T-ara members Hwayoung, Boram, Eunjung, Jiyeon, Soyeon, Hyomin and Qri at their showcase held at the Shibuya-AX concert hall in Tokyo, Japan on July 5, 2011. [Core Contents Media]
Korean girl groups such as Girls' Generation and KARA have been taking the Japanese music industry by storm. And at this time when the interest and Korean artists and music is high, T-ara too have announced their debut in the Japanese market. T-ara, who recently released their new song "Roly-Poly" in Korea, will make an official debut in Japan in September with "Bo Peep Bo Peep," the song which led them to where they are today. And they held a showcase at the Shibuya-AX concert hall in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday. Below are excerpts from a press conference held ahead of the showcase.
<#10LOGO#> Your new song "Roly-Poly" is a retro-style song. Weren't there any difficulties you felt about it since it's not from your generation?
Soyeon: It was a bit difficult because we had to reproduce the culture from our parents' generations. We got a lot of help from our agency's chief and staff. And veteran singer Jeon Young-rok, actress Im Ye-jin and comedian Bae Young-man who all appeared in our music video taught us a lot of things on set so that's how we prepared.
<#10LOGO#> It's been about a week since you released "Roly-Poly." What do you think is the response of it so far? And the response by your Japanese fans?
Soyeon: We're not sure of the response as of yet since it's only been a week since we made our comeback but we heard that a lot of grown ups are enjoying the song because it makes them reminisce on the old days. We're not sure of how Japanese people think of the song but we hope they like it.
Eunjung: I think they may enjoy after watching today's showcase.
Hyomin: We'll be debuting with "Bo Peep Bo Peep" in Japan soon. And we heard that "Roly-Poly" is being called "Bo Peep Bo Peep 2" so I think fans of "Bo Peep Bo Peep" would probably look forward to "Roly-Poly" more.
T-ara performs at their showcase held at the Shibuya-AX concert hall in Tokyo, Japan on July 5, 2011. [Core Contents Media]
<#10LOGO#> Weren't there any difficulties you felt in having to reenact the fashion from times you haven't experienced?
Eunjung: It was a lot of fun. It was fun wearing fashion items such as headbands and bell-bottoms from times we don't know of. We also looked up what things the people who were sensational of those times wore.
Soyeon: Going retro isn't all just bad. I think there were many ways in which people made up for the physical complex they have during those times as well. (laugh) It's fun and useful getting to do that for ourselves as well so it wasn't bad.
Hyomin: What was really funny was that we all resembled our mothers after dressing up retro. I think our mothers are enjoying this experience the most.
<#10LOGO#> Coming up with the choreography must've been difficult as well because you had to go retro with that as well.
Hyomin: The choreographer was close with our agency's chief and they're two years apart. So our boss came to the rehearsal studio everytime we practiced our dance and taught us each and every move and the vibe we have to give off. It turns out that our boss used to be a member of a dance team and was rivals with our choreographer back then. So they had a dance battle which was fun watching as well. And our boss used to have a lot of say in our stage wardrobe but he let us speak up a lot this time. Instead, he was in charge of 80 percent of the choreography so we've been talking about it everytime we're done with a performance.
<#10LOGO#> There are a lot of girl groups these days compared to when you first debuted.
Eunjung: We've been worried a lot because there are a lot of girl groups with great songs, great dancing and pretty members. But I think what's appealing about us is that we change our theme everytime. In a way, our retro concept for "Roly-Poly" may seem out of date but I hope this is what appeals to the public.
Soyeon: Our meetings with our staff gets longer with every new song we have to release. (laugh)
<#10LOGO#> Jiyeon and Eunjung, you have received good evaluation for your acting careers. And Hyomin you too will soon make your acting debut through “Gisaengryeong” (translated into “Parasite Soul”). It's great if you can do both singing and acting well but there's also the possibility of you failing at both while trying to excel at both.
Hyomin: I had a lot of worries watching the members of my group make acting debuts because there's a lot of controversy over idol stars' acting skills but I think both Eunjung and Jiyeon didn't hear bad things because they worked even harder with that in mind. I'm very grateful to them for lessening the unwelcoming response people have toward idol stars acting.
