Chuu’s Standing Solo
Chuu has returned with her first mini album, Howl. She readies to set off alone, boldly.
By Song Ye-in
Q: We did our shoot in a studio that resembles home. What’s Chuu’s most cherished and beloved space at home?
A: Home is one of the precious spaces where I can feel calm. I don’t invite anyone except my closest friends. My favorite is the living room. The sofa there is more comfortable than the master bed. I like to fall asleep on the sofa while watching TV. Feels like I’m really making the most of single life.
Q: After this interview, you also need to cook for the Elle YouTube filming, right? Curious if you usually cook at home.
A: I don’t have a ton of diverse cooking experiences, but there are dishes that I’m confident about. I use one whole freezer and the freezer compartment of a regular fridge, so two freezers total. Full of different ingredients and meal kits. Honestly I can confidently say I really make a great spicy bean paste stew. (Laughs) Get some homestyle bean paste, add even just a little tofu and squash, and it’s still delicious. The key is scallions and cheongyang pepper. The pepper is essential, and you can’t forget the chili powder either. I also like taking meal kits and adding green onion, hot peppers, and other ingredients I like.
Q: What did you have for breakfast today?
A: Japchae, chicken breast, and konjac rice, with cheongyang peppers that I sliced up!
Q: You released your first mini album on October 18. You must have things that you’re excited about and worried about.
A: I tried new things on the title track “Howl”, including vocal tone, so I’m a little excited. Worried about expressiveness, but I need to fill the stage from beginning to end, and expressing emotion is important.
Q: What’s been the biggest change while preparing for solo activities?
A: I’ve learned how to deeply love a song. No one will care about the story inside a song unless I deliver it to them. I studied music purely out of my own desires, and I found myself having fun while putting in the effort. Now I’m no longer afraid of the moment when I express myself.
Q: Were you afraid to express yourself before?
A: I worried about how other people saw me, and when I was asked for tough and powerful vibes, I felt some unexplained sense of awkwardness, too. I think I’ve grown a lot in the process of falling and immersing into “Howl”. Filming the music video over five days, I gradually gained more confidence.
Q: Seeing the music video, it definitely felt new.
A: Right. I wanted to show that Chuu has a lot of sides too, that I have no limits.
Q: What are you most satisfied with about the Howl album?
A: The stories in the songs. I’ve depicted the process where two wounded souls become little heroes to each other and heal those wounds. The girl and the monster both represent me. I raise myself up and comfort myself.
Q: So it’s Chuu’s story, in the end.
A: Yes. Everyone has difficult moments. I put a lot of thought into expressing the message of overcoming that and loving yourself more, inside of three minutes. There’s a lot that I’ve gotten to study properly while this album was produced. I learned how to analyze a song, how to express in recording, how a music video is made complete. As I’ve taken care and attention into every part, I hope my intent will reach the public.
Q: What’s your favorite lyric in this album?
A: In the title track “Howl”, I like the chorus that goes “Even if God turns his back on me, you’re right there. Shout loud, “It’s mayday”. Even if the whole world abandons you, I’m right here.” Saying even if this entire world abandons you, I’m gonna be here so I want you to be there too.
Q: The lyricist Seo Ji-eum wrote that, right?
A: Yes, I was so grateful because I admire her so much. The moment I read the lyrics, I realized that the words that I was screaming from within, that I hadn’t even known, were being expressed intact. Seeing the words that I could never tell anyone expressed in the lyrics, making me think that maybe the lyricist is my guardian angel, felt electric. I teared up.
Q: Heard that you filmed the music video in Portugal. What are some memories from there.
A: First of all Portugal is so pretty. And it’s the home of the wine I like. (Laughs) I filmed scenes singing with astonishing nature as the backdrop, and I was so happy that I was getting goosebumps. I filmed in this dusty warehouse to depict the wounded girl, and before I knew it I was immersed and the tears came even without using tear sticks.
Q: You’ve been keeping a diary for over 7 years. Are there days that you remember vividly?
A: I write my day’s happenings in detail, so I remember most of the writings vividly even if I don’t open up the diaries. I remember this one entry I wrote in my first year of high school. I got nervous at an audition, and my emotions of hating and feeling ashamed of that self, that whole thing is clearly recorded.
Q: Why were you so nervous?
A: In the audition, things that were really unlike me kept coming out. I danced while blaming myself so I ended up being clunky, and the thought that “If I fail here, some group that doesn’t have me in it will be born right?” made me endlessly gloomy. But thinking back, there were many joyful moments in that too. Memories of secretly running away with the members to hang out in Hangang, or going to eat soondae gukbap. The day I earned my driver’s license was nice, too.
Q: Do you think of yourself as honest to your emotions?
A: Yes. I express honestly that I’m happy when I’m happy, and say “no fun” if it’s not fun. However I try hard to hold back my tears.
Q: Sometimes it’s better to let the tears burst than hold back.
A: Right, it feels relieving to let it burst. But I think the answer is to hold back. It’s also a chore to cry. I might cry once a year, if that.
Q: You’ve been attempting so many different hobbies on the YouTube channel <Chuu Can Do It> that I’m not sure if there’s anything you haven’t tried. What are you into lately?
A: I’ve taken up drawing. I bought a drawing app, never used it, and then I filmed some drawing content recently, and I ended up being so good. I think I’ve got a knack for it. (Laughs) I was thinking about “Underwater”, the song on Howl, and then I drew a jellyfish, and I’m pretty proud of that.
Q: You’ve had diverse experiences while working all over entertainment, including variety shows and music. As you’ve gained in years, I feel like you might have felt impatient at times.
A: The mini album has me impatient for the first time. With variety, even if the views aren’t high, I think it’s fine as long as it’s fun. I have the hazy hope that if I’m having fun, the general public might watch someday too. But with the album, I’m particularly keen for it to be loved.
Q: How do you shake off that kind of feeling?
A: There is no way. I just forget about it. Honestly I’m not so worried that my daily life is falling apart. Just “What should I do” is about the extent of it. One of my strengths is that I’m good at erasing and forgetting things from my head. (Laughs) I shake things off easily even without trying.
Q: As a 25-year-old Chuu, how grown-up do you feel.
A: I think a grown-up is someone who can come to a conclusion on their own. I’m very lacking in that aspect. Music is one field where I keep trying to do better, so I don’t think I’d be satisfied until I become exceptional. If you would love this new Chuu style, I think I could take another step further without fear.
Q: What would be a magical incantation to strengthen yourself?
A: “I’m not in a rush, so even if someone gets envious or jealous of me and trips me up, I won’t fall down.”
Q: How much does Chuu love herself?
A: Very much. Recently I’ve learned what I’m good at, when I’m happy, what I Iike, the moments that make me genuine. When I see myself laughing, I don’t feel embarrassed, only that “I like that”. I hope I never change how I feel, and I can be someone who gets tons of love and is full of happiness only.