Amid the pop space in the Korean music industry, it ain’t an easy road to debut and make a mark. When it comes to the “idol” groups or bands, all eyes are glued to them to witness what new flavour does that new group brings to the music space. With 4th generation girl group ITZY, their audacious attitude and ferocious stage presence made them a fan favourite instantly with their 2019 debut track ‘Dalla Dalla’ which means “different” in Korean. And yes, they are different, unique, and ‘NOT SHY’ to experiment.
With powerhouse members Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong and Yuna, the group debuted under the South Korean agency JYP Entertainment – home to popular groups like GOT7 (until Jan 2021), 2 PM, TWICE, STRAY KIDS among others. ITZY was quick to make an impact with not just their music but with their immaculate stage personalities. Their debut electro-pop track ‘Dalla Dalla’ became the fastest K-pop debut music video to surpass 100 million views. Since then, there’s no looking back for ITZY – their music sends the messages of disregarding people’s preconceived notions, wanting to show their real selves in 2020’s viral hit ‘Wannabe’, oozing confidence with ‘Not Shy’ and channeling their ferocity with ‘마.피.아 In the Morning’.
In their latest album ‘Guess Who’, ITZY taps into a new sound altogether with experimental sounds of Latin Pop, Trap, R&B to demonstrate how they’ve evolved over the past two years. The mini-album ‘Guess Who’, which released on April 30, 2021, has quickly made ITZY’s debut on the Billboard 200 chart. The quintet clinched the No. 148 spot with their latest album as the lead track ‘마.피.아 In the Morning’ made its way to Billboard Global 200 chart opening at No. 34. The EP can be said as a cohesive album that has something for everyone’s mood.
In their first India interview, ITZY spoke to Bollywood Hungama about their EP ‘Guess Who’, working amid the pandemic, maintaining a connection with the fans, how they’ve evolved as artists, and more!
Hi ITZY. How have you been doing this past year amid the pandemic? It must be a little difficult to keep yourself and each other motivated, right?RYUJIN: Though it was a little sad that we couldn’t meet up with MIDZY these days, we felt their love and support through online communications and postings, so we were able to stay motivated.
YUNA: We tried to communicate with MIDZY through many contents. We’ve put a lot of effort to keep it together through the pandemic and we learned a lot from these special experiences.
ITZY released ‘Guess Who’ which I’d say is that you are embracing a new sound. It has an edgier vibe and well, y’all are known for “not sticking to one kind of concept”. When the album was in the making, what were your thoughts, and ideas you incorporated?YEJI: We decided to go with the mafia game theme because we wanted to try different stuff. We wanted to have a more impactful performance too as we’ve done the hip-hop genre which we never tried before.
CHAERYEONG: We want to show our fans many different things we do and also want to show them that we can do it for them! To be honest, we were a little surprised when we first got the track as the whole sounds and concept were definitely unexpected. But we all thought that we can, and will perform this one well, too.
The title track ‘마.피.아 In the Morning’ is sonically so impactful and different from your previous lead tracks. The music video is intriguing and the song itself boasts of power. What did you feel when you first started recording and after seeing the end result in the music video?LIA: Yes, ‘In the Morning’ is quite different from the music we’ve done before, and it’s very powerful like you said. I was very excited about the music video because of the visual impact of every scene. It was better than what I expected.
YUNA: It was so rewarding to watch the result as we did our best to make it perfect! I think the effort paid off and we were very excited to see how MIDZY will react to the video.
Since the song is about the game mafia, who amongst you is really good at the game?YEJI: I think Ryujin likes the game the best and she’s good at acting, so I think she’s the best at the game!
RYUJIN: We’ve been playing the game here and there, and I think Chaeryeong is the best player.
With ‘Not Shy’, ITZY dived into the English version of songs. You recently dropped the English version of ‘마.피.아 In the Morning’ as well. Is this a way to connect with fans internationally?LIA: Yes, the reason why we’re releasing English versions of the songs is that there are many fans globally who send us love, and we’re very grateful. We hope the message and meaning of our songs get more close to the international fans.
CHAERYEONG: Yes! We want to give the biggest energy we can to MIDZY who gives us a lot of love and having an English version may give a better understanding of our songs for all international listeners, so I think it’s great.
Is it fun to record songs in multiple languages?YEJI: Rather than challenging, it was fun to sing in a different language because the song delivers the same meaning but I’m singing in a different sound and mood.
RYUJIN: Where you’d put the emphasis changes, so it was a little challenging to deliver the feeling of the song but it was also fun to try.
Do you guys have a favourite track on the album ‘Guess Who’ that you deeply resonate with? Why?
LIA: I like ‘Wild Wild West’ the most. It’s a very catchy song with a western vibe with English narration.
YUNA: I’m attached to ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ because the song delivers ITZY’s charming voice very well, and also it seems to be getting lots of love from MIDZY.
Since your debut, a little over two years ago, ITZY has maintained a solid presence in the music space. How have you evolved as an artist and what is the one thing you learned working in the spotlight?CHAERYEONG: We’re so grateful that we were able to continue to grow with full support from the fans all around. Thanks to their love and great feedback, we all were so motivated to show our best performances which made us improve a lot. It’s not what we directly learn, it’s like getting motivated to do our best in any situation for our fans.
YUNA: I think the process and challenges we’ve gone through among the past two years made us become more confident of ourselves and the direction of our team. As we know many people get happiness through us, we try our best to stay positive and carry confident energy. That leads us to give good vibes to our beloved fans and a lot of people!
Given that with every comeback, the performances only get stronger and choreography gets more difficult. While ‘DALLA DALLA’ had a fun vibe to it, I’d say ‘WANNABE’ was a game-changing moment. How exciting and fun is it to take on more challenges with each comeback and take the performances to another level?RYUJIN: It’s a lie if I say I was not worried about the performance, but it was always so exciting to see how our effort plays out, so I think that’s what keeps us going for more.
YEJI: I think our fans and most of the viewers recognize how much effort we put to make the best result. When we see compliments about our performance, that brings us joy and it keeps us from being lazy!
If given a chance to each member to buy one album this year (you can’t choose an ITZY album), which artists would you prefer and why?LIA: I want to get Lee Hi’s new album because I love her music style.
CHAERYEONG: I really liked Ariana Grande’s ‘Positions’! I love every single song from the album.
ITZY has been performing for the last two years. But this past year has been quite difficult for most of us amid the pandemic. You haven’t had a chance to meet MIDZYs in a while and perform in front of them. Is there a message that you’d like to convey to them?YEJI: MIDZY, we can’t meet each other these days, so we miss you guys so much. We wish the day we meet would come very soon. Until then, we’ll be working hard to show you our best every time so please keep supporting us! We love you!
RYUJIN: We know that waiting is not an easy thing, so we’re super grateful for the time you’ve been waiting for us to come back with our new album. We are trying to communicate with you guys as much as we can, so we hope you get energy from us. We’ll try to give all the love back to you. See you all soon!
YUNA: We miss you so much and we believe MIDZY would feel the same, so we’re so thankful for the support and love for us. We love all MIDZYs and wish you all are healthy and happy.
Lastly, if the situation does get better someday, would you visit India or maybe perform?LIA: Of course! When it gets better we’d love to go see our fans there in India! Please stay safe till then!
CHAERYEONG: We’d love to, we’d love to see as many MIDZY as we can and perform for them. I wish the day would come soon! We are always thinking about MIDZYs who support us from far away, too.
ALSO READ: ITZY channels ferocity in ‘Mafia In The Morning’ music video from their album ‘Guess Who’