(G)I-DLE Explain Making 'Senorita' & How a Latin Sound Created a 'Perfect Match' for the K-Pop Group
The girl group also talk about expanding their reach by teaming up with Kaja and 'League of Legends.'
Just three months after (G)I-DLE debuted on the K-pop scene, leader Soyeon made a bold declaration by telling Billboard, "I don't want to be like other idol groups in Korea." As the chart-topping sextet near their one-year anniversary, that mindset has remained fully intact with both the group's new release as well as ventures outside of music.
Early singles "Latata" and "Hann (Alone)" established (G)I-DLE as the K-pop newcomer to watch with their mix of internationally trendy beats and unexpected samples led by Soyeon's songwriting and production vision -- and brands took notice. Soyeon and (G)I-DLE vocalist Miyeon recorded and performed the song "Pop/Stars" as part of K/DA, a virtual pop quartet created for the League of Legends game that earned the girls their first Billboard No. 1 hit. Plus, the women are now models for Sephora and Memebox's new Korean-beauty brand Kaja as the first U.S. K-beauty/K-pop partnership of its kind.
Now, with their new I Made album, (G)I-DLE digs their feet even further to show they are one-of-a-kind idols. First and foremost, they really are the ones who made this new collection: Soyeon wrote nearly all the lyrics on I Made, producing and arranging many of the songs, as vocalist Minnie stepped up by co-writing and co-producing the album closer "Blow Your Mind." Meanwhile, main dancer Soojin showcased her own tango routine as an introductory stage to the first performance of "Senorita" on KBS music-chart program Music Bank. It all further helps solidify the uniqueness of I Made's centerpiece track "Senorita" that includes a Latin-pop vibe, seemingly nonsensical earworm hooks led by Yuqi and Shuhua, as well as the Soyeon's sonically fascinating, metrically disorienting rap on the second verse.
Billboard sat down with the group just as their promotions kicked off to find out just what their new music represents, where their new partnerships have led them and what's coming next.
Billboard: How are you feeling so far with the response to I Made?
Minnie: It's around half a year since we've come back so we're so excited. We prepared really hard for this album because we did almost all of it ourselves. You know how we write the songs and produce, but we put a lot of details into this album and we just hope that the fans are liking it. We're so nervous!
Last summer, Soyeon told us "I don't want to be like other idol groups in Korea." How did that mindset influence creating this album?
Soyeon: At first, I knew I wanted to use the word "señorita" and combine that with (G)I-DLE. It all started with that word and then grew from there. I didn't think about going into Latin music or a Latin concept actually, I just wanted to use that word. I thought "Senorita" would be a good chance to show the group's more aggressive side and that this would bring the perfect match for us to show yet another different side [of ourselves].
Minnie: This is our first album where we did almost everything by ourselves and we hope that everyone will like it. Soyeon always says that we want to be different and, in the K-pop industry, I don't think there is a girl group who produces their own stuff? So, we just really want to show that side of ourselves and that we are pretty different.
Are any of you guys fans of Latin music? Just like K-pop, Latin music is making a global impact too.
Minnie: Yes, songs like "Despacito" kind of inspired the new song. Actually, the sample of the man of saying "Señorita!" in in the song is someone from Brazil. Soyeon takes a long time to discover and create the right samples.
Soyeon: I really like Latin music. I think it's really fun and the genre works as a nice match for our group too.
Your partnership with Kaja is displayed in the music video. How are you enjoying the collaboration and what are your hopes for it?
Minnie: It's our first time being a model [endorsing a brand] so it's been interesting. You can see some of the products in our music video as well so they're being supportive. We went to San Francisco to shoot with the brand and film some variety [Neverland TV reality show content] around December. We really liked it, everything was pretty, except the weather was not good. But we heard that they show our music videos in Sephora now. It would be really nice if when people go to a store like Sephora that they'll check out our music videos and help promote us. Maybe we'll get to go to the U.S. and see our music videos in the store too? Hopefully there will be another opportunity.
Miyeon and Soyeon's work with K/DA has also been huge, it gave (G)I-DLE your first No. 1 on the World Digital Song Sales chart. Can you share a bit more about that experience with Madison Beer and Jaira Burns?
Miyeon: Before we even recorded the track, we heard that League of Legends is globally popular and a very famous game. We didn't expect this kind of interest, but we're really glad and we think it's a great honor to be able to collaborate with League of Legends.
Soyeon: Actually, we had a bit of problem with the language barrier, so, while we definitely tried, we felt that it was with music where we became one with Madison Beer and Jaira Burns. And because of that we were able to enjoy our time with the other artists.
Anything else you want fans to know?
Minnie: We're always working on songs and we'll keep trying to do something different, while also showing the (G)I-DLE side. And hopefully we can come to the U.S. and visit Billboard sometime? Maybe it's a big dream for us, but it would be great if we could.