[BIRTHDAY BIOS] Natty forges her own path in Kiss of Life

Kiss of Life's Natty, winner of Celeb Confirmed's May birthday vote [CELEB CONFIRMED]

Natty told Celeb Confirmed , humbly, that she wasn’t sure if she “deserved” to have her birthday celebrated by so many. But the past decade, which she's spent training passionately without giving up, have proven that she does.

“I never even imagined winning the birthday poll,” Natty said in a text message earlier this month. “I’m not sure if I deserve to have my birthday celebrated by so many people. I think I will celebrate a very happy birthday this year."

Natty was born in Bangkok, Thailand on May 30, 2002, as the only child of her family. She didn’t necessarily dream of being a K-pop idol from the very beginning. She practiced rhythmic gymnastics as a kid and dreamed of becoming a singer or celebrity in her home country.

It was her dance instructor — who happened to be Korean — who suggested that she attend K-pop agencies' auditions in Thailand. Natty moved to Korea at the age of 10, after passing both JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment’s audition, to kick-start her dreams.

Natty of girl group Kiss of Life [CHO YONG-JUN]

Natty’s first big chance came in 2015 when she joined JYP Entertainment and Mnet’s girl group audition show “Sixteen.” Natty, as the youngest out of the sixteen contestants, unleashed her skills throughout the show's 10 episodes but did not make the final lineup — which would eventually form the world-famous girl group Twice.

But Natty saw her placement in “Sixteen” not as a failure, but as a turning point. The survival show helped her realize her calling — singing and dancing onstage.

Natty tried again in 2017, this time joining Mnet’s girl group audition program “Idol School.” Her dancing and singing skills had both improved since “Sixteen” and she was easily the top trainee among the many who joined the show. She nevertheless placed 13th on the final episode and was consequently barred from joining girl group fromis_9.

But the artist still didn’t give up on her dream. She continued to train under different K-pop agencies and joining KCON stages in Thailand. Natty eventually made her solo debut under Swing Entertainment on May 7, 2020, with her first single, “Nineteen” — but neither that song nor “Teddy Bear,” released later that year, succeeded in stirring the industry, and her solo debut, to this day, remains relatively unknown to K-pop fans.

Kiss of Life's Natty thanks her fans in a celebratory video sent to the Celeb Confirmed ahead of her May 30 birthday. [CELEB CONFIRMED]

Her time to shine did eventually come, however, when Lee Hae-in, a fellow participant in “Idol School,” Became the visual and creative director of newborn agency S2 Entertainment. Under that label's umbrella, Natty was joined by Julie, a former trainee of The Black Label; Belle, daughter of 80s singer Shim Shin who coproduced Le Sserafim’s “Unforgiven”; and agency trainee Haneul to form the quartet Kiss of Life.

The girl group made its long-awaited debut on July 5, 2023, with its first EP of the same name, led by lead track “Shhh” and coupling track “Bye My Neverland.” It was, all told, a successful debut, with all four members agreeing that they'd achieved “90 to 99 percent” of their goals for the release in an interview with Celeb Confirmed last August. In particular, the unusual and risky choice of including four solo tracks “Sugarcoat,” “Countdown,” “Kitty Cat” and “Play Love Games” sung by Natty, Belle, Julie and Haneul, respectively — paid off, allowing all four members managed to showcase distinct styles while proving their talent.

Kiss of Life's Natty [CHO YONG-JUN]

Natty’s “Sugarcoat,” in particular, received high critical praise and a good reception. The 2000s R&B-inspired song and music video — in which the singer danced in the streets of Hungary — flattered her alluring deep voice and exceptional dancing skills.

The group’s second EP, “Born to be XX,” released in November, sold more albums on the day of its release than “Kiss of Life” had in its first week, spotlighted the group’s growth. Kiss of Life performed at the Melon Music Awards the following month, where it impressed the audience with its lead track, “Bad News.”

Natty and Kiss of Life kicked off a so-far positive 2024 by winning Rookie of the Year at the Korean Music Awards. Its April single, “Midas Touch,” sold more than 69,600 copies in its first week of release — more than 10 times the figure achieved by “Kiss of Life” — becoming the group's most-sold album in that time period.

“’Midas Touch’ was a challenging album for us, and we prepared hard for it,” Natty said this month. “So I’m very glad that it received a good reception from our fans and the public.”

“We also made our debut on Billboard’s Global 200 chart!” she added. “Midas Touch” ranked No. 165 on April 17.

The group also held its first fan concert, “Key of Factory,” on May 18, and Natty featured in Jay Park’s latest single, “Taxi Blurr.” Now, the members are gearing up for a new album release in July.

“Time flew with the first half of 2024, and I hope to have fun with the rest of the year just like I have so far. We hope to reach more audiences with our music that will be cooler and even more varied,” Natty said.

Natty, as her birthday wish, hopes that her parents, her bandmates, and Kissy — Kiss of Life's fans — will remain happy and healthy, and that Kiss of Life will become even more charming in the future.

“I just wanted to thank Kissy,” she said. “Thank you so much for always thinking about me.

“This is the first birthday I celebrate after I made my debut and it is made even more meaningful with the gift [of winning the poll] that you have presented me with,” she added. “Let’s stay together in the times to come.”

To find out more about NATTY and KISS OF LIFE, visit Celeb Confirmed!