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[Interview] NewsEn Interview with Chuu (240625)

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Part 1

The singer Chuu has returned full of human vitamin charms.


At 6pm on June 25, Chuu will be releasing her second mini album Strawberry Rush through various music sites.


After proving her potential as a soloist through first solo album Howl last October, Chuu is returning after eight months with Strawberry Rush. This album contains six tracks including the title track “Strawberry Rush”. While Howl showed off a new side of Chuu, Strawberry Rush contains the unpredictably bright and lovely charms that many fans have loved with Chuu.


Chuu explained, “I like both singing and listening to music, so I made the Howl album out of a desire to show you a lot on the vocal side. Fans also heard a lot of the unfamiliar tones and vocal styles in Howl. In this one, I tried to pack in my bouncy energy in the same way I’ve used to sing,” and “I thought this was an opportunity to show you a bright energy, which I’ve awaited for a long time. Even during group activities, I thought there weren’t many opportunities to show off individual moods or energies, and I looked forward to this promotion thinking about how much I’ll be able to smile on the stage this time around.”


She added, “In Howl, I focused on showing a hefty and sober feeling rather than smiling faces, so I could show people a lot of expressions and atmosphere that I didn’t show before. I’m looking forward to this one since I’ll be able to freely show the smiles that I enjoy.”


Title track “Strawberry Rush” expressed a day in Chuu’s life, transforming into an unpredictable and bright superhero girl to win the trophy, through a sound that feels like blasting over rail. It’s an electropop track whose dreamy synth sound and unique bass stand out.


Asked about her first impression of “Strawberry Rush”, Chuu said “I felt like this song would be able to fill out all 100% of the energy that I want to give out. It gave me a sense of vitality as I worked on it. I have lots of people that I’m always comforted by and thankful for, and I always thought I lacked the language to deliver to those people. I want to give them my energy with “Strawberry Rush”. The song suits my energy well and the unique lyrics really get your imagination going. I think it will be a gift to listeners.”


The process of chasing a trophy that she encounters by coincidence, breaking out of a repetitive routine, and rediscovering the dreams and imaginations that were once dear as a child is intended to continue the lore of Howl.


Chuu explained: “I felt like the intro sound effect of “Howl” and the one in this album sounded similar. And there is this monster friend that appeared in “Howl”’s music video. In “Howl”, that friend held my hand and guided the identity that I didn’t want to reveal to the world, and gave me confidence to shout to the world. In this album, the picture is about coming out to the world through the monster friend and flying towards my goals. The monster helps to tie the lore together, and I think this drew out the most nearby identity among my many identities.


In the music video, Chuu acts out an energetic superhero who dashes at the speed of light as she clears missions among aliens. Chuu said, “I was floating in the air with this new contraption. I’ve been wanting to do a wire scene, and the filming was so much fun because we were able to film those vibrant shots just like my personality.” She was expectant, saying: “We filmed in many spots, so I think we’re gonna get a lot of scenes that suit the vibe of Australia and the lore.”


Other than the title, Chuu also recommended side track “Honeybee”. Chuu said: “This is a relaxed voice tone that even fans haven’t heard a lot of, so I really pulled the power out of it. It sounded different when I listened, unlike when I was monitoring while singing it, so it felt new like ‘Oh, so I can relax like this as I sing.’ It was a challenge of a tone for me, too. I hope people listening will realize that I can do a song in this color.”


During her hiatus, Chuu held her first solo fan concert and first U.S. tour as she met with fans. The first U.S. tour was an unforgettable moment for Chuu. She answered: “I met American fans for the first time at KCON as LOONA, but that was such a brief time. This was my first tour alone so I was really nervous and tense, but the American fans greeted me so brightly that I never even felt tired while performing. We may have different languages and ways of thought, but I felt how we were communicating. It was a moment to remember for a long time.”


Asked whether it wasn’t difficult on her stamina to move into tour and comeback preparations after the Howl activities, Chuu explained: “I don’t like to rest, so I was already wanting to release the next album even during the U.S. tour. Before the Strawberry Rush preparations I was consistently getting vocal lessons to firm up my tone, and I worked to show some more growth by getting various dance lessons. And I kept up exercise during the inactive period so that I could prepare health-wise.”


