Amber Liu redefines herself from K-pop idol to solo artist | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Amber Liu redefines herself from K-pop idol to solo artist 

click to enlarge Amber Liu

Amber Liu

Joanne Chang

Amber Liu’s tomboy fashion and tattoos have made her stand out among her peers in the crowded K-pop market, but they pale in comparison to the force of her personality. Liu is most known for being a member of f(x), an inventive girl group that’s had some success among Western audiences. In 2013, they became the first K-pop band to play SXSW (though in a post-BTS world, being the first K-pop group to play an American festival seems more like a relic of wildly different times, not something that took place just a few short years ago). More recently, the LA-born Liu has been releasing solo work on Soundcloud, including the mixtape Rogue Rouge, which contains tracks produced by people in her circle, such as Common Souls, Ryan Binhammer, and Gen Neo. It’s a notable change in operation from f(x), which was entirely assembled by SM Entertainment. “Rogue Rouge, to me, was the start of me trying to figure out if one of my missions was possible, and that mission was that ‘friends in business’ thing,” Liu explained in a Billboard interview. Her solo work veers toward moody EDM, and even contemplative moments of rap metal (she’s covered Linkin Park's “One More Light” on her YouTube channel), a far cry from the delicate house music that dominates the most recent f(x) album, 2015’s 4 Walls. Liu’s natural charisma helps give her solo work a more nakedly emotional directness that’s not often found in K-pop. Tonight’s show is part of her first solo tour.   v

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