“Once permeated, the scent of ginger is hard to erase.” This is how the fans of American singer-songwriter ‘Ginger Root,’ who is the rising power of city pop, express themselves.
Chinese-American Ginger Root's real name is Cameron Lew (28). Since 2016, he began to create music under the name of Ginger Root and has released 7 albums, 3 Eps, and 19 singles so far. The musician became popular in Korea about two years ago. Although he did not promote himself in Korea, a YouTube playlist made by fans with his songs and a video with lyrics translated gained popularity with word of mouth to finally lead to holding a solo performance.
We met Ginger Root before his first performance in Korea on the 20th at Watcha Hall in Mapo-gu, Seoul. Lew said, "I can't believe I am loved beyond borders." The Watcha Hall consisted of standing seats and was packed with about 600 audience that day.
Ginger Root's music drew attention as retro started to boom in Korea. His music, which is characterized by dreamy yet sensuous melodies such as in “Loretta” (2021) and “Weather” (2021), is very similar to Japanese city pop in the 1970s and 80s based on romantic melodies. Cameron’s said, “I first encountered Japanese music in the 1970s and 80s when I was in high school and became a fan, “I was fascinated by its fresh yet relatable quality.”
It was relatable to his family root. As a third-generation immigrant, he said, “In the United States, people born in Korea, China, and Japan are all called Asian Americans. That's why I'm interested in songs from other Asian countries of the same era. My music is seemed affected by Japanese culture, but in its base, it reflects my struggle as an Asian American.”
Lew’s personality is not only revealed in his music. As a film student, he is famous for making music videos reflecting the moods of the 1970s and 80s with visual beauty. The music video for “Loneliness,” released last year, drew attention with a unique story in which a fictional Japanese singer, Kimiko, ran away and Ginger Root acted instead of her.
In that day's performance, he sang, played, danced, joked, and talked while staring at the camera, making it seem like he was watching a witty play. He said, "I hope all my activities, including music, music videos, and performances, will spread bright and cheerful energy." Starting with the Korean performance, Ginger Root plans to continue performing in Hong Kong and Thailand in March.