Interview: “2NE1 ‘I AM THE BEST’ on stage” (part 1)
There used to be a time in when having a job in singing and dancing was regarded as a shameful thing in Korea. But now that is something very hard to believe for younger generations here. Singers are adored and get praised for their god-given talents, and without a doubt, they are now the leaders of Korean culture and fashion; and that’s where 2NE1 stands.
2NE1, debuted in 2009, is a group of four transgressive young women artists pioneering new music styles and fashion. Going beyond synchronized dance routines and repetitive chorus, they were the first K-pop group to dominate local online music charts with five singles in a row: “Don’t Cry,” “Lonely,” “I Am The Best,” “Hate You” and “Ugly.”
If you think the group’s international acclaim in a little over three years of their singing career is hard to believe, wait till you hear what is next: “NEW EVOLUTION.”
In between releasing the new single and going for the theatrical run, 2NE1 told the magazine about their world tour, “NEW EVOLUTION,” and their new tune– a cross-genre song of electronic and trot music– at the YG Entertainment office building in Seoul on July 6.
People of your generation didn’t grow up listening to trot music [an old Korean pop music genre based on four beats and sad melody from Japanese ballad “enka’”]. Was it not difficult understanding and digesting the genre?
Minzy: My parents love trot music so it wasn’t new to me at all.
CL: Even if you don’t grow up being exposed to trot music, you know the feeling of it. It wasn’t so difficult imagining what kind of message trot music has inside (its lyrics and melody).
Sandara: My mom loves trot so I used to sing “The man in Shinsadong” (translated title) a lot.
CL: Minzy was good at singing the trot parts of our new song.
What’s attractive about trot music?
CL: I’ve realized that this is a very difficult genre to learn. Not only do you need to get the nuance of it but go deeply into the song and feel it. It requires a different singing style as well. I tried the intro part of the song but couldn’t pull it off well.
Aside from the genre’s unique characteristics, were you guys able to digest the lyrics?
CL: Since our debut in 2009, we’ve been singing about love from a unique perspective. This time, it’s just a typical love story. But when you go deep into the details in the lyrics, it’s a stalker basically; a scary woman singing about love (laugh).
How was “I Love You” made?
CL: As far as I know, our producer, Teddy, made it for fun last winter. It was a long time ago when he came up with the tune and everything. I guess he was looking for something very different from our past songs, since we are always seeking for something new, and more sensational. (When the song came out) we members thought it was fresh and figured “I Love You” will connect different generations and people from different backgrounds.
Last year, you guys were singing about how cool you are in ‘I Am The Best’, which is totally the opposite of what you sing in ‘I Love You’. Was it not difficult getting into the lyrics?
CL: If you’re a woman, you always have those two different attitudes at the same time. “I Am The Best” shows the peak of one’s self-confidence whereas “I Love You” describes a woman who yearns for love. I guess everyone holds these two emotions concurrently.
Which song would you say describes 2NE1 better?
CL: “I Am The Best” only on stage. (laugh)
How about the following singles after ‘I Love You’?
CL: We were initially planning to release ‘I Love You’ together with other songs. But since we were putting a lot of work into each song, it was going to take us too much time to finish all to release it (this summer). We’re currently working on the next single and not sure when we’ll drop it. It will be much closer to 2NE1’s style and freer than ‘I Love You.’ I’m expecting to do some weird things on the next one (laugh).
What is your new fashion style going to be like? Any special stage props this time?
CL: We’ve tried to look feminine and classic. When you watch our music video, you’ll feel that it has a lot of vintage and antique feelings. It might be too much, but we wanted to go classic by using many vintage-style accessories and outfits. At the same time, we also combined some Korean look to let people know more about Korea. It’s those small details that make our new concept special.
Sandara had a dramatic change in her do. Weren’t you worried about changing to undercut hairstyle?
Sandara: I was a bit worried at first but I think I did it without a thought (once I made my decision).
Was it to go with the album’s new concept? Whose idea was it to do the undercut?
CL: No it wasn’t for the album actually. At first, I was thinking about changing my hairstyle like that and figured it will make my sharp impression stand out even more. I thought someone with a pretty face should do it so I suggested the undercut hairstyle to Sandara.
Sandara: I did it… but…
CL: I was right next to her when she was getting the cut and the hairstylist told me to cut her hair before shaving it. Sandara later shaved it while crying.
Sandara: I wasn’t literally crying with tears running down my face. It was a bit like the sad feeling before going to the army, you know (laugh). I’ve already shaved it two or three times and now it feels like nothing.
Source: K-star 10