Q×A by Jason Tayer
Kinida is an artist currently based in New York City. Kini’s main medium of art is experimenting with sound and color. Her music is bilingual of Korean and English, through her music she practices her native tongue. Kinida moved to New York about 6 years ago in hopes of graduating from Parsons. She quickly realized that attending BFA college derailed her financial stability. She dropped out of art school her second year, putting a behind to her graphic design and fashion design degree. She started to explore New York to find her friends and her new family away from Korea. She quickly got associated with kids that were in the same place as her, broke and homeless. After several years of associating with these new friends she realized that she had to grow out of this pattern of negativity. And truly started chasing after her dream she came to New York for. That is when she started heavily experimenting with music and quickly realized this is something that she could thrive for.
1. While growing up, did you have any people or points of inspiration that helped you get to where you are today?
Growing up I wasn’t too close to my family besides my mother and my brother. My mother really pushed me to be a strong female, she never wanted me to go through the things that she did and she regretted to this day. So since a young age I was always told to achieve my goals before sharing myself with anyone else!
I have cross paths with many different mentors while living in New York and it’s always good to have an OG’s advice. I always listen to what they have to say and apply it to my life paths and choices.
2. What has been your favorite modeling experience, and why?
I don’t really see myself as a model! However, the best experience with modeling is when I get to meet new people on set and I get to speak to people or different creatives that are involved in the shoot, also a great setting to make connections. It’s never really a fun job when people have their walls up it makes everything boring and awkward and I hate shoots like that 🙁 I just genuinely love talking to new people and hearing what they have to say about life.
3. Although studying at Parson’s got cut short, were there any valuable classes or skills you learned that guided your art?
There were few perks attending Parsons haha, the best perks were the resources that we get as Parsons students. For example, we had access to all the machines! My most valuable skill I learned is learning how to laser print. Besides that, I love history so I also loved learning objects and history. For the most part I was never a school person, I got expelled from high school and dropped out of college. I never did well with rules and guidelines. I never understood why there’s such structure in learning when everyone takes in information and learns how they want to learn.
4. Have you always been strongly connected to Buddhism, and how does it drive your artistic pursuits?
Yes, being born in Korea I was exposed to Buddhism at a young age through my grandma. I have memories of my grandma always meditating and going up to the temple. I never really understood too much of it when I was younger because it was never pushed on me but I was always around the energy. When I got a little older and my grandma passed, I did my own research and took more interest little by little. To me Buddhism isn’t a religion to me. It’s more like lessons of life I can learn and depict my own path through these learnings. I believe in enlightenment, everyone has the energy to align yourself fully and be enlightened but this takes practice and patience. This is why I strongly resonated with ‘Dakini’ which inspired a lot of my music persona ‘Kinida.’ Dakini in the origin of Tibeten Buddhism depicts female entity and energy as well symbolizes female ambiguity. I see Kinida as my meditation and guide to enlightenment with myself.
5. What was the most challenging part about navigating your way around New York while looking for artistic opportunities?
The most challenging moments I’ve experienced in New York were right after dropping out of school. One of the main reasons I dropped out was because I couldn’t afford tuition, even though I was on partial scholarship they raised the tuition every year. When I first came out to New York my parents were going through bankruptcy and they mentioned to me that they weren’t going to be able to support me for 4 years. So this is something I knew I had to face eventually and figure my life out as a young adult. I even applied for a student loan that was just for my second year through my friend’s parents, but even with that… It was difficult for me and I was pretty stressed out on top of all the school work I had to do as well.
