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Mamamoo, The KpopStarz Interview: The Soul-Stirring K-Pop Quartet On Their Unique Sound And Vision [EXCLUSIVE]

By Tony Sokol | June 02, 2015 06:07 PM EDT


When Mamamoo debuted last June with the single "Mr. Ambiguous," it was clear they were not just another K-pop girl group. With a sophisticated retro R&B style reminiscent of the late Amy Winehouse, the four-member South Korean girl group blend their big voices into a sound that is like no other. On "AHH OOP!," the group's collaboration with labelmate eSNa from April, the four members of Mamamoo showed revealed a new side to their sound and made it clear that they are just getting warmed up. In their first-ever exclusive interview with KpopStarz, the group discussed their early days, their collaborations with Bumkey and K.Will and their innovative music videos.

KpopStarz: It's hard to believe that it's been less than a year since Mamamoo's debut. What were your experiences like in joining the group?

Solar: We met as trainees {editor's note: a "trainee' in K-pop means an aspiring perfomer being prepped for success by the record label}. There were about 10 girls at first but, at some point, only we four were left.  Around the same time, our label planned a debut for a girl group named Mamamoo. Naturally, as the remaining four, we became the members of the group.

KpopStarz: How did you find out that you would be a member of Mamamoo? What was your first reaction?

Whee In: Kim Do Hoon, the producer and CEO of our company, gathered us together and told us that we were going to be a team and to prepare a debut. It was unbelievable. Also, we were really happy and excited that we were finally about to start something we had dreamed about.

KpopStarz: Which producer and songwriter do you feel the group works best with and why?

Moon Byul: The atmosphere of our record label is like a family. Our CEO and producer, KIm Do Hoon, is so warm and meticulous, that working with him is really fun and helpful. Even though we still have a lot to learn, he cares about us and teaches us. Thanks to him, we are enjoying music even after it's become a job.

KpopStarz: Throughout Mamamoo's brief history, you have collaborated with a long list of K-pop A-list artists like Ravi of VIXX, K.Will, Wheesung, Bumkey and the rap duo Geeks. As this is not a very common practice for K-pop girl groups, what was your reasoning behind working with so many famous guest stars?

Hwa Sa: Actually, as a rookie [act, just starting out], it would have been almost impossible to collaborate with top artists without our CEO's help. I would like to again thank him and all the artists who helped us.

KpopStarz: On your latest release, the electrifying "AAH OOP!," you teamed up for the second time with singer-songwriter eSNa, who, despite her talent, may be unknown to some of our readers. What promted this decision?

Solar: It was the second time we worked with eSNa. She wrote our debut song. However, it was first time that we performed together, so we were really excited preparing to record it. As we are in the same company, she helped as a lot. For us, it is really honor to work with her.

KpopStarz: Talk about the process of recording "AAH OOP!" Were you having as much fun as it sounds like you were?

Whee In: Yes. As it was a collaborative work, not our own work, we could enjoy it more. The synergy with eSNa allowed us to record the song with more energy.

KpopStarz: You are known for your unique and highly creative music videos. Do you have any input in the look, concept or direction of these clips? How do you continue to come up with such innovative visuals?

Moon Byul: Thank you for saying that. We and our staff put a lot of effort into our work. Of course we participate in the whole process, but it would be impossible without our staff's help.

KpopStarz: A lot of your songs, including your hit, "Mr. Ambiguity," have a classic retro sound reminiscent of American soul and R&B from the 1960s. Do you listen to that style of music? What other major musical influences do you have?

Hwa Sa: It was not intentional. Maybe it's because I like that genre. I think it is easier to do my best when I do what I like. There are many artists who influence me. It is hard to pick one artist, because individually we are so different. But as a team, we all admire Christina Aguilera, because she also has powerful vocals and has done so many retro, genre-specific songs.

KpopStarz: What's the strangest thing that has happened at a Mamamoo concert or recording session?

Solar: It's not strange but kind of embarrassing. We went to a university [to perform at] an orientation party. The audience had met each other for the first time just a few hours before we took the stage and didn't respond well to the performance. Since we didn't have much experience, we didn't know how to deal with the situation. It was frustrating.

KpopStarz: Do any of you play instruments or write songs? Do any of you have aspirations to do either?

Hwasa: Solar is good at piano. Whee-in and I can play a few chords on the guitar, but not so well. We all aspire to write and release songs someday. I've written songs to practice, since before our debut.

KpopStarz: What do you feel it is that makes Mamamoo so different from the other K-pop groups out there? What would you like your image to be?

Whee In: We participate in most parts of our album. We come up with ideas for the album concept, write lyrics, compose songs, come up with the choreography and so on. I think that's the difference. I hope someday, when hearing our songs, people will say "this is Mamamoo--no other artist could even duplicate what they are doing."

KpopStarz: Are you ever intimidated or put off by the fanatical devotion of South Korean pop music fans? Do you ever feel pressure to live up to a certain standard?

Moon Byul: Our fans are coming to see us and cheering for us, so we do our best on stage for them. I think more than half of the good energy people get from us, is from our fans.

KpopStarz: Please describe your individual goals for Mamamoo. What do you hope to accomplish with this group?

Solar: Maybe individually, we have our own goals. But for now, we want to do what we can do as a team. At some point when Mamamoo gets successful, we can think about personal goals. Until then, we will do our best to make Mamamoo a unique sound in music. I hope we could become a genre and people would recognize us just by hearing a song.

KpopStarz: Do you have any plans for the group's one-year anniversary in June? What project or performance coming up in the next year excites you the most?

Whee-In: We don't have any special plans yet. It is unbelievable that the anniversary is really coming. We take that as encouragement to work harder. We are about to make our comeback in June and ask for your continued support and encouragement.

Watch the music video for Mamamoo's single "AAH OOP!" RIGHT HERE

Tagged :  MAMAMOO, K.Will, Bumkey, eSNa, KpopStarz Interview


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