They let out ‘bwuhaha’ laughter even for boring conversation. One of them would make a mischievous face and as if it were contagious, the others would return it with a more exaggerated expression and applause.
Girl group Mamamoo (Solar 26, Moonbyul 25, Whee In 22, Hwa Sa 22) are bright and overflowing with playfulness befitting their related search word ‘Beagle-dol’. They just finished their promotions that started last year in November with the release of their ‘Memory’ album and also held their Japanese showcase just this month, yet they show no sign of exhaustion.
In this recent meeting with YeonHap News, Mamamoo said, “Because we have matching points of laughter we are always boisterous,” and, “During our debut days, we would even turn on music in the car on our way home after our schedules and sing our throats out. Our laughter has died down a bit since we have a lot more schedules now.”
Mamamoo’s first appearance in 2014 was refreshing. They appeared in the midst of girls who wore the school look to emphasize their innocence. They weren’t completely a hip hop ‘Girl Crush’ emphasizing style like 2ne1 either. Although they were idols they showed a more mature image by covering a retro sound from the 30~40s, and just as they say in the lyrics of their hit song ‘Pride of 1 cm’ they packed the stage despite their 159~161 cm small heights with their strong vocal abilities.
The president of their company RBW, the famed composer Kim Dohoon, had said “I wanted to create a group with unique voice colors and the ability to play well on stage no matter what genre of song” and exactly as he desired Mamamoo has earned the title of ’TruLiMaMoo’ (Trust and Listen to Mamamoo) in just 3 years.
“Even during our trainee days we had a very different training. Instead of being given a tightly fit schedule, we led our practice ourselves nor were we given a character to fulfill by our company. Moonbyul just enjoyed those boyish dances and she brought life to her charm well on her own. Realistically we aren’t very pretty and we are all small so we had to fight with just our skills, we needed to have perfect lives and produce each stage with excitement.” (Hwa Sa, Solar)
Another reason they were able to surface in the red ocean Idol industry is due to the ‘truly different’ music made by Kim Dohoon.
With the start of their debut song ‘Mr. Ambiguous’ (2014) followed by ‘Piano Man’ (2014), ‘Um Oh Ah Yeh’ (2015), ‘Pride of 1 cm’ (2016), ‘You are(is) the Best’ (2016), ‘Decalcomanie’ (2016) go through the genres funky, R&B, and blues and have been able to make ‘long runs’ on the charts.
These songs armed with unique titles and witty humor easily get stuck in the ear. Last year winning 8 times on music shows, they were even able to spread the ‘넌 is 뭔들’ catchphrase.
Moonbyul and Hwa Sa explained, “Instead of a full retro sound the song ‘Um Oh Ah Yeh’ had lighter music so we were worried,” but, “However that song is what got us more widely known. Also when ‘You are the Best’ was in the works, it was just internet slang and we thought it was a bit lacking as a title track but the more we listened to it we began to really like it.”
Even though they are a team that have broken out of the idol mold so much they don’t even have a set concept, the members emphasize that “We are Idols,” and that, “We really like that the title Idol that means a figure of adoration.”
Their ripened wit was able to shine through at Blue Dragon Awards last year. They used characters from movies and crucial movie quotes in ‘Decalcomanie’ to decorate the stage and their shoutouts ‘Let’s go to Mojito and drink some Maldives’ to Lee Byunghun and ‘Jung Woosung, if I one shot this let’s date’ to Jung Woosung became a hot topic.
Moonbyul said, “Actually I was super nervous,” and, “Delivering these new lyrics to an audience full of people of the film industry was a mission that made me even more nervous than how I felt at our debut stage. We were so worried that their faces would get dark and so we were very relieved they replied to us with bright expressions,” with laughter.
They, like many other artists, have had many hardships rising to spot. Solar has auditioned for 30~40 different companies including YG Entertainment and had in mind of pursuing her dream as a flight attendant if she got kicked out from her current company.
Moonbyul also explained her story, “I’ve been cast out right before I was able to debut once,” and, “When I was kicked out from that company I was told that ‘You are too fat’ and that was reason I was cut. Then I weighed 60kg so I put my life on the line and lost weight until I was 46kg before I auditioned again and got accepted by my current company.”
Even after debut they endured a lot of emotional hardships due to negative comments.
Hwa Sa revealed, “I’ve received a lot of strong comments about my appearance,” and, “At first I wasn’t fazed but after seeing them constantly I started to get hurt. I got shocked by the comments like ’If it weren’t for Hwa Sa they would be a pretty group’ and comments that asked me to leave the team.”
Rapper Moonbyul added that, “I received criticism like ’They are all talented except for the rapper’ and ’She got in because of connections’ ” and, “They’ve also said ‘It must be nice to just be considered talented because of your members’ and ‘You are not needed in Mamamoo’ things like that.” Whee In also said, “I don’t really pay heed to comments but the inappropriate sexual jokes really hurt.”
However their struggles are not all for naught. They are treated differently by their company now, and although it might not be big money, they have become daughters that can provide economic stability for their families. Whee In and Moonbyul included have worked on composing and writing lyrics and are beginning to collect copyrights.
The members said, “After we got more work we got driven around in a latest model car, and before we usually just had kimbap for our meals but now we can freely choose our menu. If we get hurt now our company takes us to the hospital.”
Whee In said, “I was able to help pay a bit of my family’s debt,” and Moonbyul also, “My dad had to take out a loan to buy a truck and so I helped him pay it off and get a new car. Because I spent a long time as a trainee and received money from them, it is only right that I do this.”
They showed deep gratitude to their producer CEO Kim Dohoon as well.
“To our respected mentor. If it weren’t you we wouldn’t be a group that had this kind of color. We feel uneasy if we don’t get even the smallest things checked by you.” (All of the members)
Their goal this year is to grow once more and surpass their current positions.
Last week from the 6~8th, they held a showcase in Tokyo and received hot attention and they said, “We got a really good ‘feel’ from our Japanese stage” and “Even though it was abroad and there was a language barrier we didn’t get scared because we were together.”
“We got our wish and held our own solo concert which was our goal last year. So this year, we want to set up an even bigger goal and branch out into the world. We really want to do a tour overseas.” (Hwa Sa, Moonbyul)