The Right Colors to Paint With: Interview with Patty
There’s nothing quite like being able to speak with an artist in the sunrise of their career. It’s a unique experience. A blessing for a writer, a lover of music, who’s been writing about it for almost two decades, to look into the face of greenness and see someone who’s ready to go. Someone unjaded, still learning, still craving the grind to get better, improve, grow. Patrick Shim, a.k.a. Patty, is one such artist.
The Cali-based Korean-American rapper is still in the early stages of his career, having started taking the artform seriously during the start of the pandemic. Since then, he’s released a slew of singles and has started a multicultural collective with friends and collaborators Jjino and SmovLee. With so much creative fire and ambition, he’s only just begun.
Finding His Color
The conversation begins like any other: “Could you please introduce yourself?”
“Well, my name is Patty. I’m an artist from the Bay Area. I’m Korean American, so for some of my songs, I like to mix in some Korean lyrics as well. My music is mainly hip hop and R&B, but I feel like if you look into my discography, you can tell that there’s a big variety of ranges: vibes, genres and themes and stuff like that. So, yeah, I feel like my music is for everybody.”
Humble but fearless. That’s the first impression of this young man. He’s honest about who he is, knows where he sits in the grander scheme of things. And he’s hungry. Admittedly he’s still searching for his individual musical color. But the more he creates, the closer he gets to discovery, to embracing who “Patty” is as an artist.
“I don’t think I’ve gotten to that point yet,” he says. “But I feel like I’m at a point where I’m trying to expand my range and get more versatile. I feel like versatility is a very strong trait to have, and I feel like the best artists can be versatile, you know? They can tap into different genres.”
Patty understands that journey, understands what it means to tap into different inspirations, different experiences to really utilize each aspect of one’s self to feed their art. He cites Tyler the Creator and Lucky Daye as artists who have continued to evolve, continued to reach into themselves to find the artist they truly want to be. “If you look at [Tyler’s] whole discography and how he’s evolved, I think that’s one of the reasons that makes him a great artist. Right now, I feel like I’ve tried different colors; I just haven’t figured out which colors are best to paint with. I feel like I’ve dipped my foot into some of the different pools. I just got to figure out which one is best for me.”
Musically, Patty has run the gamut of more traditional “boom bap”-inspired hip hop to club-ready bangers. He’s tapped into his gulley side with tracks like the gritty “Revive” and “99’s” and explored the deeper sensitivity of a forlorn lover with tracks like “Me?You” and latest single “Lotus.” All of it is a part of who he is. Every single released a newly discovered facet of his artistry, allowing him to sculpt himself into the musician he wants to be.
“In retrospect, it’s kind of funny how that went,” he says with a small smile. “I started out kind of wanting to do more tough music, but a lot of people started liking my softer music. That’s just kind of how it went, and that’s just how it’s flowing at the moment. Who knows where my music will be in a couple months?”
Creating Beauty Through Pain
Perhaps his most poignant piece of music to date comes in the form of a double single. Felicity tells the true story of a young Shim losing a significant other to health-related complications. “I was dating this girl back in like 2019,” he begins slowly, mustering his strength to recall a memory that’s obviously painful to dredge up. “Like mid-summer 2019. She had a couple health problems, and unfortunately, she did pass away. That was December of 2021. The two songs are just about her. Her name was Felicity. 'Sun & Moon For You' is more of just all of my emotions, the things that I felt with her. The second song, 'An Angel’s Letter,' I feel like that’s just more of a classic kind of getting things out of my head, you know? Or just writing down exactly how I was feeling. I feel like both songs really capture the emotions that I felt toward her, and I honestly feel like those two songs are some of the best songs that I have out right now. They are a little sad, but I mean, if you really listen to the song and the lyrics and how I put it together, I feel like those two songs are some of my best.”
Pain is poetry. The relationship between artist and art is an abusive one, a tumultuous environment of the mind and soul where the best release comes from heavy emotions. Either blinding elation or wretched heartache, the extreme dynamics of creating art mimic most directly the very ways of nature. Creation is not soft. Oftentimes it’s disruptive, certainly forceful, built upon the ashes of destruction. In much the same way, art’s most fruitful harvest comes from the fertility of disturbed soil.
