After 88rising wowed Coachella (and Billboard readers) with the surprise reunion of K-pop icons 2NE1 during CL’s set, the record label will bring out another major girl group for weekend 2 of their historic Head in the Clouds Forever stage.
aespa’s first-ever U.S. performance will be significant in not only taking place on the Coachella main stage, but widening the spotlight for another weekend to give important visibility to acts across the Asian diaspora — including fellow festival performer and 88rising artist Rich Brian, who counts aespa’s NINGNING as a fan.
Billboard checked in with the “Savage” quartet to discuss exclusive details on their Coachella debut, updates on their upcoming music, who they’re most excited to see in the desert and more.
Congratulations on your first-ever Coachella! How have you been preparing and how did you get involved?
KARINA: Truthfully, we don’t have much experience performing live in front of an audience since we debuted during the pandemic, so the thought of performing in front of a large audience at Coachella, which is the dream stage for many artists, made me feel very nervous. We didn’t have many opportunities to showcase our performances in person, so we are incredibly excited and looking forward to performing our music live to the audience and delivering positive energy to the crowd. We worked hard to prepare a special performance for Coachella, including a never-seen-before performance of our unreleased track, so we hope everyone enjoys it and have a lot of fun with us!
GISELLE: It was such a big surprise and we are so excited to show everyone what we’ve been working on! We’ve known about 88rising for a while and when SM told us we were invited to the Head in the Clouds Forever Coachella stage for our debut performance, it was so many amazing things all at once. Especially after watching the Weekend 1 livestream, seeing artists from all over the world share that moment and witness the amazing energy of the set.
WINTER: It’s our first time performing at Coachella, so we’re looking forward to the day to finally come! Right now, we’re practicing hard to put on an amazing performance for the audience including our fans and we can’t wait to have a great time at the festival!
NINGNING: First of all, we are thankful and honored to be invited to perform at Coachella. To be able to perform on the same stage as other famous artists makes us so happy. Personally, I really wanted to go to Coachella someday to enjoy the festival, but when I heard that we were invited to perform, I was over the moon! Since it is our first time performing in front of such a large crowd, we worked especially hard to make sure we can bring our very best onstage. We can’t wait for the day to come and hope to have an amazing time with everyone at Coachella!
Have the rest of you ever been to Coachella before? Or any memories of past Coachellas?
KARINA: I watched many clips online, hoping that I could be there someday. The first Coachella performance I saw was Beyoncé’s, and I still can’t forget her charisma and energy onstage. As an artist, I’ve always wanted to perform at Coachella but didn’t expect the opportunity to come so soon, which makes me more excited and want to showcase the best version of myself.
GISELLE: I’ve always dreamt of going to the festival wearing lace tank tops and jean shorts but being able to perform as an artist on the Coachella Stage is such a big honor.
WINTER: Every year I watch clips of artists performing at Coachella online and remember thinking, “I hope to have the opportunity to go and perform someday.” Now, my dream has become reality and I’m so grateful to be a part of this year’s festival!
NINGNING: I loved Frank Ocean’s performance at Coachella [in 2012] and watched so many clips of other artists. Words can’t describe how excited I am to be on the exact stage that I’ve watched as a fan growing up. I hope Frank Ocean would release a new album soon!
Whose set are you looking forward to seeing or who do you hope to maybe meet at the festival this year?
KARINA: I am most excited about Doja Cat and Billie Eilish’s performances — huge fan of their music and enjoy listening to their songs. I am excited to see them perform live and looking forward to watching how they fill the entire stage on their own as solo artists.
GISELLE: I really want to watch The Weeknd perform! I don’t know if we’ll have time to go and watch, but being a big fan of The Weeknd, it would definitely be exciting to watch him perform.
WINTER: I’m a longtime fan of Harry Styles, so I am really looking forward to his performance at Coachella.
NINGNING: I love The Weeknd, Rich Brian and Doja Cat’s music very much, so I’m looking forward to their performances! If I have the chance to meet them in person, I would love to have a deep conversation about music.
Any chance you can tell us more about the new song you teased in your announcement?
WINTER: Yes! We are preparing a special performance of an unreleased track from our soon-to-be released album and it’s called “Life’s Too Short.” We’re singing the English version of the song so please stay tuned, hope you’re excited!
We know you’re in town for Coachella this time, will you be coming to the U.S. again soon?
GISELLE: We will be back in the U.S. to promote our next album and, hopefully, when the situation is safe, we can meet more of our global MYs!
Last year, your Savage EP made a splash when it entered the Billboard 200 at No. 20. Do you have further ambitions for the Billboard charts?
KARINA: It hasn’t been long since our debut, so I think there are many ways to improve. Our first EP Savage received a lot of love and support, but we want to continue to work hard to become a group that receives love not only in Korea but also globally with new music that will wow the world.
What else is coming for aespa this year that fans need to know?
NINGNING: This year, we plan to do more global promotions through various activities and contents! We are also doing our best to bring fresh new music to our fans! We hope to meet more fans in person this year so please stay tuned.