Ayumi Itō(伊藤 亜由美, Itō Ayumi) (born August 25, 1984), better known by her stage name Iconiq (stylized ICONIQ), is a Japanese singer of Korean ethnicity in Japan. She was a member of the Korean girl-group Sugar. Ito was born as a third generation Korean resident and raised in Japan for much of her younger life and is the reason for her Japanese accent, although she is now fluent in both languages. Although Ayumi's name is commonly believed to be Japanese in origin, she has explained that her name is hanja-based.
Iconiq was born in Tottori Prefecture on August 25, 1984, to Korean parents. She lived in Japan until she was 15, after which she moved to South Korea. She attended Korea Kent Foreign School.
She was scouted by entertainment company Starworld at a H.O.T. concert, debuting as part of the girl group Sugar in 2002. The band released two albums in Japan and three in Korea, however were met with only moderate commercial success.
In 2006, the group disbanded, and Iconiq released two solo singles as Ayumi. The first, a cover of the theme song for Cutie Honey (in the style of the Kumi Koda's 2004 version), was released on July 13, 2006, however was criticized by Korean media for her "heavy accent" and the overall Japanese feel of performances. Her second digital single, "Jalmotdoen Mannam" (Korean: "잘못된 만남", "Wrongful Meeting") was released on November 7, 2006, and is a cover of Kim Gun Mo's hit from 1995.
She switched labels in February 2007, moving from Starworld to SM Entertainment and started collaborating with SM Town on their summer and winter albums that year. However, she did not release any solo material in this time. In 2008, Iconiq moved to Los Angeles to study dance, and find new inspiration as a musician.
In late 2009, she changed her stage name to Iconiq, and debuted in Japan under Rhythm Zone. Her first promotions were for Shiseido's Maquillage cosmetics line, for which her song "I'm Lovin' You" (a duet with Exile vocalist Atsushi) was used in commercials, and Iconiq's images used in billboards. Iconiq was marketed around her buzz cut hair-style, often called "baby short hair" (ベビーショートヘア), along with the catch-phrase "Watashi ga kawaru. Ongaku de kawaru." (私が変わる。音楽で変わる。, I change. I change through music.). Her hair style was suggested by her management as a strong image to compliment her desire for a theme of change.
Iconiq's official Japanese profile did not mention her past as a member of Sugar or her Korean heritage, however vaguely references starting activities "overseas" in 2002. Concerns about the motives of this were raised in the Korean media. Korean netizen reactions were mixed, with some seeing the decision as "embarrassment" of her past, while others reasoned Iconiq's Japanese career's stylistic differences were the cause.Tokyo Sports ran an article about Iconiq's past as a Korean idol, however later apologised to Iconiq's record label.
After two more promotional songs used in Maquillage commercials, "Change Myself" and "Bye Now!," she released her debut album, Change Myself, on March 10, 2010. The album debuted at #3 on Oricon's albums chart, the highest debut position since Yui Aragaki's Sora in late 2007. Since then, she has released her debut single "Tokyo Lady," and released an EP called Light Ahead in September. The EP was promoted with three music videos directed by Diane Martel, including "Tokyo Lady."
Iconiq won a new artist award at the 52nd Japan Record Awards in 2010, alongside Girls' Generation, Madoka Kikuchi and S/mileage.
In January, 2011, her official homepage featured a sample of an unreleased song. Days later, it was removed without explanation. Since then, the homepage stated "New Song this Spring" and has revealed the title "I will love". Wide ThumbClearartFanartBanner User Comments