Asia’s Top-Selling Girl Group TWICE Reflect On Their Bond, Fourth Anniversary
In October, K-pop group TWICE held their fourth anniversary fan meeting, called ONCE Halloween 2, on the outskirts of central Seoul. At Korea University’s Hwajung Gymnasium, fans, family and friends of Asia’s top-selling girl group gathered to celebrate members Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu.
2019 may have been one of the most eventful years for the group, but it wasn't the easiest. TWICE were faced with obstacles that affected both their privacy and mental health as young women in the bustling entertainment industry. One of those challenges? The temporary, necessary departure of member Mina, who took a four-month break to recover from severe anxiety and stage fright. However, together with the support from fans, loved ones and each other, their musical and cultural impact outweighed the hardships.
In this year alone, the JYP Entertainment act became the first K-pop girl group to embark on a Japanese dome venue tour (TWICE Dome Tour 2019 #Dreamday), which they followed with an arena world tour (TWICELIGHTS) that consisted of stops in Southeast Asian countries and North American cities.
In between concerts, interviews and shoots, in April TWICE managed to release their seventh Korean EP, Fancy You, (which includes lead single “Fancy”). In June, they followed the EP with a two-single Japanese release of their songs “Happy Happy” and “Breakthrough." In September, the group released their eighth Korean EP, Feel Special, and they will release their second Japanese studio album, &TWICE, later this month.
On October 20, during the emotional second show for ONCE Halloween 2, the participation of member Mina caught everyone by surprise. Since the announcement of her hiatus back in June, TWICE, as well as their fanbase, ONCE, had been filling in the void left behind by Mina while simultaneously sending her love and support. (At concerts, fans switched the colors of their light sticks to Mina’s signature green color, and often cheered and sang along during her parts. The members, meanwhile, left a space for Mina in photos and gave her shout outs during award wins over the past few months, like at the Korean MGMAs.)
At the event, Mina only participated in the musical numbers, not the talk breaks or games. It wasn't until the end of the show that the Japanese singer, surrounded by her TWICE sisters, mustered the confidence to thank the fans and her fellow members for their support.
PopCrush caught up with TWICE to talk about their powerful bond, important moments from the last four years of their careers, the highlights of ONCE Halloween 2, and the most vital part of TWICE: their fans, ONCE.
Happy four year anniversary! There are many things you've achieved, so much music you've released. How does it feel?
All (together): One in a million! Hello, we are TWICE!
Nayeon: I can’t believe four years have gone by since our debut. I am very happy that we have achieved so many of our goals so far.
Jeongyeon: I feel like our debut in 2015 was yesterday. We are already on our eighth mini album and have completed so many shows and a world tour. It feels awesome.
Momo: Thank you for giving a lot of love to TWICE. We will continue to do our best, and we appreciate all the love we receive.
Sana: There are so many things want to thank everyone for, and ONCE’s love really encourages us.
Jihyo: I think the love and attention we have received have come from us working together, and from ONCE’s support. We have continued to work really hard as a team to get to where we are today.
Mina: As time goes by, I think our bond together and with ONCE is getting stronger and stronger. I am thankful for my precious TWICE members.
Dahyun: TWICE’s fourth year! We are able to be in this situation because of ONCE and all of us working together well.
Chaeyoung: I often think about all the love we receive, and want to thank all our fans who constantly make us happy and cheer us up when we are sad.
Tzuyu: We are very thankful for all the love we receive, and we constantly strive to do our best to meet everyone’s expectations.
Being one of the leading groups of this generation's Hallyu movement (a.k.a. the Korean Wave of pop culture around the globe), do you feel any pressure?
Mina: There is a different pressure between when we first started and now. Now, we feel more pressure to meet and exceed expectations. We are thankful for ONCE’s support and the love we feel from the public at each event. It is very touching.
Momo: We feel pressure from every angle to meet expectations, but the pressure also pushes us in a positive was as well.
Tzuyu: I have noticed that the song lyrics are becoming more relatable, which is making them tougher to perform. Our single “Feel Special” holds very true and sentimental lyrics to ONCE and the public.
Can you recall the first time you felt like an idol?
Chaeyoung: Since we all came together through the TV show SIXTEEN, we received almost instant recognition once we formed TWICE.
Sana: After our song “Cheer Up” was released, we started hearing it often in the public and gained a lot of popularity off it. Shortly after, when we heard “Like OOH-AHH,” we realized that we were gaining fans and started to feel like idols.
For each of you, what would you say is the most memorable moment of your career thus far and why?
Nayeon: I will never forget when we won No. 1 on a TV music show for "Cheer Up." It was one of our group goals. We put in a lot of hard work in that song, and felt accomplished and were very moved.
