The self-love-pushing idols on their quest to create their own genre…

ITZY’s biggest goal couldn’t be any clearer. And the supergroup couldn’t be any less shy about it.

The JYP-backed K-pop squad – which at this point has shaken off the “rookie” label with ease since debuting and becoming a main-stay in 2019 – wants fans, above anything else, to feel confident within themselves. So for members Yeji, Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong and Yuna, in order to plant those seeds of self-love within their MIDZY fanbase, their latest mini album, ‘Not Shy’, was the obvious next step.

“I think when you are not shy, you are sure about yourself and confident in expressing yourself,” 16-year-old vocalist Yuna shares with CLASH. “We want to share that message in our lyrics to empower MIDZY.”

The expressive project is six-tracks deep, opening with YouTube-record-shattering lead single ‘Not Shy’ and closing out with acoustic slapper ‘Be In Love’, but throughout the mini-album, ITZY is somehow even less shy about exploring genre. Tracks like ‘SURF’ hear the group bouncing over explosive basslines, while cuts like “Louder” serve as a proper hip-hop cypher for ITZY.

“I don’t want to define what type of music we’re doing because we want to try different genres/styles,” 20-year-old group leader Yeji says. “About a year ago, I said to the group that one of my goals is to make a genre for ourselves, and we’re working hard to build that.”

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After the release of ‘Not Shy’ last month, CLASH spoke with the powerhouse K-Pop group about their quest for every fan to feel confident, the side-hobbies they’ve picked up during the pandemic and their message to UK-based fans as they dish out visual after visual to keep MIDZY entranced.

Our conversation, lightly edited for length and style, follows below.

Before getting into this new era of yours, I’d love to ask about your origins. Do you remember the first album you ever purchased or listened to? C

haeryeong: The first album I physically bought was actually the IT’z Me album. I purchased it for a gift to a friend. And the first song I streamed was Ne-Yo’s ‘So Sick’. When I heard the song for the first time, I instantly fell in love. I remember listening to the song every day after the purchase. I think that’s the time when I started liking calmer, and slow beat music.

As you began this journey as ITZY, what type of musicians did you see yourselves as? And do you think this past year has allowed you to become that?

Yeji: I don’t want to define what type of music we’re doing because we want to try different genres/styles! About a year ago, I said to the group that one of my goals is to make a genre for ourselves, and we’re working hard to build that.

It’s been an incredible year for the five of you. What has surprised you the most about this musical breakthrough?

Lia: I have been the most surprised when I see our music on the charts, and realizing that a lot of people know and love our songs. It’s humbling.

The pandemic has forced the music industry to adapt rather quickly to life indoors and more of a DIY approach to creating. What was different about preparing for this comeback as opposed to preparing for your debut last year?

Lia: We’re performing without the audience, and we’re communicating with the fans with more media content than before. We tried to make as much media content as possible, and also performed a live broadcasting to reach our fans across the world.

Performances might be harder to come-by due to the pandemic and shutdowns internationally. A fan of yours on ITZY’s discord server wanted me to ask this one: If given the chance, would you ever consider online concerts, given your seniors Twice recently held one?

Yeji: It’s so unfortunate that we all have to go through these trying times, but we’d love to perform online if we get the chance to!

ITZY boasts self-confidence and it shines throughout ‘Not Shy’. Why do you feel this message is an important one to share with MIDZY?

Yuna: I think when you are not shy, you are sure about yourself and confident in expressing yourself. We want to share that message in our lyrics to empower MIDZY.

When did you first learn to become confident with yourselves? Was it something you’ve always felt or something you learned with age?

Ryujin: I don’t remember the specific time or instance that I learned to be confident. I don’t think my confidence is related to my age. In my case, having our members by me was a very big part of building up my confidence.

Outside of ‘Not Shy’ or ‘Be In Love’, which are certainly on the top of everyone’s list, what have you been listening to throughout the last few months of quarantine?

Chaeryeong: I’ve been listening to our new album a lot! I want to recommend the song ‘Surf’. Listening to the song brightens my mood and makes me feel better. The song I’ve been listening to recently is Christopher’s ‘Bad’. I mostly listen to this song when I’m in a car, and is a good song to listen to when you are first waking up in the morning because it is energizing.

What hobbies carry you through your free time?

Yuna: I do beading or spend time with my cat, ‘Sarangi’! Bonding and spending time with my cat makes me happy.

‘SURF’ is my favorite on this project, mainly due to its funky bassline. I can only imagine how fun that must’ve been to record over in the studio. Have you become more comfortable with each other in a studio setting?

Chaeryeong: For me, it’s always fun to record together. I was the one who used to get nervous the most during the recordings! While preparing for this album, I’ve learned how to calm myself down a little and not be anxious. Recording ‘Not Shy’ was a lot of fun, thanks to the members.

Do you have any fun studio stories to share from putting this mini-album together?

Ryujin: We were drifting in the car when we were shot the car-chase scene. It was a very rare experience, so I had a lot of fun and enjoyed it.

And finally, it might be a while before you see fans in the UK, but what do you hope this album and this rollout can do for them in the meantime?

Lia: I hope they are holding up well during these trying times, and I hope they can receive positive energy while listening to our songs!

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‘Not Shy’ is out now.

Words: Brenton Blanchet

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