Chuu’s goal is for “Strawberry Rush” to be part of the daily routines of many. She emphasized: “I earned my license through Chuu Can Do It, and I found myself making on-the-road playlists. “Strawberry Rush” has a fast tempo and it feels like racing towards something, so it has this sensation of clearing something obstructed. There will be lots of time to listen, but if people listen during congested commutes to work or back home, while working out, or while showering, I wonder if it might release tension.”


Expressing a desire to be on stage often and establish her color as a singer through “Strawberry Rush”, Chuu specifically compared her color to the gaenari forsythia. She passed along: “I like the color yellow. There’s something special about the energy I get while looking at yellow. To people who hear my music or see me often, I want to be someone who’s like a vitamin.”


Part 2

Chuu has always shown a bright demeanor through a multitude of variety shows, and she is full of positivity even in her daily life. Asked what she’s like when alone, Chuu replied, “It’s not often that no one is around, but my energy or way of thinking is always similar. I’m a simple person. Even when something serious or big happens, I cover them up with other things, and I think I heal in the same way the Earth heals itself. I like to fill up quickly with the things I like, and likewise empty out.”


She wasn’t too bothered by misunderstandings that her bright image is a constructed one. Chuu explained: “That kind of thing has happened a lot, but I was never that affected. Some people think that, but thanks to people who view me favorably, things have gotten much better and my seniors treat me kindly too. I’ve been feeling recently that there are so many kind people. I’m sad about the misunderstanding that ‘I bet that girl isn’t like that when she’s home’, but it’s nothing to feel that bad about.”


Chuu did not make a distinction between the singer Chuu and the person Kim Jiwoo. She replied, “A lot of people told me that I need to separate the Chuu on TV and the Kim Jiwoo at home so that things won’t be tough for me. But I think Kim Jiwoo just comes out the way she is through Chuu, so I don’t think it’s much different.”


Chuu says that she’s been wanting to show off her different voices through a solo album, and she has put in painstaking work to overcome a singing slump. Last November on a certain Web variety, Chuu confessed: “I went on this radio representing the members, and I thought all I had to do was have fun and I sang, but it became a live vocal controversy. I got really depressed and avoided people. After that, I got so nervous any time I had to sing. So much that my legs would shake. I think I got into a slump about singing. I’ve been overcoming it a lot nowadays.”


About that slump, Chuu said “As seriously as I take singing, it was hard to endure when I got that bit of fear for the stage. In my mind I hated to keep avoiding it, so I kept trying to face it head-on by going on singing content or shows, like “Masked Singer” or “Leemujin Service”. I still get so nervous when I’m on stage, and my breath begins to lift when I sing. I’m working hard because I believe I need to establish a firm confidence as a vocalist, and do it on my own, if I’m going to show good things to fans and not leave any regrets on the stage.”


Chuu says that she recharges her energy through various hobbies. “I have so many hobbies. Before the album preparations I was working on myself through my hobbies, and I went on a trip with friends for the first time too, and I realized there’s a certain energy you get from travelling with friends. I think the new things I try in life give me a lot of motivation and vitality. I play tennis and badminton, ride the bike, take walks and run along the Han River. I give myself vitality through these different hobbies and that’s where I get motivation that lets me work.”


Appearing in last December’s broadcast of ENA’s music variety Hit Song in My Ear, Chuu expressed thanks to Sunmi, who she met on Running Girls, for giving her generous advice and encouragement. Coincidentally, Sunmi has also released a new song recently. Asked whether they have chatted prior to the comebacks, Chuu explained, “Unnie is always such a warm sunbaenim. We don’t get to talk often, but when I run into her she gives me strength. I’m just so grateful that we’re close enough now to seek out each other’s work with attention.”


She continued: “Unnie is much the senior for me, so I’ve had a lot of occasions to seek her advice. When I’ve had big worries about broadcast work, unnie taught me some know-how to make things easy. I’m going to think about more things to ask her if I run into her again during this promotion. Outside of albums, I want to release things like singles that contain my colors. So I want to ask her how best to craft content. Also unnie made her own content and appeared in a lot of content too, right. I want to ask her about how to become a bit more seasoned, and her mature mindset on the stage or in her album promotions.”


