2NE1, “There’s a difference between genuine and fake songs” (Interview)
[텐아시아 = 박수정 기자] YG’s girl group 2NE1 has always been the strong one. In a relatively slow-tempo songs ‘Fire,’ ‘I Don’t Care’, ‘It Hurts,’ and ‘Lonely’, they still never let go of the powerful vocals and their provocative appearances. CL, with her solo song ‘The Baddest Female’ released this year, showed the public the epitome of ‘powerful’. But in winter 2013, the strong group returned with a very unexpected sentimental ballad ‘Missing You.’ If the previous songs were known for their strength in their voices, ‘Missing You’ is one with loose vocals. That power is now instead replaced with much genuine emotions. All 2NE1 members unanimously said that they thought of each other when they recorded this song. In the introductory part of the song, the four create a perfect harmony, and this is a clear testament to their strong bond. Just like how CL once commented, “There’s a difference between genuine and fake songs,” 2NE1 seemed like they took a step forward in making their songs evermore genuine and real. 2NE1, however, says they want to return to that “strong girl” image, and this makes us want to know even more about what they are like when they actually are strong. At a restaurant located in Mopogu Dongyo-dong in Seoul, on Nov 25, we delved into their stories.
“The key to ‘Missing You’ is the lyrics.”
Q. What does it feel like to make a comeback?
CL : Our original plan was to release a single every month, but we became more ambitious and wanted to return with a full album. That was the reason for delay. The current weather and the timing itself were just perfect to release the song ‘Missing You’, and that’s why we made a comeback. We are devoting much of our time in the preparation of the full album.
Q. You unveiled your first performance of ‘Missing You’ at the 2013 Mnet Asia Music Awards (MAMA) just recently. How did that feel?
CL : We actually feel some level of regret. We were not part of the program originally, and the decision was made at the last minute. So we didn’t even get a week to prepare for it. Staffers of MAMA also told us that it was a shame we could not get more time to prepare, because all the equipment were already transported to Hong Kong at the time. It’s a shame that there was not enough time for preparation. But we are going to show many more performances, so we will do our best from now on.”
Q. It seems like that the latest songs puts its focus more on the voices than the performance.
CL : The key to ‘Missing You’ is the lyrics. It’s not simply a song between an ordinary man and woman, but it’s something bigger—something that can resonate to everyone who has or had been in love. Perhaps an emotion you feel when you’re graduating. To explain it easier, the verse focuses on someone new, while the hook and the bridge parts are a longing for the person who left. People might find it complicated as the song holds two different stories. But this is not just a love story between a man and a woman, but it’s a love story of many people, a story to which many people can relate. We found out later that all of us thought of each other when recording the song. At the time we didn’t even tell each other that. I remembered the time when 2NE1 was yet to be formed, and also recalled the time when I encountered new people in life. That’s the feeling I thought of when I sang the song.
Q. Is that really how all of you felt?
DARA : Yes, and we were all surprised. We just found out about it recently when the topic was brought up, and we grew fond of each other even more.
CL : Some think we were about to be broken up when we said this. (laughter) But that’s not it. We had time to think about what’s happening around us more when we were on the tour. We appreciated every moment, and every second became a memory. We thought to ourselves that we would produce something that includes not just ourselves but also everyone around us. That made us become closer to each other. It has been 5 years since our debut, but the actual time we spent together would add up to about 7 to 8 years, including the time we were being trained. So many people walked into our lives until now, including the staff members who worked with us. That reminded me of love much bigger than I ever knew, so I wanted to include that feeling in ‘Missing You.’
Q. So you had a chance to think about things more when you were on World Tour. Any special reason to that?
CL : We did not have a day to ourselves since we made a debut. But when we are on a World Tour, we get free time before and after the concert, so we get to meet our new fans, eat new food, and learn about new cultures. We travelled around the world like we were four friends on a trip, so we got more time to ourselves. We decided that we will become stronger, and that was the reason for us to think about what’s happening around us.
Q. What was the most memorable moment?
CL : Just having so many people in different countries gather at one venue to see us perform was pure happiness. And it is quite rare to have the opportunity to travel around so many countries in such a short period of time. I thought, this would be why people who have done music for a long time continue to carry out this particular career.
Q. What are the small but memorable moments amongst yourselves from the World Tour?
DARA : They are actually very small things. If we think the airplane meals are good, then we wake each other up so we can all taste it. (laughter) We do the same when the food is not good. Something small like that.
