Exclusive – Tiffany Young, star of K-Pop icons Girls’ Generation, reveals intimate new documentary
Tiffany is on the phone in Los Angeles, where she now resides. The 29 year old Korean-American returned to the US in late 2017 to pursue a solo career after ten years in Girls’ Generation, the K-Pop group who debuted in 2007 and became so popular that they, unarguably, remain indelibly embroidered into the fabric of Korean culture.
Right now, she sounds confident, settled and happy. “That’s partially a lie,” she laughs. “Not that it’s fake but it’s being worked on every day.”
By ‘it’, she means everything that makes Tiffany, Tiffany – from her music to her mindset, to her desires. Although she admits struggling at times to vocalise the tumble of her thoughts in a linear fashion, she’s candid to the point of intimacy, yet unabashedly ambitious.
She began in February by releasing her first record as an independent artist. The five-track ‘Lips On Lips’ EP is an often woozy, sensual, synth- and acoustic-driven piece of work rooted in the idea of fairytales, romance and fantasy. “Fairytales and fantasy aren’t only for children. They’re a magical way to see beauty and pain,” she points out. “I loved Gothic novels and vampires growing up, and recently re-read Frankenstein. You can embrace what you loved as a child and make it into your own as a woman.”
“I want to constantly grow and give back. And become a global pop diva” – Tiffany Young
The next step has been to create a half-hour documentary, Mi Young’s Diary, Chapter 1: Lips On Lips, premiering on NME.com, where she transports you into this often emotional, new chapter of her life and music. “It was really important for me to be open. It’s a way to frame my work in a way that I hadn’t done before,” she says. “The focus is to show who I want to become and who I’m becoming. I want to constantly grow and give back. And become a global pop diva as well,” she adds, laughing.
In it, she points to the encouragement from her Girls’ Generation bandmates to share her “full story”, something she says wasn’t always possible before. But while she credits them for getting her “moving”, Tiffany – who, aged 11, lost her mother, and became estranged from her father – has ultimately fought her own way forwards.
“I think it’s important to share those things because I used to be in that glossy world (of K-Pop). I felt like I wasn’t allowed to talk about those experiences but realised I wasn’t ready. Now I feel ready. Over the past year and a half, I’ve realised I’ve been keeping myself in a box and having resistance towards everything,” she says. “I remember that recording used to be creating on the clock, go in and perform, next schedule, choreography. The new process for me is going into a room with some incredible writers to help me channel my experiences, and without a formula. Life is that we learn to unlearn, then learn something better, again and again.”
Her transition into a solo artist and the move back home wasn’t without its darker moments, and Tiffany recalls experiencing terror, nervousness and anxiety, however, “going to (acting) school, to the studio and now going to therapy has been helping out a lot with changing my mindset. There were moments of self-doubt, yeah, but I know I want this,” she says with conviction. “I want to create, and help the way I was helped when I needed someone through music.”