder to get past the fear
If you could let down your guard, stop protecting your heart
Or maybe there just wasn't any here, here.

Always seemed like such a drawn out story
Maybe that's just the way I want to remember it
Should've tried harder, I know that you told me
Can't blame you if I wanted more than you could give

CHORUS

Discography

Full audio samples available at www.normanmusiconline.com

Set List

My sets range from 30 mins (usually 6 songs) to 60 mins (10-12 songs). I typically play keyboards for 2-4 songs and guitar for the majority.

Typical 30 min. set list:
1. Slanty Eyed Soul (bluesy, "humorous" intro)
2. Worst Case Scenario (acoustic r&b/soul)
3. David Crosby (ironic, acoustic rock)
4. Tall Drink of Water (jazz-folk confessional)
5. Cigarettes (heart-wrenching blues)
6. Starbucks Girl (rhymic and riff-y pop)

Originals included in longer sets:
7. Panic (folk-pop)
8. Stronger (singer-songwriter-y)
9. Wish (acoustic r&b/soul)
10. One Voice (folk)

Typical covers:
Moondance (Van Morrison)
Just Like Heaven (The Cure)
In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel)
When Doves Cry (Prince)
Show the Way (David Wilcox)
Like I Love You (Justin Timberlake. Seriously.)
Love is a Battlefield (Pat Benatar)
Such Great Heights (Postal Service)