By: Jane Hwang
In February of 2021, Peter Kim, Music Therapy ,‘21, released a song titled “Thinkin’ Bout You” with Pac Ave Records, Pacific’s student run music label. The graduate student who is a Berklee College of Music alumni is set to release his first EP on April 9th.
Born in South Korea, raised in the Philippines, and emigrated to the States, Kim wanted to play music that would help him with expressing emotions and gaining some semblance of grounding. After testing out a few instruments, he discovered that the guitar was the right fit for him personally.
“Growing up in a foreign country, surrounded by foreigners, and being an alien, I needed to find something that I could always rely on to be there for me; that something was music.”
Although he goes by Peter, Kim’s stage name is Ya.Kim, derived from his birth name Yea Dalm. The inspiration for his stage name came from many of his peers mispronouncing his birth name.
“When I came to America for college, many people thought my first name was ‘Yea’ due to the space between my first name. People started to call me as ‘Yea’, pronounced either as ‘yay’ or ‘ya’, Kim. I took my idea from that and stuck with Ya.Kim.”
Kim, who is now completing his masters in music therapy at Pacific, adores the amount of liberty and creativity that music gives him, especially because it lets him learn and explore more about himself.
“In my music, I can be anyone I want to be; whether I have any of those traits, or characteristics, in real life. Additionally, I can talk about topics that I normally wouldn’t be able to in my everyday life,” said Kim.
When asked about his songwriting experience, Kim mentioned that he draws inspiration from everyday life.
“I draw the most inspiration from everyday things; even the smallest things in life. Things like newly started relationships, the conflicting feelings I have about the sun (I like being in the sun but I’m allergic to sunlight), people’s different perspectives about the same topic; I even write songs about my dog and his chew toy,” said Kim.
The inspiration for “Thinkin’ bout you” came to Kim after he listened to his friend recall a tragic breakup story. In October of 2020, Kim started to develop some lyrics and relatable titles for the song. While he was writing, he also made the decision to have gender neutral pronouns so that people could imagine themselves in the song.
“The title was drawn from the lyrics of the chorus. When someone says, ‘I’m thinking about you’, that phrase can be translated in multiple ways. It can be a romantic, sweet sentence between lovers, or like the way that it is used in the song, it can be a grieving, painful way of thinking of a past lover. I wanted the song to be as relatable as possible and for anyone who has experienced a breakup,” said Kim.
Kim also comments on his favorite parts of the newly released song.
“I really like the lyrics “Every sunset, you’re in my head. With every sunrise, you wither away. I’m really fond of imagery in words and I tried to make use of it in this line. I wanted to portray the thoughts of a past lover, almost haunting, an individual’s mind in the evening when they are trying to go to bed, but disappearing in the morning, when this individual needs to get up and start living their everyday lives.”
After finishing writing “Thinkin’ bout you”, Kim created a demo for Pac Ave Records to receive feedback, adjust instrumentation, and finally record all the vocal parts. After mixing and mastering the song to a quality that worked for public streaming, Kim sent “Thinkin’ bout you” for publication.
“For me, it was a journey that taught me a lot of skills needed to be a better musician. Since I wrote, arranged, produced, mixed, and mastered the song, I was always second guessing myself as the song came together. In the process I learned how to trust my instincts more and I think, overall, this whole process helped me become a better musician,” said Kim.
On the day of the song’s release, Kim mentioned that he felt both nervous and excited. It was a huge step for him, and he was anxious about the public’s reaction.
“It was absolutely nerve-wracking. I was afraid that people would hate it or criticize it harshly. At the same time, I was also very excited to be putting out my original work. Now, I’m feeling much better about it and am feeling great that my music, that I wrote and produced, is out and available for people to listen to.”
Kim notes that “Thinkin’ bout you” will most certainly not be his last song: he already has songs under the works and is going to release his EP Oxytocin on April 9th. In the meantime, people can stream “Thinkin’ bout you” online now through these platforms: Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music, YouTube, Soundcloud, and Tidal.