Left to right: Haerin wears ZADIG & VOLTAIRE top, skirt, and shoes. Danielle wears ZADIG & VOLTAIRE top, dress, and shoes. Hyein wears ZADIG & VOLTAIRE sweater, top, pants, and shoes. Hanni wears ZADIG & VOLTAIRE top, pants, and shoes. Minji wears ZADIG & VOLTAIRE jacket, shorts, and shoes.
VIA ISSUE 189, THE BESTIES ISSUE!
Written by Bree Castillo
Photographed by Yoona Shin
Styled by Aeri Yun
FLAUNT: When we are young and our hearts are moving faster than what the laws of psychics can allow, there is a sentimental resonance where wonder is sewn into every second and even the sound of the wind carries a weight of significance. Tiptoeing through the door of adolescence, dreams and aspirations are treated like delicate petals and a new crush can bring hope like nothing else.
South Korean girl band NewJeans is collecting these beautiful and fragile moments from their own experience, enlightening those yet to explore teenage consciousness, those in the midst of it, and those who’ve maybe forgotten its unique power. What becomes of this mimetic transcendence is a process of sharing in life’s occasional naivety and its hopeful potential. Together Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein are capturing the attention of the world and creating a nostalgic sanctuary with their new genetics of K-pop.
In July of 2022, NewJeans debuted with their first number-one single, “Attention” followed by their self-titled extended play which includes spirited tracks “Hype Boy” and “Cookie.” It’s here where the five-piece group dreamt up their Y2K fantasy of overflowing synths indebted with R&B tendencies. Loving confessionals lay against evergreen beats to create their idiosyncratic sound about mutual affection colored by the idealism of youth.
The band quickly returned with OMG, a project of snappy singles, which furthered the continuation of their bouncy soundscapes atop garage-inflected rhythms and addictive melodies about the pressures of evolving. They sing, Oh, my, oh, my god, the only way a young girl might when dealing with the furies of adolescence creeping in.
Now only a year after their debut, NewJeans has released their second offering Get Up, a six-track drum and bass EP on the bliss of self-acceptance, and the excitement of a budding romance. While their collective unconscious comes to light with their uniformed dancing and synchronized formations, there is still a diaristic and lived-in tone in their music—the same way we all know and expect to endure the intimacies of navigating through firsts, as the pressures of new love and life’s complexities continue to reveal their force.
Each bubblegum-flavored track on Get Up—all of which are under three minutes—stay for just enough time to deliver the message and not a second longer, leaving as quickly as a fleeting crush. Within their track “Super Shy,” they sing of youthful hesitation: I’m all nervous ‘cause you’re on my mind all the time, I wanna tell you but I’m super shy, super shy. With the band’s ages ranging from 15 to 19, their sweetly packaged message is one of girlhood wistfulness, a gentle blossoming, and warm daydreams set in a digital paradise.
At the end of the day, when you’re young and in love, nothing matters except what song comes next and who is sitting next to you. See here, as Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein share about the sounds that bloom from companionship, and how the tendrils of music hold us close.
What about music brings people together?
We believe music is a universal language. No matter where you are or where you come from, anyone can connect through music! It expresses emotion and heals people in lots of different ways. Music has the power to create a community and bond people! We hope that our music can also have that effect and bring people together from all over the world!
What was the most important lesson you learned being a trainee outside of the traditional pursuits?
We’ve learned the importance of teamwork. We’re used to expressing our opinions and working towards a conclusion as well as understanding each other. We’ve grown much closer through this process, and I think those were valuable moments that created a bond for more to come.
How has your friendship developed and supported your individual voices, opinions, openness, and empathy? How do you comfort each other?
We have been living with each other for a few years now, and to spend that much time with each other means that we’ve grown not only very close to each other, but learned and understand all of each other’s individual personalities and needs! Our friendship also feels very strong because while we prioritize the importance of communicating with each other, we just enjoy being in each other’s company.
With all the excitement and love around your music, how are you staying present and cherishing each moment?
Every day is like a treasure! We are so grateful for all the unconditional love and support we’ve been receiving towards our music! It can be difficult to stay in the present sometimes just because I’m always excited for what’s next to come, but being aware of my surroundings and the people around me is very important to me! Also, capturing moments through photos and enjoying the little things that make up my day help me cherish some of my most special moments!
Can you describe what you felt at Lollapalooza?
