Loona Expands Their Ground
Interview by BNT reporter Im Jae-ho.
Girl group Loona receives love not only domestically but from around the world, striking the global charts with every album to the point that they are nicknamed "Girls of the Recrds". Having made a comeback with new album [&], the group met with BNT.
Loona is composed of three units and has distinctive lore. This pictorial is a special combination of first unit Loona 1/3's Hyunjin, second unit Loona Odd Eye Circle's Kim Lip, and final unit Loona yyxy's Olivia Hye.
The three girls made everyone on the set fall for Loona's charms, remarking that the pictorial shoot in this new combination was fun. Through the interview we met their charismatic side shown off in the new "PTT (Paint the Town)" of course, but also a really youthful-girl-like cute and innocent charms.
Q: Thoughts on the photoshoot with bnt?
Kim Lip: When I saw the members do the shoot last year, I thought they looked really pretty. I’m glad we got to do one as well.
Olivia Hye: It was the first time with this combination of members, so that was new.
Q: Which concept did you like?
Olivia Hye: I like the chic concept with MLBB makeup.
Hyunjin: I like doing calm photoshoots as well. All three of us seem cold on the outside, so I think it fits us well.
Kim Lip: I also think I pulled off the chic look well, so I like that one (laughs).
Q: How would you introduce yourself?
Kim Lip: I’m Kim Lip, leader of LOONA’s second group ODD EYE CIRCLE. It’s embarrassing to actually try to introduce myself.
Hyunjin: I’m Hyunjin, the only LOONA member with blood type AB. I’m in charge of having AB type blood.
Olivia Hye: I’m Olivia Hye, in charge of darkness in LOONA (laughs).
Q. What are you up to?
Olivia Hye: We’re busy recording content that’ll be released at the same time as our comeback. I think that will all be out by the time the photoshoot’s released.
Q. What kind of song is your new song, PTT (Paint the Town)?
Olivia Hye: It’s a dance hip-hop track containing Loona’s explosive energy. One unique thing is how it combines all sorts of musical elements from Bollywood. It reflects the intent that Loona will combine and establish itself, to “Paint the Town” in Loona’s unique color.
Q. The new song has a very difficult choreo. What would be the key moment or a distinctive move in the title track?
Olivia Hye: There’s a part at the beginning of the chorus when all members drop from high to low. I think that’s the key.
Q. Apart from the title track, which side track do you feel attached to?
Hyunjin: “Dance on My Own”. It makes me feel emotional. I think it’s because I like to dance.
Olivia Hye: We have a song called “Wow”, and it’s got a lively vibe so the members have said they like it enough to make it the title track. I’d like to show people the performance if we get the chance.
Kim Lip: I also feel most attached to the two tracks Hyunjin and Olivia Hye mentioned. Can’t pick one.
Q. What has been different compared to the preparations for “Why Not?”
Olivia Hye: Our member Haseul unnie has rejoined after a long time, and it’s been a while since we’ve worked together with her so that was fun, and the choreography is much harder than last time so it’s made our teamwork better (laughs).
Q. For the title track you worked with Ryan Jhun, a girl group hitmaker who’s known as a big Loona fan. How was it?
Hyunjin: First he really loves Loona and is interested in us, so it was really nice when we were working. I was so grateful that he took great care of us.
Kim Lip: He helped us a lot on the whole album’s production, not just that song, and he also came to the music video set to give lots of pointers. He approached us first in a friendly way, so I had a lot of fun while working.
Olivia Hye: He studied our lore before coming, so he even did the line distribution based on that. I was moved by how he took care of the little things.
Q. What’s a hobby that each of you have?
Olivia Hye: Not a particular hobby to speak of, but I’ve been making time to watch dramas or movies while I eat. These days I’m watching The Witcher on Netflix and Mine on tvN. It’s fun.
Hyunjin: I’m into listening to music with headphones these days. I listen to pop and also a lot of R&B and dance.
Kim Lip: My hobbies are writing lyrics and songs, and photography. I’m too busy to do them during comeback prep and promotions, so that’s a shame.
Q. What do you think of as your own unique charm?
Hyunjin: My eyes. They’re pretty for one thing, but I also have good eyesight. Between 1.5 and 2.0 (laughs). A lot of fans said they fell for my eyes when they first started to like me. So, my eyes.
Olivia Hye: Honesty. I’m a bit more on the cynical side, rather than bright and outgoing. I try to show myself as I am, and people seemed to like that a lot.
Kim Lip: My shoulder line. A lot of people seem to think it’s pretty and like it.
