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Sil-A overcomes stage fright, and them some

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Sil-A poses in Seoul, Sept. 13. Courtesy of Dianne Lee

By Jon Dunbar

It took some time for Sil-A, nee Priscilla, to get used to performing on stage.

The alternative R&B singer-songwriter moved to Korea in 2021 and began performing in 2022. "After gaining experience, I first was able to overcome my stage fright and become the most confident version of myself," they said. "I rehearsed day and night, and became comfortable on stage."

Priscilla took on the name Sil-A thanks to a Korean friend. "Actually the conception of my name was a happy accident," they said. "A Korean friend of mine called me Silla one day and I liked the sound of it. I decided to start using it as my name, and only later did I find out that Silla was actually the name of a Korean dynasty. I was happy to find out my name actually has a connection to Korean history and it feels like the name found me because it was meant for me."

Sil-A identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. "I am a person who prefers to be referred to neutrally -- as just a person -- rather than be assumed as 'man' or 'woman,'" they said. "In my heart and mind, I am just Silla with no gender attached."

Sil-A was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Tampa, Florida. "I always had an interest in other countries and cultures as my parents are from the Caribbean, so I grew up in a multicultural background," they said. "I was always interested in living abroad, because I felt as if I didn't completely fit into American culture."

Sil-A poses in Seoul, Sept. 13. Courtesy of Dianne Lee

It was through music that Sil-A discovered Korea, and quickly fell in love with the country, studying Korean at high school.

"Actually, the K-pop industry is what first brought my attention to Korea," Sil-A said. "In my opinion, K-pop holds the standard for the highest-quality music and performance. My career goal is to one day live up to that level of high production: choreography, dance and visuals. Not as an idol, but I would love to collaborate on music with idol groups."

Now established in Korea, Sil-A is hoping to find a record label to work with as a solo artist, while also pursuing fashion modeling and acting. "It's not an easy feat as a foreigner, but I have gotten this far without a record company," they said. "I know with a proper team, and my hard work and dedication I can succeed."

Alone, Sil-A has already been working pretty well so far, having already put out several releases this year, including the eight-song album "The Definition." A music video was shot around Seoul for "Bad Type," which Sil-A directed, edited and choreographed on top of starring.

"As the director of the music video, it was really important for me to promote inclusivity in the casting," Sil-A said. "I wanted to represent people of all cultures, and ethnicities. I think it's important to show people from all around the world coming together as one community."

Also this year, Sil-A has released the summer single "Summer Bluff," before releasing on Aug. 21 the masterful four-song EP "Who I Am," which was entirely self produced.

"In the past, I had some help with producing my music, but with this EP I composed, wrote and edited all the songs from start to finish. I produced each of the songs in my bedroom overnight. I transposed my feelings into music by allowing myself to create something that represented how I felt, without focusing too much on the outcome."

The album, which Platform Magazine called "shockingly good," came out almost by accident, when Sil-A had a sudden burst of creativity shortly after taking a break from social media.

"I was having a hard time, and actually I felt a lot of pressure because of social media. Actually, I would prefer not to use it, but as an artist these days it is necessary to keep a social media presence. When I deleted my Instagram, I felt so free and at peace. My creative blocks went away almost instantly, and songs just started to pour out of me," the artist said.

"I realized I had been so focused on trying to be accepted, that I had forgotten the true reason why I create music. By focusing on being popular, I had started to lose my identity and become unhappy with my work. After having that time to reflect, I remembered the mission behind my work is to create something unique which challenges society's ideals by encouraging people to be different and stay true to themselves."

As well as being a prolific recording artist, Sil-A also promises to dominate the stage.

"My mission is to encourage others (to realize) that it's OK to be different and stand out from the crowd," the artist said. "Despite being a performer, I'm actually quite shy and wish not to have any special attention on me. But due to my unique style, I have slowly learned to embrace the attention and be proud of my individuality. I want to share this example to people who may also want to express themselves, but are afraid of what people will say or think. I hope to motivate everyone in society to be open-minded and know that it's okay to be unique."

Sil-A poses in Seoul, Sept. 13. Courtesy of Dianne Lee

But with her unique and distinct look ― supported by an impressive collection of wigs ― Sil-A can't help but stand out in Korea.

"It really surprised me to hear my style is seen as quite bold in Korea, as initially I thought it was a common style among Korean idols," they said. "As a visual person and artist, I've always used my appearance as a medium like an art canvas. I can express my feelings with my hair color, clothes and makeup. Since my natural hair is afro textured, it is not easy to style or dye it without causing damage. Wigs are the most convenient way for me to change my style to fit my mood which is always changing. Bright colors and styles make me feel happy and the truest version of myself!"

Sil-A will take part in Block Party, performing at Southside Parlor on Oct. 7. "I am so excited and honored to be a part of this amazing event!" Sil-A said. "I am really looking forward to it, because I think it will be my best performance thus far."

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