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2NE1 On Japanese Debut

Rating Rating more One Star

2011.09.21 14:37 Mwave Park, HyunMin

In a time when nearly every successful (and quite a few unsuccessful) idol group heads over to Japan to try its luck, 2NE1 has been notably slow, choosing instead to amass an impressively large fan base in Korea. Yet, with its official debut in Japan this week, the girls proved that they haven’t been staying local because they can’t make it overseas, but because they’ve been working on making their expansion indomitable.

2NE1 plans to meet with its Japanese fans through the 2NE1 1st Japan Tour-NOLZA, which started off at the Yokohama Arena, from September 19-20, and will continue with concerts from September 24-25 at the Kobe World Memorial Hall and October 1-2 at Makuhari Messe.

Despite their busy schedules, the 2NE1 members met with the Korean press on September 20, and shared how the members felt after their first day at the Yokohama Arena, and what they look forward to seeing in their second performance.

CL, the team’s leader, said, “Our goal is to show you just the way we are,” while Sandara Park confessed, “I’m ten times as tense as I was for the Korean concert,” because they had to sing Japanese songs.

Popularity is a fickle thing and the honors enjoyed now can quickly become a thing of the past. For singer Heo Young Saeng, who is eight years into his career, now is the time he feels this the most. He debuted as a member of SS501 in 2005, and having swept through Korea and Asia, Heo Young Saeng has had a taste of what it′s like to be at the top.

2NE1 On Japanese Debut

2NE1 On Japanese Debut

(2NE1 press conference)

You finished your first performance yesterday. How do you feel?

CL: Yesterday (September 19) we performed in a concert hall much larger than the one in Korea, but [the hall] was still full. It was amazing because they knew a lot of our songs. A lot of them had even dressed up like us. It was fun seeing that. Actually, it feels great because despite our being so rushed and short on time, I think we did well. I think today (September 20) we’ll be able to enjoy the concert even more.

Which song got the hottest response?

CL: We sang the songs included in our [Japan] mini-album in Japanese, and they liked us singing in Japanese the best. The song Ugly has a chorus in English, so everyone sang along. They were good with Go Away, too.

The fame he enjoyed as a SS501 member, however, is now part of a beautiful page in his past. Now, all of the members have each gone their separate ways and found new homes. Heo Young Saeng himself embarked on a solo career last year with his first solo album Let It Go.

Now it′s 2012, and he′s up for another round. Heo Young Saeng recently released his second mini album SOLO and started to promote the first single Crying.

Your second solo album must feel very different.

I′m just thankful I was able to come out with a new album again. I was actually under a lot of pressure, since I had to be just Heo Young Saeng and not SS501′s Heo Young Saeng. I thought I would like to start as a rookie and take it step by step, and I′m happy that it′s already my second [try]. It was, of course, more stressful and required more hard work than the first album because I thought the second album should be better.

What kind of music did you want to release as a solo singer aside from your music as the member of a group?

I actually like rock. Not heavy rock, but feel good music that has a hint of rock in it. I′m sorry I didn′t get to show a lot of that in this album. The promotional single Crying is completely different from rock. Still, I chose it because I liked the song and I′m happy because the other tracks showed what I wanted well.

It seems like you thought a lot about whether you should continue working on music as you went solo.

I would be lying if I said I didn′t, but I′m a person who loves music and loves singing the most. That′s why I want to continue working on music. I want to be a person who sings and works on the music he can.

What does the title of ′idol′ mean to Heo Young Saeng?

I say I′m not an idol, but everyone else says I am. They say ′once an idol, always an idol.′ (Laugh) Idols are supposed to be the role models of teenagers, but I′m not that now. The fans who loved me are now almost all in their 20s. My dream when I was little was to becoming an idol, so I guess I did fulfill that dream. I wanted to be like H.O.T., Shinhwa and Sechs Kies in the past, and I fulfilled that dream.

You′ve fulfilled your childhood dream, but now you must have a new dream.

I′ve fulfilled my first dream by being the member of a group. People don′t remember you if you never make it to the top, though. I′m sorry I didn′t get to stand at the peak with SS501, but I want to try again alone. It won′t be easy, but I like having a life full of challenges.

2NE1 On Japanese Debut

2NE1 On Japanese Debut

How was the audience yesterday?

