ZozoAnn

Photography: Owen James Vincent

Words: Amy Bell

K-Pop and Anime have blown up like crazy these last few years with big artists such as BlackPink and BTS. ZozoAnn is a British singer from the UK who sings covers of K-Pop & Anime songs and translates them into English. ZozoAnn has performed at Comic Con's, modelled in Fashion shoots and has been part of Korean festivals.

Firstly congratulations on your amazing covers, what made you get into K-POP music and actually record them in English?

Thank you so much! They really are so fun to make and to be honest, I still can’t believe how quickly my YouTube family is growing after just a year of producing regular content; I am so thankful! I have actually been into K-POP music for 13 years now and it all began because of my love for Anime. Back in 2008, I used to edit Anime Music Videos and upload them on to YouTube back when it was only a baby website! A community started to build and we would often share our creations within the fandom and cheer each other on. One day I stumbled across a video that used ‘Gee’ by SNSD (Girls Generation) and instantly thought ‘this sounds different to the Japanese language’ so my research into SNSD began. I watched their music videos and was absolutely blown away. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had become a full on K-POP stan! Eventually I drifted from video editing and found I wanted to invest more time in to singing. I did begin making a few Korean covers and over the years posted the odd one every now and again but it was still a relatively unknown music genre then so I did not take it as seriously as I do now. With K-POP pretty much taking over the world in term of popular culture, it inspired me to start again. I felt that people may be able to connect with the songs more and more if they knew what the lyrics meant and so I decided last year to start singing them in English to spread the love of K-POP to more international audiences and I guess people have really liked the idea!

Knowing how many views/ subscribers and comments you gain from your covers do you ever feel the pressure?

Oh absolutely, but not necessarily from my audience. To be honest, I put an immense amount of pressure on myself to get them uploaded on the same day of the original release as I know that is partly the reason why so many people do follow me – some people have even said I am faster than the entertainment companies Wi-Fi! But that does mean I have days where I come home from a 12 hour work day and immediately spend 6 hours creating the cover. It can be tiring, but I love what I do and knowing that people are appreciating it makes me want to do even more. The K-POP industry is one of the fastest, intense and hardworking industries out there (in fact to a detriment at times) so knowing how hard my idols are working really helps motivate me to do my best and make my subscribers happy!

What has been your favourite cover to release and why?

This is always the hardest question to answer because K-POP is a genre where almost every song has its own style and unique flare yet there are also covers that have a special meaning because of the time they were created and the memories that surround it. I guess most people would assume ‘How You Like That’ by Blackpink as this was the first cover that went viral for me but actually I don’t feel it was my best. I have a soft spot for ‘Gods Menu’ by Stray Kids as the rap was so fun and I also really enjoyed making ‘Bicycle’ by Chungha because of how varied the song was. However, overall I have to say my newest cover ‘Like Water’ by Wendy has taken the top spot for now. I really felt the emotions behind the lyrics and tried so hard to sing the notes perfectly even down to the subtle runs as it is a truly stunning and challenging song. I got such a lovely reception from my audience and my friends and family were especially more into this cover than others despite not all being K-POP fans. I could tell technically, vocally and emotionally this was my best so far and I am learning to be proud of that.


How do you choose songs that you want to cover and what is the process?

The process is actually incredibly easy! I simply follow a timeline of when songs are being released and I will pick and choose which comebacks to create an English cover for. I start by making sure I cover the most well known groups and then if I am not particularly busy with work I will also try to cover other K-POP songs by groups which are lesser known to international fans. This does mean I am only covering the newest songs which is a shame as there are so many songs from the last 13 years of listening to K-POP that I would love to sing. If I had more time I would love to do a throwback series but time is everything! When the song comes out I listen to it and instantly write lyrics, then I record the lines, mix them together, get my makeup on and record a video for it. Once it’s all edited together I upload it. The whole process normally takes around 4-8 hours depending on how complex or difficult the song is.

You have done a lot of conventions. Have you got any funny stories that have happened?

I miss performing at conventions so much! A couple of funny things have happened to me but luckily no disasters. At one performance someone threw a rose on stage and I didn’t even notice until editing the video afterwards – I felt so bad I didn’t acknowledge it but couldn’t help but laugh at the sentiment. I guess the story I always chuckle at is at my very first convention performance at MCM Comic Con. I had gotten the opportunity to perform as part of a cosplay masquerade and chose to perform Red Velvet’s ‘Happiness’ dressed as a character from the Love Live anime series. I was so nervous but had such an amazing time on stage and gave it my all. Little did I know however it was actually a competition! Not only was it a competition, but as the announcer called my name it turns out I had WON the competition with my performance! I was honestly so dumbfounded I ended up accidently going on the stage with my comfy shoes on and left my cosplay shoes in the audience – I looked ridiculous grinning from ear to ear slightly confused in only half my cosplay but it was totally worth it!

What are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on more covers for my YouTube channel and more giveaways in collaboration with some of my favourite K-POP and K-Fashion companies to thank my subscribers for their immense support. I am also working on a few numbers as part of a K-POP dance show that is happening in August but I can’t say much more about that yet! Fingers crossed I will get more opportunity to perform and perhaps present or guest appear at more K-POP events as the restrictions start to ease.

What advice would you give to people who want to cosplay and perform at events?

If you love it, GO FOR IT! I spent a good ten years wishing I could do such things only to never truly dive in and take the opportunities presented because I thought people would think I was weird or I thought I was not good enough. But you must ignore that negative talk. Get yourself to conventions when things reopen, get involved with the communities online and do the things you love because it makes you happy. Denying who you are and what you like will bring nothing but sadness and regret. Turns out if you are true to yourself the right people will love and support you anyway and with so many people in the fandom now, you are guaranteed to make some friends for life. I know I have and I have not regretted anything since!

Here's a video below to one of ZoZoAnn's covers...

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