After competing for their spots in the team through the reality competition show Sixteen in 2015, TWICE released their first single “Like Ooh-Ahh” last September. Since then, the girl group has shot to stardom with more than 150 million views on YouTube and appeared on the World Albums chart with two EPs. Their second and most recent single, “Cheer Up,” has become one of the most anthematic songs of K-pop in 2016, with its bright, uptempo sound making it the perfect earworm for the summer.
Hours before taking the stage at KCON LA, the lovely ladies of TWICE sat down with Billboard for a few moments to tell us about their burgeoning career. Leaving their varsity-inspired stage outfits aside for a bit, the nine women were decked out in elegant black and white outfits ahead of their KCON red carpet debut. Radiating with anticipation hours before their first U.S. performance, TWICE’s bright personalities came through as they expressed excitement about their popularity and shared their hopes for continuing to grow as K-pop stars.
Congratulations on coming to L.A. and KCON within a year of debut. How does it feel to be here and performing for California fans?
Jihyo: It’s TWICE’s first time in LA so we’re nervous but very excited to be on the KCON stage, a huge stage for us. We’re going to perform to the best of our ability so that we can have a good time with our L.A. fans.
You had a strong debut with “Like Ooh-Ahh” and then returned with the infectious “Cheer Up.” Why do you think people like your songs so much?
Sana: Both songs are high-energy pop songs with lots of cheer, so this is kind of our color for now and we’re very thankful to our fans who showed us so much support for these songs.
You have a very exciting dance pop sound. Is that going to be TWICE’s style moving forward or are we going to see you explore some new genres in the future?
Nayeon: Both songs are very colorful and have this cheerful energy, so it’s become our signature symbol almost. That we’ll put out songs with such great energy. So we’ll keep putting out similar songs in the future. We’ll also add different genres as well to put out great works.
TWICE has many members from around the world. How does it feel to be a multinational rookie girl group in K-pop?
Chaeyoung: It’s a great opportunity for all of us to experience different cultures and languages through the other members. They’re also away from their parents so it’s nice that they’re able to consult with those of us who are Koreans. It’s nice to learn from one another. And eat all the delicious food and snacks! [Laughs]
You’re under JYP Entertainment, a major Korean agency which has a lot of talented artists. But are there any other artists you’d like to work with?
Mina: We appeared in the music video for “Fire” by our CEO Park Jin Young, which also featured Wonder Girls, Conan O’Brien, and Steven Yeun and we were able to work with them and learn from them. Now we’re preparing alongside a lot of our senior artists for JYP Nation’s upcoming concert in South Korea. If future opportunities arise to work with Park Jin Young and other artists, we’d like to pursue them.
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“Cheer Up” has become a song of the summer in South Korea. What other songs are you guys listening to right now?
Nayeon: Lately I’ve been listening to “Why So Lonely” by Wonder Girls.
Jihyo: And I have been listening to the ballad “For Now” by Sam Kimand Kwon Jin Ah.
Do you have any final words for your American fans?
Chaeyoung: We’d love to meet our Billboard fans very soon. We’re working hard to give you the best performance that we can. So please wait for it. Fighting!