2NE1 is different. There are many words to describe other girl groups, such as sexy, cute and pure. But 2NE1 made their own kind of adverb, such as “~is like 2NE1.” Some people say that their music is kind of rough, but actually, their music has a wide spectrum, ranging from “CRUSH,” “COME BACK HOME” in the second album, which show their “rough” trait, to “IF I WERE YOU,” “GOOD TO YOU,” “MISSING YOU,” to “HAPPY” and “BABY, I MISS YOU.” The latter two describes sad feelings after breakup, and strong melodies, respectively.
In the new album, there are five songs which were either written or composed by the leader CL, and they show 2NE1’s upgraded skill in music. They are also breaking their own records. In the U.S. “Billboard 200” Album Chart, one of their songs ranked 61, the highest ranking ever received by a Korean group. Their title song “COME BACK HOME” topped all music sites. On Mar. 16 in SBS “Inkigayo,” their song “COME BACK HOME” was placed first for the first time in major Korean public TVs. Let’s hear what 2NE1 has to say.
Q. How do you feel about releasing your second album?
CL : It has taken us more than 4 years to release this album. It’s the first time that our album is filled with only new songs, so it kind of feels like it’s our first album. I feel very satisfied that we are meeting fans with good songs.
DARA : I felt like a rich person with many songs in our hands in the album, which is not a single album. Fans also love it that we have many songs to show. I feel very positive these days, which makes me think that I should be able to show better performances.
Q. Your solo songs you composed were included in the album, such as “CRUSH,” “IF I WERE YOU,” and “BABY I MISS YOU.” You seem to have gained more confidence.
CL : Many people love my songs, and I received positive response, so it gave me strength to compose new songs. I want to continue composing for fun from now on. Well, actually, composing songs is not something I have to do as a living, for example, so I can work with pleasure. I feel happy writing songs for my members, and for our performances.
Q. Did you get a lot of help from TEDDY, the producer?
CL : Yes. TEDDY, along with CHOICE 37 and DEE.P and all composers in YG helped me. They did a lot of monitoring, gave me opinions and cheered for me. It was fun for me.
Q. What was your main reason for composing songs?
CL : Last year, we only released single albums. Then one day, I wanted to say something. At that time, I didn’t know I would write songs for our album or for our group. I started writing songs as I would write a diary, and wrote lyrics to the beats that we already know. I began as a hobby, and my lyrics were in English at first. YG CEO Yang Hyun Suk listened to my songs and recommended I write in Korean. “IF I WERE YOU” was the first Korean song I wrote.
Q. Big Bang members write their own songs, especially G-DRAGON. Was that a stimulus to you?
CL : No, it was not.
Q. 2NE1 ranked 61 in the U.S. “Billboard 200.” It is a new record from a Korean group. How do you feel?
CL : Well, actually, I never felt I had to look at the Billboard Chart or its rankings. It was like a surprise gift to me. It was an album we prepared for a long time, and it was an unexpected present for us.
Q. The ranking 61 means that 2NE1 has an appeal in the U.S. What do you think that is?
CL : I think people regard us to be unique because we are different., thinking that “2NE1 has something that other girl group doesn’t have.” I heard our fans are more attracted to us when we sing in Korean rather than in English. It was really surprising that though our overseas fans don’t understand Korean language, they understand the feelings.
DARA : Music seems to be the appealing trait. Although languages differ, it can unite people as they enjoy the same music.
CL : I often heard people say that we look like cartoon characters, what with our clothes and unique style (laughter). Will.i.am says that, too. I think our small heights also are advantages to us.
Q. The song “DIRTY VIBE” of the worldwide DJ Skrillex was featured by both you (CL) and G-DRAGON. You wrote some of the lyrics in Korean.
CL : I tend to tell my music partners that I would write in Korean. I love Korean.
Q. Girls’ Generation and your group released albums in the same period.
CL : We started promoting our album with our concert on Mar. 1 to 2. Last year, we did our world tour without an album, so it was hard to do the second tour without an album, too. Concert date was already set, which made us to release our album by late Feb. And it was possible. Frankly, chart rankings and being in the first place were really important to me. We have been singing for 6 years, and I believe it’s important to think outside the box. Doing fun music with my members and repaying our fans with our good music became more meaningful to me than rankings.
Q. Then did you think outside the box this time?
CL : Yeah, I think we did. I composed the songs myself and we recorded our songs by ourselves, which was a huge step forward. It was a huge improvement for us. Until now, someone would be there directing us, but this time, we did it all by ourselves. It took longer time, but it was meaningful, and we became closer.
MINZY : As for me, I used to focus on my dancing in my part. But this time, I tried to look at my singing, expression and movements. Now I can sing with my emotions.
Q. What about other members?
BOM : The song “CRUSH” was a little different type than we usually sang, so it was difficult for me. I sang it because CL made it (laughter), and I think I was able to break from my routine in singing.
DARA : It was a new thing that one of our members composed songs and sang it ourselves. There was a new sentiment added to our song. I am very satisfied that the song fit me very well.
Q. (To BOM) where did you put emphasis in singing this time?
BOM : I tried to add my emotion, concentrating on the lyrics. I wanted people to feel the way I feel when they listen to the song. When I am on the stage, I can see there are some people who feel the same as I do about the song. I think about how I can make more people sympathize with my song.
