Like so, 2NE1 is a group which has been fighting against stereotypes since the beginning of their debut. Unlike the average girl band, they do not sing beautiful lyrics or practice cutesy dance moves. Instead, they sweep the stage with an energy and free-spiritedness that the public never before had expected from a female pop group. They expose their makeup-free face before the camera, and laugh and goof off with no faux-naif.
Through such a process, rather than competing with other girl bands their own age, they are establishing an unchallengeable position in the industry by creating a new fandom, reaching out to those who were never interested in female groups. <10 Asia> met up with 2NE1, whose unpredictability in growth and direction made them all the more interesting.
10Asia: You received great response as soon as you released “I don’t care”.
CL: Our rehearsal time is increasing. I think the public will expect a lot from us after "I don't care" so we're focusing on rehearsing.
10: Even when you have a song out, your group is known for rehearsing a lot and not setting too many performance schedules. Don’t you want to perform more?
CL: We still don’t have enough rehearsal time. We've spent a couple of years just rehearsing, so we feel uncomfortable when we don't.
CL: We feel the need to. On stage, we sometimes actually forget everything we rehearsed and have fun, ending up getting the moves wrong.”
10: You must enjoy being on stage.
CL: It is fun. We go a little crazy when the music comes out.
Dara: I get most nervous right before we go onto stage.
Minzy: I don’t have much stage experience, so it’s interesting.
10: What kind of advice do the rest of you girls give to Minzy about being on stage, since she is the youngest?
CL: We're in no place to give advice. (laugh)
Minzy: We said we should all work hard.
10: In “I don’t care”, Minzy starts the song. You must have felt some pressure opening the song.
Minzy: I did a bit. Everything goes well only if you take off to a good start.
10: You didn’t use any special singing techniques and just sang in the voice of a teenage girl. Why did you do that?
Minzy: I used my voice as it is. It originally sounds young.
10: What is your understanding of the lyrics for “I don't care”?
Minzy: It is really difficult. I do try to use my imagination, even at least a bit to bring out the emotions. It also helps that I used to watch TV dramas with my mom when I was younger.
CL : The song is a warning message for the men and advice for the women. So we tried to deliver the lyrics as accurately as we could. As if we were delivering the message from the bottom of our hearts.
Bom: Teddy wanted us to sing in a lively tone, so we worked on that part.
10: What are you imagining when you’re singing?
CL : I actually don’t have much experience so I take the emotions that I felt watching movies or listening to music and try to express them on stage. If you spend a few years just rehearsing, you miss out on other experiences so I usually come up with lyrics of emotions when I listen to music.
Bom: I really loved how Dara sang her part in “In the club”. I asked her what she was thinking about when she was singing it and she said she just acted. Her answer hit home to me.
10: Dara, does your acting experience in the Philippines help your singing?
Dara: Whether I’m recording, shooting a music video or performing on stage, I think that I'm acting. And some people told me that I overdo it, so I'm trying to hold back a little. Haha.
10: The fans in the Philippines are very proud of you.
Dara: They monitor what I do real-time. I’m so grateful that they send presents too. I have so many friends and so many memories there that it sometimes feels like my hometown.
10: You were very popular in the Philippines when you decided to join YG. Wasn’t it a hard decision?
Dara: My dream was to be a singer and I wanted to make proper music, so there wasn’t much to think about. I’m getting older (laugh) but I think I stuck it out well in order to do something that I want to do. There were times I went through slumps and I was lonely, but I never thought about giving up.
10: It may be because of your image in the Philippines but I was surprised to see you pull off hip hop.
Dara: I used to like the songs of Jinusean and 1TYM but I never thought I could do it. I wanted to join YG because of its family-like atmosphere and after I joined, I realized everybody listened to hip hop music all the time. That's when I got into hip hop more and more and I wanted to wear the caps and the big baggy pants.
10: I heard that senior artists give lessons directly at YG.
CL: You don’t book lessons separately but they just come to you and give lessons. Sometimes people like Seven and Danny come to rehearse with us... everyone helps us out a lot.
10: What is your favorite song from the album?
Dara: ‘Pretty boy’. It’s the song where I can express my voice most beautifully. I like the lyrics too. It’s a story about a confident woman and you can notice the individual character of each of our members in the song.
CL: I like ‘Let's go party’. When the song first came out, we recorded the song in solo and in English. That's when I started feeling queer about it... It’s an upbeat song but it's also sad.
10: When you listen to the album, all the songs have mixed genres. Even in “I don’t care”, there is reggae and hip hop. How did you interpret the songs?
CL: I think all our songs are based on hip hop. But like it is with fashion these days, doing hip hop isn't about wearing baggy pants and big t-shirts. Hip hop changes as the generations change. In the U.S., Kanye West doesn’t wear baggy pants or do old-school hip hop music.
10: I heard Bom used to like Mariah Carey.
