K-pop soloist BIBI could be described as a free spirit, but that feels a bit too reductive for an artist as ever-evolving as her. BIBI pulls from hip-hop, R&B, and pop sounds as she pleases, and describes her music as her “weird, dark, and twisted” way of expressing herself. Following a highly buzzed-about debut set at Coachella, BIBI sat down with Consequence to reflect on this moment in her career — a moment that only seems to be setting her up for more adventures.
BIBI was part of the 88rising Head In the Clouds stage at Coachella. In reflecting on her time at Coachella Valley, two things prominently stand out: the desert dust, and getting to spend time with her fellow 88rising artists. “It was really overwhelming,” she says of her time at the festival, recalling the sheer size and energy of the crowds. “But I loved it.”
BIBI performs with an open fearlessness that has helped set her apart from many of her peers. She’s entirely unreserved, sometimes traversing into the audience to kiss or embrace fans, and enthusiastically discusses any feelings of angst or darkness that inspire her genre-fluid work.
One of her recent singles, “The Weekend,” fell more into the pop lane, taking off to the tune of 24 million streams on Spotify, and another healthy 5 million for the remix, for which she enlisted Thai rapper and fellow 88rising artist MILLI. “I didn’t know people were going to be this excited about it,” she says of the enthusiastic response to the track. “And MILLI’s remix is the best. I’m so glad I could work with a genius like her.”
Meanwhile, she also provided the theme song for South Korean television show Twenty-Five Twenty-One, one of the biggest K-drama hits of the year. “Very, Slowly,” per standards of K-drama OSTs, sees BIBI stripped down more into ballad territory. This was balanced by the release of the bouncy, colorful “Best Lover,” a track BIBI describes as one of her most favorite songs she’s ever released. “But the best love of all is loving yourself,” she says with a laugh.
She touches on that theme — that constant battle to love yourself — along with a yearning for romantic love. “I want to give you a spoiler about the new music,” she says faux-conspiratorially. “The story of the album is about a low-life princess, and it’s in the noir genre.”
Over the phone, she then weaves the story she envisions of a lonely protagonist — herself — searching desperately for love, companionship, and camaraderie. She promises tracks that incorporate tango, hip-hop, blues, and rock elements. The princess in the story may have fallen from grace, but BIBI’s ascent continues.
She’s clearly drawn to stories with heavier plots, and calls the South Korean 2005 thriller The Lady Vengeance the movie of her life. She starts to gush about it, a “beautiful, most favorite” film, and it’s easy to see where her vision for the new album might’ve originated. The Lady Vengeance follows a wronged woman who has spent years behind bars for a murder she didn’t commit, and is intent on getting revenge on everyone involved in the the forced confession.
It’s a relatively far cry from a noir take on a rogue member of royalty, but BIBI isn’t interested in re-treading existing ground, no matter how much she loves it. The story she’s most interested in these days is her own.