Describing her dreams, Chuu mentioned her role model, IU. She expressed her wish by saying “I want to resemble how IU sunbaenim is, having established herself in such different and multiple genres. I’m still very clumsy and moving forward step by step, but I want to do this well.”


She further expressed her fanhood: “I kept missing out on chances to attend IU sunbaenim’s concert after coming to Seoul, so I was really sad. And then I was able to attend her Jamsil concert, with difficulty. She gave me a hug backstage and that gave me so much motivation. If I get the chance, I want to go one more time and make a big impression on her.”


Chuu also left the door open for acting. “I’ve been thinking about acting for a while. I tried a Web drama called Dating Class earlier in my debut, and I had such good memories from that. They took really good care of me on site, and it gave me curiosity and interest for acting, so I studied on my own watching dramas and movies. It was fun to see myself on the monitor every time I filmed a music video. The whole process of coming up with expressions and angles and actions were all fun to me, which made me want to properly start with acting.”


Part 3

Asked how she remembers last year, Chuu replied, “I felt a lot like I was starting over. I thought a lot about what kind of things to show. That year I wanted to craft something new and different from the old Chuu, and to meet people who liked that album.”


Following Howl which focused on challenge and transformation, Strawberry Rush proves Chuu’s broad spectrum by expressing the positive and bright energy that she is best at. Regarding how she has grown since the last album, she said: “I want to grow as a vocalist. I consistently took vocal lessons, and I studied myself to discover the vocal tone that suits me the best and what people like. I’m hoping and waiting for even more fans who will like my voice.”


Just like Chuu who is crafting her own colors as a soloist, the other LOONA members have also announced their new beginnings at different places. Yves recently debuted as a soloist, and ARTMS (Heejin, Haseul, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, Choerry) released its first full-length album. The fact that LOONA members including Chuu were resuming activities around the same time garnered attention.


Asked how she felt watching the LOONA members’ activities, Chuu explained: “When we did group activities, given the nature of a group I thought it was difficult to show off the colors of each individual person, and that was a natural thing. But watching the members promote in different teams and units this time around, I could see how they were crafting the colors that they’ve wanted for themselves. So I felt proud of them. On the other hand, as I watched them perform I realized what it was that they’ve wanted to do, so I also felt emotional. They are members and friends and family that I see from up close, but when they stood on stage, they were even more splendid and shined more brightly. I learned a lot from watching them. Since we’re promoting around the same time, feeling the same emotions, I think we’re naturally leaning on each other and relying on each other more during the album preparations.”


What does LOONA mean to Chuu? She replied: “LOONA activities were moments that were like a gift to me, a process and a joy that I could never do without. That prepared the foundation for me, and became the big roots that allowed me to stand on them. I believe that the thoughts I have now, whether in front of the camera or at home, were only formed thanks to the time that I spent with the members. I’m only able to show these colors that I’ve wanted on my solo albums thanks to the LOONA activities.”


Chuu says that she wants to be assessed as a singer who does well on the stage through diverse activities, and she will be on the stage of Waterbomb Seoul 2024 in July after her comeback. Chuu said “I’ve known that as a festival where the hottest and most popular artists perform, so I never imagined that I would be at Waterbomb,” hinting further: “I’ve been planning the stage since two months ago. About how I’ll be showing you. I’m nervous and also looking forward to it, since it’s a big stage. I’m trying to help people feel again how they felt playing in the pool as kids, with the cuteness and brightness of “Strawberry Rush” that will be different from other people’s colors.”


Chuu said: “My big strength is that I can give energy to people. When people listen to my music they often say the lyrics or melody just feel like Chuu, and that’s when I think that my color is starting to establish itself. There’s a lot that I want to do in the future, and I think I’m getting to fill it up one by one. I want to try doing a band, and also to fill out a whole song with just a piano accompaniment. I want to treat every moment preciously and work hard, so I can do music for a long time alongside the people who support what I do and how I do it.”


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