Jeongyeon: My most memorable moment was performing at our first concert, TWICELAND: The Opening. We received fan videos, and it was amazing to feel ONCE’s support.
Momo: I will never forget when we performed at the Tokyo Dome. Growing up, I was told that only A-list famous musicians are invited to perform at that venue. TWICE was the first K-pop girl group to perform at that venue. We were all very grateful for that moment.
Sana: My moment is quite similar to Nayeon's. I remember the time when my "shy shy shy” part in “Cheer Up” became popular. I never intend to emphasize this part, but many people told me that it was their favorite part. This was unexpected, but made me so excited!
Jihyo: I remember our first costume meet and greet for ONCE HALLOWEEN. We were dressing different and were wearing crazy makeup for our Halloween costumes, so it was fun to see how the fans reacted. They were very excited to see us in our costumes.
Mina: My most memorable moment was this year’s fan meeting, ONCE HALLOWEEN 2. I haven’t performed in a while, so it felt good to be reunited with TWICE again and ONCE, who are all so precious to me.
Dahyun: I remember our TWICELIGHTS world tour. We were being called “Global TWICE." It was very cool to have a few shows in the U.S. and meet the fans.
Chaeyoung: I agree with Momo. Performing at the Tokyo Dome was incredibly memorable. It is the biggest stage we have performed on so far, and it was so great to see all the ONCE fans who came out for the show. It was the best feeling when the curtains opened, and we heard ONCE shouting loud from the audience.
Tzuyu: My most memorable moment was also during the TWICE world tour. It's hard to meet our international ONCE by just being in Korea, so it was exciting to meet all the fans around the world. I can’t pick just one moment, but every single moment during our world tour made me so happy. It meant so much to have the opportunity to travel the world.
With success comes hard work and hard times. What would you say is the key to keeping yourselves focused? How do you overcome struggles?
Nayeon: We can confidently say that leaning on ONCE is our key to overcoming tough times. Between our family’s support and ONCE’s support, we are able to get through struggles. ONCE understands our hardships, and sends love in letters, online, which really help us move forward.
Dahyun: As a team, we understand that the preparation process for music and performances is very important. With ONCE by our side giving us endless support, we want to continue to put on the best, positive performance
Jeongyeon: We lean on each other when we are going through hard days. We are a family. It is helpful when we can be comfortable with each other, and share the same concerns and struggles.
In 2019, you went on a world tour, packed arenas in the U.S., sold out domes in Japan, and released hit after hit in both countries. How do you stay healthy, whether mentally or physically? What do you do to relieve stress?
Mina: Feeling the love from all our fans helps us love ourselves. This keeps us mentally healthy.
Sana: We are able to stay healthy when we think about all the support we have to keep going. As a group, we have been able to get to where we are today through hard work and passion.
Jihyo: Being on tour makes us all physically tired, but we make sure to rest whenever we have spare time. Sleep is a priority for us, as we always want to put on the best performances.
Momo: We are able to relieve stress by leaning on each other. We often hang out at our home, order takeout food, and talk openly about our feelings. We are all there for each other.
Your newest single, "Feel Special," hits home for many listeners who feel lost. What would you say is your piece of advice for that feeling?
Chaeyoung: “Feel Special” is a song special to us as well. The lyrics are meant to inspire fans to realize you are never alone during hard days.
Jeongyeon: Sometimes life can get busy and we can all feel tired, but this song is meant to motivate you and give you energy to pick yourself up.
Tzuyu: We hope fans find comfort in this song, and realize that they are not alone and it is awesome to love yourself. This song is for ONCE.
We just need to know: Nayeon, were you the one who sang the high/whistle note during "Rainbow"?
Nayeon: Actually, no. The high note is from a musical instrument.
Momo, has the thought of choreographing "Love Foolish" for the next tour come across your mind?
Momo: I really hope to be a part of the choreography details, but cannot confirm that yet since we are still planning the tour.
Chaeyoung, Dahyun, Jihyo and Jeongyeon: since you seem to be the members with the most songs written, out of all the tracks you've written, which one is your most prized song and why?
Dahyun: My most prized possession would have to be “Trick It.” I did rap here and there with some songs before, but “Trick It” was my first time challenging myself to write lyrics from beginning to end. Plus, I wrote this song when I was in Hawaii, which was such good inspiration. I was thinking about what lyrics to write, and what I was trying to say, and the idea “white lies” suddenly popped in my head. When you love someone, or when someone is special to you, there are situations where little white lies are necessary. I wanted to share that with our fans.
