• Ford Carter

Dami Im talks with Edwina Bartholomew about Eurovision, South Korea, and K-pop




This week as a part of the ‘South Korea Friendship Series’ organized on behalf of the Korea Tourism Organization, Australian Eurovision legend Dami Im was interviewed by breakfast morning show Sunrise presenter Edwina Bartholomew about the k-pop music industry, her trips to South Korea since immigrating to Australia, and her experience at the Eurovision Song Contest.


During the interview, Dami talked about her childhood, where she learned piano, and dreamed of becoming a concert pianist, but how that dream soon changed into becoming a singer. Dami mention that when she spoke with her father about wanting to become a singer, he was accepting, but warned her that it would be difficult for her to do, seeing as a lot of people are great singers, and she had spent so much of her childhood learning piano rather than vocal lessons.


When speaking about her time in Stockholm representing Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016, Dami mentioned that she felt like she was an athlete or Olympian. She also mentioned that the entire process was incredibly intense, with weeks of rehearsals at a time when she didn’t even know where she was going to place.


Following Edwina’s questioning of where she wanted to place, Dami mention that at the very least she wanted to make the top ten, and that her competitive and ambitious personality meant that she really wanted to beat Guy Sebastian’s placing from the year before. She also mentioned that she felt an immense amount of pressure to do well for her fans (the Dami Army) and the Australian delegation who had put in so much work.


“There were about forty countries competing so I could be sitting anywhere from one to forty and everybody’s there to win it, so I wanted to end up – at least – in the top ten. And to be honest, I’m very competitive, so I wanted to beat Guy Sebastian from the year before, who came fifth, so that was my goal.”

She was also asked at what point during the show she realized that Australia had a serious chance of winning. According to Dami, during the interval act when she was relaxing alongside the twenty-five other performers and watching Justin Timberlake’s performance, she was told not to remove her in-ears or her mic pack. Following the show, she found out that only herself and Jamala from Ukraine had been told that, and that was when she had realized there was a chance she might need to perform again.


“But that’s when they told me to keep my in-ear pack on. I was still in my big dress and they told me not to remove my in-ears, and I just thought ‘that’s a bit strange’ and thought maybe everyone had to keep them on . . . I found out later that it was just me and Ukraine who had to keep them on and it was between her and myself.”

Dami also spoke about how some of her family made the trip to Stockholm as well to watch her perform, given that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She also mentioned that ‘Sound of Silence’ was a song that changed her life, and that the song’s themes of being connected but still being isolated have never been more present than they are today.


The Eurovision Song Contest wasn’t all that Dami touched on during her interview. She also spoke about some of her favourite places around the South Korean city of Seoul to visit whenever she went back, including the neighbourhood of Hongdae (a university suburb) and the Gwangjang Market. As a university suburb, Hongdae is a neighbourhood with a lot of culture.


She also touched on what it was like living as an immigrant in Australia during her childhood. Dami spoke with Edwina about how she struggled to feel as though she belonged anywhere as an immigrant, that when she visited family in South Korea she felt Australian, but when she was in Australia, she felt Korean, and couldn’t fit in anywhere. She also explained that Australian cities (particularly Brisbane) were very different from Korean ones (Seoul and Incheon, where she grew up and spent time around) – considerably quieter and with more open and green spaces.


Dami and Edwina also touched on the rise of k-pop in the western world, with Dami giving Edwina an insight into what it was like being a k-pop fan before it exploded into what it is today. When Dami was a teenager, k-pop was almost unheard of in Australia, with Dami mentioning that her and her friends were the only students in her school who knew anything about it, but that when she went to a k-pop concert held in Australia a few years ago, she was surprised by the sheer number of people who were in attendance, and how many of them were not of Asian descent.


Following the interview, Dami also gave a performance of ‘Sound of Silence’ on the piano.


The full interview is available to watch on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/543405711


Check out Dami's new single 'Lonely Cactus' below