We all have at least one: an artist whose music crawls under our skin from a very young age and stays there, helping to shape who you are. For South Korean singer-songwriter Seori, that artist was Avril Lavigne. “I became a fan of her music when I was in elementary school, and have many memories of it through middle and high school. When I first had a difficult time with love, and nothing else worked, Avril’s music was with me,” the 24-year-old says. “Even now, I still love and listen to it a lot. She’s influenced my music the most.”

If you aren’t familiar with the rising star, based on that alone you may be expecting Seori to be dropping a steady stream of rousing pop-punk anthems, but that’s not quite the case. Her music is many things: ethereal, smooth, wispy, with tinges of R&B and K-pop. In other words, Seori is doing something that’s completely her own–just like Lavigne did with the music she holds so dear.

And it’s working. She first grabbed attention uploading covers to YouTube, and debuted last year with a moody Korean-English EP, ?depacse ohw, which earned her a dedicated following. Among those fans? Popular K-pop group TXT (a.k.a. Tomorrow X Together), with whom she collaborated on the song “0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You),” and BTS’ Jungkook, who has included her music on his public playlists. Most recently, she’s worked on two high-profile tracks: the breezy “Dive with You” alongside Day6 star eaJ, and “Warriors” with rapper Warren Hue for the soundtrack of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

We caught up with Seori (with the help of a translator) to chat about her career, what she hopes to achieve with her music and earning a shoutout from BTS.

When did you first know you wanted to pursue a career in music?

“I’ve loved singing since I was young, and longed to stand on a stage since the age of five or six. But as I grew up, I became quite timid. I thought of it as just a dream, like catching a cloud, so I stored [the idea] at the back of my mind. However, when I got to high school, I realized music was the only thing I really wanted to do. When I had to decide on a career path, I thought about writing songs, looking up to many singer-songwriters I liked. From there, I started writing and studied composition. I was so happy when I sang, but most of that joy came from writing my own songs.”

Now that you do have a career in the industry, can you remember the moment where it felt like this dream was actually possible?

“All I’ve ever wanted was a career in music. I don’t know how I garnered the confidence [to even have] that dream while I was still hesitating to sing in front of people because of my shy personality. But I think this job suits me well. I get bored quickly, but I’ve never felt that way about music.”

Tell me about “Dive with You” and what it was like working with Day6’s eaJ?

“It’s a song about a passionate love story that bursts from pure hearts and intense spirits–like when I [first] hugged my lover and dived in, without ever looking back. When I first came up with the song, I thought it would suit a male vocalist with an attractive tone, so eaJ came to mind right away. He made a better verse than I had hoped for–he made the song more delicate. Even though we didn’t talk about it, he expressed the refreshing feeling that the producer and I wanted.”

How would you describe your sound?

“I’ve always liked rock music, including Avril Lavigne’s and Coldplay’s, and alternative rock music still accounts for a huge part of my playlist. As a result, my music was heavily influenced by their sounds. However, I also want to be an artist who is not limited to one genre. Someone once said that my music feels like a spoonful of dreaminess–I guess that’s part of my sound.”

What do you hope to convey with your music?

“When I decided to start composing, I thought, ‘I want to write songs that [will] be comforting to people.’ Now, I try to make music that will not only be comforting, but meaningful too. I’m trying to make my music worth it. Isn’t it beautiful that the listener and I can communicate through music?”

What’s it like to have a song on a big movie soundtrack for Marvel’s Shang-Chi?

“It was incredibly amazing. It was even more meaningful because I am a fan of the MCU. Perhaps because it was Marvel’s first movie [about] an Asian superhero, I think the sentiment and mood of “Warriors” matches Marvel’s DNA. It was nice to imagine the movie with music [before actually seeing it], and [work] with Warren Hue. It was the chance to broaden my musical spectrum, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”

You’ve received support from acts like BTS’ Jungkook and TXT. What has that been like?

“I was shocked that Jungkook knew the songs on my debut album, but I’m delighted and grateful that he enjoyed listening to them. Also, I was pleased to work with TXT on “0X1=Lovesong.” It boosted my motivation and made me want to push to make even better music in the future.”

How would you describe your personal style and the role it plays in your music?

“I like [to look] chic. In particular, I like leather and silver, and most of my looks include black clothes–I think it’s the closest thing that reflects me! I do think my style resembles my music. It’s a little sentimental and cynical, but there are dreamy characteristics too.”

If you weren’t working in music, what would you be doing and why?

“I was chatting with my mom earlier today, and we talked about this! I really can’t imagine doing anything else. I think I probably wouldn’t settle down by switching between different jobs. When I was young, I loved reading books aloud, and I thought it would be nice to become a voice actor. I think it’s great to bring a character to life by giving it a voice. If the opportunity presents itself, I’d like to try dubbing one day.

This interview has been translated. Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.