The wait is over. After nearly 13 months, BLACKPINK, the incredibly influential and fantastically fashionable K-pop foursome, is back. The anticipation for the single “How You Like That” from their fandom (nicknamed BLINK) created waves across social media and YouTube, with the solo teaser videos for Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa accumulating over 65 million views.
With a second single reportedly dropping in August followed by their first full-length album in September, a new reality series, a recent successful collaboration with Lady Gaga on “Sour Candy”, a cute new line of collectible dolls, and Rosé announcing that she’s become the latest Saint Laurent global ambassador, BLACKPINK appears to be voraciously making up for their hiatus as a group.
BLACKPINK are known for their maximalist visual style, which has been mirrored sonically on their biggest hits “Kill This Love” and “Ddu-du-ddu-du”. With “How You Like That”, the members tell Miss Vogue they’ve sought out “a new and more sophisticated look both musically and visually,” while the energy and power that brought them legions of fans is as vital and present as ever.
It’s during the hectic preparations running up to the release that Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé, standing on the precipice of an exciting new life chapter, take to email to discuss their fame, creative processes, and being undisputed global powerhouses.
Let’s discuss “How You Like That” — how would you describe this new track?
“This single is a more intense hip-hop song but at the same time maintains the original colour and personality of BLACKPINK. The message talks about [how] in any given situation, we will not lose confidence and will rise, despite the circumstances we’re in.”
In your new reality show, 24/365 with BLACKPINK, the motions of a cat and King Kong were used to describe How You Like That. In what aspects do they represent the song?
“When we think of the title and lyrics for “How You Like That”, we imagine a sharp cat scratch. There’s a part in the song where the explosive drop whirls together with the powerful beat, and the image of King Kong came to mind.”
What kind of group is BLACKPINK in 2020 compared to 2019?
“2019 was definitely an unforgettable year that brought us great joy. We were able to perform at bigger stages, meet countless people, and we definitely grew and matured from it. We still say, ‘Did those things really happen to us?‘ Being able to meet our fans in person and see them enjoy and love our music gave us more responsibility as a group to show them a better and more advanced BLACKPINK.”
Are you finding the recording process is changing as you grow as artists? What’s the dynamic in the studio between the four of you?
“Our studio sessions are always so much fun. The recording process isn’t that different from before — we play, chat, eat good food, share our favourite music and ideas. There’s a natural flow so everyone is comfortable enough to fully understand the music and digest their own parts, which is how we have been able to be content with our final products.”
Lady Gaga mentioned she’d reached out to you for the “Sour Candy” collaboration. Did you video chat with her, and what did you talk about?
“We spoke with Lady Gaga over a phone call and she said that she liked our unique characteristics as a group. We’ve all really liked Lady Gaga since before our debut days, so it was a huge honour for us to be able to work with her. It was a very fun project and we hope everyone can enjoy it!”
As music has become more globally available, audience demand for non-English speaking pop stars has risen. What do you think of these opportunities to collaborate?
“We think collaboration is mutually beneficial. Through musical exchanges, we can inspire and be inspired, and it can be a new stimulus as well. Working with artists whose music is different to ours provides a good synergy.”
Korean artists are now global superstars breaking many boundaries — how do you believe that’s happened?
“First of all, we’re so grateful. With the development of so many different media platforms, music has become much more global. We think this is the biggest factor as to why K-pop is loved by so many people. With good music, language barriers and cultural differences are not a problem. That’s when we feel that music truly is universal.”
Most people make mistakes but, as celebrities, even the smallest error could be impactful on you and your career. How does this affect how you live, the decisions that you make, or the things you seek to experience?
“When it comes to our decisions, our life, and our careers, it impacts all of us. As public figures, it is true that our lives tend to be more exposed and focused on. But regardless of that, as individuals, we want to take responsibility for our actions and decisions.”
Having been a band for four years now, what aspect of the job remains difficult, and what has become much easier?
“The creative aspect of it is always joyful, but it’s still a tough job. We can’t just stop here, and we need to continually show our progression as a group, but through that process we find new ways to develop ourselves further. Because of our fans who show so much love and support, we can approach new challenges with peace of mind.”
What did you take away from experiences like Coachella and your US TV appearances? Were there a lot of nerves or stresses?
“We were so nervous because it was our first face-to-face experience with such a huge crowd in the States. We definitely felt the stress and pressure to showcase who we were as BLACKPINK for the first time. But as soon as we stepped onto the stage, the crowd enjoyed our songs beyond the language, and all our worries disappeared. We still have so much to learn but we learned how to vibe with the crowd and enjoy our performance a bit more.”
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt about yourself, being members of such a wildly successful group?
“We think the most important thing is not to be complacent [and to keep on] showing a new side of yourself. It’s important to have confidence with the music and visuals we want to show. We have to trust ourselves in order for people who see us to trust us.”
As a group, you’ve returned to a world that looks very different from when you last released material. Your fans will have directly or indirectly been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic — what’s your message to BLINKs?
“It’s a difficult time for all of us and we hope everyone can be supportive of one another. We want to send positive vibes and energy through our music in the hopes of brightening up your day.
“Besides preparing for our comeback, we were careful treating our health and safety as our main concern. Meeting BLINKs online and talking to them gave us joy and encouragement.”
You must know each other inside out by now, but what do you learn about each other as time goes on that surprises you?
“We’ve known each other for about nine years now. We feel like a family and we know so much about each other that there are no more surprises. One thing all four of us agree on is that we all have the same level of affection for our work. That is why we can always support each other, encourage each other, and work together for a better future for BLACKPINK.”
Your fame and influence is huge — how do you take care of your mental wellbeing when you’re under such intense scrutiny?
“With fame and influence comes more responsibility. We gain strength from BLINKs all over the world and by always relying on each other.”
What message would you like people who listen to your music to take away with them?
“We wish to give a hopeful and positive message through our music to everyone. And we want our BLINKs to have strength and confidence instead of giving up in dark times.”
What’s the best thing about being in BLACKPINK?
“Being able to make memories and accomplishments with the help of our lovely fans, our label and staff and, of course, all of the members, with amazing music.”