“I don’t wanna be somebody / Just wanna be me, be me” – croons South Korean female group ITZY in their 2020 track ‘Wannabe’. And yes, over the past two and half years in this grand music industry, the K-pop quintet has been on the quest to unravel their unique identity and has even succeeded in establishing themselves as 4th generation superstars. If one takes a look at the trajectory of the group, they prove that they have “no limit” when it comes to experimenting with sounds, eye-catching choreographies that has led them to international fame.
With members Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, and Yuna, ITZY debuted in February 2019 under the South Korean agency JYP Entertainment – home to popular groups like GOT7 (until Jan 2021), 2 PM, TWICE, STRAY KIDS among others. The group was quick to demonstrate their talents with impactful debut electro-pop track ‘Dalla Dalla’ that became the fastest K-pop debut music video to surpass 100 million views. But, the members were already quite famous in the entertainment industry even before they officially came on the scene as ITZY.
The group’s leader Yeji was popular for being the “secret weapon” of JYP Entertainment when it comes to ferocious dance moves as she participated in variety series, The Fan. Ryujin was scouted at K-pop group GOT7’s fan meeting, which was confirmed by her on a radio show called Idol Radio and later went on to participate in the show, Mix Nine. Chaeryeong was part of Sixteen, a trainee survival show, at the end of which the popular female group TWICE was formed. While Lia had auditioned to become a trainee, Yuna was street-casted. With pretty unique personalities and talents, they form a cohesive group that is ferocious, likable, and more importantly, powerhouse performers.
In their latest album Crazy in Love, they are more experimental, mature sonically, and eager to take a step forward in the direction of growth. This is their first full-length studio album accompanied by lead track ‘Loco’. The stunning girls talk about never losing themselves in love in the Latin and rock blend song. Produced by GALACKTIKA, the musician behind ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Dalla Dalla’, the song is a zany vibrant dance track. Though the album has 16-tracks, there’s something for everyone’s taste. During the press conference, talking about their journey, the group’s leader Yeji cited, “The members have gotten much closer since debut. Even then, I thought we knew each other well. But as time went on, we learned more and were able to depend on each other even more.”
She further said, “I think the energy we give off as a team that is bold is considerable. I think people recognized that we’re a team that honestly expressed the emotions we want to express. Boldness and confidence are two major traits of ours that we will continue to embody. We will also keep working on our growth in talent.” From foot-tapping numbers to chill-out summer tracks, ITZY showcase their power, thrives in empowerment, and their unique solo identities in their first full-length studio album.
With the Crazy in Love album which was released on September 24, the group ranked 11th on the Billboard 200. Additionally, the album also ranked No. 1 on Billboard’s top-selling albums for the week. Previously, their mini-album Guess Who, which was released on April 30, 2021, quickly helped ITZY debut on the Billboard 200 chart 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.
ITZY, in an exclusive conversation for the second time in India with Bollywood Hungama, talks about their album, title track ‘Loco’, finding comfort in their fans MIDZY, and future goals.
Congratulations on your first-full-length album CRAZY IN LOVE. The album looks quite colorful. What is the inspiration behind the album?
RYUJIN: As this is our first full album, we tried to show different sides of ourselves through several genres of music. You’ll be able to meet various stories of love, too.
Sonically the album sounds so different from what ITZY has presented previously. What does the group want to tell from the new sound and music?
CHAERYEONG: We still have our confident and bright vibe, but there’s more to this album that we show the fans for the first time. We wanted to show that we have more to come by singing new styles of songs!
LIA: We also hope people can resonate with ITZY when they listen to each song – the lyrics, mood, and story of every song can represent ITZY’s color and message.
Is there something you learnt about yourself during the album-making?
YEJI: I feel that I’ve made improved and grown as an artist because we had more days to record and practice compared to the previous albums, but I also learned that I still have a long way to go.
Tell me something about ‘LOCO’. What does the title track mean? How do you resonate with it?
LIA: We heard that ‘LOCO’ means ‘Insane’ or ‘Mad’ in Latin. So ‘LOCO’ is an intense dance song that expresses uncontrollable emotions of love and shows how ITZY would be when we fall into deep, uncontrollable love.
How fun was it to shoot the music video? Any anecdotes you can share with your fans?
YUNA: It was very fun as we had various backgrounds and metaphors for the new music video, but, as we had some outdoor shootings, we couldn’t help the weather. It rained a lot whenever we tried to shoot outside, so we had to delay two times in three weeks. We were getting a little bit exhausted, but we continued and tried our best to think of MIDZY.
Which track in this album do you love the most and why?
CHAERYEONG: My favorite song is ‘LOVE is’! It’s quite an emotional song, and singing such a song was a very new experience for me. I also just personally like this kind of music.
YEJI: I like ‘Chillin’ Chillin’’ the best! It’s hard to travel these days, but this song makes me feel like I’m on a trip. The lyrics are so pretty that it feels like my soul gets healed. I like it a lot.
This past year has been mentally so taxing. You are performing without an audience keeping safety in check. How have you kept yourself motivated during this time? Who is that someone you lean onto during tough times?
YUNA: Myself and MIDZY! The responsibility I feel for MIDZY, who are waiting and rooting for us although the situation hasn’t been improving much, is keeping my momentum going forward.
Since you provide so much comfort to your fans through your music, broadcasts and etc, who are some of your comfort artists to listen to most?
LIA: It depends on how I am feeling. I admire many artists, and I have a lot to learn from them, so the songs that inspire, resonate or help me feel better always change. Our fans will know this because usually, I recommend different types of songs whenever when they ask.
Given that ITZY has spent more than 2 years in the spotlight and even before, you were well-known in the entertainment circuit, what has been like growing up in the industry since all of you are so young?
RYUJIN: I think age doesn’t really matter in this industry. I think it’s what we feel, and what we’re going to do. Of course, there are lots to think about, so my mind also gets busier as time goes by, but it’s clear that I now feel much more responsibility for the love I get from the fans and the listeners. It inspires me to do better and try harder to show my best for them.
What are some of the goals or bucket list things ITZY wants to do or achieve in their lives?
YUNA: I’d love to do an offline concert one day! I always say this, but I want to communicate with MIDZY with our music face to face.
YEJI: We’ve never traveled together on our off days, so I’d like to travel with the other ITZY members somewhere where we can rest, have fun, and create great memories.
MIDZYs from India support ITZY a lot. Everyone hopes one-day ITZY performs here. Is there a message for the fans?
I want to meet you all as soon as possible. Please stay healthy until the day comes! We will be preparing ourselves to show the best performances and the best of us. We love you!
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