“A lot of the best art does come from pain, which is a very weird thing,” he admits. “But I feel like that’s just how art has been, you know? Even a lot of the paintings that we think currently are the best paintings ever come from a lot of stuff. I feel like at this point, slowly turning myself into an artist for the past few years, really writing and trying to become a musician, I realized that real music is the best music. Music is healing. Music, to me, is therapy. I can use music as an outlet to get these emotions out in a healthy way; I feel like I can use it to deal with these emotions, to cope, you know? Using music as a healthy way that I can kind of do therapy by myself. It’s kind of journaling at the same time. Definitely music does come from a lot of pain, but also it does heal that pain because it gives a place where you can put that pain. That’s hard to find.”
Mental Wellness is Art
As green as the young man is, he certainly doesn’t lack wisdom. He’s got an immensely mature spirit. Fully realizing he's not where he wants to be as an artist, but still using his art to tap into those parts of himself that need caressing. He’s open, honest and unafraid to really explore the parts of himself that hurt the most. He’s blessedly of a generation of musicians who understand the necessity for acknowledging mental and emotional struggles. Particularly artists of color who’ve had to watch their parents and siblings suffer because they were unable to just talk about their pain. Patty is more than ready to break the cycle of silence surrounding mental wellness.
“I think number one, the artists that advocate for that are amazing,” he says, somber but enthusiastic. “That’s definitely something that I strive to kind of emulate or replicate, because the fact that these people understand that they have a presence in the culture and society, and they’re using their platform to promote better things, promote better emotional health.
“Like, for example, like Westside Boogie and like Lucky Daye. I go back to them a lot. But their message is so clear about the things that they know. Westside really talks a lot about supporting the youth and making sure your mental health is in check. I feel like more artists should do it. In communities of color, mental health is not taken seriously, definitely. Speaking from Korean culture, 100% it’s in the same boat. I feel like people just don’t understand it, you know? And a lot of the older generation doesn’t understand it. It’s only going to be resolved if people like us expand those boundaries. Push out of the box.”
He references inspirations Westside Boogie and Lucky Daye a few times throughout the conversation. Their influence on not only his cadence but what he believes he should really be tapping into as an artist are present in the way he chooses to express himself. Artists like Boogie and Daye, Joey Bada$$. The turbulent hip hop of the likes of Nafla and Loopy. It all plays a part in how he wants to express himself.
“Boogie, Joey Bada$$, Lucky Daye, I feel like with all three of them, the biggest thing that draws me to their music is how vulnerable they are, but at the same time how confident they are in themselves,” he says. “For example, Westside Boogie. He talks about a lot of his personal life and the personal issues that he goes through, like toxicity issues or problems he had with his parents or, you know, raising a child and being in a bad environment. But he doesn’t glorify that like a lot of artists do. I feel like he talks about real stuff, and he’s not embarrassed to talk about it.
“I feel like a lot of people in the industry and a lot of people in society today think you’re not strong if you show emotions. But I feel like the way that [those three] portray [themselves], they’re just who they are and [are] confident in themselves. The fact that they can do that through music is so cool to me. I feel like it’s very respectable.
“And with Nafla and Loopy, I feel like I got attracted to their music in a different way than what I mentioned before,” he continues. “Nafla and Loopy, I related to them more. You know, they’re just like who I am. I’m a Korean; my parents were Korean immigrants. You know, you come here, and I feel like I’m half American, half Korean. I kind of don’t know what I am. But I realized that looking at people like them, artists like them, they embrace both cultures, which I think is really cool. That’s something that I want to integrate into my music as well, you know? Being proud of being a Korean and an American.”
Following the Vision
As the son of immigrant parents, he’s well aware of the stigma of choosing art over something more stable. It’s a common tale among most Koreans and those of the Korean diaspora. The struggle to gain acceptance from their parents is pervasive within the community. Patty is lucky to have his parents’ support. “It definitely took a lot of convincing, a lot of talks at the dinner table,” he says with a chuckle. It no doubt helps that he recently graduated from university with a degree in environmental science.
