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Monday, 11 December 2017 | MYT 6:00 AM

Despite Tourette’s syndrome, a Korean musical trainer inspires his student

The collaboration between Heyne and her vocal director Minsoo budded when soloist Heyne moved from Crescendo Music agency to Wellmade Yedang last year and started working on her vocals with him. Photo: Asia News Network

Joining forces with a musical trainer may be an unusual collaboration for some, but for Heyne, it was about more than just having a musical partner. Expanding beyond music, it was an opportunity to finally overcome her longtime insecurity.

The collaboration between Heyne and her vocal director Minsoo budded when soloist Heyne moved from Crescendo Music agency to Wellmade Yedang last year and started working on her vocals with him. Under her previous agency, the songstress released a handful of singles, including her debut song Dolla, Love007, My Heart and Love Cells.

Minsoo’s talent wasn’t the only reason Heyne was inspired to team up with him. His positive attitude about life, undaunted by his Tourette’s syndrome, was what moved Heyne’s heart.

“When receiving vocal lessons from Minsoo, I learned so much more from him beyond just music. He consistently told me that my voice was a representation of myself, not my imperfection, so that I didn’t have to change my voice,” said Heyne in a recent interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul.

The pair recently released Love Is Blind, a mix of retro and electronic sound, where the duo‘s unique and high-toned voices blend over the sweet melody about love.

The songstress confessed that she had struggled in lacking confidence in the past, especially due to her childlike high-pitched voice that was mocked by many. After receiving what she called “courage” from Minsoo, who accepted her just the way she was, Heyne suggested a collaboration with Minsoo, who had also dreamed of being a singer long ago.

“I wanted to prove to people that if I can keep singing with my unique voice, Minsoo, who is a great vocalist, can also debut as a singer regardless of his Tourette’s,” she said.

“Many soloists seek collaboration with big-name artistes to become more popular, but I wanted to break such norms. I just enjoy singing with him and being with him so much, and I hope people would treat us without prejudice.”

Having worked with K-pop acts such as Son Dam-bi, Teen Top and Boys Republic as a vocal trainer, Minsoo, who accompanied Heyne to the interview, shared that he was diagnosed with Tourette’s as a child.

Tourette’s is a neurological condition characterised by involuntary actions such as coughs, twitches and fully articulated phrases called “tics”. Minsoo’s symptoms include compulsive swearing, which only affects around one in 10 sufferers.

Minsoo said he initially turned down Heyne’s suggestion, as he was concerned his condition could prove a hindrance to her career.

“At first, I couldn’t understand why Heyne wanted the collaboration. So I tried to convince her that she would be better off without me, but she was very stubborn,” Minsoo said.

Asked if he experienced any inconveniences due to his condition, Minsoo said he tries hard to control the tics when performing. “My body sometimes trembles when I try to contain a tic. But when I concentrate on the music and sing, I don‘t get tics at all,” he said.

“It’s true that fitting in at school was hard. I was bullied a lot, and people feared me for being different. But I came to realise that it was people‘s prejudices that made my life miserable. Entering my 20s, I had no problem blending into society. I haven’t been taking medications for more than 10 years, as they don’t cure my condition permanently. But now I‘m here, doing what I love.”

Heyne and Minsoo confirmed their collaboration was no one-time event. Some have asked about the possibility of Heyne collaborating with another singer when Minsoo isn’t available, but she doesn’t plan to replace Minsoo with another singer. She would rather go on stage alone, Heyne said.

“I hope people will gain courage from us, just like I did from Minsoo,” she said.

Minsoo replied, “I feel really thankful for Heyne for helping me achieve my longtime dream. I also hope I could carve out a path for other tic sufferers and raise public awareness of the syndrome.” – The Korea Herald/Asia News Network