(G)I-DLE are a major K-pop girl group writing their own music

The group calling their own creative shots discuss their differing songwriting styles, the deep sisterly bond they share and how they've come to see themselves as role models.

by Taylor Glasby
01 September 2020, 3:06pm

(G)I-DLE, the six-member K-pop girl group, are weighing up what they love and admire about each other. “Shuhua’s eccentric thoughts, Soojin’s eye-catching dancing skills...” offers their leader and rapper Soyeon, who is herself whip-smart, elfish and, when she needs to be, steely. “Yuqi’s confidence,” adds Miyeon. “She really knows how to love herself”. Describing what it is that makes Minnie, Shuhua, Soojin, Soyeon, Yuqi and Miyeon unique – charisma, beauty, humour, dreamlike auras, the double whammy of “sexy-but-cute” – their words take flight like tiny jewel-coloured birds, darting and uplifting.

That (G)I-DLE see each other not just as bandmates but as role models and muses comes through in every interview they do. As a multinational group (Thai, Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean) working through cultural differences and the hardships of being far from home, they’ve formed an affectionate, protective sisterhood. And as a self-producing girl group who write their own music – a very rare entity in K-Pop – and have input into every part of their creative process, they utilise this closeness to their advantage; the tiniest details about each individual member serve as inspiration. All the while, their fandom (NEVERLAND) sprawls further across the world with every new record.

The tightness of their bond makes their onstage presence prismatic — boldly reflecting the dozens of shifting, individual elements that make up each young woman outwards as a complex singularity. At the very core of (G)I-DLE, however, the shared, primary foundation has always been self-belief. It’s what lead Soyeon to write their debut-securing first single “((여자)아이들) _ LATATA”; what propelled Yuqi, Shuhua and Minnie to leave their countries to try their luck in South Korea’s idol industry in the first place; and what gave them – the only rookie group competing alongside five senior acts – the confidence and skill to wind up in third place on the survival show, Queendom, causing a stir with their regal, fearless finale performance of “LION”.

But when in conversation with the group, it becomes clear that they’re also united by a shared ambition, vulnerability, and the inclination to push beyond traditional expectations of them as women in K-pop. In fact, they refuse to acknowledge that these boundaries even exist. “We haven’t hit #1 on the digital charts yet,” Yuqi says, “that’s something I really want to achieve, and I hope we can be more acknowledged musically!” Miyeon, who recently revealed that (G)I-DLE are set on creating their own genre, says that they’re “still working towards it... we’re consistently trying to achieve that goal.” Soyeon agrees, adamant that even when they do, it too will contain no barriers and have “no end”.

In 2020, the group have already celebrated their two year anniversary and released three singles: the formidable “Oh My God” (from their third Korean EP, I Trust); “I’m The Trend” (written by Minnie and Yuqi); and their latest, “DUMDi DUMDi”, a lighthearted summer bop. Casually highlighting (G)I-DLE’s effortless duality, their second Japanese EP – consisting of translated, re-recorded versions of tracks including “Oh My God” and a brand new deep cut, Minnie’s heartbreaking “Tung Tung (Empty)” – dropped at the of August, making (G)I-DLE’s 2020 a creatively abundant one, despite the looming global pandemic.

We spoke to the group to discuss “Tung-Tung” and more…

“DUMDi DUMDi” is definitely a change of pace for a (G)I-DLE lead single – why was now the right time to drop something so upbeat and breezy?
Minnie: We always try to do something new. The concept of this comeback was also interpreted in our own style, which I hope many people liked. (G)I-DLE turned bright and fresh for the summer!

The video shoot looks like it was a lot of fun. What do you remember most about it?
Yuqi: We were soaked the whole time from shooting the pool scene and the bubble party scene. Shooting those scenes was a bit tough, but they turned out very nicely.

Soojin: The bubble party scene is the most memorable. Make sure to check out that scene from the music video!

Soyeon, on “I’m The Trend” you wrote: “I have everything that you want to resemble / My charms that endured through the tough Produce 101, Unpretty Rapstar, Queendom…”. How do you think these shows helped you become the leader you are today?
Soyeon: I learned that if you survive through the struggles, you will eventually make it. I’m a goal pursuer, I am competitive, and I am not easily wavered. It’s more appropriate to say that I’m the type of person who can enjoy competition shows, than to say that being on competition shows helped me. And as a leader, this personality of mine comes in handy.

You’ve described yourself as having been a quiet kid. When do you recall this other side of you – the fierce, competition-loving Soyeon – appearing?
Soyeon: I am pretty quiet. Rather than wanting to win over someone, I just wanted to be the best since I was young. Honestly, I am not sure what kind of influence my parents had on me adopting this kind of mindset but they always had faith in me!

Queendom was a tough show – looking back, how has it impacted (G)I-DLE long-term?
Miyeon: I was scared and concerned about being on a competitive show. But every time we prepared a performance and got on stage, the belief that “I will be fine as long as I am with my teammates” became stronger. Once Queendom was over, I started to think that the six of us can do anything together, and I became confident enough not to fear any adventures.

It’s clear that (G)I-DLE have a true bond – what’s something that helps keep you close as a team?
Miyeon: We spend a lot of time talking. We don’t need to consciously make time for it, we just talk amongst ourselves a lot, opening up even the trivial parts of our lives without discomfort. All six of us like to eat, so we get together to have good food, too.

Minnie, Yuqi and Soyeon – as all three of you are songwriters, how do your working styles differ?
Minnie: I concentrate on my feelings at the moment. “For You” was the most challenging to write because it was actually my first time creating a song on my own. I made that song when I was very lonely and struggling, I felt so alone then that I wanted to tell somebody. The feelings got more intense as I wrote the lyrics, it was overwhelming. I hope listening to this song will relieve people’s sad and lonesome hearts.

Soyeon: I consider the lyrics the most important. The line “You changed as if you took a drug” from “HANN (Alone)” is one I’m proud of. It illustrates your partner turning into a totally different person the moment your relationship comes to an end.

Minnie, tell me about your new song “Tung-Tung (Empty)”...
I wrote the song utilising the Korean word “tung-tung” and the message of the song is “my heart which used to be full of you is now empty (tung-tung).” I hope the audience finds the loneliness relatable as it’s a track I put my best efforts into. The harmonies and string instruments are key points also, so pay attention to them as you listen!

Soyeon, as the group’s main songwriter and someone who always strives to be the best, have you ever had a fear around the possibility that a song might not be a success? How do you see past intrusive thoughts like that?
I see failure as something that will not happen. And if it does, it will be just a moment, and I’m sure I’d be able to overcome it shortly.

And, finally, what would you like to say to NEVERLAND right now?
Minnie: Dear NEVERLAND, I always thank you for all the love you have given us until now, and I love you. 
Miyeon: If NEVERLAND weren’t here, (G)I-DLE wouldn’t be here either. Thanks to NEVERLAND being by our side and supporting us all the time. We will do our best for them!

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