Dami Im is honestly a national treasure. She won over our hearts in 2013 when she was crowned the winner of The X Factor Australia, and then she started her global domination when she competed in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest and impressed the world with her powerhouse vocals.
After going independent last year, the Brisbane based singer-songwriter started to get experimental with her sound through the release of ‘Crying Underwater’, ‘Kiss You Anyway’ and ‘Marching On’. But following her recent signing to ABC Music, she has honed her sound back towards an empowering pop outlook that is reminiscent of her mammoth hits ‘Gladiator’, ‘Super Love’ and ‘The Sound Of Silence’.
‘Paper Dragon’ begins this new chapter with an empowering and uplifting anthem that is all about the importance of remembering your own strength and power. Matching the hopeful sentiment with a colourful production, she gives you pulsating synths and an earworm hook that will quickly get stuck in your head. It also has this grand cinematic feel to it which inhabits that classic Dami Im feeling.
I recently chatted to Dami Im about the importance to have full control during this new chapter, the creative process behind her new single ‘Paper Dragon, and what songs her fans have been requesting to hear on her upcoming Queensland Tour. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Paper Dragon’ is out now and it’s a really empowering anthem for anyone that needs a reminder to embrace their own strength and power. So can you explain to me how this song creatively came together?
DAMI IM: Initially, I had this song idea pitched to me by an artist called Elki. I was considering it as a song for Eurovision, but after that got cancelled this year I decided to go back to the song and develop it more so it could become my next single. We sent the song back and forth via voice memos due to lockdown as she’s based in Sydney, and I’m based in Brisbane. We were trying to build it to a place where it really felt like a power anthem, and something that I could be super proud of.
I was born in the year of the dragon, so to me that was a big appeal. I feel like this song really embodies where I am at and where I would like to be right now as a person and an artist. It’s about discovering that empowerment, and believing in your own courage and strength.
TB: Sonically the song feels like an anthem that captures the power of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ and Rachel Platten’s ‘Fight Song’. And hears you returning to the sound behind ‘Gladiator’. So what was sonically inspiring you with the creative process of this particular track?
DI: I wanted to go back to the pop world that I used to be in with ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Super Love’, and Elki really loved Scandic-Pop which is something I’m really getting into at the moment, so all of those elements are incorporated in there.
Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ is a big influence to me because it’s a fun song on top of being positive and empowering. There’s a tongue in cheek element which we’ve also fed into this song being like, “I’m a dragon”. That’s where the fun lies. It’s a bit cartoonish in a way because of that, which I love.
This year has been so many things for so many different people, so I wanted to bring a bit of light hearted fun with lots of colours into people’s lives.
TB: One thing that immediately stood out about this song was the empowering lyrics and vivid imagery. My favourite lyric is; “You thought you pushed me down but I am flying high. And I will fly. Watch me fly high”. So what would you say is your favourite lyric from the song?
DI: I love that lyric too! But I do really love all of the verses because of the whole paper imagery of cutting me down, and treating me like a piece of paper which transitions into the chorus where I’m alive in real life.
Its my song, but I’m going to say that I love all of it *laughs*!
TB: This song is really timely because the pandemic has been really rough for people’s mental health, and it’s all about finding your inner strength to keep on fighting. So what is a song that inspires and uplifts you when you are feeling down?
DI: I know I’ve mentioned it already, but ‘Roar’ is such a special song to me. It has that happy feeling at the heart of it, and it’s also a song I performed when I was on The X Factor, so it brings me back to all of those memories of fighting through all of the challenges and embracing your insecurities.
Any song with a be a honestly uplifts me. I just go on Spotify and search for something that catches my attention, and usually that’s something with a lot of beats, colourful lyrics and vivid imagery.
TB: The music video is filmed in stop motion by Stefano Bertelli, and it’s so creative and interesting to watch. So did you know much about stop motion before going into this video, cause it must’ve been so interesting watching it come together?
DI: I can’t say that I knew too much about stop motion before the video, but it genuinely just felt perfect. My manager found his work randomly in a spam email, and he sent it to me, and I thought it was SO magical. I was so captivated by the world he could create through just paper.
I didn’t know what the process would obviously be for him to do that, but it took him hours and hours, days and days, and weeks and weeks to get all the shots done. He would sent me photo and video updates of what was happening behind the scenes, and it was so impressive.
TB: Your journey has included some special highs including winning The X Factor Australia and competing in Eurovision. But right now feels like the beginning of a new chapter for you, especially with your recent signing to ABC Music. So looking back at what has led you here, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself and the artist you wanna be?
DI: I guess the biggest thing I’ve learnt is to trust my instincts more. There are so many different voices that you hear, and are given, while you’re trying to be an artist. There’s a million different ways to do things, and over the years I’ve definitely been influenced. But now I’m at a point where I really just want more control with everything I do, and in making the decisions myself because whether it was a good choice or a bad choice, at the end of the day I will be happy to live with it because they were my choices instead of someone else’s.
TB: You’re currently working on your next studio album, so what do you think will be the most surprising thing that people are going to hear from this forthcoming new music or learn about you?
DI: I would like just surprise people with the different sounds that I am into because in some ways I don’t feel like people really know me that well musically because I’ve had to do so many different projects that weren’t necessarily mine. I had so many things thrown at me, and it’s taken me this long to really explore what I wanna do, and I truly feel free to do that now.
TB: You are hitting the road for a celebratory single release tour of QLD that kicks off this week in Brisbane. You took to social media to ask fans for recommendations. Was there was a song that surprised you that fans want to hear in the live show?
DI: There were a lot of the usual requests like ‘Sound Of Silence’ and ‘Purple Rain’, and then people were asking for ‘Paper Dragon’ and Im like… “I think I’m definitely doing that song as that’s the whole reason I’m doing the show” *laughs*. But someone did actually ask me for ‘One More Time’ from my album ‘Heart Beats’, which was cool.
I have ended up going with the more obvious singles because I’m already introducing ‘Paper Dragon’ and some other unreleased songs. So if I keep singing obscure songs then it’s going to be really hard for them to digest. So I’m trying to keep it as a good balance.
TB: This lockdown period has inspired some people to pick up a new hobby, or find a weird new obsession. So what has been something you’ve picked up or obsessed over during this period?
DI: It’s been a long, long period, so I’ve been through some different phases *laughs*. I was really obsessed with origami folding for like a month while I was preparing for this single release. I folded around 100 paper dragons. Like, I’m not joking! That is what I was doing all day, every day while getting ready for this release. And then I got a bit sick of it, so I took a break, and I started baking Cheesecakes and Banoffee!
‘Paper Dragon’ is out now!
Dami Im Queensland Tour
Friday 25 September – The Triffid, Brisbane
Saturday 26 September – Ipswich Civic Centre, Ipswich
Friday 9 October – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns
Saturday 17 October – HOTA, Gold Coast
Sunday 18 October – Solbar, Sunshine Coast