Inside SAAY’s World
SAAY opens up about her mentors, her new album, the process of narrowing down tracklist contenders, and much more.
For those who have never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them? How would you finish the sentence “SAAY is ___” or “SAAY’s music is ___”?
SAAY is a person who talks to the world through music.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a music career? Did you want to become a choreographer first, or did your interest in singing come before that?
Ever since I can remember, all my family members have been involved in music, and I have been naturally influenced by them to love music. I've been dancing and singing all my life, so I don't remember which one came first, but my dream [since I was little] was to be a singer and perform my own songs on stage.
Please describe your new album and how it compares to or contrasts with your first full-length album.
My first full-length album, CLAASSIC, was an album that made various attempts. It contained a little experimental spirit about what kind of person I could be by properly taking steps as a musician and revealing my presence [in the music world]. My second full-length album, S:INEMA, is based on my experiences with the first album, which shaped everything about my identity and musicality. It's an album that brings out the intersection of what I can do and what I'm good at, and it's an album that says goodbye to my twenties. It turns all the moments and memories of my twenties into my very own movie.
Can you share some behind-the-scenes stories or fun facts about the making of your new album?
I personally directed the choreography and performance for the music video of the title song, "Talk 2 Me Nice." I was worried that I might have lost my touch, because it was the first time in four years since [making] the "ENCORE" music video, from my first full-length album, but despite my worries, I am very satisfied with the work. The actual process and time of writing this song was much faster than [any other] song I've worked on. It only took about 30 minutes to complete the entire melody. Sometimes really good music comes out in [an] instant, without much effort and time.
Are there any songs you worked on for this new album that did not make the final cut? How did you narrow down the options for which songs to put on the final tracklist?
Since it is an album that melts my experiences and memories of my twenties into a movie and music, I checked hundreds of times to see if everything fit into my synopsis and confirmed 21 songs [for] the tracklist, with a total of 20 songs and one bonus track. I worked on about 70 songs for the album alone.
What are the biggest differences between working on songs for yourself and working on songs for other artists?
In the past, the differences between these two positions were clear. But now, when I produce other people's songs, I make them like I make my own albums. However, depending on whether I am the subject or whether someone else is the subject, the point of inspiration seems to be slightly different. When I work on someone else's album as a producer, I learn new things from their energy.
If you could write a song for another artist who you have not written for previously, who would you pick, and why?
These days, the artist called NewJeans is so good. Their basics are solid, so it seems possible [for them] to digest any genre. I wish I had the opportunity to write songs for them as a composer or producer.
Do you view choreographing and songwriting to be related activities? Do you get into the same mindset for both, or is the mentality when you are “SAAY the Choreographer” different from your mentality as “SAAY the Songwriter”?
Both are really important parts to me, and I think I have a special ability to play multiple positions at once. These categories are not that different to me, because everything moves and is created simultaneously under the identity of “SAAY.”
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
I'm most proud of my second full-length album, S:INEMA. Even after I made it, I couldn’t believe the final quality. I'm proud of both me and my team.
Who have been your biggest mentors, in any area of life? Are there any particular pieces of advice they have told you that you live by?
My producer and mentor, DEEZ, gave me a clear direction in music when I was having the hardest time, and he is still the producer and partner who supports me the most. I learned from him that I should always be humble in music and maintain a posture to learn. I'm always grateful to him and the music production team SOULTRiii, because they are the ones who changed the whole world of music that I knew.
How do you think the next five years will be different from the past five years? Are there any specific goals you hope to accomplish within the next five years of your career?
Since I released a full-length album, I have a desire for a world tour. The world that has been stopped by COVID-19 is slowly opening up again, so I hope to meet fans around the world in person and communicate with them through my music. And I think I will be able to release more of my next full album in the next five years.
Where can people follow you on social media for the most up-to-date information about new releases?
Lastly, do you have a message for your fans or anything else you want to say about your new music?
It's already been four years since I released my first full-length album, and I’ve [now released] my second full-length album, S:INEMA. I'm nervous because it's been a while since I released a full-length album, but I worked really hard to make it for you. I hope everyone likes it! I look forward to meeting you in person through various concerts and tours soon. Please love S:INEMA, and stay happy and healthy until the day we meet! XOXO.
Check out SAAY’s new album here!
Answers have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. Photo credit: Instagram.