CL : Actually me and BOM are the types who like to stay in the room. DARA loves going to Korean restaurants all over the world, and going on the big Ferris wheel. BOM and I are too lazy to do them, but when we actually do what DARA does, they all end up as good memories for us. It makes me feel good that I would not have done it if it wasn’t for DARA. (laughter)
Q. Then what would be the most difficult times?
DARA : Food… (laughter) When we went to places where we were not so used to the food, then we would starve, and that was hard. But we had a great time everywhere.
“I was the one who suggested going nude”
Q. MINZY, don’t people tell you that you became even more beautiful than before?
MINZY : I thought I showed a lot of the pretty side in ‘Falling in Love’ and ‘Do You Love Me’… but I’m guessing it did not work? (laughter) I get that comment a lot for the latest song. But I have been thinking a lot about how to make myself portrayed as a grown-up woman in this one, because I had always been a unisex or masculine type. People around me told me that beauty comes from seeing beautiful things, listening to pretty things and eating good things. So I really tried hard doing all those. And I think the beauty came quite naturally.
Q. What do you, fellow members, think?
BOM : I think she lost a lot of weight, and she became very feminine.
CL : I think the entire aura, or the ambience, of MINZY changed. We have been training since we were little, and we basically gave up our teenage hood. She always had to act like adults and never complained, so I felt bad for her at times. She was forced to mature faster and grow up faster. But I think right now, she has actually matured. She was already mature compared to her friends of same age, but I think her entire aura has gone through a transformation.
Q. We cannot not talk about CL’s nudity in the music video. What’s the story behind it?
CL : The last slow song was ‘It Hurts’, but we still wanted to keep our strong image. The theme for ‘It Hurts’ was Halloween, while ‘Lonely’ was powerful girls. But when I listened to ‘Missing You’, I felt like letting go of all of them. I felt like no outfits suited the song. And all I could think of was something very raw. So I suggested to the director why not go nude. If somebody had told me to do so, I would have never done it. But it was my own inspiration and I thought it went quite well with the song. So there was no discomfort in doing it, and the shooting went well.
Q. What did other members think of it?
BOM : At first, she suggested we all go nude, and film a scene where we are all leaning on each other. I was so shocked. (laughter) We didn’t think it was a good idea, so she decided to do it alone. DARA was the one most opposed to the idea.
DARA : I didn’t think it would do us good, so I opposed.
MINZY : I was extremely surprised. I thought it was awesome that she could do something like that for the video. I admired her for looking at it in an artistic perspective. I didn’t go for it because… I’m the youngest in the group.
Q. How did it feel to see the completed scene?
DARA : I was really curious to see how it went, and the final work was just beautiful. I didn’t think she would actually do it, and I was deeply impressed.
BOM : I was actually at the filming site. CL was sitting alone, and people crowded behind the camera, and it was just awesome.
CL : I hope people see it as a way to express the music, rather than just being naked. The director did an excellent job capturing that essence, and it turned out to be very artistic, and I am so grateful. I think I would like it when I watch it again when I grow old.
Q. How did your boss, Yang Hyun Suk, react to the idea of nudity?
CL : He was not the only one who was concerned about the nudity. It was something like, “She says she wants to do it so should let her, but boy this is worrying.” (laughter) Male artists and staffers were especially worried. They never said a word until now, but after the video was released, they commented, “I am so glad. I was really worried but the video is nothing like nude, but it is much more like art.” Well, I am not sure if ‘not looking provocative’ is a compliment. (laughter) It’s not provoking or sexy at all, is it? That was a bit of a concern. (laughter)
Q. What does the tattoo say, the one we see when you are sitting in the bathtub?
CL : It says ‘FAITH.’ It is my other English name that I do not use much. I put on the tattoo for the video because I thought the word resonated with the lyrics and ambience o the song.
DARA : She drew it in with a marker… (laughter)
CL : Not true! (laughter)
Q. Did you read the Billboard article that extols CL’s acting in nudity?
CL : I actually don’t keep up with those things. I don’t like being swayed by what other people say. I did hear about the Billboard article, and it felt really good. It felt nice because they could have shed light on it from a negative perspective, but they didn’t, and it was nice.
Q. CL’s nudity was inspired by the song. Is there anything other members suggested, after receiving inspiration from the song?
