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Exclusive4Minute in pursuit of new style of music

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This is the first in a series of interviews with K-pop idols. The following interview was conducted with the five members of girl band 4Minute. ― ED.

By Kim Jae-heun

K-pop girl group 4Minute of Cube Entertainment is already in their seventh year since they first debuted in 2009 with their first album "Hot Issue," which instantly propelled them to stardom.

Two weeks ago, the five-member group released their seventh mini-album which features the title song "Hate" co-produced by popular American electronic music producer Skrillex. The day after 4Minute released the new track, it reached the Top 10 on iTunes charts in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and China.

Unlike the band's previous albums, which have instantly swept the domestic charts but drew little attention from abroad, the new track is receiving more positive feedback from abroad while local fans are offering mixed responses. Nonetheless, the members are proud that they have, once again, come up with their own new style of music, as they have always been pursuing different styles on previous albums.

Q: The seventh mini-album is receiving mixed feedback domestically. How would you evaluate your new songs?

A: We anticipated such reactions. We knew the music could be difficult for general audiences but I guess it is our homework to solve the problem. We are trying to focus on the songs as well as their performance for audiences to enjoy.

But at the same time, the album had the best overseas reception among all our works. The music video for the title song recorded the most hits on YouTube in the shortest time (7.16 million as of 3 p.m. on Feb. 17).

We guess the song received much attention because it was co-produced by Skrillex. It is hard to understand and enjoy the first time you listen to it.

Q: What are the major changes between the band's first album and the latest?

A: The extent of members' participation in producing the album. The music style changed very much. We have always challenged ourselves not to return with the same style of music. For some reason, we always pursue new things. We just do so naturally. We never choose a song for our title if the music is something we've already tried.

But we have to bear what follows with it. For example, our song "Volume Up" from four years ago is receiving good feedback nowadays and people ask us to perform the song. If we try something new, we can't always win instant popularity.

Q: 4Minute don't pursue a lovely or girlish style but a hip image.

A: Yes, and we are proud of it. It gave us our own characteristic that differentiates us from other girl bands. Girl groups don't always have to be pretty or cute and we are showing that girls can look cool too.

Surprisingly, the number of our male fans increased a lot this time. We did have "uncle fans" but this is our first time to have so many young male fans. We asked why they like us, because we are curious too. They said that our music is something that they like and we were happy that we kind of formed devoted fans of our own.

When we were performing the song "Crazy" last year, we did everything that men would usually hate, such as wearing red lipstick and strong eyeliner. This is like, women don't have to suit the image that men like. We are creating a new trend for women (laugh).

Q. Do you have any foreign fans that you particularly remember?

A: We remember fans on YouTube who put up reaction clips to our new songs. We watch every one of them. Recently, when our new album received mixed responses, a male viewer replied on an Internet comment criticizing our new songs that it is gaining positive feedback and that he should check them out on YouTube. We followed the link and watched the video, which made us laugh about such a strong positive reaction. We get energy from these fans.

Q: You have been keeping the girl crush concept for seven years. Are you thinking of changing the group image?

A: We do intend to try a new concept but we will take our basic image of girl crush. If we change our concept to something totally different, our fans will be puzzled.

We have been introducing new songs with stronger and more charismatic images with every new album and we have reached the limit. So, this time, we decided to show an internally strong woman, who can take a goodbye very coolly and tell her boyfriend to go away. That is our concept for the new title "Hate."

Kim Jae-heun

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