Norman Kim
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Norman Kim

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


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Feeling a bit camera shy


"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.