I try to do things the right way most of the time but somehow my life pattern always takes me on a harder route. As an international student at the time and dropping out, they gave me only a week to leave the United States and my visa would become invalid. I didn’t have the finances to get my plane ticket so I ended up overstaying and became an alien citizen. It was easy to find a group of friends after I dropped out of school, I felt like I met a lot of artists similar to my situation as well which comforted me. I quickly felt like I had a huddle of friends that I could rock with, so I started couch surfing with some of them crashing with different friends and living in airbnbs week to week. It was okay in the beginning. I just knew I wasn’t going back home. There were many times that I felt like I just wanted to go back to Korea but I knew if I did I wouldn’t be allowed back in America for 10 years. This was the most challenging time for me, I could have really hit rock bottom and never be in a place that I am today. I was hanging around kids with ambitions but also addicted to drugs. At one point we wounded up getting trapped living with this couple who were heroin addicts; they would be handing out free drugs to us and we were young at the time and didn’t know much better but I always knew to stay away from whatever they were doing. I even tried to help them, but I learned a lot in those 2 years. I felt like it was a life test and I needed to pass it and I passed that shit!
6. How do you think your music impacts your audience and what kinds of messages do you try to convey through the music?
My impact with my music is both visual and sound. I want the two to merely represent each other as one. Through my music I am practicing my dakini (kinida) therefore, I want to represent the strong energy of femininity and feminine ambiguity. I don’t want to convey any message in my music other than the art itself. I want the audience to hopefully be able to relate to how I view my art and myself. I want to inspire myself to inspire others along the process.
7. How are you able to bridge multiple cultures through the use of bilingual lyrics?
I guess my first language is Korean but I do consider English as my first as well. As a westernized Asian I believe it is important to keep true to your roots as much as possible. Growing up in western culture it is very hard and confusing to identify your true self. I know a lot of my asian friends went through their own identity crisis growing up in western culture. Some of my friends don’t even speak their native tongue. I was close to abandoning my own native tongue as well but when I started making music I started practicing and writing Korean on my own and it helps me learn as I create. I just want to stay true to who I am when I create and I never want to abandon my own ethnic culture, I want people to know more about Korean culture and I feel responsible to open all the doors for that.
8. What is the most special part about your first solo EP dropping this fall?
Wooow, there’s been a lot of special moments creating this first true EP/Album! I feel like I was on trial to really find out my own sound in the beginning. It took me about almost two years of drafting music to really realize that music is something I really wanted to pursue. I was super low key about it in the beginning but as I opened up working with other musically talented people I feel like art creates itself. This project started with a draft of one song with a close friend of mine who is also one of my executive producers @yowasupfoo. Our first track that we made called ‘yessesori’ we fell in love right and we just decided that we are super compatible to create together so we kept going almost every night! Then she introduced me to @doubleyouowe who is also one of my executive producers and he really saw our vision in the tracks we were developing and he decided to hop on the project with us! So really this project has been timeless and seemingless. I’m really enjoying the process of this project and everyone that has been involved so far, I really appreciate everyone that has been believing in my sound and my vision for this project without my talented friends like Aerie and Merylin some of the tracks would not even have been possible, so I really am keeping this project close to my heart.
9. What key advice would you give to an aspiring artist trying to gain experience in a huge city?
MY TRUE HONEST ADVICE never chase money, let the money chase you 🙂
On the real side, I love collaborating with different artists! We live in a social media time, we really have the tools to connect with anyone we want. For me, I love connecting myself with different artists even if it is to collaborate or just to be friends with them. I know some people might think I’m weird for that but that’s how I’ve been making art forever. Even for this cover shoot I collaborated with @playthetrack9 Ruda who I met off of Instagram because one day I posted on my story if anyone could share their Creative Cloud account and she reached out to me, then I got to see some of her work on her page which was refreshing to me! I immediately let her know I wanted to create with her!
Making art isn’t all about yourself, that’s how you limit the potential of your own ideas. I know some of us think we can do everything ourselves but sometimes it’s okay to join with other creatives to create something bigger than your limitations.
10. How do you plan to expand your modeling, music, and other artistic projects in the future, and what are you most excited about?
I don’t want to plan anything! What I do know is that I want to create for living and I love the outlet of music because it contains all aspects of art that I want to target! So I am very excited to create and put my imagination to life 🙂
Direction of Photography: Ruda Lee