Jeon Ji-yoon was not one of the better-known members of 4Minute, an award-winning female K-pop dance group that disbanded in 2016.
Now, as a solo artist who has no big-name management agency to promote her in the hectic K-pop industry, the 28-year-old is free to channel her true personal inspirations into her music without much concern for mainstream popularity.
"When I was in the group (4Minute), I was obviously unable to express my colors ... I was forced to come to a common ground among the final decision makers (in the management agency), the taste of the public and my own musical taste. I usually ended up with a limited set of music and it was stressful," Jeon said in a group interview with Yonhap News Agency and other media outlets on Wednesday.
"Now I am left to do what I like and I enjoy it," she said, ahead of the release of a new digital single, "Shower."
The new song is R&B with hip hop vibes. In the self-composed song, Jeon seeks to seep into the everyday lives of her fans with music as the act of taking a shower becomes part of the daily life.
"I wanted to carry the wish I have that with a shower, the bad memories and wounds would get washed off from each day," she said. "I hope my song will be a song of purification for listeners, which plays out naturally against the backdrop of everyday lives."
With a sexy concept that was rare at that time, 4Minute debuted in 2009 under Cube Entertainment. The group was a mega hit, winning the top prize at prominent local music awards, the Seoul Music Awards, and the K-pop New Artist Award at the 2010 Billboard Japan Music Awards before being disbanded in 2016.
Cube renewed its contract with some of the five members, including arguably the most high-profile member, Kim Hyun-a, better known as her stage name HyunA. But Jeon moved to another management agency for a short while before eventually working as a stand-alone artist.
"I have rarely appeared on TV programs. Since I am not a person with so much fame, I have to arrange TV appearances on my own. Working alone in a way limits your public (entertainment) activities," according to Jeon.
K-pop artists rarely work without belonging to a management agency, with big-name talent agencies holding decisive influence on the market. Park Jae-beom, or Jay Park by his stage name, who defected from JYP Entertainment's 2PM, was one of the few cases of K-pop artists working without an agency here.
"In fact, it was one of the biggest difficulties (in pursuing a solo career)," Jeon said. But she has earned a level of confidence from the years of experiences working on her own.
"I was once depressed ... but a human being is born to be lonely. And I am not a person who despairs. For me even despair is a luxury," Jeon noted. "I am in a sense pioneering a new path for those who will come after me."
Without major TV appearances to promote her new single, Jeon will resort to social media to publicize her new work, she said, adding that new YouTube videos for her song will be released this week.
Having released only digital singles sporadically since her departure from the girl band, she also plans to drop her first solo album next year as well as a new dance song that will revive her signature dance performance from her days as 4Minute, she said.
sources: JEYNER OFFICIAL & Yonhap News