Chaeyoung: I guess everyone might already know my answer to this question, but my favorite song that I’ve written is "Strawberry." You all know that my nickname is Strawberry Princess. Plus, I love strawberries and wanted to write about them. The song’s message is really cute when you think about it. Strawberries, like the fruit, tastes best when they’re natural. When you have something that’s strawberry-flavored, it’s not as good. That’s how we are, too. We are the best version of ourselves when we are natural and present ourselves like we really are. When we try to be fake, or try to be something we aren’t, the result isn’t as great. I was really passionate when writing this song; I was almost more focused on making the music itself than just making lyrics.
Jihyo: “Girls Like Us” is my favorite song. I wrote the lyrics during a bit of a rough patch; I was questioning whether or not I was a good enough artist. Nayeon told me that she almost cried when she first saw the lyrics. The lyrics are about comforting and cheering people on when they are chasing after their dreams. I’m pretty sure this song would be relatable to a lot of people because it would remind them of dreams they had put away.
Jeongyeon: My favorite song that I wrote is “Love Line." This was my first song that I wrote lyrics for, and I really wanted to express the feeling when you’re in love and hoping the other person feels the same way. I worked on this song for a long time, and really thought about the lyrics before we released it. I’m really proud of this one.
"21:29" is one of the most heartfelt songs, considering each member took part in writing. Walk us through the process and the finishing moments of writing it.
Sana: “21:29” means a lot to us. We always get fan letters from ONCE, which are always full of words of encouragement or messages of support. I hope the fans know how much these messages help us and keep us going. We decided to write the lyrics altogether as a “thank you” to our fans and their letters.
Nayeon: We finished writing the lyrics at 9:29 PM, which is why the song is called “21:29,” on the day of a concert. The nine of us were all together ... All the numbers have a lot of meaning: The 1 for ONCE, the 2s for TWICE, and the 9 for all nine members. We all loved what the numbers stood for.
Momo: Right before performing “Feel Special," we voted with our fans onsite and they also helped us name the song. We decided on pronouncing it as “two one two nine."
Tzuyu, "21:29" was your first time taking part in songwriting. Now that you've had a small experience with it, is there a specific genre you think would suit your writing best?
Tzuyu: When we were writing the song, we all wrote as if we were writing a letter to ONCE. I got guide music and then wrote the lyrics to match that, so I don’t exactly know what kind of genre will suit me best. However, I would love to eventually write lyrics that are a little more vulnerable. I want to be able to share our true, deep feelings and thoughts with our fans.
What was the highlight of the ONCE Halloween 2 event?
Jihyo: If we had to talk about the highlights and memorable things that happened during ONCE HALLOWEEN 2, we would be talking all day, seriously. Every single thing was exciting and we really had an amazing time with ONCE.
Momo: I think the first highlight for me was our costumes. Along with last year’s costumes, we wanted to show ONCE another aspect of us. I mean, ONCE always see our normal looks, so since it was fan meeting, we thought it would be fun to surprise ONCE with a costume they had never seen before, and that was the start of our ONCE HALLOWEEN.
Nayeon: We have to tell them about the game!
Jeongyeon: Yes! We played a game called “Shouting in the silence," that was so much fun. We had four people standing in a row, with everyone wearing a headset and earphones so we could not hear hear. The first person reads a given word, and without using body language, has to tell the next person what the word is. So you’re basically screaming the word, but the other person can’t hear you, they just have to read your lips. We were laughing so hard! When Sana told Dahyun her keyword “Agi-maeng-su," which is Chaeyoung’s nickname and means “baby beast,” she could not guess the word!
Dahyun: I seriously could not guess the word! It sounded like a swear, or like a made-up word. Nayeon and I were so surprised.
Nayeon: Seriously, I was so surprised because I understood the word that Dahyun said from the beginning, but I couldn’t say it out loud. When we all watched the video later, it was so funny.
Jihyo: The games were awesome, and I guess Mina also had a very impressive moment in the fan meeting.
Mina: Because so many ONCE were cheering me up, and all the other members were close to me, holding my shoulders and hands, I was able to find the courage to talk to ONCE.
Chaeyoung: Everything was memorable. Fan meetings are one of our favorite events because we love meeting and making memories with ONCE.
Why did you all choose the costumes you wore?
Nayeon: We all prepared the costumes we wanted. I dressed up as a character called Dae-su Oh from the movie Old Boy. I hadn’t watched the movie before but Chaeyoung told me that it was an awesome movie, so I chose that character for my costume.
Jeongyeon: My costume was the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. I just really love the character and the costume.
Momo: I dressed up as Boo from Monsters, Inc. She is one of my favorite characters, and many people told me that I look like Boo when I have my hair in pigtails.
