Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Kiya Boyd
'I've Been Told There's No Place For Black Women In Korean Music'
Kiya Boyd is from Detroit, Michigan. She has lived in South Korea since 2015. She works as an independent singer, but she also acts and models.
We spoke with Kiya via email about her life as a Black woman abroad.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to move abroad?
Kiya: I’ve always been one for adventure, but I wasn’t truly inspired to live abroad until I came across a Korean music video online. It seemed so fascinating and I admired the way that they danced and sung. I noticed that I liked it without even realizing that it was in a different language initially. That’s when I realized that a whole world existed outside of my hometown, and that I’d hardly even seen any of it. So, I decided to go explore Asia, specifically South Korea, to see what adventures I could find, as well as some inspiration for my career.
TN: How did you land a job with a Korean entertainment company?
Kiya: Honestly, it was nothing but being at the right place at the right time. A simple, yet amazing blessing. I went to an audition for a “Youtube reaction video,” I auditioned, and waited patiently for the company to contact me. I got a call later from another company who happened to see my audition video and they asked to meet with me. After several meetings and discussions, I was signed to their entertainment company as an artist.
TN: Tell us about your experience working as a pop artist in Korea?
Kiya: It was interesting working as a pop artist in Korea. I mostly sung in Korean and was preparing for live performances here. The pop artists here in Korea are called, “idols,” so I was training to become a replica of their idols. It was extremely tough because Korean culture is a little more strict when it comes to “training” in order to be an idol, so I was expected to behave like a Korean idol would behave and follow some pretty strict rules. In the end, it became a choice between who I was and who they wanted me to be, so I chose myself.
TN: Tell us about being a Black artist in a society that mostly praises white and European faces.
Kiya: Being a black woman in this society is hard enough, but being a black artist here is equally tough. Some people are very supportive of my work and tell me I could go far as an artist in Asia. Others tell me I should quit and that there’s no place for black women in Korean music. Sometimes, It’s super tough getting up every day and convincing myself that I am suppose to doing this, but I have to. Maybe it will help to inspire other black women like me.
TN:How long did it take you to learn the language?
Kiya: It took me a little over two years to reach the intermediate level of Korean. Basically, I can communicate and interact with people here on a daily basis. I wouldn’t even say I’m close to fluency because I am not yet fluent enough to talk about politics and the news. So, I have some work to do. I learn it mostly from paid learning applications and private tutoring lessons. I haven’t actually taken a real class yet, so I hope to do that in the near future to obtain complete fluency.
TN: What’s next for you?
Kiya: I’d say I have many different paths that I want to take in the near future, but for right now, I’m focused on releasing my music internationally, learning another language to reach out to a brand new audience, and inspiring and encouraging people who are still discovering themselves. I also want to give back to the black community generously because I want to see others accomplish their dreams as well. I’m hoping to achieve these goals very soon.
TN: Where can we find you online?