By Chu Seung-hyeon, Newsen
The group Loossemble possesses a shadow. It’s the shadow of Girls of the Month (LOONA), which had been their identity for seven years. You can see their origins in the team name itself, a combination of the English name “LOONA” and the word “Assemble”, meaning to gather. The message they want to impart through their music connects, too. The genre may have changed, but the message of “Trust in yourself and boldly move forward” remains the same. Loossemble did not particularly try to rid themselves of that shadow; instead, they await the day when that shadow, shrouded in darkness, will come into light and become clear.
After a conflict with their former agency, the LOONA members have separated to form new groups or turn solo. Loossemble, for which Hyunjin, Yeojin, Vivi, Go Won, and Hyeju came together, is one of them. It was not an easy decision to start over under a new name. “We had built up a lot as LOONA, so I worried a lot about whether I’d do well redebuting, or whether there would be any fans who would wait for us.” (Go Won)
It wasn’t only the redebut that they worried about. They could never have imagined that they would come to legal battles over unfair contracts against the company they had joined to achieve their dreams. Exhausted by the lawsuit, some members even thought about giving up the dream of being singers. “As big as my dreams were, I was hurting all the more for it. While helping out with my family business, I’d put away most of my thoughts about being a singer. But in that state, I looked up my old performances, and I realized: ‘I still have too much lingering attachments to leave the stage.’” (Hyeju)
While some members were feeling lost, the one who became their center was the leader, Hyunjin. As the anxious situation stretched on, when even contact between the members felt wary, Hyunjin worked to ensure that the members would not be scattered any further. Even the reason why she settled down at CTD E&M, formed by CEO Yoon Do-yeon who was a former Blockberry director, was because she was thinking about her team, not herself. “I tried to step up when I could to find a company that would accept all of the members. The reason why I chose this company was because it was willing to bring the other members, too. Vivi unnie and I were in similar circumstances, so we relied on each other, held onto hope, and kept waiting.” (Hyunjin)
The fans helped them feel secure about their futures. Even in a situation where they could not easily talk or be active, they sent endless messages of encouragement.
“The fans told me, ‘I will go whichever way you go.’ When I thought that it wasn’t just me that was having a hard time during the lawsuit, but the fans had it just as hard, I felt like I shouldn’t just give up here, but I should hold their hand and we should keep going together.” (Yeojin)
“One time when I wrote a letter to fans, I told them ‘It’s okay to take a break and come back’. But in that situation, the fans were the ones who told me that. That made me think, “The fans are cheering for me and waiting for me like this. I need to get back up and do this.” (Hyeju)
The reason why they went on an international tour alongside their debut was also to say thanks to fans worldwide. LOONA had garnered great popularity abroad, to the point of touring in 13 U.S. cities and in Europe. Coinciding with their debut on the 15th of last month, Loossemble performed across 10 places in America. “Even though we speak different languages, the American fans sing along to all the Korean songs and dance with us. I felt such great energy seeing them even dress up in the same stage fits.” (Go Won)
For the disappointed domestic fans, they prepared a field day where they could breathe close by. Near the end of July, they sweated and chatted together with around 100 fans in the Jamsil Student Gymnasium in Seoul, building bonds. Vivi said, “That was before our debut and during the album prep, so we couldn’t show them any music or dance. But the fans still waited for us, and so we were able to hold the field day.”
Alongside the new beginning, many things had to change. The team name is a big one, and they also came up with a new fandom name of “C.Loo”. Hyeju voluntarily changed her stage name from Olivia Hye to her real name. Some fans are saddened by the change in these memory-laden names. Vivi said “We explained that C.Loo is a fandom name for the five of us in Loossemble, and Orbit is the fandom name for the twelve LOONA girls, so we’re not abandoning anything and both still exist.” Hyunjin added, “We told the fans that we’ll call them ‘Orbit’ once again when the 12 of us reunite, and they were happy about that.”
In this way, even when the music changes, LOONA is an unerasable shadow. Loossemble emphasized that “The fact that we are LOONA has not changed.” Hyeju said “We thought hard about how to reflect LOONA’s colors into Loossemble. Going forward, we want to add some more stories that are unique to Loossemble, so that Loossemble and LOONA can connect. So that when we reunite in the future, nothing will feel disconnected.” The reason that they picked “Sensitive” as the debut title, after monitoring so many tracks, was also because it felt right at home with LOONA. “Many songs have a sense of explosion in the chorus, but this song, just like LOONA’s “Why Not?”, the instruments drop out in the chorus. We felt like that section would become key and be addictive.” (Hyunjin)
It’s no coincidence, either, that the song they heard without knowing about the producers turned out to be one that LOONA’s Yves worked on. The side track “Strawberry Soda” had a distinct color, because it was someone who knew LOONA better than anyone. “The lyrics saying ‘Don’t give up, just keep walking’ felt like words that unnie was telling us. And they’re lyrics that comfort her, too.” (Hyeju)
“While carrying on the colors from before, I want to show off even more charms of us five. It’s possible that with 12 of us, it was hard to see the individual charms. We filled this up with songs that carry the old image and lore, but that we could pull off well.” (Yeojin)
With every step that Loossemble takes, there is a bigger picture of the full group of LOONA. Including Loossemble and also Kim Lip, Jinsoul, Choerry, Haseul, and Heejin, over half of the members have joined up with people who participated in producing LOONA. Vivi said, “We think that LOONA hasn’t gone anywhere, but just like how we used to have units, we are another one of those units.”
“We may be walking our separate paths, but we think our destination is the same. We don’t know when it’s going to be, but there will come a time when we’ve settled into stability and we feel like ‘Now’s the time’. The timing has to line up, so when that time comes we are going to actively do this together.” (Yeojin)
The LOONA members are also active in communicating with each other. They’ve been sharing their music with Odd Eye Circle, which debuted earlier, as well as Chuu and Heejin who are debuting solo. They’ve become even tighter after going through hard times together. “All the members came to this showcase, too. They said it felt weird to be performing separately. Chuu unnie was the only one who couldn’t come because of a schedule, but afterwards she texted to say she looked up and watched everything. It’s the same as if she had come. The twelve of us are forever.” (Go Won)
Thinking of it as if they’ve passed through a dark tunnel momentarily, and now are crossing different bridges towards the same destination, they’ve gained the peace of mind to enjoy things. The goal is to increase their public stature, each member filling out the things they never got to do before. Hyunjin, Yeojin, Vivi and Go Won have been getting acting lessons constantly. Hyeju has a desire to become successful as a solo artist.
“I think the best group is a group that is for the fans. The team can only exist when fans do, and fans can only exist when the team does. If the fans want to see it, whether it’s variety, acting, performance, I want to show them everything.” (Yeojin)
“As C.Loos have been waiting, we’ll be very active and show you even better things. Don’t let go of our hand, and let’s make good memories and stay together until the end. We love you.” (Hyunjin)