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Last year, JYP Entertainment – the company behind K-pop acts TWICE, GOT7, Wonder Girls and more – announced the arrival of a new girl group dubbed ITZY. The five-member team quickly gained attention among music fans with their debut single, “DALLA DALLA.” The music video broke records for the most views on YouTube in its first 24 hours for a K-pop debut. Last October, the members even appeared on the front row of Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2020 show. Now, following more popular releases over the last year, ITZY has made a grand comeback with their third EP, Not Shy.
One of the many reasons for ITZY’s success is the uplifting messages embedded in each of their songs. Rather than singing about unrequited love – perhaps one of the most common topics in K-pop songs – the group encourages fans to love themselves and stay confident for who they are. They’ve already toured around places from Jakarta to Taipei to Bangkok, as well as North American regions including Los Angeles and New York City just before COVID-19 hit – an impressive feat for a group that’s been in the industry for less than two years.
With their latest EP, ITZY is taking one step further in becoming the next K-pop group to dominate music charts. “Not Shy” marked their fastest music video to hit 100 million views, and nearly 150,000 copies of the new album were sold in just one week.
We caught up with Yeji, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, Lia and Yuna to talk about everything from their EP Not Shy, to hobbies they have picked up during quarantine. Read our interview below.
It’s been just over a year since your debut. How has the journey been as a group so far, and what are some of the most memorable moments?
Yeji The most memorable moment for me was our debut on stage. It was the first time that we performed together as ITZY, and it was also the first time that we met our fans MIDZY, who waited such a long time for us. I felt both excited and a bit nervous. I will never forget that moment.
What was the key inspiration behind your EP, Not Shy? What are your favorite tracks?
Ryujin Not Shy encourages listeners to express their feelings and emotions (including love), no matter how things will end. My favorite track on this album would have to be “Be In Love.” All of the songs are nice, of course, but it’s just that I personally enjoy calmer music. I always wanted to try and create a song like “Be In Love” and that’s why I love it the most.
How is the song “Not Shy” different from your previous releases, in terms of the music video, lyrics, choreography, outfits, makeup and hair?
Chaeryeong “Not Shy” is the first song since our debut where we talk about love. When I first heard this song, I was pleasantly surprised. “Not Shy” is about expressing your emotions honestly. The choreography was the hardest that we’ve ever performed, and it required a lot of strength and power. For this comeback, we changed our hairstyles and put a lot of emphasis on our makeup and costumes to match our personalities.
From “DALLA DALLA” to “WANNABE” and now “Not Shy,” most of your tracks have become major hits. What aspect of your music do you think entice K-pop listeners?
Lia I think most people listen to our music because they can empathize with and relate to our songs. Also, our songs always have upbeat energy, and I think the catchy melodies and lyrics are another charming aspect.
A lot of your tracks highlight the importance of self-love and confidence. What are some other messages you wish to deliver through your music?
Yeji We just want to give listeners the message of confidence, self-love and self-esteem because those things are at the core of everything. I think that being honest with your feelings comes from having trust in yourself. Until everyone can feel that way, we want to continue to deliver these messages.
Yuna I’m on the same page as Yeji. As we talk about confidence and self-love, we gain power and inspiration from our own songs, too.
What are some things you do to de-stress and keep your mental health in check?
Yuna I usually spend time with my loved ones. Spending time with my parents and cats helps me get rid of stress. Just taking a break for a while helps.
We’ve all been spending more time at home this year. What are some new hobbies or interests you’ve picked up?
Chaeryeong I started doing my nails by myself at home. At first, it was just temporary, but it became so much fun for me. Maybe I’ll do my own nails more often from now on.
Who are some musicians that you look up to?
Lia Personally, I look up to Sunmi. I think the meanings of the songs and the expression she shows on stage is amazing. I really respect her performances and the planning that goes behind them.
What are some songs or artists you’ve been listening to lately?
Ryujin HONNE‘s “No Song Without You.” Since I’m a big fan of HONNE, I always listen to their new releases. This track is my favorite right now.