Bom: I used to love Mariah Carey and Beyonce. I also love songs with beat. I wanted to rap too. But I couldn’t do it. So I'm very fortunate to have met CL.
10: When you met CL, you must have felt like your group became complete.
Bom: Before we debuted as 2NE1, we used to feature as rappers for each other, just for fun, and it was so cool. I thought we were a good match despite our large age gap.
10: CL, how did you get into music? I heard that you joined YG because you gave President Yang Hyun-suk a video of yourself rapping.
CL: My father listened to a lot of music, so I grew up listening to it. My father liked all kinds of music, such as the Fugees and rock too, but I only listened to hip hop. But rather, when I joined YG, I realized hip hop isn't everything. I came to broaden my thoughts and listen to various kinds of music by listening to music that other artists listen to. These days I listen to musicians like MIA and I listened to a lot of music before I debuted. I would have my earphones on and sing at home and I wanted to dance so I learned all kinds of dances too.
10: What kind of dances?
CL : Ballet and jazz dance. I didn’t learn hip hop though. When I got to dance with the foreign dancers, I interpreted for them and hung out with them.
10: Minzy, how did you learn to dance? A video of you dancing became quite an issue even before your debut.
Minzy: I really loved to dance when I was young. I used to watch YG Family’s “Stylish Gentleman” music video and copy what they do. Then I gradually learned more and more about hip hop. I also went to a dance academy when I was in elementary school. Hip hop was the first music I learned to dance to.
10: But your dancing is beyond taking dance lessons.
Minzy: I kept practicing dancing. For two years, I practiced to dance freestyle. When I went to the studio to rehearse, I just turned on the music and danced. When I dance like that, even I don’t know how I'm doing it.
Bom: It’s amazing how she makes up new moves when listening to music. It amazes me every time.
10: Did you come up with the chest-bouncing move in “Fire”?
Minzy: It was an ad lib I did during the music video shoot, but he [the director] put it in.
10: So your personal opinions are reflected in the music video?
CL: Director Seo Hyun-seung has been working on our videos since “Fire”, so we communicate really well.
10: G-Dragon [of Big Bang] appears in the music video.
CL: He came over to just hang out and appeared in front of the camera for a second but that actually went out.
Minzy: And the director used it. (laugh)
10: So that was how you got together, shot the video and debuted. How did you feel, your first time on stage?
CL: That day, President [Yang], Teddy, G-Dragon, Dae-sung [of Big Bang] and a lot of people came so it was very crazy but very reassuring. We went up to the stage saying “Let’s party!” just like we normally do.
10: Since debuting, have you ever felt that you really are "the" 2NE1?
Bom: I feel that a lot when I watch "2NE1 TV".
CL: We haven't been together for that long as 2NE1, but we've been together for a couple of years, so it’s natural for us.
10: But it must be different being in a group and being a trainee. Living together, for one.
Bo: Maybe it's because we’ve all lived overseas before but we respect each others privacy and don’t intrude on one another. Everyone has good manners. We actually learn a lot from one another. CL is very charming and also very considerate.
CL: I still feel like I’m on vacation. We spend a lot of time outside so when we go home, we wash up, sleep, eat and chat while lying in bed. I hope we continue to get along as well as we do now.
10: Minzy is the youngest so she probably has had the least experience doing something in a group. Living together must be very different for you.
Minzy: I haven’t been to a group outing since 6th grade. I feel like I’m on a field trip.
10: There are stories about styling on <2NE1 TV>. You seem to be very interested in that area.
CL: We're very fortunate in that our stylists are friends of G-Dragon’s. They have great taste and are good at expressing the style that we want. I also like getting help in what I didn’t know, like finding out how to pull off a man’s style. Sometimes we wear menswear in small sizes and even make our own clothes.
10: Overall, your style is boyish and only Bom is more feminine.
Bom: Honestly, I was worried about that but it’s okay because I like short skirts. It’s hard to dance in, but I imagine that I look pretty dancing in it.
10: Your wardrobe and stage presence are very strong, but what is your personality like in real life?
CL: When I goof off, people say I’m like a boy. But we.. are girls.. (laugh)
10: You seem surprisingly naive. Do you worry about being misunderstood?
Dara: I like it that I'm not my usual self when I'm on stage and that I seem like a different person. I think the more different I seem, the more appealing it is.
10: Do you ever long for the ordinary, everyday life?
CL: I don’t think I’m very interested in that stuff.
10: What is most fun for you?
Bom: Chatting. Talking about food. Especially, talking about music.
CL: Singing and thinking about music is the most fun. And coloring!
CL: I buy coloring books. I do the boundaries in markers. And inside, I color in colored pencils.
Bom: I think we rub off one another living together. Even the weird stuff.
10: Bom seems shy.
Bom: I’m shy when it comes to compliments.
10: Is your agency stingy with compliments?
CL: Our President is not very expressive. He tells us we did good when we do good.
10: How is it possible that he makes you practice that hard and then let you party on stage?
