Out singer/songwriter Bradley Kim is 'Starting Over'

Wed. May 10, 2023 8:43 AM by Ross Forman

indie-pop singer bradley kim

photo credit // provided

‘Music and songwriting are my therapy,’ says indie-pop singer Bradley Kim

Bradley Kim sings his private life into the public with a new five-song EP, crafted from the breakup with his boyfriend of 3 ½ years, starting anew and doing so alone after being so codependent on his ex.

"Starting Over", the name of the EP and the first song, includes, “by far, the most personal, most vulnerable song that I have ever written,” said Kim, 24. “I wrote the song (titled) Twenty… about how I thought I’d never live past the age of 20. Being gay was among those reasons (why).

“The song takes you on the life that I thought I wanted, based on societal expectations, including a wife and kids, living in the suburbs around other families – and nothing to worry about.

“I hid away a huge part of who I was for most of my adolescence because I hated myself for being different. It’s a song that I hope you can’t relate to, but, if you can, I hope it gives you a big hug and tells you that things are going to get better.”

Kim, an indie-pop musician from Seattle who now lives in Grand Forks, N.D., first gained worldwide fame as an out football player at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he played for two seasons before injuries forced him to retire from the game.

He came out after his freshman season, and within a few months, he was in a relationship.

“I’m very happy with the EP. I put a lot of work into it, as did my team and I’m very grateful for all their help. I think I captured the exact story that I wanted to tell with the EP,” Kim said.

The EP kicks off with "Starting Over", the song telling Kim’s story about the ending of the relationship he had with the only man he ever loved. Then it moves to a song that shows his vulnerable, raw emotion of packing up the apartment and life that they shared together in Georgia. Song three of the EP, titled "Men On The Moon", shows his wistful feelings that “we could have ended up together in another life, or universe,” he said. The fourth song gives an introspective look into how Kim is learning to become self-reliant and less dependent on outside validation.

The final song of the EP “is a retrospective look into my belief that I would never live long enough to see myself in a relationship, loving another man,” he said.

“Initially, it was just going to be a single song. But going through the process of the breakup and the healing, more and more songs came, leading to the 5-song collection.”

The personal tales that Kim sings mix heartbreak and trauma, but also carry a reflection of the personal growth he has experienced over the last eight or nine months. “This EP (shows) me processing this experience, but also gaining the ability and the drive to become a more independent, driven adult,” he said.

“Music and songwriting are my therapy. It’s a very cathartic feeling to be able to process my emotions through writing songs. I think music is just a very different and unique way to get your emotions out because words can only carry so much meaning. You can carry a lot more meaning through music, through melodies, etc., that go along with the lyrics and the words that you put out.”

"Starting Over" is “a very existential, very sad, very intense” EP. Later this year, Kim will bring songs that, well, are about as opposite from those on "Starting Over". One of the songs he will deliver soon, titled, "Internet Boy", is about a boy he met on the Internet. “I think it’s my best song,” Kim said. “It’s super clever, really tongue-in-cheek, an upbeat commercial pop song that a lot of people can relate to.” 

Chicago Bound

Kim returns to the Windy City in late-June as he will be playing for a Los Angeles team in the annual Pride Bowl, a flag football tournament held along the lakefront, presented by the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA). The tournament features both open and women’s divisions, with champions crowned across multiple tiers in the two-event tournament, held June 23-24 at the Montrose Beach – Cricket Hill fields.

“I have a lot of friends who live in Chicago, so (the tournament) was a good opportunity to go see my friends,” Kim said. “I’ve been to Chicago a bunch of times and, sure, I’m a very competitive person in these tournaments, but, as soon as we’re done playing, I’m just there to have a good time.”

So, that likely means Kim and his crew will be up and down North Halsted Street in Lakeview after the games.

Kim was a three-sport standout in high school in his native Washington, where he played basketball, football and ran track. “My goal ultimately was to get a football scholarship because all I wanted to do was play professional football,” he said. “I went to prom with a female track athlete, asking her while playing the family ukulele and singing a song to her. I learned my love for music while asking a girl to prom, which was and is funny.”

At the end of his junior year in high school, Kim committed to attend and play football at the U.S. Air Force Academy, following his family ties to the U.S. military. His brother played soccer at Air Force; his dad went to the U.S. Naval Academy and all three of his brothers went to a military academy, too.”

But Kim admittedly was nervous after graduating from high school, being gay and heading to a military academy. His siblings convinced him to go.

“I went through basic training and freshman year was absolute hell for multiple reasons, (including) tearing my labrum during basic training, thus wasn’t able to play football for most of my freshman season,” he said. “There were times I didn’t think I’d make it through freshman year.”

Before his sophomore season at Air Force, Kim came out as gay.

“No one gave a shit that I was gay. No one cared,” he said.

He first told some of his teammates and coaches, “and they all were super cool, super supportive,” he said.

His lone coming-out story was published by Outsports.com in late-July 2018.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come out was, I wanted to be someone who could be there to help other people,” Kim said. “My coming out went as well as it possibly could have. The best part was going to (football) practice the next day and no one said anything. They were just treating me like normal. So yeah, overall, my coming out was a very good experience.”

Kim was medically forced to retire from playing after his sophomore season, though he stayed with the team in a student coaching role.

Touchdowns With … Bradley Kim

Sporting Favorites: Is a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan. Also cheers for the Air Force Academy and the University of Washington.

Packing Up: One day he wants to move to Los Angeles or Chicago.

Giving Thanks: For assistance on the EP to Todd Tran, Kaleb Maylor, Ryan Nealon, Chloe Copoloff, Jordan Turley and Dalton Mauldin

Keep up with Bradley on Twitter and Instagram, and listen to him on Spotify and Apple Music