Kwon Eun-bi reflects on her career in K-pop: “I might have taken a different path and not become a singer”

The former IZ*ONE leader also opens up to NME about how she expresses her flaws on her eclectic new single ‘Glitch’

“Up and down, left and right / I might appear anywhere / Stay on your toes / I’m everywhere now,” sings Kwon Eun-bi on her latest single ‘Glitch’ – and she’s certainly proved as much throughout her nearly decade-long career. The 26-year-old singer has worked her way up the entertainment industry through sweat and grit, starting from her beginnings as a member of the short-lived girl group Ye-A in 2014, before finding success on reality TV competition Produce 48, where she became up as the leader of the beloved K-pop act IZ*ONE.

Last year, after the end of IZ*ONE, Eun-bi spread her wings and stepped into the spotlight on her own with her debut solo mini-album ‘Open’. Now, back with her second mini-album ‘Color’ and the confident new title track ‘Glitch’, the rising star promises a thrilling, unpredictable ride ahead as she starts to make her mark on the world. Following the release of ‘Color’, NME catches up with Eun-bi to discuss her new record, adapting to life as a solo artist and her tough journey thus far.

“I’m so happy to be back, presenting a wide variety of music,” she tells us of the new release, expressing her excitement to finally return with new solo material. While her debut single ‘Door’, along with its whimsical Alice In Wonderland-inspired music video, was a delightful and fresh introduction to the world of Kwon Eun-bi, the singer isn’t one to rest on her laurels, switching things up with the striking, experimental ‘Glitch’.

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The all-rounder handles the conceptual transformation seamlessly, swapping out the jazzy, soulful vocals of her debut single for the silent confidence of ‘Glitch’. Its accompanying music video is similarly alluring, with Eun-bi literally glitching in and out of different futuristic dimensions – which, as she admits, unknowingly carries forward the otherworldliness of her previous release.

“I wouldn’t say it’s intentional,” she shares. “It’s just that when I thought of how I could express the word ‘Glitch’ [in the music video], well, that part [where I enter different dimensions and worlds] just happened to express it well,” Eun-bi explains. “It was fun because I had to go back and forth between the set and other locations,” she adds, recounting her experience shooting for the visual. “There is a scene where I had to hang on a wire, and I had so much fun [filming it].”

On the surface, ‘Glitch’ might seem to be about how flawless and polished Eun-bi is as an artist – as she says on the song, she has “perfect pitch” – but in actuality, the song represents how the singer sees and acknowledges her flaws, but chooses to embrace her incomplete, unpredictable self. “I think one thing that I have to improve is the fact that I worry a lot,” the star confesses, when we land on the topic of what she perceives as a flaw in herself, particularly when it comes to her ability to deliver as a performer. “I worry about a lot of things, whether or not they might actually happen in the future, so I want to [relieve myself] of it.”

Despite her hard-fought success now, it seems like there is a small part of Eun-bi that regrets entering the entertainment industry and becoming a K-pop idol. “I might have taken a different path and not become a singer,” she shares candidly, when asked if she would’ve done anything different if given the chance to turn back time. “I always feel a great pressure on my shoulders, because, I think, of my job as a singer.”

“But when I do other things, without thinking of them as work, I think I get to have more fun without any burden. I want to do many fun and interesting things without feeling burdened,” Eun-bi adds. But ever the professional, she puts her best foot forward at all times, bringing a sense of delight wherever she goes – and Eun-bi agrees, saying that she sees her “bright energy” as one of her biggest strengths.

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kwon eun-bi interview color career kpop taken different path not become singer
Kwon Eun-bi. Credit: Woollim Entertainment

Perhaps it is this joyful optimism that has gotten the musician where she is today, first leading one of the fourth generation’s most popular girl groups, before successfully striking out on her own. “I learned so many things when I was [IZ*ONE’s leader], and that’s the reason I can do so well as a soloist now,” she reflects. The star has also since adapted to promoting as a soloist, sharing that she has been able to enjoy her performances with much more confidence than when promoting ‘Door’.

“On my next release, I would like to show everything that I like, and that I am good at,” she adds thoughtfully, not only casting her sights on her next project, but even further into the horizon, into the (hopefully) many, fruitful years of her career to come. “I hope people [in the future] will think that Kwon Eun-bi’s songs have given comfort to many.”

Kwon Eun-bi’s sophomore mini-album ‘Color’ is out now.

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