Pop

20 Questions With ITZY: K-Pop Group Breaks Down New Album ‘Guess Who’

ITZY
JYP Entertainment

ITZY

On Friday (Apr. 30), K-pop quintet ITZY has returned with a delightful new full-length, Guess Who, that continues the group’s upward trajectory over the past three years. After breaking through with songs like “Wannabe” and “Not Shy” -- then making their all-English debut earlier this year with Not Shy (English Ver.) -- ITZY has given fans six new songs that demonstrate their range of sounds and influences. Meanwhile, the music video for lead track “In the morning” showcases the group’s style, choreography and increased swagger.

Ahead of the new album release, Chaeryeong, Lia, Ryujin, Yeji and Yuna combined to answer Billboard’s 20 questions about their latest project, musical upbringings, go-to karaoke jams and more.

1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself?

Yeji: The first album I purchased was So Cute by Byul.

Yuna: I remember my sister recommending BTOB to me, so I bought all their songs.

2. What was the first concert you saw?

Chaeryeong: When “Gangnam Style” got huge, I went to Gangnam to see PSY’s free show with my mom. I think that was the first live music/concert experience I had.

Ryujin: It was 2PM’s concert when I was trainee. The training team took us to a few concerts to show us how we should perform on the dance stage.

3. Which artist did you grow up idolizing?

Lia: I can’t think of a specific artist because I idolized many. I listened to and knew so many songs on the radio, and would always sing along.

Chaeryeong: I liked multiple artists growing up, including Girls’ Generation (SNSD). I was so happy when I was given the opportunity to meet them in person after debut.

4. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?

Lia: There wasn’t a specific person because various artists made me want to become an artist as a career.

Yuna: My parents did because they always supported me and put a lot of trust in me. I naturally thought of becoming an artist. I think the mindset that I can do anything is most important.

5. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?

Yeji: Putting on an ITZY concert in front of hundreds and thousands of people! Even just thinking about it makes me happy. It would be so nice if we could do that.

Ryujin: When the pandemic ends, I’d love for ITZY to have a concert because we have never done one. We had our showcase tour in the U.S., but we are looking forward to having a concert one day because now we have so much more music to perform live. It’s something I’d love to do at least once.

6. Which current artist is your fashion inspiration?

Yeji: A specific person doesn’t come to mind because I like a variety of styles. I usually scroll through fashion photos on socials and find inspiration there.

Yuna: I usually get fashion inspiration from fashion films, videos, and magazines. I’m into Kendall Jenner’s style right now. I like looking up her fashion looks.

7. What’s the last song you listened to?

Lia: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” is one of my favorite songs.

Yuna: “Adult” by Sondia. I used to listen to this song a lot studying jazz when I was a trainee. I didn’t realize it’s the OST of the K-drama My Mister, which I just watched recently. The song relaxes me, so I listen to it often.

8. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?

Ryujin: I love Frank Sinatra’s music because his voice sounds genuinely happy. I’d love to see him live.

Chaeryeong: I love Girls’ Generation (SNSD), but I haven’t seen them live. If I could, I’d love to go to their concert and sing along to their songs with the fans who love Girls’ Generation just like I do.

9. Which TV show have you binge-watched recently?

Chaeryeong: I’m a huge fan of Vincenzo, a Korea Drama. I like the story line and actors of the drama.

Ryujin: I’m into Beyond Evil. It’s a Korea Drama.

10. How has the pandemic affected your creative process?

Lia: The pandemic made me think of creative and new ways to communicate with the fans! As we are limited to online communications these days, I try to post or chat with our fans more often and think more about what type of content our fans would like to see.

Yuna: I think the pandemic has given me a chance to grow up a bit. It’s been a hard time for everyone. The pandemic has challenged me to try various media contents to reach out to our fans with. It’s been important to me to keep the connection.

11. How did this new album come together?

Yeji: We wanted to show a different side of us and keep our fans excited for new music. It’s a totally new concept and new songs with a genre twist for us to try.

Chaeryeong: We set the goal of showing our fans new music as often as possible, and with this album we really focused and immersed ourselves in the new music and lyrics while recording and preparing the new material.

12. What’s the biggest difference between the new album and past ITZY projects?.

Lia: The album theme is now deeper and darker, and more hip-hop based.

Ryujin: I think this album shows how we’ve matured and broadened our material compared to Not Shy. This album is a different mix of music genres, and I think the material has been diversified.

13. Which song on the new album do you think will become a fan favorite?

Chaeryeong: Personally, I like the song “Wild Wild West,” but I think the fans will like “Tennis (0:0)” or “Sorry Not Sorry” the most because they might like the songs that show a different side of us. Also, “TENNIS (0:0)” is a happy and cheerful song compared to others, so fans may like that one the most. However, I hope they like all six songs!

Yuna: I think the fan favorite will be “In the morning.”

14. Not Shy (English Ver.) was the group’s all-English debut. Why was that an important project for the group?

Lia: It was important to us to record an all-English song to reach our fans globally. We hope it was easier for them to relate to and listen to.

Ryujin: We purposely recorded English versions of our top tracks globally because we know our fans would enjoy the new versions and connect to them more. Lyrics are very important to us, as it carries the message of what we are trying to deliver, and it’s great that more people can understand what we are to singing about.

15. Which song from the new album are you most excited to eventually perform live?

Yeji: For me, it’s “Sorry Not Sorry” because the song is powerful and full of energy. I’d love to perform it live.

Yuna: “Wild Wild West,” because I think the song is going to be the most exciting when performed live. When I imagine singing it live, it makes me feel so alive.

16. What’s your list of karaoke go-to?

Lia: I like 2NE1’s songs because they are so exciting to sing along to with karaoke. I usually sing most of their songs.

Chaeryeong: I mostly sing ballad songs. I often sing songs of TAEYEON or Kwon Jin-Ah, especially “The End,” “Closer,” “If,” etc.

17. What’s one thing ITZY’s most devoted fans don’t know about the group?

Ryujin: The fact that we are quieter than they think, maybe? When we are doing something with MIDZY, or if we play games together, we’re always excited so we talk and laugh a lot, but usually when we’re by ourselves, we are quiet.

18. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?

Chaeryeong: I cry easily watching sad movies and dramas. I don’t really re-watch movies that made me cry. However, Goblin: The Lonely and Great God and Jang Ok Jung, Living in Love never fail to make me cry no matter how many times I re-watch them. I absolutely love those two.

Yuna: Any movies or songs that have drama with a family theme makes me cry. I think it’s because my family will always be #1 to me, and when I watch family theme contents upon love and support, it makes me resonate it with my family.

19. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Yeji: You should be the person who shares happiness with others. I want to be a person who can share joy and good energy to the people around me and also to our fans.

Chaeryeong: Someday you will find people who really love you and support you for who you are. You are truly lovable, do not doubt that, and don’t be afraid of be yourself.

20. What do you hope to accomplish or experience by the end of 2021?

Lia: I hope we can have in-person meetings with our fans and/or a live concert by the end of the year. I miss feeling the fans’ energy and hearing them sing along to our songs.

Ryujin: I agree with Lia, and would also love to have a vacation with the ITZY members and have a fun time together.