Minzy is easily one of the most recognisable faces and voices of K-pop’s second generation. The industry veteran made her debut back in 2009 as one-fourth of the legendary girl group 2NE1. Together, Minzy and her fellow members went on to release hits such as ‘I Am The Best’, ‘Ugly’ and ‘Fire’, which remain some of the most iconic songs in K-pop. Despite only turning 27 years old this year, the vocalist and dancer already has over a decade of experience under her belt and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Since her departure from 2NE1 in 2016, Minzy has been hard at work carving out a lane for herself, from starting her very own label, MZ Entertainment, to venturing where few K-pop acts have been, into the Filipino entertainment industry. Now back with her new Latin pop-inspired single ‘Teamo’, Minzy fiercely asserts that her prowess as a performer has only gotten stronger over time.
Between her current promotional activities for ‘Teamo’, Minzy sat down with NME over a video call to discuss the inspiration behind the new song, how she has evolved over her 12-year-long career and which junior idol has caught her attention.
Congratulations Minzy, on the release of your new single ‘Teamo’! It has been over a year since you last released new music. How does it feel to finally be back?
“First of all, it’s been such a long time since I’ve made a comeback with full choreography so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m also very excited at the thought of being able to perform again.”
The lyrics for ‘Teamo’ are loosely based on ‘Romeo & Juliet’. What inspired you to incorporate this story into your new song?
“I had an online fan-meeting with some Brazilian fans, and at the time, they were really passionate and great to me. I wanted to deliver my sincere thanks to them with the song’s lyrics, so I ended up writing a song inspired by the passionate love between ‘Romeo & Juliet’. During the time that my choreographer was preparing for ‘Teamo’, there was also a movie about ‘Romeo & Juliet’ that came out. We felt that the story suited the song really well, and that’s how it all came about.”
‘Teamo’ recently made its debut at Number Six on Billboard’s World Digital Songs chart, congratulations! What do you think has contributed to the success of the new track?
“Thank you! Firstly, my priority was to communicate with my fans and so we made sure that ‘Teamo’ would be a song that they could sing and dance to with me. So, I think it could be because ‘Teamo’ ended up becoming the kind of song people could come together to sing along to.”
Also, you started your own label MZ Entertainment late last year. What motivated you to start your own agency and what has that been like?
“In the long-term, I would like to help nurture the next generation of artists with MZ Entertainment, because there are many great juniors out there. Also, I wanted to be able to create music and performances that could show off my own colour as an artist.
“Frankly speaking, it was really difficult becoming an entrepreneur and starting a company on my own, but on the other hand, I can now communicate with fans in my own way that is comfortable and familiar, so I think this was the best decision for myself.”
It has been 12 years since you began your career, and it must have been a wild journey for you. What has it been like and how do you think you have changed since the beginning?
“So much has happened over the past 12 years that it is difficult to express through words, that’s for sure. But that is why I am here today. I was so young in the beginning, so many of the staff I worked with would tell me what to do, and what I could do. But now, I can share my ideas on everything and express myself freely, so that is how I have changed.”
What is the biggest difference performing as a soloist versus being part of a group?
“In a group, everybody has their own parts, and it is a lot easier to focus on my own part. But as a soloist, I have to do everything alone, so becoming a soloist felt like I was now responsible for the parts of four people. It can be really difficult to fill the stage with energy as one person. Even so, I think I can show many different sides [of myself] on stage, so while it is hard, it can also be an advantage.”
After over a decade of experience in the K-pop industry, what is the most important piece of advice you would impart to juniors in the industry?
“Because the K-pop industry is so hectic and busy, it can be hard to just enjoy the moment and appreciate the good times. I would say that if you can, try to appreciate these moments and enjoy everything that you are doing right now, it will make you much happier.”
Speaking of which, are there any junior idols that have caught your eye and why?
“Because I’ve been promoting [my new song] on weekly music shows lately, my staff and I have been watching and meeting a lot of newer idols. Among them is Yoo Taeyang, who is one of the members of SF9, and I think he is a really good dancer. I think he will go on to be an amazing performer in the future.”
It has been difficult to go out and hold events and concerts the past year because of COVID-19. How have you been spending your time during the pandemic?
“I’ve been spending a lot of time at home reading books and watching movies, which have really inspired me. I have also been thinking about how I can express some of these new messages and ideas I have to my fans.”
Are there any movies you watched during this time that left an impression on you?
“For me, I think A Star Is Born is a really memorable movie.”
Lastly, what would you like to say to your fans who have been eagerly awaiting your comeback?
“I’m truly sorry that it has been such a long time since my last comeback and thank you for showing me so much love. I hope we can find the time to see each other more soon. Of course, my next song will be in the way, so I hope that everyone will also show it lots of love as well!”
Minzy’s new single ‘Teamo’ is out now.