DARA: To maximize the sentiments embraced by ‘Missing You’, I tried to convey the genuine feelings through my facial expression, rather than over-the-top acting. I didn’t think that we had to do sad faces on purpose, but those emotions came to us quite naturally.
BOM: I actually did cry. Right now they are playing the song here (where the interview is taking place), and I can feel tears welling up.
Q. What does the man with a mask symbolize in the music video?
CL : He is like a ghost. It’s sort of like an imaginary person. The reason he is wearing mask is because we wanted the viewers to imagine for themselves. The performer is an expert of modern dance, and he expressed the sentiment perfectly. Working with a modern dancer is a rare opportunity, and it was a fun experience for us.
“We want to show our powerful sides again”
Q. You kick off World Tour in March. Anything special you will be showcasing?
CL : We are in the middle of the preparation for our full album. In the last tour, we worked hard for the concerts, and we did amazing collaboration work with remarkable artists. But it was a shame that we did not get to release an album back then, so we did the Tour with nothing much special in it. That kept bugging us, so we wanted to do the concert with a full album this time and it is our hope to deliver more dynamic and new performances to our fans.
Q. YG’s artists’ debut or comeback overlapped quite a lot this year. What were the good and the bad?
CL : There was nothing bad about it. Our promotions overlapped with that of TAEYANG, but we are so close it does not really matter. We did not appear on TV much, so we don’t know many celebrities, so it was awesome bumping into TAEYANG at broadcasting studios.
DARA : Overlapping is actually really good. Being busy is good. It’s physically demanding and we’re always sleep-deficient, but it makes us feel like we are alive.
Q. Would love to see the full album soon. When is the release date?
CL : There are often times when we announce the album release date in advance, and then the date gets delayed or cancelled, so it’s better that I do not reveal the exact date. But please note that we are in the middle of preparing for it. We had been working on it for the last 2 years, so there are many good songs in it. We are being really ambitious, because we want to show a more diversified music and something very solid and sound.
Q. TAEYANG apparently was in agony because he wanted to show his album sooner as he worked on it for 3 years. What about you?
CL : It’s sometimes suffocating because we think too much about revealing new songs. But we are hanging in there, with the thought that we will unveil something that we are fully satisfied with.
Q. What would be the ‘theme’ or ‘image’ of the next full album?
CL : We want to go back to being ‘powerful’. We are itching to return to our strong selves. I think we can neutralize this by singing ‘Missing You.’ (laughter) I hope we can unveil the full album before we kick off World Tour.
Q. Is there a goal you have in mind with ‘Missing You’?
CL : Our goal is to have many people listen to our song. I think the latest song resonates with a lot of people, so I hope many will listen to the song. At first people might find it difficult to understand the song, but I think it will relate to people in different age groups in different ways. If we rank #1, we don’t simply want this to be a meaningless #1, but something that can influence and inspire many out there.
Q. What would be the part that people should not miss when listening to ‘Missing You’?
BOM : This is a song that tells our genuine emotions. Beside its sentimental melody, the part that goes “The love of my young days is ending like this” reminded me of graduation, and it made me cry every time I went into record the song. Actually, I don’t cry that often in front of Teddy (who wrote and composed ‘Missing You’), but I cried so much recording this one that it surprised him. That is the kind of emotion that is included in the song. I hope you can sense these feelings, too!
CL : There are many who think that we are trying something completely new with ‘Missing You’. It could be because we released songs like ‘It Hurts’ or ‘Lonely’ since our debut, but I would like to think that we tried something we can do well, instead of trying something entirely new. We had much faith in ‘Missing You,’ and we grew so fond of the song, so we wanted many people to listen to it.
MINZY : There were times when I could not fully convey the meaning or feelings of the song because I was too young to know how they felt. But when I look back, I got time to think about my fellow members and the fans, and I learned to express my emotions with my voice, with much control.
CL : There is a difference between genuine and fake songs. For example, if MINZY only thought of ‘Missing You’ as a love song between a man and a woman, then it would not be real because she has never been in a relationship yet. But she thought about us when singing it, she got the inspiration from the bond we share, so it came true to her and she was able to convey her real feelings.
Q. Last question. Today (Nov 25) Teddy officially announced that he is in a relationship with Han Ye Seul. What did you think of that?
CL : Many celebrities make their relationships public, and I so wish I was one of them. (laughter) The ‘dating ban’ at the agency is lifted, and yet I am not in a relationship. I would love to be in one. I promise I will let you know when I am. (laughter)
2013. 11. 26.