Q. Not only did you stay on the U.S. radio charts for 9 consecutive weeks, you also placed within the top 40. How did that feel?
Olivia Hye: I genuinely couldn’t believe it. We first heard about that while just eating in the practice room, so it didn’t feel real. I think because we can’t see the fans in person or perform abroad, it doesn’t really hit me. I want so badly to perform abroad and meet the fans there.
Q. We heard Hyunjin is a really good athlete, especially when it comes to ball sports. Did something in particular get you into sports?
Hyunjin: I grew up in a really rural area when I was little. The only things you can do in the countryside are ball games and stuff, so I played with a ball. I was on the soccer and basketball teams since elementary school, and badminton and table tennis teams in middle school, and I got good while doing stuff like that.
Q. It sounds like Hyunjin really enjoys getting choreography synced perfectly. What’s your know-how to get the angles matched?
Hyunjin: The know-how is telling the members as cutely as possible (laughs). I think my tone comes out too strong sometimes. I try to speak cutely to the members so we can match up.
Q. We heard Kim Lip used to have a really shy personality. How did you overcome that as you prepared to become a singer?
Kim Lip: I don’t think I could say I really overcame it. I’m still a little shy. While preparing for this line of work of being a singer, I figured it’s not only important to sing well, but you also need some degree of bright personality and speaking skills. So I tried to meet more new people and go outside more. I tried to talk with strangers while preparing to be a singer. So I think I was able to overcome some of that, if only a little bit.
Q. We heard Olivia Hye really likes watermelon. This is watermelon season, so curious to know if you’ve been eating.
Olivia Hye: Yes. I ate yesterday too, while dyeing. It’s tasty for one and I enjoy cool foods. Things like ice cream, bingsu, cold drinks. But I don’t like cold buckwheat noodle. Instead I like cold soybean soup (laughs).
Q. Kim Lip is full of nicknames, including Moomin, Dongdong-ie, and Cocomong. Which one put you in the best mood?
Kim Lip: When people make nicknames it’s because they’re interested and have affection for me, so any nickname makes me feel good. I’m attached to all of them.
Q. It sounds like Kim Lip has a neat personality, so you nag the members a lot too.
Kim Lip: Turns out people change. I used to be really neat and stuff. Even now, I do like it when things are neat and well-organized. But living in a dorm for a while makes you let some of that go. So I don’t nag much these days. Isn’t that right?
Olivia Hye: Right. I’ve barely heard her nag lately (laughs).
Q. Olivia Hye is good at sports and really strong too which gives you a girl-crush charm, and that along with your addictive speaking habit drew a lot of female fans.
Olivia Hye: I really hate exercise (laughs). Also I don’t think my speech is distinctive, and I’m not quite sure why people view it that way.
Hyunjin: When I first met Olivia Hye I thought her voice was really distinctive. I think it feels that way even more because of her voice.
Q. Hyunjin was unveiled early on, as Loona’s second revealed member. It took a while from then to full group debut. Did you get impatient?
Hyunjin: I was a trainee for about three years and I felt like I would not be able to debut, so I was about to give up. Heejin was selected as the first debut member, and I thought I’d never debut. So I was going to leave the company, but they held me back, saying that I will get to debut. And it turned out that they had really picked me to be the second debuting member. I also filmed my debut music video in Japan, and it felt really real to be filming abroad.
Q. As opposed to Hyunjin, Olivia Hye was the final member to join. Was there any pressure?
Olivia Hye: When I first joined the company, I didn’t know about the Loona project in all that much detail. So I got the detailed explanation after I joined, and it made me think I should do well, so that I wouldn’t be a blemish on the members having done so well until that point. I had no trainee period, so my only thought was that I should work hard. To be honest, it was so hectic that I don’t remember much about that time.
Q. The “Kim Lip sleep schedule”, sleeping at 10pm and waking at 6am, is a fad among fans. Do you maintain this pattern even during promotions?
Kim Lip: During promotions it’s hard to sleep and wake up early like this. There’s constant schedules and practice, so it’s tough to maintain. But I still try to maintain it during off-promotion periods. My family has a habit of sleeping and waking up early, so I was like that from a young age too.
Q. Jihan from hoobae girl group Weeekly has shown immense fanhood towards Olivia Hye. How did that feel?
Olivia Hye: I was so thankful to hear that a hoobae in the same profession was my fan. Jihan is doing so well too, so I’ve been enjoying watching her. I had been very exhausted in that period when she told me she was a fan, so it gave me a lot of strength.