CL: It's not that he's strict. He’s just blunt. He really works hard for us behind the scenes. On stage, he tells us to not think about how to put the choreography together but to just do what we want to do. But we have to focus when rehearsing because we need to work on some things.
10: You are at a rebellious age. How is it that you have such a positive mind?
CL: Unlike our friends, we spend more time at the agency than in school. So we learn from watching what the other artists do. We didn’t grow up watching friends who are rebellious.
10: Does your President wear that denim baseball cap during lessons? (laugh)
CL: Ugh. Of course! (laugh)
10: I saw on <2NE1 TV> that things sometimes get out of control while rehearsing. (laugh)
CL: Once, we just filmed ourselves and sent it to the production crew of our show. We were having fun while playing "In the club" in our car but they said it wasn't appropriate for airing.
Dara: We always practice in the same way too so it never gets boring.
CL: Minzy is usually the most mature -- whether it be during rehearsing or just any other time.
10: Aren’t the older ones too mischievous?
Minzy: They are actually funny. They’re all outrageous and bizarre.
CL: I think we’re a little reversed. (laugh)
10: Who is the most bizarre among the three?
Minzy: …… We all are a little…
CL : Hey, hey! (laugh)
10: CL looks chic, but I heard she is surprisingly clueless with machines.
Dara: So true. (laugh)
CL: Not true. I know how!
Minzy: She says she knows but…
Bom: But surprisingly, she’s good at recording and working on a laptop.
Dara: Just not good with internet and other stuff…
Minzy: She doesn’t know the other keys but she’s all right. (laugh)
CL: Changing the background picture is the hardest. I don’t know how to do it.
Dara: Once it’s set, she doesn’t know how to change it so she freaks out.
CL: Oh, she [Dara] put up her own photo so I hard a tough time.
10: Isn’t Sandara the type who keeps showing her own photo to others?
Dara: (as if she’s been caught) Ah!
Minzy: Even when we’re eating, she takes our cellphones and sets a photo of herself as the background photo.
Dara: And they’re surprised when they see it later.
CL: It’s overwhelming.. (laugh)
10: Occasionally on "2NE1 TV", there’s a story about a rabbit doll. CL likes SpongeBob.
CL: Yesterday I spilt a drink on the doll. I had to wash it so I don’t have it with me. (laugh) I got it as a gift recently, but I love it so much that I carry it around with me. It's like my soulmate. Dara always carries the rabbit and Bom, healthy food. Minzy’s nickname is Stitch from “Lilo and Stitch”. She always sleeps with Stitch by her pillow.
10: Ever since deer navel was mentioned on "2NE1 TV", I keep wondering what other healthly food I might be able to recommend to Bom.
Bom: Oh, I talked too much about healthy food.. Actually I do eat a lot of it. My parents ordered deer navel for me. I think it’s good for the body. (laugh) I really like stuff like red ginseng and wild ginseng. I recommend it to them and make them eat it.
Dara: It tastes so bitter. It’s painful to eat, but Bom is all smiles.
10: Your house looks great. Do you feel pressured about the agency’s high expectations?
CL: I once saw Big Bang’s first apartment and it was in really bad condition so we’re very grateful. It’s so huge that we worry about how to fill up the space.
Minzy: It’s fun. It really feels like we’re at a hotel.
Dara: It’s a good kind of pressure. I think our rehearsal time lengthens without us even knowing it.
10: Right now, you’re in the process of establishing who you are as a group. But in the far future, you must have personal dreams that you want to show the public.
CL: I want to be a group that evolves. One that shows a new side, interprets various music in our own way and expresses it differently every time. If we establish who we are, I think it might get boring. For now, we want to keep trying new things as 2NE1.
10: For Minzy, it's mostly about dancing. Where do you see yourself in about 10 years?
Minzy: I think I want to be a singer who still knows how to party on stage. Singing, rap, everything. I’m learning how to write lyrics and music and I want to try being a songwriter too. I also want to perform more.
10: Sandara seems like she wants to try acting.
Dara: So I tried dramatic acting in the recent “I don’t care” music video. (laugh) Later, if opportunity comes, I want to try acting in a drama.
10: Bom, don’t you want to try acting?
Bom: If opportunity arises. Not now but in the far future. If I were to go solo, shouldn’t I release a solo album first? Who knows when that will happen.
10: Last question. If you were to go to a deserted island, what three things would you want to take with you?
CL: I think I have to think about that.. An airplane!
Dara: Come on. What. Um.. there would be no Internet there.
Minzy: No cell phones…
Dara: Laptop. A tube. A friend. Then I’d have music and I wouldn't be bored.
Bom: iPod and phone? And health food! (laugh)
Minzy: iPod and.. I would take seeds, grow fruits there and survive for sure. And a knife!
CL: I wouldn’t take anything. Just myself. Unless it’s an airplane with a full oil tank, it wouldn’t mean anything. (laugh)
Bom: That’s cool. (laugh)
Minzy: So cool! (laugh)
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