Soyeon: From the very beginning, we've been a group that got together to pursue activities in a variety of fields of the entertainment industry so we've been practicing our acting a lot too. Of course, we won't forget that music has helped out with our acting careers a lot because it's what we debuted with and have been loved for by our fans. That is why we're greedy to do both -- becuase we think we should never forget that we're all members of T-ara and not let go of our singing careers.
Eunjung: Honestly speaking, I too want to do well at both singing and acting. My greatest goal is to become an all-around entertainer instead of fixing it as either actor or singer.
T-ara at their showcase held at the Shibuya-AX concert hall in Tokyo, Japan on July 5, 2011. [Core Contents Media]
<#10LOGO#> Girls' Generation and KARA, who have already debuted in Japan, are doing well. I'm sure there's some pressure you feel from being a newcomer so how do you plan to differentiate yourselves from them?
Soyeon: We're actually close with them so we received a lot of help from them. We also learned things from watching videos of them in Japan. If we had to mention a strategy that'll differentiate us from them, I guess it's that we're studying Japanese hard so that our activities won't be focused on just music but reach out also to dramas, movies and entertainment shows.
<#10LOGO#> How have officials in the Japanese music industry responded to you? What are they looking forward to in you?
Boram: They have high expectations of "Bo Peep Bo Peep." They said they're hoping that the day will come where every member of the audience dances the "Bo Peep Bo Peep" dance and that they're looking forward to it a lot.
<#10LOGO#> What's the goal you have set for your singing career in Japan?
Soyeon: Well it's not really a goal but I've idolized SMAP from a long time ago. They're the best group and they pursue a variety of activities while maintaining their singing career so I think they're a group worth looking up to. I'm going to try to become like them.
<#10LOGO#> There are so many Korean girl groups that are expanding into the Japanese music market that I think you could also all look similar to Japanese people.
Soyeon: I don't think Korean girl groups tune themselves to Japanese culture just because they're debuting in Japan. They maintain the style they go with in Korea and the same will go for us. The characteristic about us is that we do music that appeals to the general public and go with definite themes which we will show to the Japanese audience as well.
Hyomin: We'll be debuting in Japan with "Bo Peep Bo Peep" which will show our characteristics and a Korean melody well. We're trying so that people who are interested in Korean music will love us.
<#10LOGO#> Have you had the chance to feel the interest of Japanese fans directly?
Soyeon: There were people who recognized us on the streets and airport. And we were so surprised and thankful for even just that but I think we've gained more fans from holding the showcase. We heard that 100,000 people signed up for our showcase which feels great.
<#10LOGO#> How did you feel last night with the showcase just a day ahead?
Soyeon: I was busy memorizing the things I had to say in Japanese.
Eunjung: I still couldn't believe it because we'd still be standing on a stage even if we were in Japan. It has finally hit me now and I'm nervous and excited.
<#10LOGO#> Hyomin, you became leader of the group ahead of your group's debut in Japan.
Hyomin: Honestly, it's burdensome. Even our boss has been pressuring me to do well. But I've seen other members of our group act as leader so I think I'll be able to do well. I'm thankful in particular about our boss letting each member take turns being leader. I think everyone acts more responsibly because of this system. I may be leader now so someone else will become leader next time.
<#10LOGO#> It seems like you've been preparing for your Japan debut for a while so what is the one thing that you've thought that you definitely want to achieve?
Eunjung: There was talk of our Japan debut since last year but we actually didn't have much time to prepare because we were all busy with our individual activities. My goal is for us to appear on a famous music show like "Music Station" and rank in the top slots of the Oricon chart.
Hwayoung: I'll try hard to be active in a wide range of activities in show biz.
Soyeon: I've been very interested in Japanese culture since I was young so I think I'll have fun with my Japan activities. I'm hoping that more Japanese people will love us.
Qri: My largest goal is for us to receive a lot of love and personally, I'm hoping my Japanese will become good enough as the Japanese people here by studying hard.
Hyomin: A lot of people have asked us where I want to go most in Japan and I've answered the Tokyo Dome. I want to perform there some day.
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