“I feel like it’s time for me to grow up and show my fans a more mature version of myself, because I feel like everyone is just so used to seeing me when I was young,” says Chonnasorn Sajakul, better known by her mononym, Sorn.
The Thai singer may still be a very youthful 26, but while most women her age are just getting their careers off the ground, Sorn has already racked up an enviable string of achievements: winning the first season of the reality show K-Pop Star Hunt in 2011; joining the South Korean agency Cube Entertainment at just 15; and debuting in 2015 as the lead vocalist of the girl group CLC, under which she recorded 10 EPs and one single album. Since the tail end of her contract with Cube Entertainment and after she officially left the label, she has released a string of singles, the latest being Not A Friend this March. The heady pop- and R&B-inflected track is about feeling frustrated by friends harbouring less than honourable intentions, with energetic beats supplied by award-winning Singaporean beatboxer and her current Wild Entertainment agency-mate Dharni.
With Not A Friend, Sorn is ready to step into the next stage of her musical, artistic and personal evolution: from a curated K-pop idol to an artiste forging her own path, taking control of her creative journey, and not shying away from gritty subject matter or unglamorous presentations. “I try to change people’s perspective of me, with lyrics that talk more about real struggles,” she says. “It’s not music that you just listen to and then it just goes out the other ear, but it’s something that people can really relate to and it’s very personal, so that when I’m on stage, I’m not just singing, but I’m telling a story of myself and my struggles.”
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“My main goal is to be able to connect with my fans, and show and encourage them that even though growing up is tough, they’ve seen me since I first started, and now I’m venturing into being a solo artist and I’m growing, and I want them to grow with me, get inspired and feel this connection.”
This is Sorn’s fifth single since signing with Wild Entertainment in late 2021, and it represents the latest
opportunity for the self-described “concept-driven” artiste to flex her creative muscle. A complete 180 from her days in the seven-piece CLC, in an environment where South Korean entertainment companies often dictate the musical and visual concepts of their bands, Sorn is now being “super vocal” about the sounds and lyrics and the style of videos she wants. “At the end of the day, it’s my music and I want to feel comfortable singing it,” she says.
Ever ambitious, Sorn has her sights set on developing her songwriting skills next. Feeling an affinity for songs that hold deep meaning and emotion, she wants to channel that energy into lyrics that capture the poignant touches of a simple experience and transform them into a narrative that relates different chapters of her life. “All the experiences, when they’re put together, it’s like a story and it tells you a whole journey of someone,” she says. “That’s something that we’re trying to do with all the music.”
Alongside her musical career, Sorn has established herself as an online personality too. She has vlogged since 2019 under the name Produsorn to more than 895,000 subscribers on YouTube, where she has shared snippets of her life in and outside of K-pop, and dropped acoustic song covers and skincare routines. Concurrently, she is finding a burgeoning following as a content creator on TikTok (@sssorn_chonnasorn), amassing 2.9 million followers by posting humorous observations of everyday life.
Staying unpretentious and keeping it real is the secret to Sorn’s relatable internet persona. “I’m not the person to always be like, ‘I have to look a certain way, I have to make sure that at this angle I look good.’ I don’t really care about those things,” she says. “I’m not afraid to be myself, and I think that’s a very important message for people who watch my content too, because I want to encourage people that you don’t always have to care what you look like all the time or what people think of you—be your authentic self and put yourself out there, and you will have a powerful impact on others who see how con dent you are.”
Having been publicly recognised since her midteens and now finding her place in algorithms and for-you pages the world over, Sorn has directly experienced that “to put yourself out there, you get so much love but you also get so much hate”. From unsolicited comments on her personal life to judgement of her musical career from strangers, she hasn’t been spared occasional moments of internet infamy.
“I’ve learned through the years that I’ve made my mistakes in front of a lot of people in the world,” she says. “Before, when those things happened, I would get really emotional and I didn’t know what to do with myself. But now I realise, when my life is to put myself out there, how to be careful about what I say, my opinions, and how I portray myself in public.”
Sorn’s journey in music has had its moments, but it’s still one that holds immense promise and potential for perfecting her craft and honing her voice. “When I was in K-pop, I was still learning and trying to discover who I was at a young age, but coming out of there, I have experience from the past seven years and I’m more grown up now,” she says. “I’m more comfortable with being myself and showing my vulnerable side to my fans, and being more personal about my music.”
“I feel like I know exactly what I want to do.”
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MUN KONG
STYLED BY GREGORY WOO
HAIR PETER LEE, USING GOLDWELL
MAKEUP WEE MING, USING DIOR BEAUTY
MANICURE REBECCA CHUANG
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT ALFRED PHANG
STYLING ASSISTANT VANESSA GRACE NG
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