[INTERVIEW] '6equence': MAMAMOO's Moonbyul unfolds 6 different stories in new album

Moonbyul of K-pop girl group MAMAMOO is set to drop her third EP, "6equence," Jan. 19. Courtesy of RBW

By Dong Sun-hwa

For Moonbyul, being part of one of the most talented K-pop acts ― MAMAMOO ― was a double-edged sword. She was proud to be a member of the group that has rolled out a string of hits since their debut in 2014, but at times, she felt like she was overshadowed by her bandmates, who seemed to shine brighter than her.

Laying bare her genuine feelings must have been tough, but during a media interview that took place at the offices of her management company, RBW, in Dongdaemun District in Seoul on Jan. 13, the 29-year-old rapper did not shy away from revealing her inner side.

"In hindsight, I was mostly hidden from people's view," she said. "Many of them just recognized me as a MAMAMOO member, not as Moonbyul … But after putting out my solo releases, I finally felt that I also have an identity as Moonbyul. I think my solo debut marked a new beginning in my life."

Moonbyul first went solo with the EP, "Selfish," in 2018 and is scheduled to release her third EP, "6equence," on Jan. 19. But the star said she felt a lot of pressure while gearing up for her new release.

"MAMAMOO's reputation gives me a heavy burden in almost every way, but I am most pressured when I have to prove myself with my music," she revealed. "As most people know, MAMAMOO has pulled off so many different genres to date, and each member has stunning musical prowess. So people have high expectations for me as well, and this leads me to struggle to live up to the group's name."

Nonetheless, she is fully content with the quality of her fresh EP.

The teaser for Moonbyul's new EP, "6equence" / Courtesy of RBW
"I participated in everything from A to Z in the EP-making process and I am 100-percent satisfied with the final outcome," the singer said with a big smile, explaining that the six-track EP has a "cinematic flow."

"I think many listeners will find it relatable, as its main theme is love," Moonbyul added. "The EP sheds light on different stages of dating relationships, with each song dealing with different topics, ranging from a first encounter to a breakup."

Its lead single, "Lunatic," is a house track centering on the theme of ennui. Many predicted that the tune will give off a melancholic and sorrowful vibe, as Moonbyul looked so pale and insecure in the teasers. However, "Lunatic" turned out to be quite upbeat and even cheerful.

"The tune revolves around a woman who is tired of her relationship with her boyfriend," she explained. "But this selfish woman does not immediately part ways with him. She just tells him in a witty manner that he should try harder to fix their relationship, because he loves her more than she loves him. This is why the song does not sound very weighty."

Another jewel of the album is "Ddu ddu ddu," a piece through which the singer talks about lingering affection.

"I am quite fond of the tracks that revolve around lingering love," she said. "In the case of 'Ddu ddu ddu,' it focuses on the feelings people frequently have after a breakup. Most of them regret breaking up, but they still choose not to go back in time and start over again."

Moonbyul / Courtesy of RBW

Asked whether the lyrics are reflective of her own experience, Moonbyul revealed that she has not dated for many years, but she added that her past experience did help her pen the lines.

"I had a boyfriend before my debut, who used to love me a lot," she said. "At that time, I did not like him as much as he liked me, but the love I got seemed to have inspired me to write the lyrics for this song."

The EP also carries four other tracks, including "Intro: SYNOPSIS," "G999," "Shutdown" and "For Me." According to Moonbyul, the upcoming EP, as well as her previous releases, are gender-neutral.

"So far, I have been trying to release songs that do not sound either feminine or masculine, because I believe I am quite androgynous," she said. "I want to become a person who can challenge the binary view of gender through music."

The fact that Moonbyul, as a rapper of MAMAMOO, boasts her vocal bravura in her solo releases, is another gem.

"In fact, when my label's officials first told me that I had to be a rapper, I was so shocked," she said. "Back then, I had no interest in rap, so in the beginning, I cried a lot while practicing rapping. I even blamed myself for being named a rapper who could take the center stage only for a few seconds while performing. But now I feel I was lucky, since I can both rap and sing in a song and demonstrate my versatility. I think this is one of my biggest strengths."

The star also shared her wishes for the days ahead.

"I hope that 'Lunatic' secures the top spots on music streaming charts," she said. "I also want to collaborate with Taeyeon of Girls' Generation."

Dong Sun-hwa sunhwadong@koreatimes.co.kr

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