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One summer day before the scorching heat had left, we met five girls who are embarking on a new voyage under the name of ARTMS. After seeing them, lifting themselves off of a hiatus, we felt from them responsibility rather than anxiety, excitement rather than worry. Perhaps to some people, their greeting - “Once again together, we move forward towards the Moon and beyond” - might feel like a mere reckless aspiration. But it seemed that in this starting point of ARTMS’s, an identity of being LOONA and an authenticity towards Orbit were still inscribed within. And they made sure to not forget gratitude for the fans who had supported them silently thus far. Check out the story of ARTMS as they emerge anew in the October issue of <Men Noblesse> and the official website. You will be able to sense the members’ resolve, a shade firmer now.
Dreams and happiness, as expressed by them.
You fit today’s photoshoot concept the best. When I think ‘Jinsoul’ I think of the blonde hair image. A lot of fans still seem to be unfamiliar with your black hair.
Really? Thank you. (Laughs) Honestly I still want to bleach my hair. Because I think black hair has this strongly chic and haughty image.
You recently finished Odd Eye Circle’s Europe tour. Could you tell us about something that you felt there.
That was the first time we’d held concerts as the Odd Eye Circle unit, so a lot of it felt new. And I felt a sense of responsibility that the three of us needed to fill out that big stage. So I prepared really diligently, to the point that I was holding “bedroom” concerts even while taking breaks in our lodgings abroad. I wanted to show everything that I’d prepared back in Korea.
Speaking of, you were on a world tour around this time last year as well.
Right. LOONA’s first world tour. I still can’t forget the reactions of the fans I’d encountered for the first time there. It was even more enthusiastic than I’d hoped for. Their support back then has remained with me as an afterimage, and gave me a lot of motivation for this tour.
Your first move following the full group activities was a unit promotion. It must have felt special preparing for that new album.
The fans always called us, Odd Eye Circle, the ‘summer unit’. Even when we didn’t do any summer activities, they would tell us around that time, “I started supporting you”, “I’ve been waiting for this time”. I’m proud that we elicited good reactions this past summer, too.
You can’t always be in a good mood while performing, right. I’m curious whether there haven’t been any tiring moments.
Of course there have been. When I’m having a hard time, I just accept my current state and leave it the way it is. It’s not like I’m very high-energy even normally. That’s to say, even if I’m feeling sad, I don’t force myself to feel happier. Thinking, ‘This will become a memory someday too’.
Maybe you’re not the type to get hung up on emotions.
That’s not true. I’m quite sensitive, to the point that I get nightmares when I’m even a little stressed. But if I force myself to get over that, it just gets worse. So if something really difficult or sad happens, I record my emotions in a diary. After time passes and I reread it, I often think, “It really was nothing, and I was so hung up over it.” It’s my method to let go of my problems.
LOONA has many members, so I suppose you might have had many moments where you had to compare yourself to other members.
I’m not a soloist, so I think that’s inevitable. But what I can do is convert that comparison into more positive values. And extend that into a resolve of “I should improve”, and “I should make the foundations even firmer”. Becoming a distinct person, through unique individuality and charms, is an important task for me too.
I looked it up, and you’ve just passed the midway point of your twenties. How would you like to live out the rest of your twenties?
I’m starting the second half of my twenties at a new company. First, I’d like to gradually open up the diverse sides of myself that I never got to show you. There is so much that I’d like to do. And I’d like to show you a more musically mature version of my twenties.
When I watch Choerry’s performance, I can sense a special energy and will. Made me curious about your mindset when you step onto the stage.
There’s nothing really profound, but I feel a sense of responsibility that “I need to share the joy inside of me with this audience”. The intent to get the audience’s butts bouncing in their seats. (Laughs) I try to concentrate on the performance in order to do that.
Born for the stage. When did you get that mindset?
It’s been so long that I can’t remember. Ever since kindergarten, I liked to dance in front of people. I would enter any neighborhood event that might serve as a talent show. Looking back, I think I started learning then that the audience’s cheers and reactions are precious. And that even a little support can become motivation to step onto a new stage.
Wonder if you also remember your debut performance.
Of course. It took a very long time for the twelve of us to debut as a full group. I remember feeling emotional and heartened to see the fans filling all those many seats. It was a performance full of nerves, but I tried to show them a performance beyond my abilities.
It hasn’t been long since you returned from the Odd Eye Circle Europe tour. What’s changed compared to your debut performances?
One thing for sure is that my mind’s more at rest. Before, I thought something terrible would happen if I made even a little mistake. Now I’ve learned to just enjoy the stage for what it is, without pressure. But of course it’s best to minimize the mistakes. (Laughs)
Do you have something like a set of values that you’ve strictly held to in your activities, without others knowing?
“No matter what hardship comes, I need to hold onto my beginner’s mindset.” Well, it’s not a secret. I say this all the time, so I’m sure everyone around me knows. (Laughs) To be honest, I used to not think too much about the beginner’s mindset. I figured that, even if I live in a slightly different manner than when I started, I’d be okay as long as my mind was in the right place.
What made you change your mind?
My family’s advice. After I debuted, at some point my mother started emphasizing the importance of the beginner’s mindset. I pondered about it, and I realized that the decision to become a singer made me the person I am today, and it was still supporting me, as my roots. I think it’s such a special value that I can’t compare it to anything else. And it’s something to keep protecting, the way I am doing now.
A belated congratulations. How was your birthday?
Had the happiest birthday ever, thanks to the fans. I realized I’d never spent my birthday with fans after debuting. So this year, I visited places that the fans prepared for me and had a good time.
