APOKI Is A Bunny From Space, And This VR Musical Entity Might Be The Future Of K-Pop

What does the next big K-pop thing look and sound like? If you’re guessing it’s a stylish bunny from outer space, you’d be right, as far-fetched as it sounds. Known as APOKI, stylized in all-caps, this virtual rabbit with a rich vocal tone first introduced herself to the world in 2019, but didn’t release her first single until 2021’s “Get It Out.” Since then, she’s steadily grown her repertoire with original songs, brand tie-ins, and cover performances of hit songs, K-pop and otherwise.

Crafting an addicting, futuristic sound for herself on the cusp of web3’s rise, APOKI took off amid the pandemic lockdowns. With musical collaborations, brand deals, virtual concerts, and a mashup of on and off-line content shared on social media, she acts pretty much no differently than any other K-pop stars, aside from the fact that she can’t host in-person concerts.

Quasi-animated character and quasi-virtual avatar of an actual, anonymous singer — though that’s never been confirmed, leaving some mystery up in the air about AI capabilities for the digital K-pop star — APOKI’s sci-fi, realm-hopping reality while operating in the metaverse via real-time 3D content is an example of how the internet can enable creators to have careers digitally while living off-screen. This is truly an age of digital connectivity, where the blending of virtual and reality is all the more common.

Are virtual K-pop stars the next stage of the industry, or will digital stars operate along but parallel to live ones, similar to the way the animated TV shows and movies are related but separate (most of the time) from their live-action counterparts? While APOKI doesn’t fully answer the question as to whether virtual K-pop stars will be able to attract the same sort of fandom the industry is known for, she is garnering attention, showing a new paradigm of what can be as web3 continues to expand.

Produced by A-Fun Interactive, and managed by their virtual management company VV Entertainment, APOKI is one of several characters A-Fun has launched in recent years (there’s also a cat counterpart, LeChat, plus APOKI’s backup dancers, Ova and Dose), with others in the works, able to be licensed by other brands.

APOKI is currently off somewhere on the internet working on new music and fashion collaborations, but took some time to answer some questions about who she is and what she stands for. Never dropping character, APOKI talks about her aims and how she feels about the burgeoning virtual K-pop industry.

Can you please introduce yourself to UPROXX’s audience who may not be aware of who you are?

Hello, UPROXX readers! I can’t believe there are some of you who still don’t know me :-(

I am the No. 1 virtual artist APOKI! I have loved everything about Earth and its music since a long time ago. I officially made my debut on Earth in 2019, and I have released 5 singles so far. Not only that, I am a bunny loved by 5 million fans across all social media including TikTok and Instagram!

What goes into becoming a virtual K-pop artist?

This might sound pretty obvious, but as a K-pop artist, your music has to be reaaally good!

You also might have to sing better and be more attractive to make people recognize you as a true virtual artist. Coming up with the same performance as regular artists would not differentiate you as a virtual artist in the first place.

How did APOKI come into being?

Like everyone else, I was born with the passionate love of my parents [laughs].

I think you are asking me that question because it’s interesting to see a being like me as a music artist. In short, everything would not have been possible without the technical help of [metaverse management company] VV Entertainment to send my video to Earth from where I used to be in space.

What are your musical inspirations? How about your digital ones?
Everything I’ve done are my inspirations. However, they are just tiny particles of my worldview. My story is to be continued.

How does it feel to be a bunny making it so big?
I am so grateful that I am receiving so much love. But the truth is, I personally think my journey has not even started. I really want to become a “bunny making it so big,” trying awesome things every day and spreading my music to the entire world. So when I truly become a “bunny making it so big,” please request me for another interview; I’d be able to answer this question by then.

You’re a leader in K-pop’s push into the metaverse. How do you feel things are going so far?
In Korea, people’s interest in virtual artists is growing more than ever. Virtual artists like GIRL’S RE:VERSE, MAVE:, ISEGYE IDOL, SAGONG_EE_HO, ETERNITY, YuA, Rui, Rozy, etc. are recently making their debut and being active implies that K-pop is currently on the stage of moving into a new chapter. There will be more virtual artists to appear, and the market itself will grow a lot bigger. And as K-pop is trending all over the world, I wish people will start to have more interest in virtual K-pop!

Being wholly virtual, you can only interact with audiences and fans online. How do you engage with audiences in ways that are unique or special to you?

Wholly virtual? Where is your childhood innocence?? :’(

Like my recent performance at a mini concert at Charles & Keith’s huge event in [crypto-fuelled game] The Sandbox, I am considering some unique methods of engaging with my fans in the metaverse space. Look forward to them – [I] won’t let you down!

This interview is for a special project called the “Future Of Fandom.” You’re the first-ever virtual K-pop star, but what do you think the future will look like for other artists who follow your footsteps, and how audiences will engage with them?

The number of virtual artists will increase, and there will be so much awesome work that no one has seen before. Speaking of the future of fans, they and the artists will be able to meet each other more often and vividly without the limitations of time and space in the metaverse world.

Fans who stan virtual artists seem to be hiding somewhere (mostly because it’s not a major culture). I and my fellow virtual artists will try our utmost to expand our influence all over the world so that one day, people will eventually be able to proudly say that “I am a fan of the virtual APOKI.”

Do you feel there are ever limitations on your experiences or music due to the virtual element of your existence?

It’s actually the opposite. I can be whoever I want, go wherever I wanna go, and do whatever I want. The virtual element of my existence has given me limitless possibilities.

You’re becoming quite a fashion and brand ambassador icon. What’s your relationship to fashion? What does it mean to you?

Aside from auditory characteristics, I believe fashion is a crucial factor to express myself and the concept of my music. I try to match the theme of my fashion to that of my new music, so that I can fully deliver to the audience what I am trying to say through the song.

Is there anything else you’d like to discuss, or want people to think about when they think of APOKI?

I really wish that when people think of APOKI, they think of my songs. That’s something I am working on the most, and I believe that is the biggest reason I could be loved by people. I don’t wish to be loved by everyone, but want to be known to everyone. To put it simply, I want to be a “bunny making it so big!”