Q. Your singing seem to have matured. How did you practice?
MINZY : I listened to many songs from old divas when I practiced. There was a part where I couldn’t raise my voice to the melody, but finally I did it. Whitney Huston and Mariah Carey’s songs abled me to have a wider range. And the part I sang this time really fit me well (laughter). I especially liked my part in the song “IF I WERE YOU,” which CL gave me.
Q. How about other members? What songs do you think were more comfortable for you?
BOM : I really like “GOTTA BE YOU.” Melody was really fitting for me. I think our fans would love it, too.
DARA : I like “BABY I MISS YOU.” We used to sing songs with strong melody, but it is the first time for me to sing such sweet songs. It was hard to record, but I realized I had a new voice. (To CL) Please look after me (laughter).
CL : All songs are very dear to me. Do I really have to choose? (laughter) Among the songs I didn’t compose, I like “MTBD.” I like that I sang my type of rap in a long time.
Q. (To DARA) I hear fans praised you a lot.
DARA : Some people said, “DARA is also good at singing.” (laughter) It was quite different from the songs I sang. In the intros to “BABY I MISS YOU,” “IF I WERE YOU,” I sang the lyrics in a new way.
Q. Members of the Girls’ Generation like to reveal who they are dating. How about you?
CL : We also want to give our fans good news. I would like to reveal my boyfriend, too, but there is just none.
DARA : Someone even said that I don’t have any “love-cells.” (laughter)
Q. In this concert, you did a sexy performance with a male fan on the stage.
CL : Many people asked us why we didn’t do sexy stuff, so we wanted to try something new. So we picked up 4 male fans and did a new performance in the back of our song “I LOVE YOU.” We got them right before the show, so they were very surprised (laughter).
Q. (To DARA) Your muscles in the stomach were eye-catching.
DARA : I have been regularly working out since I came to YG. It’s been about, what, 8 years? Two months before the concert I had an exercise project set up for me, and I even controlled my diet since mid Feb. I was hungry during the concert (laughter).
CL : As you can see, DARA is the most skinny, so it’s harder on us. We weigh normal, you know.
DARA : I did it for a new try. I’ll never do it again (laughter).
CL : DARA really likes Ramyeon (Korean noodle), but she quit it. That’s when I knew she was really determined.
Q. The music video of “HAPPY” was filmed 2 years ago. Why the long wait?
DARA : We wanted to include “HAPPY” in the album, and the album was just released now (laughter).
CL : Our CEO Yang Hyun Suk saw it again and said we looked too young (laughter).
Q. We heard you also appeared in PSY’s new music video. Tell us about it.
CL : I did a performance with SNOOP DOGG and he contacted me even before he came to Korea. When he came to Korea, and when I heard he was with PSY, I ran to the site where PSY was filming his music video. And while I was watching…um… (laughter). Well, frankly, it’s one of the videos that I want to erase. It was a good memory for me, but I wasn’t dressed up for it. It’s a little shame that I didn’t have proper makeup on (laughter).
Q. CL is also keenly interested in fashion and beauty.
CL : I really like clothes, and I think I will do some collaboration in the future. I became a model for cosmetics, and then met with our CEO Yang. And he said, “You are such a good model. The “before and after” of you without and with makeup is shockingly different, you know.” After looking at the advertisement photos, he said I looked good. I try not to look so pretty, but cool.”
Q. (To MINZY) You are now a college student. How do you like it?
MINZY : I didn’t go to high school, and took a qualification exam. College is so fun. Eating out with friends is also fun. I think I’m doing well.
CL : We’ve known each other for almost 10 years. All three of us went to school, but since middle school, MINZY came to practice at 12 p.m. I felt sorry that she became an adult too soon. MINZY nowadays goes to college, and sleeps less. I feel good to see her looking like a student. I want her to try out ordinary things like other people.
Q. When was the hardest time for you after you made your debut?
CL : For the last 2 years? It was not the hardest time, but… After the mini-album that included “I AM THE BEST,” we only released singles. I wanted to share good music with my fans. I am very grateful that our members didn’t give up. I thank them for not giving up, and trying their best to improve their skills in singing and such.
Q. How is the second world tour different from the first one? What do you think?
CL : New songs give me strength. Meeting my fans is the greatest joy for me. Concert seats are filled with our fans, so it’s a very endearing place. We made happy memories in the first world tour, so it will be a good opportunity this time, too.
DARA : People said that the Seoul performance showed how hard we worked. Our music has rock-spirit, as we have to show upgraded music. The environment has been established so that people can have more fun. This time, we will be visiting new places, so I am thrilled.
BOM : I want to show them how we can play.
MINZY : Our fans give us energy, which makes us work with joy. I want to create a new environment where all people can play together.
Q. Any hopes for you? Personally as musicians?
MINZY : I want to be an inspiring singer. I hope to be a musician who can help people.
BOM : I hope people can listen to our songs, my voice and be encouraged. I want to be an artist who can give power to people.
DARA : I want to take myself to another level. I think I can show more of myself to others. I recently started learning instrument, and I want to keep practicing guitar so I can sing any song.
CL : I studied music as a young girl, and I made my debut early on. I think people make me grow. Before, I thought what I wanted to do was important, and that I should do what I want. But now, I want our fans to give us power, and want to spend time with them. I want to grow with my fans together.