Cover image of Nature’s special single “Rica Rica” (n.CH Entertainment)
It is not easy for anyone to voice their deepest fears, and in the case of a K-pop idol group, this would be facing the end of their run together. Yet here is a girl group who not only chose to face their fears upfront, but went further to use it in promoting themselves.
Nine-piece band Nature made a splash return into the K-pop scene Monday with the new single “Rica Rica,” amid raised anticipation not only from fans but also from general audiences, after declaring to the world: “Nature Can’t Go Down Like This.”
“The mockumentary introduced us to many people who weren’t aware of us, playing a key role in building up to our comeback with ‘Rica Rica,’ and we feel grateful of such impact,” Nature’s leader Lu said during an interview Friday.
Returning after about a year and a half with new music, Nature braced for the return with a four-episode YouTube series titled “Nature Can’t Go Down Like This,” a mock-documentary series showing the band self-producing their music and preparing together.
Although it was all in fun, the band said they had their worries at first in embarking on such a concept.
“We didn’t think we were a group ‘going down,’ but we were worried the video might make us seem like one. We tried harder in order to leave the right impression,” Loha said.
Contrary to the concerns, the videos exposed Nature to listeners who had previously been unaware of them. While it is mostly fans who leave comments below such self-produced variety content from K-pop idols, Nature’s recent show was tagged with supportive messages from people who discovered the group after watching the episodes.
Not everything about the show was fabricated, the group said. Sohee, the last to join the group in October 2019, said she almost cried while talking about their long hiatus.
“I was 200 percent genuine in that part. I almost burst into tears while filming the scene. I joined the group hoping to do well, but the new coronavirus situation broke out before we could do anything. I actually cried a lot talking about it,” Sohee said.
But with their return now imminent, Sohee said she feels the happiest of them all, and wait had been invaluable for both herself and the band.
“The one year and six months of break was gold for me. I wouldn’t have this positive mind if it weren’t for the time. Although it was a shame that we had to take time off, I’m still grateful. I’m happy to be a part of Nature and I also love the members,” she said.
A year and seven months since their third single “Nature World: Code M,” the bandmates were looking forward to reuniting with fans, collectively dubbed “Leaf,” more than anything.
“As we had been away for a long time, at first, I was worried about what I should say to Leaf when and how I should act when we meet again. But, right now, I just want to see them fast,” Uchae said.
The new album is a two-track single consisting of title track “Rica Rica” and B side “Dear Leaf.”
Deviating from the group’s previous pure and feminine image shown in “Girls,” “Rica Rica” boasts of a fiery energy and alluring charm.
“’Girls’ had a pure sexy concept, so it was all about putting on less, no accessories, no nail decorations, pure makeup with the minimal amount of colors,” Lu said. “But for the strong concept of ‘Rica Rica,’ we put on bright-colored dresses, topped by excessive jewelry that could better show the choreography.”
The iconic choreography of the song was inspired by the traditional Zaouli dance of Ivory Coast in West Africa, the band explained.
“As it’s a traditional dance, we worked even harder so that we don’t dishonor or come to make fun or the dance moves,” Loha said.
About the backlash concerning cultural appropriation of traditional Indian wedding makeup and items, the band denied any such intention.
“We were especially cautious as we understand that such issue (of cultural appropriation) is a sensitive matter these days. We had no intention of mocking other traditions, but the members and staff will make sure we take more caution next time,” Loha said.
Meanwhile, Sunshine is sitting out from the band and its promotions due to health-related reasons, Loha explained.
Concept image for Nature’s “Rica Rica.” (n.CH Entertainment)
Chinese bandmate Aurora hoped to spread a healing energy to people with their new song, while Japanese bandmate Haru added, “I hope that ‘Rica Rica’ is heard by many people. It’s an easy song to follow, even to a foreigner like myself. I hope many people enjoy the song.”
B side “Dear Leaf” is a gift for fans who have waited such a long while for Nature, the band said.
“It’s our fan song for Leaf. We wanted to deliver how thankful we are and we hope they like it,” Sohee said.
Haru and Saevom said the bandmates were able to get to know each other better through the long break.
“The members have become tighter through the mockumentary production,” Haru said. Saevom added, “We’ve become closer. We spent the time catching up with each other and working on our friendship.”
Chaebin said, “There was a time when I wasn’t so thrilled to go up on stage, because I felt so tired. But the hiatus made me realize how much I loved the stage.”
“We’re a very energetic group and the stage is where we belong. We’re just excited to be able to show ourselves off where we belong,” Loha added.
Marking four years since debuting in 2018, Loha said she wanted to enjoy the whole process more than ever.
“I think enjoying something also requires effort, and this time, we want to try our best to just enjoy the moment because we couldn’t during all our previous comebacks,” she said.
Loha added this was the start of their new journey.
“I feel like we’re debuting again,” she said, adding, “We’re preparing for a new album. We don’t want to show that ‘Nature can’t end like this,’ but that ‘Nature will succeed like this.’”
By Choi Ji-won (email@example.com