Tiffany Young has a lot to be pumped about. She’s about to embark on her Magnetic Moon Tour, the K-pop star’s first tour in the United States, that will have her on a bus driving across state lines and meeting fans all over the country. On Friday, Tiffany dropped her latest single, the dancey, sultry, genre-bending “Run For Your Life.” The accompanying music video shows just how far Tiffany has come as an artist, giving us lots of glam with plenty of ferocity and edginess. I mean look at that blue, glittering bodysuit she wears in the video.
Between preparing for her upcoming tour, working on new music, and recently performing at the famed D23 expo, Tiffany has been booked and busy. But Teen Vogue recently caught up with the musician to talk about her return to California, how she’s expanding what it means to be a K-pop star, the legacy of Girls’ Generation’s “Gee,” and more.
Teen Vogue: Considering that you’re originally from California, what’s it like being able to return to your home state and perform new music for the Magnetic Moon Tour?
Tiffany Young: It still feels like a dream. I was just in Asia [for the Open Hearts Eve tour], and it's always fun to be back home in my music home. But everybody's like, “what is the U.S. like?” I'm so fortunate to be able to experiment and really take charge and create something different and change what K-pop is. It's wonderful. It's new and I think sometimes it does get a little unfamiliar and uncomfortable when you're doing something new but I feel like that means I'm onto something, that I am creating something.
TV: How do you feel like you’re changing K-pop?
TY: When I went to South Korea to be a K-pop star, at the time I thought I had to move halfway around the world. I thought I had to sing in Korean. Now it's such a beautiful time where it doesn't matter what language you're singing in. You are hearing K-pop all around the world. Whether I'm singing in Korean or English or whatever language I am singing in, it doesn't matter anymore. Everyone's like, “are you going to release anything in Korean?” I remember back when I was singing in Korean, people were like, “are you going to release anything in English?” I think everything translates, and I'm down for anything. I wanted to keep continuing to do everything in both English and Korean, without even thinking about the language. I hope what I'm doing, where I'm doing it, won't matter. It's going to be more of a, “oh, she's doing new things, different things from what we're used to seeing,” whether that's like the Korean music shows or the Korean platforms. Which I am still also doing.
TV: What’s the story behind your new single “Run For Your Life”?
TY: It is about ambition. It is about being in a mood and not wanting to hide it and just being free, running wild, and being your true self. This is the most different track I've created. I connected with this song so much and I hope that it translates so that everybody will be inspired to be daring and different and fearless.
TV: So you moved from the States to South Korea when you were a teen to become part of Girls’ Generation. “Gee” ended up being a viral sensation and made waves back in the U.S. What was it like seeing that song become such a big deal back where you were from?
TY: I didn't really realize it to that extent ‘cause, I guess, I was being booked and busy, which is wonderful. Even 10 years later I'm taking interviews [about how] “Gee” was one of the songs that defined or changed K-pop, or how female bands are perceived. When one of the bodies of work that I've created still stands the test of time, that's when I feel like, OK, that was something major. It's definitely rewarding.
TV: How do you think growing up in the United States and then moving to Korea to pursue music affected who you are as an artist?
TY: I'm very blessed and thankful. When I was putting out my first single, I was deciding what does Tiffany's music sonically sound like and represent. My answer was that I wanted to bring the best of both worlds. When I was in Korea I would always be paying attention to the pop [in the U.S.] And now that I'm here in the U.S., I mean I did when I was a kid too, I'm paying attention to the K-pop charts more. I just want to bring the best of both worlds no matter where I am in the world.
TY: The challenges of being a solo artist are that there are no set rules or expectations and you are in charge. And sometimes you don't know when to stop. The perfectionist monster in me comes out, now that I'm alone. I just want to take things further, but I guess it's a good problem.
Coming from a group, being part of Girls' Generation was a blessing. To be a part of a big ensemble, I've learned that to serve is to lead and to lead is to serve. I've probably done a lot of practice through Girls' Generation to be able to orchestrate, piecing and choosing who my team is. It takes so many amazing personalities to create something. I think that's my favorite part of being a solo artist that I really get to look into and find and work with the people that I've dreamed of working with.
TV: You’ve done some work with Disney lately, including a cover of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” in Korean. How long have you been a Disney fan for?
TY: My favorite Disney princess of all time has always been Ariel. I love the fish out of water story and the fact that she'd give up everything for love. She believes in a bigger world and also the story of finding your voice. “Part of Your World” is my favorite. I also love Lea Salonga especially since she represented Asian women in Disney. But I do have to admit that “Reflection” by Christina Aguilera was the first time I ever sang on stage.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue