Lucy paradise is, according to herself, “a Spanish singer and youtuber who is passionate about Korean music and culture”. Spontaneous, fresh, shameless and a bit “crazy”, Lucy has developed, at the young age of 26, a successful career in the music world with Warner Music. As one of the pioneers of K-pop fan community in Spain, she became very popular in social networks thanks to the ‘boom’ of K-pop in the world, especially in Tik-Tok. There she covers Latin songs in Korean and teaches the language to foreigners in short videos. With 170k followers in Tik Tok and 60k in YouTube, some of her videos have gone viral reaching more than a half million visits. She also collaborates in a humoristic program called El show del comandante Lara, for Andalusian public station Canal Sur Radio. Her dream? Become a composer of a K-pop record company in Korea, but without ever stopping coming back to her country from time to time. Singer and dancer, she has become very popular on the internet thanks to her creativity and self-confidence by being a pioneer in mixing Korean and Spanish music. And maybe in that combination of spontaneity and planification commonly associated to both cultures respectively, lies the key of her success. Like Paco de Lucía, who was born “between two waters”, Lucy’s heart is divided by two countries and two souls.
Where does that passion for music come from? When did you start singing?
My family has always been passionate about music, from classical music to flamenco. But the way I really get into the music world was thanks to the German group Tokyo Hotel, which I’m still a big fan of. I wanted to be like the guitarist Tom Kaulitz, so I keep insisting for so long to my parents asking them to buy me an electric guitar. When they finally decided to do so, they also signed me up in a rock school. That’s when I started playing and singing and I realized I really liked it and it was in that moment when I told myself I wanted to be a professional musician and spend my life going on tours everywhere.
How did you discover k-pop?
I discovered K-pop in YouTube when I was 13-14 years old. Even then I was already a big fan of Japanese culture: anime, j-pop, j-rock… and I also danced Para-para, a Japanese dance which is pretty similar to aerobic or Zumba, very funny. In that point I started to see videos of Korean dancers which appeared in my recommendations zone in YouTube. I also used to participate in contests organized by K-pop groups where they gave CDs to the winners they chose. I have plenty of them from that years, I really out effort in that!
And what is so attractive about this music style?
The most iconic aspect of Korean music industry is that every song has its own choreography. Songs are actually more focused in the dance than in the lyrics or the voice itself. Everything is strictly planned and strongly synchronized. That’s how I became addicted to Korean music, the YouTube algorithm stacked me in that endless spiral where you can’t go out and can’t stop watching videos. Producers have a key role in the music industry there, songs are designed to work perfectly as a product. In Spain singers are more likely to create their own compositions and follow their own artistic path. Record companies in Korea often train kids to become great singers and dancers, but always under their command following their advices. They have the lead role in creating the artist’s personality and music style. It is a different concept but works very well and it is designed to be highly commercial. The audio-visual show they design is incredibly attractive. Coordination and planification is everything, there’s no room for mistake or improvisation. I think that’s why it has spread worldwide in the last years.
Would you move to Korea?
Definitely, without hesitation. Sometimes when I’m there I miss Spain, but when I’m here for a long time I also miss Korea a lot. I would love to find the way to spend time in both countries and live between the two of them. My life plan nowadays is to go to Korea and enter in the music industry. I wouldn´t mind becoming a singer, but my goal is to be a compositor for K-pop groups and work there for a record company while I sing and dance at the same time.
Do you have many fans there in Korea?
Some of my followers are Korean but most of them are from South America. In the beginning, as I started in the K-pop world before it was so trendy, I was one of the few people that were doing videos singing and dancing in Korean. It was very strange for them to see a foreigner singing popular Korean songs, and in that moment a bigger percentage of my followers were Korean. But lately, as what I’m doing most is covering latin or Spanish songs, my videos have gone viral there in south America.
Could you explain me what is so ‘addictive’ of Tik Tok as if I was an old grandpa?
I’ve been recently more active in Tik Tok because some of my videos have gone viral in that social network. The key of its attractive compared to the rest of social media is that videos are shorter, no more than 1 minute most of them. It is very easy in this way to watch one after another without saturating. It always appears something new, funny, entertaining. Its algorithm is very precisely designed, it recognizes the kind of videos it has to show you to keep you attached. If you’re interested in science or learn languages, for example, you will find very interesting videos about it. You can find a wide variety of content of high quality which is presented in a short format so you can watch it going from one place to another if you don’t have time. You can watch a couple of Tik Toks, but actually it is never so few and you end up watching a hundred.
Are Koreans as interested in Spanish culture as much as Spanish are about Korean culture?
It is true that K-pop is now a huge trend and, despite Koreans are fascinated by Spanish culture, but I think the huge recent interest in Korean culture thanks to K-pop is way bigger. Now there’s no place where you are not listening to BTS. In Asia they think of Europe as a big country, like here in Spain people tend not to distinguish between Chineses, Koreans, Japaneses… they are all Asians. It is true that flamenco is well known there, I have some Korean friends who own a flamenco school and sing and dance almost as well as we do here. They are very curious and fascinated about Europe in general and Spain concretely. But they don’t know as much as about us as K-pop fans know about Korea nowadays.
Where did you learn Korean?
I learnt Korean through the internet. I was curious about it since I was little, and I started in summer holidays. It’s been 12 years now since I started learning on my own. I keep improving by getting in touch with my Korean friends and with every time I have visited the country. I also watch Korean series.
When was the first time you visited the country?
I met my first Korean friend thanks to a webpage designed to organise exchange programs with Koreans. She is called Chelin. We started speaking in English and begin to send each other candy and sweets through post mail. We kept that tradition until I became 18 and went to Korea for the first time ever. I spent all the time with her and her family embraced me as part of their family, like and adopted child. Every time I’ve been to Korea they have taken care of me, they even helped me to find an apartment to rent when I went to Seul with another exchange program organized by university. In my heart, I feel them as my other family. Chelin is my best friend nowadays, we have such a nice relationship. She also came here twice. Despite my mother doesn’t speak English, both of them made it to understand each other through gestures and looks. We travelled to Morocco and Portugal.
Korea is a different world, it has nothing to do with Europe. Maybe if you have visited other Asian country first you won’t be so shocked. Any place you go or any small detail changes…doors opened differently, you have to take your shoes off un many restaurants…it may seem insignificant but this kind of things makes you aware that you are not at your hometown. They have also specific gesture codes for paying and giving tips for example. They care a lot about politeness, it is very important in their culture. I think that’s one thing we should take into account more in Spain. They are even a bit excessive in Korea with politeness, they are very strict.
Can you mention something that Andalusian and Korean culture have in common?
One thing Koreans and Andalusians share is that way of seeing meals and food as an excuse for reunions. That sense of sharing and making a great event of this moments. When they order in restaurants they share all together, like here we use to do on Sunday meals. We Andalusians also share with Koreans that sense of community. It is not exactly the same, however, because they are very patriotic. Here in Andalucía we are very welcoming and open minded. Their way of showing affection differs a lot from ours. We hug, kiss and keep close distances but when I go there and say goodbye to my friends for example, they will just wave a hand and keep distances. I’m training them to receive my hugs.
How did you start in El show del Comandante Lara?
When I signed with warner and took out my first album with them my singles started to appear in Canal Sur Radio and Canal Fiesta Radio. That was my first contact with them and later when they were looking for a girl with a bit of craziness, they thought about me. I’ve never been shy about anything, I used to dance in the streets also. That’s what they were looking for, a girl with no shame. It is very cool to work with them, we are a lot, but we are like a big family. I’m honoured and pleased to be their companion, they are very funny. There are always good vibes between us, they always have something nice to tell you. I look forward recording the next program every Wednesday.
How is like working with them?
In el Show del comandante Lara I’ve been singing in Korean songs of our guests in the show and also English songs in Spanish. I choose songs which have surprisingly weird or shitty lyrics and people laugh a lot about it. They realize what they have been singing for years has nothing to say with what they thought the song was telling about. When I sing Spanish songs in Korean…well it is true that a lot of reggaeton songs are a bit inappropriate so when my Korean friends listen to them in Korean they always get scandalized. Its hard to believe for them that we sing that kind of songs here in Spain. They consider it very indecent, they are a bit more innocent in that cultural sense.
Why Lucy Paradise?
People always called me Lucy since I was a child. I liked how it sounded in English. And paradise comes from a dance duo that I had with a friend called Hello paradise and we danced K-pop. I think we were pioneers in recording and singing K-pop in manga events. Now K-pop contests are really a thing. I often perform as a jury in manga events across Spain. Contestants now really care and perform great choreographies, preparing fabulous dressing also.
Do you think your videos help to introduce new public to the K-pop fan community?
People often tell me that they have discovered K-pop through my videos. I also impart lessons of Korean. For me it is very rewarding when people tell me they have started appreciating Korean culture thanks to me. In the end, it is cool because the more the fan community grows here in Spain, the more K-pop groups will come to perform and organize concerts.