Q. Hyunjin is a well-known bread lover. What kind of bread do you enjoy these days?
Hyunjin: These days croffles are delicious. Also Heejin gave out sliced chocolate bread to the members to eat, and that was good.
Q. Loona and Cocomong released the collaboration song “Yum-Yum” recently. Would like to get thoughts from Kim Lip, who resembles Cocomong.
Kim Lip: It’s true that I got to do this because I resemble Cocomong (laughs). I think it’s a really fascinating experience and I’m grateful for it. And the members who did it with me are Yeojin, Choerry, and Go Won, all cute members. With the choreo too, after only doing really tough stuff it was actually more difficult to do a kids’ dance type of thing. Awkward somehow (laughs).
Q. Olivia Hye appeared solo on Channel A’s variety show, The Fishermen and the City Season 3. What was fun and what was tough about it?
Olivia Hye: I went fishing for the first time in my life. It was fun because I was catching fish more easily than I thought. It was also a lot of pressure because it was my first time going on variety by myself. I was with such veteran sunbaenims that I wasn’t sure if I could even speak, but I was grateful that they played along with me so well. It was a new experience regarding variety. The sunbaenims told me that “If this is your first variety, all the other ones will be a piece of cake.”
Q. Then, which variety would each member like to appear on?
Hyunjin: I want to follow Olivia Hye’s footsteps and go on The Fishermen and the City. I like sushi, but my weakness is I know how to fish but I can’t touch fish. So I think that’s going to be a fun watch.
Olivia Hye: I’ve been wanting to go on tvN’s Amazing Saturday.
Kim Lip: I want to go as a group with the members on something like SBS Running Man. I’m confident in physical activities (laughs).
Q. Kim Lip has been friends with another member, Chuu, since school days. You started as friends but now are colleagues. What has changed?
Kim Lip: When we were friends, we had fun hanging out but I don’t think we knew each other very deeply. Now that we are together 24 hours a day and know everything, we have deep conversations more often and can console each other when we need it.
Q. The members all seem to be very close. Do you have lots of frank conversations in the dorm too?
Olivia Hye: It’s really difficult to get 12 people in one room to begin with. It’s not so much that we pick a day to all get together and talk, but it’s more like having conversations about this and that in the practice room or while on standby during schedules.
Q. What is something about the other members that you’d like to take after?
Hyunjin: It was really attractive to see the casual fits as we went home after schedule. It was cool to see the real character and side character being properly separate.
Olivia Hye: I want to take after Heejin unnie’s attention to detail. But I don’t think my personality will work with that (laughs). I admire unnie whenever I see her effort, with passion for her work.
Kim Lip: I want to take after Choerry’s positivity. I tend to think deeply and often. When I fall into something, I just fall endlessly. Choerry thinks about the bright side, positively. So I want to learn that and take after it.
Q. You all have a solo single. Which of the other members’ are you envious of?
Olivia Hye: All the solo singles have such different colors. They’re such distinct colors that it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing them. So I’ll just pick one that I like. I like Go Won unnie’s “One & Only”.
Kim Lip: I like Yves unnie’s “New”. I was there on the music video filming set, and not only are the lyrics really nice but Yves unnie expressed them well.
Hyunjin: I like Jinsoul unnie’s “Singing in the Rain”. I like the dance genre.
Q. Say a compliment to the member next to you.
Kim Lip: Olivia Hye is an entertaining talker and witty too. Very cool personality too. And she’s really adorable (laughs).
Olivia Hye: I think Hyunjin unnie’s personality is similar to mine to some extent. We’re both quick-witted and tend to be a little individualistic. It makes me a little frustrated to see something being slow, and when I see Hyunjin unnie I feel comfortable (laugh). I’m thankful to unnie when she gives me feedback about syncing choreography in practice. Also I like that she’s on the easygoing side. When you live as a group, I think it’s nice to have some easygoing people.
Hyunjin: Lip unnie has a pretty face without makeup. Also I’m jealous of her constitution. She doesn’t gain weight and doesn’t eat much. She stops eating when she’s full. For me, even if the bag of snacks is large, once I open it I have to finish it (laugh).
Q. How did you start dreaming of becoming a singer?
Hyunjin: You do a lot of talent shows and stuff in elementary school, right. I went on a lot of those from back then. I liked to dance from a young age.
Olivia Hye: My older sister’s friend’s mother recommended that I should try going on something like a children’s performance troupe. I naturally drifted away from studying (laughs). I just kept on dancing from that point on.
