SISTAR19 on No. 1 Streak, Being Labeled Sexy and Not Slowing Down: Exclusive
If one thing has become clear in K-pop, when SISTAR releases a new single--all other acts should hide. The female foursome led with the inaugural No. 1 on the Billboard Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart with up-tempo single "So Cool." Since then, the group has reached No. 1 with each subsequent single — "Alone" for three weeks in May, "Loving U" for a week in July and even their sub-unit, SISTAR19, is sweeping with the chart's current 4-week topper, "Gone Not Around Any Longer."
In the midst of a huge comeback, SISTAR19 (made up of vocalist Hyorin and rapper Bora) took the time to come to Billboard Korea's studios for an interview and photo/video shoot. Upon hearing their impressive chart stats, the humble duo remain in awe of their success, but appear to have no plans to slow it down. Despite Hoyrin suffering from a severe cold (not to mention SISTAR not collectively having a break in three years), the girls were upbeat and in high spirts in their matching black and white ensemble.
SISTAR19's "Gone Not Around Any Longer" has topped the K-pop Hot 100 for four straight weeks so far. What is it about this song?
[SISTAR single] "Alone" and "Not Gone Around Any Longer" have similar qualities, but the vibe is completely different. We wanted to think outside the box. But most importantly, the song is extremely sad. It may not touch your heart on a regular day, but it really touches your emotions when you focus on the heartrending lyrics—especially if you listen before going bed. When we first heard the song, we thought it was 1,000 times sadder than “Alone.” To express the agony of a breakup, the music video's visuals were emphasized with messy hair as well as wearing oversized, unbuttoned blouse. There are a lot of dance tracks these days, but I think the listeners appreciated and recognized the sad nature of “Gone Not Around Any Longer.”
The sexed-up choreography seems like the main focus of "Gone Not Around Any Longer"...
We usually display a fiercer charisma during our promotions as SISTAR. But for SISTAR19, we wanted to focus on our maturity and womanly charms. We don’t compete with each other; we help each other out on during our dance practices. We don’t think that we should be sexier than one another--we don’t even think we are sexy!
Your unit's debut track "Ma Boy" was a huge hit. Were you guys pressured working on a new project because of your previous success?
Instead of thinking as SISTAR19 or telling ourselves we need do better than “Ma Boy,” we just thought of this as a continuation of SISTAR and simply told ourselves that we wanted to present a better image than that of “Alone” and “Loving U.” “Ma Boy” is filled with sensitivity of a 19-year-old girl and this time, we wanted to communicate a lady’s compassion and growth. We’ve matured a lot; we wanted to try out more mature tracks.
There’s a huge evolution between "Gone Not Around Any Longer" and "Ma Boy."
“Ma Boy” is a groovy, feel-good track to listen to; the lyrics are sad, but it was expressed cheerfully. Whereas through “Not Gone Around Any Longer,” we tried to express a woman’s maturity.
What was the most memorable moment during SISTAR19 promotional activities so far?
Hyorin: The best thing about working as a two-member group is that it takes us lesser time to get ready and we have more space in the car. And our dance practice time is shorter [Laughs]. But the stage without them [SISTAR members Soyou & Dason] feels so empty. We cannot wait to go onstage together!
Bora: It didn’t feel more special or any different that it was just the two of us. We were all together when we took the No. 1 trophy on “M! Countdown,” because Soyou and Dasom, were MCs on the show that day. So, we felt like it was SISTAR receiving the award, not SISTAR19.
How exactly was SISTAR19 created?
We were always close as we became trainees around the same time! Around the time we released "Push Push" and "Shady Girl," a lot of people from broadcast companies used to ask if we were twins since we both had bangs and darker skin than the other two members. Our agency used to say it would be fun to put us together as a group. A year and eight months ago, when we debuted, doing a sub-unit project was relatively new. We formed SISTAR19 thinking that it would be a great way to challenge ourselves to show different musical colors. It’s fun that we can show our fans and audiences our new adventures away from SISTAR. We are glad that we were able to do it again with this new single.
NEXT: On Being No. 1, Overseas Promotions + New Album
What are SISTAR19's goals?
SISTAR’s album will be released during the first half of the year. It’d be great if SISTAR19 can set a positive influence on our two young members and, thus, SISTAR as a whole.
Brave Brothers has produced your top tracks, including “Ma Boy,” “So Cool,” “Alone” and “Not Gone Around Any Longer.” How is it possible to compete with the same producer in quickly changing pop music world?
We are all very outgoing and somewhat tomboyish, so the doll-like image we had to portray during “Shady Girl” was so difficult! [Laughs] The cute, lovely image during “Loving U” was difficult, too, but a bit easier since we already did it during “Shady Girl.” I think we can now fit our style into any song. Also, Hyorin’s vocals play a huge role. Most importantly we fit really well with our producer Brave Brothers. He understands us so when he writes songs; he always has us in mind first.
Some are now saying SISTAR is at the top of the game...
We’ve never been consumed by the thoughts “We are the best” or “We are No. 1.” We still have a long way to go. We still go to the office to work on our vocals and choreography whenever we have free time. We want time to grow. I think we will be doing promotional activities in Japan and other places in Asia from this year on. It was really fun holding local exclusive concerts last year! We want to do it again.
Do you have any plans to go overseas to perform? When are you planning on debuting in the U.S. and/or European markets?
We can feel our overseas fans rooting for us. We thank our fans for us giving us such amazing memories every time we visit. We really want to meet our overseas fans, but we do not have any concrete plans to go officially abroad yet. A lot of people in Korea still do not know who SISTAR is, so we are focusing on widening our popularity domestically. If and when the opportunity does arise, we would like to dive into the overseas market.
Hyorin, you transformed into an actress last year with your appearances in the drama, “Dream High.” Do you have any plans to continue your acting this year?
Hyorin: I want to try out different career paths, but SISTAR’s promotional activities take precedence. As of right now, I do not have any plans to continue acting. If the opportunity does arise, the other members would like to pursue other projects as well.
Bora, what are your immediate plans?
Bora: I want to get a house for my family. After I purchase a home for my family then I think I can start thinking about what I want to do. I am into fashion and gadgets! I own a high-performance computer at home with a sound system. I want to look for a hobby though! Something I can heal or sooth myself with.
Are there any American artists you would like to work with?
We would be honored to work with anyone! It’d be great if they even reached out to us!
Check the K-Pop Hot 100 chart this Thursday when it is refreshed, along with the rest of Billboard.com's charts, to see if SISTAR19 can earn yet another week atop the chart.