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[Herald Interview] Weki Meki talks growth, shares lessons learned

The eight-piece girl group taks trip down memory lane of their four-year career

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, this year turned out to be quite prolific for Weki Meki. 

Having released three EPs from February to October, most recently highlighted by its power-driven single “Cool,” the eight girls of the rising K-pop girl group took time to look back on their four-year career, talk growth as musicians and share each of their life lessons for this year.

“It was definitely a busy year, but we were glad to have shown new sides of us in terms of performance, fashion and music. While our new album is titled ‘New Rules,’ it was actually ‘no rules,’ as we got to think out of box and freely express ourselves,” Rina said during a recent interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul. 

Weki Meki (Fantagio)
Weki Meki (Fantagio)
Fronting the act’s fourth EP “New Rules” is lead song “Cool,” which Doyeon explained as the first song that has received a unanimous approval from the bandmates. With new ground, new rules, the girls truly went beyond themselves with the new album. Kicking off with an earworm of whistle sound, the dynamic electro dance-pop track serves up more charismatic sides of Weki Meki, while playing up their cheerful nature as well. Talented dancer Yoojung, formerly of popular project group I.O.I along with bandmate Doyeon, shared that the intense choreography for “Cool” was physically demanding even for her.

The five-track EP also features the group’s first English song “100 Facts” -- the English version of the lead track. But the true hidden gem lies in “Just Us,” a piano-led ballad that captures the group’s early struggles before they matured in the public eye.

The self-reflective, heartwarming song was penned by Rina, Lucy and Yoojung, and partially composed by Suyeon.

“The lyrics look back on six years ago when we had to practice in a rooftop house as we didn’t have an official practice room,” explained Yoojung, recalling the girls’ pre-debut days. “Although we didn’t have much space, we have good memories such as exercising together at the rooftop or in a park in the morning,” she added.

Reminiscing the band’s unsettled times, Doyeon chimed in and said, “Our debut was uncertain at that time and all of us had to cope with difficulties. As a member who has joined the group a bit later, I was also worried about my lack of skills. But thanks to the bandmates, I could have adapted quickly.”

“I still remember the day when our debut was confirmed. All eight of us were sitting in a circle at a basement studio, holding hands. Without words, we just kept crying as each member got called up into a room to learn whether or not we would join the debut team. That particular scene is still stuck in my head,” said Rina, explaining how she depicted the exact aforementioned moment in the song.

“What I’m sure about is that I could have endured those times thanks to the bandmates. That’s why the song’s titled ‘Just Us.’ ‘Us’ was the reason why we could have come this far,” she added.   

Although COVID-19 posed challenges to the group, it didn’t seem to have stopped the bandmates from growing both as musicians and individuals. Not only during their group activities but even in their most casual moments, the girls didn’t cease efforts to keep improving themselves.

Doyeon, a book enthusiast, said that she plans on studying Korean grammar as she is interested in writing. “Yesterday, I actually found a very nice bookstore in Seoul which gives interesting lectures as well. I plan to visit that place later today,” said the singer with twinkling eyes. 

“It might sound weird, but once, me and Lucy stayed up until 8 a.m. for a non-stop discussion, talking about all kinds of topics. We really enjoy sharing our thoughts and emotions with each other, no matter how trivial and fleeting they are,” added Doyeon. Rina, another bookworm, shared that she’d been learning to play guitar and practicing writing by transcribing books or columns.     

Having halted group activities due to health issues last year, Yoojung expressed gratitude to people who supported her through her dark times, saying, “I took a break because I was feeling exhausted with relationships, but it was also nice people around me who enabled me to get back on my own feet. It made me want to become a good person for them as well.”

Lua continued, “When I’m alone in our dorm, it’s easy to get lethargic. So one day I made a list of what I really wanted for my life, and one of them was launching my own character brand and creating my own music. Recently, I built my own studio in my parents’ house to work on music.”

Sei said she tried to overcome her fears about meeting new people and expand her personal relationships, while Suyeon said she learned the virtue of letting loose and taking herself as she is. Lucy said she’s been living to the fullest not to leave any regrets.

Elly, who’s been taking time to give her answer, closed out the hourlong conversation.

“Actually, I lacked confidence in singing and I’ve been contemplating over my position within the team. It’s still difficult for me. But over the course of three comebacks, I started gaining confidence after seeing people who liked my vocals. I may not be perfect, but I feel like I’ve finally found my voice,” she said. 

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)
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