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TWICE’s Nayeon on New Music, What She’s Learned During K-Pop Career

TWICE’s Nayeon on New Music, What She’s Learned During K-Pop Career

Nayeon has been on a whirlwind journey for the past few years.

In 2021, her K-Pop girl group, Twice, reached a new level of international success. Landing their first entries on the Billboard 200 Top 10 (Taste of Love) and Billboard Hot 100 (“The Feels”), the nine-piece act cemented their spot as global superstars. The following year saw back-to-back releases of their fourth Japanese album, Celebrate, in July and their 11th Korean EP, Between 1&2, in August. But Nayeon, the group’s oldest member, kicked off that summer with Twice’s very first solo album, Im Nayeon (Im is the singer’s surname).

“The first album… I think I felt a lot of pressure because it was the first solo work to come out of Twice,” Nayeon tells The Hollywood Reporter through a translator.

The EP and its lead single “Pop!” – a textbook example of the elevated bubblegum pop that feels unique to Nayeon and Twice – were an instant hit in Korea and globally, with the album debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Now, on a midday Zoom call from her agency, JYP Entertainment, in Seoul, the 28-year-old singer is all smiles. In between sold-out world tours and chart-topping albums as a member of Twice, Nayeon has been hard at work preparing for her highly anticipated sophomore EP, Na, which dropped today.

In a slight departure from her debut solo work, Na, much like Twice’s recent releases, explores a sound befitting an artist who is no longer the teenager she was at the time of her debut. Whereas “Pop!” was a song for fans to listen to on a bright summer day with the windows down, Na’s lead single, “ABCD,” feels better suited for pregaming a night out with friends.

Nayeon

Courtesy of JYP Entertainment

“I wanted to show the side of me that I didn’t get to as a member of Twice and in my first album,” Nayeon explains, noting that she wanted to demonstrate a more “mature” sound that was “stronger and bolder.”

Na, which is both a play on the singer’s name and the Korean word for “me,” consists of seven tracks — four in Korean and three in English. The new release also includes several collaborations, similar to Nayeon’s first album.

The album’s third track, “Heaven,” features Sam Kim, the Korea-based American singer who helped write and compose the song. Lee Chan-hyuk, one half of the beloved Korean brother-sister duo AkMu, produced the song “HalliGalli.” The Y2K-esque “Magic,” featuring Julie from up-and-coming K-Pop girl group Kiss of Life, is a high point of the album.

“I loved working with other artists,” says Nayeon, who notes that Twice hasn’t done many outside collaborations as a group. “It was both strange, but at the same time, it was very exciting.”

Nayeon has been touring with Twice consistently from 2022 until now. The group most recently performed an encore of their fifth world tour at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas in March and has additional shows scheduled for Japan in July. Nayeon says she’s no stranger to the balancing act of touring and creating new music.

“I’m pretty used to it by now, working on an album while touring, so I just had a lot of fun,” she grins, adding that her group mates have heard and liked Na. “I regard my solo work as an extension of being a member of Twice.”

Twice

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In October, Twice will celebrate its ninth anniversary, one of a select group of acts to reach this milestone in K-Pop, a genre where it’s common for an artist to release more than one album a year, with promotion schedules typically including several weekly music shows per release.

“I’ve learned a lot about how to be considerate of others, and how to voice my opinions, and at the same time, listen to other people’s opinions and balance those two things out,” Nayeon says of the knowledge she’s gained through a near decade on the job. “With many members in our group, I also learned a great deal of responsibility.”

When asked what advice she had for younger performers in the industry, Nayeon humbly brushed off the idea. “There are so many great new artists these days, and I learn a lot from them as well,” she says. “There are so many different concepts of idols… so I don’t know if I’m in a position to give them advice.”

Nayeon did, however, offer some advice to those working towards careers in K-Pop: “Really think about how much you want to devote to this profession and how much you love it and how much passion you have for this.”

Looking ahead, Nayeon seems positive and optimistic for the second half of the year, breaking down her goals into distinct buckets: doing well on her solo album, the upcoming Twice tour and the group’s ninth anniversary festivities. She’s especially excited about performing live in front of Twice’s cleverly named fanbase: “I really want to build more great memories with our fandom, Once.”

Nayeon

Courtesy of JYP Entertainment

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