His parents certainly encouraged his musical inclinations when he was younger, much in the same way most parents encourage their children to learn piano or violin. “I feel like that just made me appreciate music more than other people,” he admits. “I feel like I’m one of those people that they either have music playing 24/7, or I’m humming something, or I’m singing something, you know. So I feel like it did come naturally.”
But he really began to take the craft seriously at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Sophomore year hit and I was like, ‘Fuck it, let’s just do it.’ So that’s just what I did.” When his school shut down because of the pandemic, he leaned heavily into his craft. “I feel like COVID hit kind of like the perfect time for me,” he says with a small chuckle. He certainly isn’t unique to the sentiment. After all, when nature virtually puts everyone on the planet in timeout, what else is there to do but rekindle old and burgeoning passions?
Patty wasn’t alone in his desire to get serious about music. Childhood friends Jjino and SmoovLee decided to take their artistic endeavors further than just their individual love of music and created their collective OS Vision. “It’s kind of a funny story,” he begins. “Me, Smoov and Jjino, we all grew up together. I met Smoove maybe in like 2009; I met Jjino maybe like 2006 or something. Then as we grew up, we just all started to like music. I’d say late 2019 to early 2020, like I mentioned when I started to take music seriously, I feel like coincidentally they kind of did too. Once we all got locked down, we were just like, ’Hey, we’re kind of stuck at home. We don’t have anything to do. I know we’re all making music. Why don’t we just make it together?’ And it wasn’t like, ’Let’s become the next Migos or like the next ASAP Mob or something.’ It was just more of like, ’Let’s just help each other out.’
"Our team is so talented, and we have a lot of passion. OSV’s going to be on top one day, definitely."
“We’re homies first, and we’re making music together, becoming artists. It’s gonna be tough, and it’s always good to have a team behind you so we can help each other out with marketing, or if you need help with ideas for a song or anything like that. We thought it would be not only helpful to us, but we just thought it would help us go further if we work together. I think so far we’ve been doing just that. We started two years ago almost exactly, with me, Jjino, SmoovLee, our manager and another guy. We started with five people. Now we have like 14, 15-plus members on our team. We have a lot of talented artists, we have videographers, we have photographers, a lot of different creatives. And it’s exciting.”
It’s no surprise that an artist he dreams of collaborating with is DPR Live. OS Vision carries a similar mission to Dream Perfect Regime: a home for creatives to freely explore all facets of their creativity. “One thing that my manager always told me and my team…is that we want to transcend race, to transcend barriers. We don’t want to fall into a box, you know. We just want to make a space where anyone globally, anywhere in the world, doesn’t matter your background, can come and enjoy the art we make. Enjoy the experiences that we can share, the things that we can share with our fans, our stories, things we like, stuff like that.
“We definitely just want to become a worldwide collective,” he continues. “Definitely become a household name, you know, top the charts. I feel like right now, we’re definitely growing, and we’re not even close to our potential. I feel like our team is so talented, and we have a lot of passion. OSV’s going to be on top one day, definitely.”
Worldwide & Beyond
Many of Patty’s contemporaries, names like Tablo, Jay Park, pH-1, chose to take the trip to their motherland. The Korean American artists dove deep into Korea’s K-pop scene, all with varying but unmistakable levels of success.
His gaze is ever turned toward the future, and he assures fans and newcomers that there’s more in the works, more music, more evolution. “Me and my manager have been talking about kind of upping the scale of my music videos and making sure that each song that comes out, each project that comes out, you pay attention to the details. I feel like the quality is just going to keep getting better and better. In the fall and winter, I can’t disclose too much information, but a lot of good stuff, good music, good songs, good music videos. Good vibes coming out.”
This is a beautiful time to be creative. Certainly no one is wanting for source material, for lived experience. Patty seems to recognize the relevance of the moment and is seizing it with both hands. “I hope me talking about my thoughts, how I experienced life and how I make music, hopefully you guys enjoyed it. If you did, then I hope you can spend some time and listen to my music and enjoy it. If you do, then I am very, very appreciative of you.”