Sana: I decided to dress up as Mera from Aquaman, since that movie was my favorite movie of this year. All the actors were awesome in the movie, so I wanted to go as Mera.
Jihyo: My costume was Miguel from Coco. The other members didn’t seem to know who I was, but I liked the movie so decided to go as this character. I wanted to do something different, like Pennywise, Farting King Pung Pung (a Korean Kids’ animation) or a character from the Korean Webtoon, Strangers from Hell.
Mina: My costume was just an angel, so I wore wings and a white dress. I wore a purple dress at the first performance.
Dahyun: I dressed up as Genie from Aladdin. Like last year’s fan meeting’s Annabelle costume and makeup, I wanted to try something that no one has and I wanted to make ONCE laugh. I was kind of worried that ONCE might not like the costume, but they all loved so I was happy!
Chaeyoung: I dressed up as Edward from Edward Scissorhands because I liked the black leather and the fashion personally, and I loved the movie too. After I wore the costume and had my makeup on, everyone told me I really looked like real Edward.
Tzuyu: My costume was Maleficent since I always wanted to dress up as her, because it looks really cool with the horns and the black costume.
Momo: Me and Nayeon were thinking of dressing up as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head from Toy Story, but we decided to do a different one.
Chaeyoung: Me, Momo and Nayeon tried to dress up as the “Powerpuff Girls”, but we struggled with the costume so we gave up.
Jihyo: It was so fun to see ONCE also wearing their costumes! Some were dressed up as Princess Jasmine, Candybong (our light stick), Nemo and some were wearing the same costumes as us, too!
Sana, I read you grew up as an only child. What has gaining eight sisters taught you?
Sana : I don’t know how to explain it, but I really am so grateful to have met TWICE. I came to Korea in 2012 and met all the other members, who were trainees at the time. Since I spent a very long time with members, they are my family, my real family.
I lived with them, which taught me the way to live with many people and how to be considerate in different situations. Because we practiced a lot, it really taught me patience. There are many, many things that I learn from the members, and I appreciate it so much. I am looking forward to everything we are doing together now. and all the things we’ll do together in the future.
Besides being musically active, you also make time to communicate with your fans via VLIVE (a Korean livestream app) and sometimes Instagram. How important to you is communicating with your fans?
Tzuyu: There are two things that we consider the most important in our careers. First, it’s our music and our performances, and the second is the relationship we have with our fans, ONCE. We do a lot of VLIVE [streams], as you can see from our website. We love talking to ONCE because they always have so much energy to give us.
Jihyo: The longest VLIVE was when Momo did it for seven hours. I think a lot of people tuned in, almost 400,000 people. We love talking to ONCE because it’s so fun to see ONCE’s reactions to our live videos.
Dahyun: The moment I realized that ONCE is so precious to us was when we did the last fan meeting. It was so great to see ONCE gathering there to see us. It was especially important for us because Mina was with us; it’s always special when we have all nine members together. We couldn’t be happier with ONCE and TWICE being together.
Let's create a playlist: Can each one of you name a song that makes you "Feel Special" or motivates you?
Nayeon: Well, all songs really motivate us to make ourselves feel special. But, I would have to say “Missing You." Random side note, I loved our choreography at the fan meeting when we performed that song. I love this song because it motivates me to do my best in every situation.
Jeongyeon: I would have to say “Love Line” is also a really good song, and not because I wrote the lyrics. It makes you think of that pounding in your chest when you like somebody. That song gives you the courage to tell the person you like how you really feel about them.
Momo: "Turtle" is one of our favorite ballad songs that we’ve written. It is very quiet but also so bright. I don’t know why, but the song reminds me of ONCE. Maybe it’s because we can sing it together easily and the lyrics are so comforting.
Sana: "Three Times A Day" because I am really into this song these days. It makes me feel good whenever I listen to it.
Jihyo: "Like a Fool" is very meaningful to us because it’s the first ballad from our debut album. It reminds us of when we first started out, and that really motivates us to improve and keep pushing.
Mina: "Be as One" I think the song has a powerful message for our fans. TWICE and ONCE are very close and we know we have a strong bond.
Dahyun: "Ice Cream" is such a sweet song, just like ice cream! Whenever I need to relieve some stress, or just want to feel better about something, I listen to it.
Chaeyoung: "Strawberry" is my favorite song because the message is that you’re great just as you are. I think this is a very important message, especially now.
Tzuyu: "You in my Heart." We performed this song at our TWICELIGHTS concert. Its melody is awesome and it motivates me because the song is about cheering up the people that are around you.
When can we expect the next Melody Project?
Mina: We can’t say when exactly when it’ll return, but we are also constantly working very hard to show our fans different sides of us, so please be on the look out for it!