Lollapalooza was an absolutely amazing experience! It was nothing we could’ve imagined and to be invited to such a global music festival was so surreal. Performing there in front of so many people who danced and sang along to our music without any language barrier made us feel so happy and so touched! We received an overwhelming amount of love and support both on and off stage and are still so grateful that we were given this amazing opportunity. Our first stage in the US remains a very fond memory for all of us!
What is your relationship with social media like? What do you like about it, what do you wish you could change? How is it impacting our minds–for better or for worse?
We think of it as a window that connects us to our fans and also an opportunity to introduce NewJeans to many more people! It’s very encouraging to receive our fans’ support and their messages of positivity. We also love talking to our fans, Bunnies, about all kinds of things through Phoning (the NewJeans communications app) just like friends!
How do you relate to the idea of an idol? How do you keep the balance between the pressure of being in the public eye and enjoying your private and unexamined life?
We think it’s difficult to define it as a single concept! But based on what we’ve dreamt of as a trainee, we believe an idol is someone who shares their thoughts and feelings through their performance!
NewJeans, a play on new genes, what do you wish you could instill in the new generation? What world are you trying to create with NewJeans?
As NewJeans and as a team, we are focused on what we are capable of showing whilst challenging and enjoying ourselves! We hope we are able to continue strengthening a recognizable sound that people can associate us with, and to continue to share the joy and fun of music and art as much as we enjoy it!
What can we expect from NewJeans next? What can you say about your new music?
We hope you look forward to great music and many more new aspects that we have to show! Just like how we’ve grown since our debut, we’d love to show you constant growth and progress!
How do you keep your heart open?
We are not sure if there’s a specific ‘how to’ in having an open heart. But being positive, open-minded, and listening closely to the people you love, we feel would have to be a big part of it!
What does girlhood mean to you?
To me it’s all about learning, making mistakes, growing, and just having fun! I’ve always been very adventurous as a child. I loved the outdoors, always seeking out new things to experience. I asked a lot of questions too (hehe)! Traveling and exploring new places were my absolute favorite! When I was very young, we would go camping in the Blue Mountains and my dad would teach me the names of all the gum trees and flora around me! These memories from my childhood are what makes me who I am today, and I’m so grateful for that!
What do you hope your listeners take home with them after listening?
Whether it’s confidence, inspiration, hope, or just pure enjoyment, I hope that the experience is unique for every listener! I feel like our music can be interpreted in so many ways and I hope that it has a different, yet positive effect for everyone!!
How do you practice self-care?
I try to do it daily by just looking after myself and also making sure to give myself time to relax and enjoy my hobbies other than performing!
What is most rewarding about being in NewJeans?
The most rewarding thing about being a part of NewJeans is having four other members who are like sisters to me. I wouldn’t have met them if it weren’t for this opportunity and I always feel so grateful and lucky to be able to share all these moments and experiences with them!
Describe your utopia.
Personally, I like to spend my free time at home! I love to spend time talking to my parents on the phone, playing games, and keeping a diary, which all make me feel so happy, like my heart is full. My utopia would be a day when I can do all these things at once.
What was your first memory of music? What did you feel listening to your first single as NewJeans?
My childhood memories of music are very diverse. I remember moments of dancing to music and learning to play musical instruments. When I listened to our first single, I thought these would be the perfect way to express ourselves to the world for the first time. That’s how much I love and cherish them.
What’s your favorite memory together as a group?
All that has happened so far was so much fun and has become valuable memories. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in a short period of time!
When do you feel the most powerful? When do you feel the most vulnerable?
I would say I feel the most powerful when I’m doing something I’m confident at.
What is a common misconception about Gen Z that you would like to debunk?
I think misunderstandings mostly occur when we interact with someone without understanding them, rather than due to generational gaps!
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I do believe it’s possible to fall in love at first sight, but I think cases where they last are especially rare and special.
When was the last time you really experienced nature?
I think it’s difficult to pinpoint just one moment because I feel like I’m accompanied by some part of nature wherever I go. I generally like to take walks and enjoy spending time in nature.
Can you describe the moment you knew NewJeans was going to be big?
I would say that I hoped we would receive a lot of love as we have tried our best and a lot of people were supporting and helping us.
Photographed by Yoona Shin
Creative Director: Mui-Hai Chu
Written by Bree Castillo
Hair: Jieun Jung
Makeup: Nakyeum Lee