From an unexpected viral hit in 2014 to a member’s health battle needing to have her sit out of a few album releases, EXID’s road to K-pop stardom has been atypical but the cheers from the KCON crowd would make one think otherwise. Earning some of the biggest roars at KCON 2018 New York, the girl group performed their ’90s-inspired new single “Lady,” along with a handful of other singles, to greet their U.S. fans on the East Coast.
Backstage at the final Day 2 concert of KCON 2018, just as the news hit that a record-breaking 53,000 K-pop fans had officially attended the festival, EXID spoke to Fuse looked back at their best memories from the ’90s, looked forward to what’s coming next and more.
FUSE: Your latest single “Lady” is obviously inspired by the ’90s. You guys are ’90s babies, growing up in that time. Do you remember any songs that were really really popular in Korea during the ’90s time or from your childhood?
Jeonghwa: I was very young, born in 1995, so by the time I was able to actually listen to music and remember it was already the ’00s so probably the other members that are better off answering this question. [Laughs]
Hani: JYP [Park Jin Young], I really liked JYP songs.
Hyelin: I would have school festivals and my friend and I would actually cover groups like S.E.S and Fin.K.L. and I think that actually helped my dream to become a singer.
LE: I remember songs from Biggie— who’s from New York! Where we are!— and Tupac, yes, of course. Songs like “California Love,” I remember listening to a lot of old hip-hop music and songs. We definitely feel like trends repeat themselves and we’re so happy that they’re able to sing songs that we heard when we were younger.
Do you see any other trends from your childhoods coming back?
Hyelin: I remember “fanny packs.” In Korea, they called it a sack, but it’s called a fanny pack. Yeah, but it’s coming back, we call it a side, you know, a side bag because it’s cooler. But for me, I remember that it’s specifically something my dad wore at that time, but now it’s something that people wear.
Hani: Bucket hats are back in style. And just like how the rim go around and round, trends go around and around, you know? And to add on to that, even when it comes to pants, back then there were pants with really wide legs, but it’s starting to come back. And once again fashion, it comes and goes.
No more skinny jeans for me. Thank you for all those memories, but looking forward to the future, what else does EXID have coming in 2018?
Jeonghwa: Solji’s health has been recovering very well and as we’re watching her health get better, we’re looking to come back as all five. I want a group comeback and the group wants the fans to continue to expect us to come back as all five. We really do hope that the fans continue to wait for us.
“We feel like the world is just starting to come around and show love for K-pop”
2018 feels like a really special year for K-pop. EXID’s music is reaching so many more people than ever, I think. Do you feel that it’s a special year too?
Hyelin: First off, we didn’t have as much time to go abroad, but when we do see our group mentioned in the media we look into it and we’re always touched to see what’s being said about us and that we’re being talked about overseas. When we do get a chance to go abroad, there are fans at the airport and those are the times when we realize that we’re being loved overseas. Anytime we see our fans overseas, we get so much energy and so much support. We’re always very thankful.
Jeonghwa: Not just our team, but all the Korean teams are trying so hard to achieve their dreams and it’s just right now that we feel like the world is just starting to come around and show love for this genre of music.
Hani: And we feel so proud that it might just be because we’re part of this genre, you know? We see that K-pop culture is actually growing right now, starting to be accepted in this world, and it’s really surprising. So we feel this sense of pride to be part of this growing genre.