After a few years of growing a following by singing covers of artists like Justin Bieber and Rihanna, Jamie Charoen is ready to make her own statement with her new release, “Good Girl.”
“When I started my YouTube channel, it wasn’t something I posted expecting to get a result,” she says. “But as my views grew with the covers that I was doing, I realized I could be a voice for someone.”
Now she’s using her voice to speak on her journey as a Thai woman stepping outside of her cultural norms — something Charoen says she reflects upon quite a bit from living in different countries (she was born in Bangkok, moved to France when she was six-years-old, and now resides in LA). Charoen stopped by Beautycon’s HQ to talk about growing up in different cultures and how she’s using her music to make an empowering statement.
Jamie Charoen: I was born in Thailand and then I moved to France when I was six. I would say [Thai culture] can be a very closed culture in that women have their place and they have a very distinct way of being. It’s not very open to anything creative — you go to school, you get a job, you become successful, make your parents proud and you have a family and that’s what it is. I’m blessed to have parents who were creative and they wanted a better life for me. I was always super passionate about music and expressing myself.
Charoen: Coming to the States and feeling like I was the only black-haired person with brown eyes, I felt a little bit wide-eyed and culture shocked. It really motivated me to want to be a voice to someone who felt the same way. My first language is Thai, and I remember going to school in America and I didn’t understand what the teacher was saying, so she walked over and threw water in my face. I guess all of those things built up. Even in Thailand I didn’t feel like I had a voice or that I could express myself in a certain way, so whenever I was able to pick up my phone and go on YouTube and express myself and get feedback from people around the world…it felt like I was doing something bigger than myself.
Charoen: “Good Girl” is about a girl finding her voice. The lyric goes, “So the good girl’s gone, and the bad one’s come to play.” I feel like even with being expressive, I still did it in a very classy manner. I never wanted to be raunchy or provocative. But sometimes you have to embrace who you are as a woman–and being sensual is different than being sexy. Being in a relationship, you sometimes get those parts taken away from you, especially from by people who are trying to control or manipulate you or make you feel as though you’re not good enough. “Good Girl” speaks about breaking out of that fear and control and really just being like, “You know what? I’m going to be myself. I’m going to let go of things that are hurting, the things that aren’t benefitting me and really shouldn’t be in my life anymore, and walk away.”
Charoen: Thailand is the land of smiles! Every single time I walk into a place, I never have a mean look, and that’s one of the things that people have said when they meet me: that I’m always smiling. I really think it’s the fact that I’m Thai! When I lived in France, I noticed they’re very quiet. Whenever you walk into a room and meet a French person, you think that they’re rude because they’re quiet, but it’s just their culture. But in Thailand, you have to greet people you have to be extra friendly. It’s sort of like that southern hospitality feel.
Follow Jamie at @jamiecharoen.