Within three months, Australians saw the transformation of Dami Im from a bubbly piano teacher to a star and winner of TV singing competition The X Factor Australia last year. The South Korean-born singer has just released her second album, Heart Beats, with songs she wrote herself. What's worth noting is that Im mostly taught herself to sing before completing a master's degree in jazz singing.
So how do you go from wannabe to winner? Im told Young Post just how:
Copy those who've already succeeded
Pick a singer you want to sound like, one with good technique. Record yourself singing their songs and try to sound like them. Im is a K-pop fan, and she started copying BoA's singing when she was 12.
"At some point, your body kinda figures out, 'Oh, that's how you do high notes', you know?" says Im, 26. For her, singing isn't technical or theoretical. "Your ears do it, I think. And you are your own best teacher. It's your body. No one else can teach you how to control your body."
Stick with it and never give up
If you want to sound as good as Bom from 2NE1, you're not going to get there in a day. Im says it's important to keep trying. One time, she recorded a single line more than 100 times. And although she won the X Factor within a couple of months, she's been building her skills since she started playing the piano at age five. And the biggest lesson she learnt from classical music? Discipline.
"Some pop singers out there don't practise; they just go and party," says Im. "I think my strength is that discipline, of working hard and making sure I get the right amount of practice before I go and show [my music] to people."
Keep a positive attitude
In TV singing competitions, people vote for many reasons. They might like the way someone looks, or be put off by a certain type of music. So the way it turns out is pretty much out of your control. What's far more important is keeping the right attitude.
"I said I'm gonna sing for the rest of my life no matter what happens, so it doesn't matter if I win or if I get [kicked] out in the first week. I will just try my best and learn something new," says Im.
She also thinks it's important to be confident.
"I had lot of doubts and fears at the beginning, thinking people won't like me because I'm not that good-looking," she says. "In the end it worked out for the best, because people realise that true talent doesn't have to come from the standard typical beauty ... I think I brought diversity into the music industry. And I'm proud of that."