ITZY, K-Pop's Rookie It Girls, Are Sharing Their Confident, Self-Love Message With the World

Courtesy of JYP Entertainment
ITZY

ITZY are the fiery new girl group to keep an eye on in 2020, with two major 2019 hits propelling them as forerunners of the next generation of K-pop.

In the world of K-pop, there are no assurances of success, except when it comes to the popularity of JYP Entertainment’s girl groups: In 2009, the company’s first female team Wonder Girls became the first Korean act to land on the Billboard Hot 100 with their song “Nobody,” and miss A and TWICE had breakout success with their first songs in 2010 and 2015, respectively. The JYP brand proved that the fourth time, not third, is the charm when ITZY arrived last year to head straight to the top of the Korean music charts with their debut track “Dalla Dalla” -- the Korean word for “different” repeated -- in February and their follow-up single “Icy” in July. With each song becoming a hit in South Korea and beyond and accumulating more than 100 million views in a matter of months, the quintet landed at No. 34 on the Emerging Artists chart with their first EP, It'z Icy, in August and recently completed their first U.S. showcase tour “ITZY? ITZY!”

The five charismatic members of ITZY -- Lia, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, Yeji and Yuna -- sat down with Billboard recently at the final stop of their tour in Brooklyn to discuss their career, tour, aspirations and feelings toward their fandom, Midzy.

How are you feeling today, considering it’s the finale of your showcase?

Lia: We’re quite sad, of course, but looking at all the places that we went during the showcase we are actually quite happy because this was actually our first tour so we’re really happy and glad that we ended the tour really safely.

How do you feel about having completed your first U.S. tour? 

Chaeryeong: It’s very touching.

Ryujin: Every Midzy in the States were so energetic and very passionate, so we were really touched. 

Do you have any particular standout moments from the tour?

Lia: Well, every showcase, of course, is. But at some places, there were times when our fans did a surprise event, a surprise video for us at the end of the showcase and that was really touching and sweet. And some of us cried a lot, so that’s [some] of the times I remembered a lot.

Yuna: Rather than just our performances and the shows that we prepared, I think [the tour] really strengthened us and deepened our bond.

Talking about your bond, how has it been coming together as ITZY?

Lia: We have actually seen each for quite a long time before debut because we’ve been training together so it wasn’t that hard, and we have been friends for quite a long time actually. But I guess living together actually as a team is quite different. We did have some, well, not troubles, but little differences. But we do try to-

Chaeryeong: We communicate a lot.

Lia: Yea, we try to talk more, and get to know each other more. 

Ryujin: We try to be understood.

Yeji: It’s been two years since we’ve lived together, almost two years, and there hasn’t been anything yet. I don’t think there’s anything. [Laughs]

You’re entering your second year as ITZY as we move further into 2020 and approach your first anniversary, so how do you feel moving past your debut era?

Yeji: 2019 was just the start, and we were really thankful because we just began and were recognized not only by our Midzy’s but also the general public. I think in 2020, we feel we have so much more to show and we’re looking forward to showing new sides to ourselves. 

What are some things that you want to show the world?

Lia: It’s only been a year yet, and we do only have “Dalla Dalla” and “Icy,” so we’re definitely looking forward to more interactions and connections with our Midzys. 

Yeji: For our debut song and what we’ve been promoting have been on the theme of self-love, but it’s not a narrow topic, it’s very broad and we can do a lot to explore that. I’d really like to delve deeper and explore that theme more. 

Yuna: We already have “Dalla Dalla” and “Icy” but we definitely want to show new sides to ourselves with other songs, so I’m looking forward to doing that. 

Yeji mentioned how you want to go deeper into the idea of self-love, so touching on that -- where do you each find your own sense of self-love and confidence?

Chaeryeong: Each member is really self-confident, but I think as we were preparing and interacting with Midzys that gave us a lot of confidence. Our Midzys gave us a lot to stand on.

You started out really popular with “Dalla Dalla,” and “Icy” was just as big of a hit, so how did you feel going from zero to 100 and hitting it big from day one?

Lia: We definitely did not expect that, and we were really worried, definitely worried before we debuted. A lot of concerns, we practiced a lot. As you said, so many people watched your videos, listened to our songs and we were just very grateful. It really just wasn’t realistic for us. We didn’t actually feel it. 

When did you begin to feel your success? 

Lia: I’m not sure, because... I don’t know if for the other members but for me, I definitely know that there are lots of Midzys that love us, but I still can’t believe it.

What do you think it is about ITZY and your songs that people really like?

Yuna: Our message. I think the message of loving yourself is really empowering and so many fans relate to that, and I think our performances are a key component to that.

Do you think that’s what makes you, you know, “Dalla Dalla,” or different, from other girl groups in the K-pop scene?

Lia: I won’t say seperate, but we do try to have a special ITZY color. We’re still at the level of building that up, so I won’t say seperate, but as she said I think it’s the good vibe and energy that they really like. 

Are there any concepts you want to try or energies you want to give fans in the future? 

Ryujin: I didn’t really think about other concepts, but I really want to show our fans that we’re growing very naturally, that we’re growing up and getting mature. So I think fans will love that too. [Nods her head with a smile.]

Do you feel any discomfort growing up and maturing in the spotlight like this, since you’re all pretty young? 

Ryujin: It’s really an honor, because we know that we have great love.

Lia: Lots of people care about us and love us. 

Do any members have any hopes to try their hand at songwriting or producing in the future?

Yuna: [Nods heads vigorously]

Ryujin: If the fans want to see it we’ll try, I think.

What’s something you hope to achieve moving forward as ITZY?

Chaeryeong: We’re not really all that concerned about breaking records or achieving specific goals, or first place or anything. Rather we want to be a source of good energy and positive influences to all the people that we can reach. 

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