[INTERVIEW] (G)I-DLE's leader Jeon So-yeon bares herself with latest track 'Nxde'

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[INTERVIEW] (G)I-DLE's leader Jeon So-yeon bares herself with latest track 'Nxde'

Jeon So-yeon, leader and producer of girl group (G)I-DLE [CUBE ENTERTAINMENT]

Jeon So-yeon, leader and producer of girl group (G)I-DLE [CUBE ENTERTAINMENT]

What sets today's girl groups apart from girl groups of times gone by?
(G)I-DLE is a prime example for the answer to that question. Unlike most girl groups, Jeon So-yeon, the leader of (G)I-DLE, composes, writes, arranges and produces most of the songs that her group releases, including award-winning title tracks “Latata” (2018), “DUMDi DUMDi” (2020), “Tomboy” (2022) and most recently “Nxde” (2022). (G)I-DLE also excels in the traditional areas that K-pop girl groups are known for — tight choreography and strong vocals.
Born in 1998, Jeon is (G)I-DLE’s leader, main rapper and producer. She studied ballet in elementary school and dreamed of being a singer. After failing to enter an arts high school, she joined Cube Entertainment as a trainee.
As a trainee, Jeon took part in major audition programs shows such as “Produce 101 Season 1” and “Unpretty Rapstar,” proving her dance, rap and singing abilities. 
Jeon is famous for persuading her agency’s executives with her presentations whenever she wishes to push a new concept.
During the presentation for (G)I-DLE’s latest track “Nxde,” Jeon was quoted as saying, “I'd rather be hated for who I am, than be loved for who I'm not,” and suggested the Marilyn Monroe-inspired lingerie outfits for the members to wear. The JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily conducted a written interview with (G)I-DLE’s Jeon to talk more about (G)I-DLE and herself.
The following are edited excerpts from that interview.  
Girl group (G)I-DLE

Girl group (G)I-DLE

Q. How did you decide on (G)I-DLE’s identity, concept and direction upon debut?

A. When I participated in Mnet’s survival music show 'Produce 101 Season 1,' I saw a lot of friends with distinct and charming personalities. But I felt as if they were not able to express their personalities 100 percent after their debuts in girl groups. That’s why I wanted our group to center around ‘uniqueness.’

Lyrics about high self-esteem and confidence are often cited as (G)I-DLE’s strength. Do you consciously write such lyrics?
I don’t purposely write lyrics to have the vibes that you’ve mentioned. I believe that I frankly express my feelings and the words I wish to convey. And I think having a good melody, or good lyrics is based on pure luck. That is what heaven mandates, and I can only try my best. That’s also why I always try to be fierce.

You write a lot of daring lyrics; do you ever worry about the responses of the general public?
There are exact expressions that express my thoughts and there are times when those expressions can't be replaced. I’d end up being unable to express my exact thoughts if the lyrics were altered or censored. That’s why I use them to accurately express my situation. I focus on the messages I wish to deliver.  
Jeon So-yeon, leader and producer of girl group (G)I-DLE [CUBE ENTERTAINMENT]

Jeon So-yeon, leader and producer of girl group (G)I-DLE [CUBE ENTERTAINMENT]

You said you focused on your ‘natural self’ for your latest album. What does this mean?
My friend and I were talking one day about how true love is only when someone loves every single part of themselves. Talking about ‘nude’ [that shows everything], I thought it’s ‘true love’ when they like my true self. I wanted to talk about such things with the album.

Do you think the group has the same identity as when it debuted?
Rather than defining (G)I-DLE's identity with one word, I express the stories that we want to tell through our music. We focus now on the stories we can discuss in our 20s, the feelings that we have right now, or the things we wish to do. This is the basis of our music activities.

What does Neverland, your fandom, mean to you? Are there any memorable experiences you've had with your fans?
Neverland is [our] confidence. They love us unconditionally and we always feel so grateful. We get a confidence boost when we hear Neverland cheering for us in performances with other groups and at award ceremonies. I always want to thank them, and I feel like I say “thank you” the most often, but I think it’s never enough.

What is your aim as a producer?
My aim as a producer is to produce a girl group. I wish to make a girl group that I produced from A to Z, from music to their merchandise.

BY CHUN YOUNG-SUN [kjdculture@joongang.co.kr]
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