CL: There were no standing areas in the hall. Some said that because everyone will watch the performance sitting down, ‘they might just clap [in their seats]’, and ‘it might not be as passionate as the Korean concerts’, so we didn’t look forward to too much. But from start to finish, everyone was out of their seats and going wild. That was surprising.

Do you have any goals for Japan?

Sandara Park:We don’t know how many people know us in Japan yet. We hope more people will get to know us. We want to make it so that they know each and every one of our songs. That’s our goal.

You said you wanted to go on the Red and White Song Battle.

CL: They asked us first, that ‘there is something called the Red and White Song Battle, do you want to be in it?’ (Laugh) So I said, ‘If we have the opportunity, yes.’

They say that your songs and your fashion are very different. Do you see [how different you are] when you look at Japanese girl groups?

CL: We didn’t have much time to meet them. We weren’t affected by their popular image, but we did take on a lot of our style from Japanese street fashion. So we don’t think we’re that different.

Lastly, do you have any hopes for the future?

K-Pop these days is full of idols. I feel that male idols are especially weak in that market. Baek Ji Yong sunbae is out there as a female solo singer, but I think male solo singers are particularly rare. I want to work hard to strengthen male solo artists, and be a help to juniors preparing solo ventures. I want to be a sunbae that shows his juniors how to push forward.

Photo credit: B2M Entertainment

2NE1 On Japanese Debut

How will you continue promoting in Japan after the tour?

CL: We think we’ll be visiting Japan even after the tour for promotions. Until about October?

What type of praise do you hear the most from Japanese music officials?

Sandara Park:They praise us a lot but since I can’t understand Japanese I don’t know what they’re saying. They praise us like this. (Thumbs-up)

How fluent are the members in Japanese?

CL: Dara (Sandara) can introduce herself. I can speak a little because I’ve lived in Japan before. The other members are pretty good too.

The Japanese press says that 2NE1’s charming because they have strong women.

CL: They praise us a lot because we’re different that way. They told us that as representatives of Asian women, we have a lot of lyrics and other things people can relate to.

How did you feel before the Japan concert?

CL: I was most curious on how the reactions would be. We did the same performances we did in Korea, but here we had Japanese staff and a Japanese audience…. Because we haven’t had many performances in Japan, I was more curious on how they would react.

Are there any differences between the Korean and Japanese audiences?

CL: A more controlled feeling?

Sandara Park:There are a lot of people who are more dressed up than we are. I would get close to the audience a lot and I would be the one watching [the audience] instead of the other way around.

2NE1 On Japanese Debut

Your debut was pushed back about six months. How did you feel then?

CL: We were very disappointed back then, but during those six months we had a mini-album released in between and we had more time to introduce ourselves. We came back more prepared so I think that was for the best.

What sets you apart from the girl groups already here (Girls’ Generation, Kara)?

CL: We’re not trying to fit into anything. Our goal is to show you just the way we are.

Does each member have any fans you remember the most?

Park Bom: A fan who dyed half of her hair red like me.

CL: A lot of fans dressed up like us. I have a teddy bear I really like these days, and I saw a fan with a giant teddy bear.

Sandara Park:I heard a group of fans danced on the third floor with bare feet all throughout our performance. I also heard they rested when we did.

Gong Minzy: I was happy to see a fan with the same hairdo as me and wearing the same hat.

Are there fans who dress up like you in Korea?

CL: There are some in Korea, but in Japan, almost everyone did. They even had the same makeup, fingernails, and accessories. They imitated even the smallest details, so I wondered, ‘Where did they get those?’

What was difficult about singing in Japanese?

Sandara Park:It was hard to just memorize when I didn’t know what it actually meant. I’m ten times as tense as I was for the Korean concert. I didn’t make any mistakes, but I don’t think I’m loosened up yet. I’m especially nervous today because we are meeting the Korean press.

What rank do you expect to see yourselves on in the Oricon Charts?

CL: I don’t know. I hope a lot of people listen to it. (Laugh)

Sandara Park:I heard they have a Rising Star Chart. I felt good because they said we were in first place on that chart. I hope all of those people buy our album.

What do you think you’ll have to improve on for your future concerts?

CL: Like Dara said, we have to practice speaking. We need to converse [with our audience] and come together, but because we can’t do that there was a moment when the air suddenly became flat.

Sandara Park: We said ‘it’s okay’ and brought out our fighting spirit. We said we should use our gums if we can’t use our teeth (use what we have). (Laugh)

Photo credit: YG Entertainment

Translation credit: Erika Kim

2NE1 20110921
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