Kim Lip: There wasn’t a particular event, but ever since I was little my mom would play music in the car and she would sing along. So I also listened to and sang a lot of songs. I used to swim in school, and then I quit. After that I gained a ton of weight, so my mom let me attend a dance academy to lose weight. As I learned dance, I realized I liked singing and dancing. So I naturally started preparing to be a singer.
Q. There are few opportunities to see fans in person due to COVID. Is it disappointing?
Olivia Hye: We’ve done “So What” and “Why Not?” promotions after COVID started. There are no fans when we go to music shows, so it just feels like rehearsal. And it’s a shame that we can only do video calls rather than face-to-face when it comes to fansigns. We get good energy from the fans when performing, and I’m so disappointed that that’s not there. I hope to see them soon.
Q. With Haseul joining you, you are performing as a full 12-person group for the first time in a while. How does that feel?
Olivia Hye: Being 11 and 12 is a difference of one person, but it’s really different. In the dance formations, and in everyday living too. We’re adding the charms of another person, so we are able to show off more diverse things. And it feels more reassuring.
Q. Do you have a fun story from dorm life?
Olivia Hye: We have so many shoes in the shoe closet. When we’re in a rush, sometimes we wear mismatched pairs or someone else’s shoes (laughs). Also we have two refrigerators, but one gets really frosted so the door is hard to open. So we’re only using one.
Kim Lip: We have sections of the refrigerator marked out by member. It’s very nice and neat (laughs).
Q. What foods do each of you like?
Hyunjin: I like pizza, fried chicken, snacks, sushi, bread, ice cream, ramen, tteokbokki, cold buckwheat noodle, jajangmyeon. I can keep going (laughs).
Olivia Hye: I like churros, watermelon, rice-cake types. I think I like snack foods.
Kim Lip: I eat a lot of sweets. I like donuts. I eat dessert instead of meals (laughs).
Q. When do you feel that the members are really kind?
Olivia Hye: Yesterday, actually. We went home past midnight after practice, and Yves unnie said “The first ones home should wash up~ You won’t find another unnie like this.” We have two bathrooms in the dorm, so it takes us a long time to all wash up. So she tells the members who leave first to go ahead and wash first. Unnie takes good care of us (laughs).
Kim Lip: [Yves] unnie started trainee life late, so she worked part-time before becoming a trainee and has life experience that way. So she gives me a lot of advice when I’m shy. She’s a fellow member, but she really takes good care of me like a real sister, tells me lots of good things, and she feels like family. A really good unnie that I’m grateful for.
Q. Who is your role model?
Hyunjin: As a singer, my role model is CL sunbaenim. Her force, aura, performance, everything is so cool. She’s so professional.
Olivia Hye: I used to think of role models for me, but these days I think of role models for the group. When I see Twice sunbaenims, the group has good energy and they work so hard on their performances, so I want Loona to take after Twice sunbaenims.
Kim Lip: Role model questions are the hardest for me. They’re all awesome and admirable, but I started this because I liked singing and dancing, rather than being inspired by someone to become a singer. So it’s hard to pick someone.
Q. How would you like Loona to be remembered among the public?
Hyunjin: I want us to be a group that can break molds and make new impressions on the public. I want to be remembered as a group that’s fresh.
Olivia Hye: We’re a big group of 12 people, but I want us to be a group where you can see each individual charms well yet feels even better when we’re all together.
Kim Lip: Similar. When you have a lot of members, it’s easy for just a few to gain attention. I want us to be a group where all 12 members’ colors make an impression.
Q. In Loona’s opinion, what describes Loona?
Olivia Hye: Malatang. The more ingredients you put into it, the more delicious and addictive it is. We’re that kind of group that you can’t escape once you get a foot in (laughs).
Hyunjin: Then I say bone broth. Becomes thicker the more you boil, has deeper charms the more you get to know us (laughs).
Q. What would you like to tell beloved Orbits?
Kim Lip: It’s been so long since we haven’t seen each other, so I first want to say I miss you. Thank you for supporting and loving us from places unseen, and I can always feel you. Let’s get through this promotion well together, too.
Olivia Hye: Thank you for waiting until we could promote as a full group. Thank you for always wishing for our happiness more than anyone. Thank you for continuing to send us messages of support in letters even during hiatus. We’re really promoting now, so I hope for us to be really happy. I’ll work hard in promotion so I can repay that happiness.
Hyunjin: I often run up against my limit in practice. In times like that I think of the fans. You cheer for me, a person who runs into limits like that, and for that I’m so thankful. I should work hard.