The X Factor winner Dami Im sat down with Laura Brodnik to discuss her rise to fame.
At first I thought Dami Im was a Cinderella story come to life. Just a few short months ago she was a self-confessed ‘dork’ who sat at home dreaming of escape from her hum-drum existence and now she’s a singing sensation with a hit album and a slew of adoring fans.
It’s not until after we meet at the Spoon Deli Cafe on James Street that I realise she’d leave any fairytale princess in her dust. I doubt Cinderella would have had the confidence to enter a nationally televised singing competition and stare down a panel of super star judges without the aid of a Fairy Godmother.
In person, the 25-year-old Daisy Hill singer is just as endearing as she appeared on the small screen. Her perfectly applied make-up and stylish threads are a world away from the shy looking girl who took to the stage in the first round of auditions but it’s clear to see fame hasn’t changed her as she happily greets the fans who swarm our table, chatting and posing for photographs.
During our meeting Dami spoke candidly about living a life of frustration, her attention grabbing X Factor looks, close relationship with Dannii Minogue and where her career will take her next.
Your debut album ‘Alive’ came out today, what can we expect from it?
The album has all the songs from The X Factor live shows, but they’ve been re-recorded in the studio and not on stage when I’m running around and trying to sing. It’s my first personal album and I can’t wait for everybody to listen to it.
What was your favorite song you performed on The X Factor that we can hear on the album?
I’d have to say ‘Purple Rain’, it’s a great song already but to make it my own was amazing. It starts out so soft and then really rises high so it’s exciting to perform.
How have you been dealing with the increased fan and media attention since your win?
I hope I’m improving and getting better at doing interviews and talking about myself all day. It feels great that people want to know about me and I actually think it helps me to learn a lot about myself. I had a fan who came to see me perform at Chermside and she was trembling because she was so nervous to meet me and I thought ‘wow, I’m just Dami’ it surprises me how happy people are to see me. Just taking a photo with them can make their day, which is a great feeling.
How does it feel looking back at footage from the beginning of your journey, to your first X Factor audition?
When I look back I’m just so surprised at how different I looked. With my clothes, hair and make-up. I was a lot more nervous than I am now and I didn’t have much confidence. I feel like I’ve evolved over time.
After your first audition performance the judges couldn’t stop saying how shocked they were you were so good. Why do you think that was?
I think it was because I looked so nervous and also because of the way I spoke. My English wasn’t as good back then because I’d been in Korea for a while and I’d really immersed myself in the community there. When you spend a lot of time overseas your first language goes a bit funny and that happened to me. But now after so many months in Australia it’s getting better. Because I didn’t speak like a professional they didn’t expect a good voice to come out of me. I also think I looked a bit weird. I was dorky.
You seemed to form a very close relationship with your mentor Dannii Minogue, what was that like?
At first I was really nervous to be around her. I worried I wasn’t saying the right things to her and I didn’t want to offend her. Then we spent so much time together and got so much closer I realised we had a lot in common. We both love eating spicy food and we both like to relax. Danni once said to me ‘we’re both really daggy’.
What was it like to have Dannii come and visit your family home in Logan?
My family were so excited to have her there. All of my parents friends were there as well and they were just so excited, they all wanted to touch her and take pictures with her. Dannii was so happy to do that and she thought they were so cute. She really enjoyed eating the Korean food and all of our family friends brought dishes over.
You had a very unique look on the show that brought you a lot of attention, how did your style come together?
Before the live shows began I had a meeting with the style team and Dannii. They asked me what I liked to wear and I said ‘I want to try something a little bit different, I’m quirky and experimental’ so they said ‘lets do it’. My favorite look was the blue dress I wore to sing ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’, it was like I had a big tutu on my shoulders. I knew not everybody was going to like what I was wearing because it wasn’t mainstream, but it was for the stage so it needed to be striking. I didn’t focus on the negative social media comments, as long as I liked it I was happy. It’s not a look I’ll wear all the time, I’m not Lady Gaga.
Before The X Factor you were a music teacher, do you miss your students?
I loved teaching and I got a lot of satisfaction from it but my main passion was performing for an audience. Now that I’ve got the chance to perform I want to do that as much as I can, I can always go back to teaching. My student’s were very excited to see me on TV. I had a nine-year-old student who was so excited and he tells all of his friends about me.
Your husband Noah has also become quite well-known, how has he dealt with your new found fame?
He wanted me to do The X Factor more than I did. When I won he was very emotional because of everything I had gone through, because I always wanted to sing but I didn’t have an audience. So I would just sit at home while he went to work and I was just so bored and frustrated that my career wasn’t happening for me. He’s very proud of me and he’s always there to travel with me and carry my bags!
What’s next for you now that the show is over and the album is released?
Now is where it really all begins. I want to write my own songs or dig up songs that I have written in the past. When I met Guy Sebastian he said it was really important that after the talent show was over to keep releasing new music and work very hard to sustain a career and that’s what I’m going to do.
Dami Im’s debut album ‘Alive’ is out now.