“Boo, prick your ears! Hello, we are bugAboo,” the bright-eyed rookie girl group greet,. the excitement and nervous tension in the room buzzing even through video call, as they sit down to chat with NME just days before their official debut. For the multinational six-member act – comprising members Choyeon, Eunchae, Yoona, Rainie, Cyan and Zin – this is just the glimmer of light from the end of the tunnel as they draw closer to making their presence known to the world.
“Hard work will never betray you,” the girls agree unanimously, looking back on their journey thus far. “There were definitely moments where I just wanted to run away,” confesses Eunchae. The 22-year-old is the eldest member of bugAboo, having been a trainee for about six years now. Her sentiment is one that is more common than not in the K-pop industry; so many give up on their dreams a year or two into their training, unsure of their ability to secure a position in a group that might potentially make their debut.
“Being around the members has helped a lot,” she shares. “They have always encouraged me to work harder.” Choyeon nods in agreement, emphasising just how much bugAboo value hard work. This mindset has clearly worked for them, as they count down to the release of their debut record, which includes their addictive, self-titled single ‘bugAboo’ and playful B-side ‘All Night Play’. “Our title track introduces us to the world in a strong, powerful way,” shares main vocalist Zin, the youngest in the team.
Not all of bugAboo’s members are new to the spotlight – Choyeon and Eunchae had participated in Mnet’s reality TV competition Produce 48 back in 2018, finishing in 50th and 32nd place respectively. “The mindset I had three years ago is very different from now. I was 20 back then, and I think I was a little self-centred,” the latter reflects with an embarrassed laugh. “I only saw the obstacles and difficulties I’d faced personally, Along the way, I have gained the mindset of valuing the teammates by my side, as well as the staff that have been supporting us behind the scenes much more.”
“I think what Eunchae said was perfect,” Choyeon says, adding that the experience has also been a great source of motivation. “Seeing the trainees who practiced next to me, chasing the same dreams, making their debut one by one pushed me to keep working towards making my dreams come true. Now that I’m here as a member of bugAboo, I feel incredibly happy and excited.”
Later, the girls open up about some of their role models in the K-pop industry. “Each of us have our own role models and inspirations. As a group, though, we really look up to OH MY GIRL,” shares Choyeon, who hopes that bugAboo will someday enjoy the same enduring success. “They perform so naturally, and produce such good synergy as a team. Just like how OH MY GIRL inspire us, we want to become somebody else’s role model someday, and inspire them to reach for their dreams.”
“I’ve been a huge fan of Girls’ Generation since I was 10,” vocalist Rainie confesses. Born in Taiwan, the vocalist has come a long way to make a name for herself, singing in a foreign language to make a name for herself in a completely new country. “In the beginning, I felt a little suffocated because I couldn’t communicate very efficiently,” she shares.
Yoona, who hails from Hokkaido, Japan reveals that her struggles were similar. The Sapporo native had travelled to Tokyo for a K-pop festival, where she performed Produce 48’s ‘Nekkoya (Pick Me)’ to a live audience and captured the attention of scouts from her current agency. “I still struggle with language sometimes. It can be difficult to express the emotions I feel inside.”
“We use a lot of body language to communicate our thoughts as they come,” says Yoona, the Korean members of the girl group nodding and smiling in encouragement as she shares her thoughts. Later, leader Choyeon shares how the Korean members have also started to pick up some Japanese and Taiwanese. “With each of us putting in the effort in our own way, I think we have been able to move past the language barrier and understand each other well as a team.”
“The members have been taking good care of me,” Rainie assures. “I think my Korean language skills have improved quite a lot…” she trails off, sheepishly looking to the rest of the group. “That’s right,” they respond, beaming proudly at her. It is heart-warming to see the genuine trust and care between the girls, no doubt one of their greatest advantages as they take on the competitive K-pop industry in the years to come.
“This is just the beginning for us,” says Cyan, as the group talk about the impact they wish to leave on the world. “We want to become a good influence to lots of people.” Meanwhile, Yoona hopes that her own journey will inspire others: “Just like me, I want people around the world to realise they can become whatever they want regardless of where they’re from and what language they speak. I want to give them the courage to pursue their dreams and know that anything is possible if you work hard.”
bugAboo’s debut self-titled single album is out now.