I think I saw the post you made on social media. The fans must have been very thankful, too.
I should be the one who’s thankful. It’s such an honor that they even remembered that most special day. And since I’m joining this team, I’m planning to have lots of occasions to communicate with fans.
Speaking of which, you were the last to join ARTMS. What were some things on your mind as you prepared for that?
I had a lot of thoughts about having to show some different colors as a team, and as an individual. That’s the same reason that I started working out lately. I thought I might be able to show some undiscovered charms as I put effort into exercise.
This is an old matter now, but in the past you took a hiatus of about a year and a half. It seems that you also had a lengthy period to ponder back then.
Back then, I think I didn’t take very good care of myself while focusing on activities. Those concerns felt a little different than what I have now. Still, the members took good care of me for that year-and-a-half, so I was able to return without much difficulty. I was able to fill the lengthy hiatus thanks to the members’ help.
When I heard that you were returning, it made me think that you were a courageous person. Because it might be easy to halt activities, but restarting them is difficult.
When I stepped out to the fans, I did worry first and foremost. During my hiatus we’d released two albums, and we had achieved a music show win. But LOONA had prepared an environment where I could move forward again, whenever, wherever. Because the members and my family all knew that I would return. I was thankful that they all believed in me, without doubting.
Was there a phrase that helped to toughen yourself, whenever you were exhausted?
It’s such a common phrase, but whenever I’m having a hard time, I remind myself that “time takes care of all”. So many things happen as you just live. Worrying about each of those things just tended to create burdens for myself. Even if anxious and difficult times come, I hope I’ll never lose my center in this wide world. Because this is the path I’ve chosen.
I heard that your stage name became Lip (立) in the sense that you “established Odd Eye Circle”. All this time I thought you were Lip because your lips are pretty.
People have that misunderstanding and I’m grateful for it. I like that actually. (Laughs) As you say, it means “the beginning of Odd Eye Circle”. Maybe that’s why I have a lot of affection for unit activities. I approach the stage with the mindset that I built this.
Since you’re the Odd Eye Circle leader, you must feel special responsibility for unit activities. Is that responsibility ever matched by pressure?
Honestly, it never was during the early days. I was just busy getting through the performances. But this time around, releasing the second mini album <Version Up>, I felt a bit of that thing called pressure. It was a re-debut after so long, so I think all the members probably felt similarly.
Five years and eight months since the last album, apparently.
That’s right. I was also really nervous because I felt all the attention and focus would be on us. I’d have felt pressure even if I wasn’t the leader. But the members all really felt like we wanted to use this as a milestone and get through it well. We thought of this comeback as an opportunity for Odd Eye Circle and even ARTMS to grow.
Turn risk into an opportunity. That’s a leader’s mindset.
We had been waiting for this for so long. Me, the members, the fans, everyone. I didn’t want to let us all down from those expectations. And I felt, desperately, how precious the stage is in the meantime. I’m proud that we’ve gained another good opportunity.
You were in Paris, France just a few days ago. Is there another place you’d like to visit on tour?
I’d love anywhere, but we haven’t gotten to the U.S. yet. There are many ARTMS fans there too, and if we had the chance I would go even right now.
You just went all around Europe. Doesn’t it tire you out to perform abroad?
Of course not. Even as I’m pouring out my energy on the stage, I see the fans’ reactions right in front of me and it all comes roaring back. I know all too well that many people are cheering for our path. So I think to myself, “I’ll never let myself be tired when I’m standing on stage.” Because the stage is not a given.
I’m curious what gave you such firm resolve.
Looking back, while doing activities as part of LOONA, I think I had been intoxicated with the familiarity that the fans and the stage gave me. And then the bad things happened, which made me long for everything more desperately. Odd Eye Circle may not be the full group, but I was thankful that we could even come together like this. And the fact that I get to do this song once again, with these members, with this combination. Maybe that’s why I kept saying thank you to the members. Thanks for being with me, and let’s keep fighting together. It’s the reason why I feel such particular gratitude for this opportunity.
You’re busy with solo album prep these days, right? Many fans are already expectant.
That’s right. I’m going to work hard at it. I hope the end product is worthy enough to meet those expectations.
What’s something different compared to when you were revealing the solo “ViViD” in 2016.
What’s most different is that I’m actively involved in the production this time. I’m suggesting ideas in almost every facet. Not just the lyrics but even in areas like costume and choreography. I think this solo album is probably going to end up as the product that I’m most attached to.
Could you provide a brief hint about the concept of the new song.
It’s not quite a hint, but I think the keyword of “escape” could explain it.
What’s something you want to hear before anything else from the fans after the solo album is released?
Unlike LOONA, where twelve of us share a stage, solo activities mean that I need to handle that whole stage on my own. So the feedback I want the most is, “she’s someone who can fill up that stage on her own”. I would want nothing more than that.
Fans often say that you’re “full of ambition and passion”. I’m curious how you feel when you hear that.
Honestly, I’m surprised that that’s how I come across. Because to me that’s such a natural way of life. When I’m facing a goal, my mindset is “just go at it”, no matter what happens.
When you move so passionately, surely sometimes you get tired.
Of course, but when I’m tired I enjoy that time for what it is, too. To some people, being tired could also seem like a good problem to have. I think getting to work on the stage is such a precious opportunity in itself.
Let me guess: you’ve never dreamt of a life other than being a singer, right?
You’re right. Thinking back, I’ve honestly never thought of any other path. I came all this way with just one tenacious will, to become a singer. Surely I must have gotten sick of this job at some point, but even now, it feels like the stage gives motivation to my life. Just like a sense of certainty in myself, in my dreams.