For singer-songwriter Dami Im, winning The X Factor in 2013 would change her life – for better or for worse.
It propelled her into the limelight, landed her a record deal and made her a household name, but the years that followed were full of ups and downs, as evidenced by her new memoir, Dreamer.
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I was the shy young girl who came to Australia from Seoul, South Korea, thinking she was on vacation, only to realize just before school started – without a word of English – that the move was permanent.
Her love of singing and playing the piano led her to an X Factor audition, and the judges – including her later mentor Dannii Minogue – were blown away by her talent.
But in her bombastic memoir, Im reveals what happened after the X Factor lights went out — and it wasn’t always pretty.
There were definitely highs – one of the most memorable being her performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016.
But Im claims her record label, Sony, encouraged a toxic and bullying culture, and described her experience of working for her as “traumatic”.
I said she was forced to record covers she didn’t want to do, adding that her own creative desires and ambitions were being stifled.
With the label reportedly stifling her desire to control her own career, she considered leaving the music industry altogether.
After six years of trying to go against the grain, Im finally left the label in 2021 and recorded a new album, My Reality, with ABC Music, which finally showcased her as the artist she’d always wanted to be.
Speaking to Matt Doran and Kylie Gillies on Monday’s Morning Show, I said there was a shining light of support from the X Factor days that helped her navigate the muddy waters of the commercial music industry .
That was her mentor and X Factor champion, Dannii Minogue.
“I had won a record deal and a management deal, but what I didn’t realize at the time, because I was so naive, because I was so young, was that the management company was owned by the record label,” she explained.
“The people who were supposed to help me and fight for me contacted my label.
“I didn’t have anyone in my corner so it was just years where I didn’t know what to do. Nobody really guided me.
“It was traumatic to be honest and the label was really difficult to deal with.
“But Dannii Minogue, she was such an angel – she’s such a champion, such a strong, amazing woman.
“She had to step in and talk to the (record label) boss, talk to the company and re-record a music video when things just fell apart.
“Without her, it would have been even more difficult than what I experienced.
“I am forever grateful to her.”
Sony released a statement last year following numerous allegations of harassment and bullying at the label – long before Im came forward with her own story.
“Harassment, bullying and other inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated by Sony Music at any of our businesses, and we are committed to providing our employees with a safe and respectful workplace,” the statement said.
“Given our ongoing investigations, we are unable to comment further.”
Since leaving the label, Im has had a number of significant life moments.
In addition to recording her album My Reality and releasing Dreamer, she has also had a baby, Harrison, with her husband Noah Kim.
On Noah’s first Father’s Day, Im took to Instagram and wrote a touching tribute to her family.
“Today is your first Father’s Day!” she wrote.
“You were the most amazing and loving father to Harry and he is so lucky to have you as his father for the rest of his life!
“Also to my dad for not only being the most amazing dad of your life, but also a great grandpa.”
Now I can add the author to the list of her achievements.
“Next year will be the tenth year of my official solo career and also marks ten years since meeting the Dami Army,” she writes in the afterword to “Dreamer,” referring to her passionate fan base.
“I have so many plans – this book, more music and other projects – that make my heart beat faster.
“I will continue to explore and follow my dreams, just as I have – whatever that may be.”
Dami Im’s memoir, Dreamer, is available now through Hachette Australia.
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https://7news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/dami-im-reveals-how-x-factor-judge-helped-her-during-traumatic-time-c-8866327 Dami Im reveals how the X Factor judge helped her through a ‘traumatic’ time