The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Mamamoo Plus hopes to pave new path for girl group longevity

Solar and Moonbyul of Mamamoo drop 1st EP 'Two Rabbits' as a duo

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Aug. 3, 2023 - 10:28

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Group image for Mamamoo Plus' first EP Group image for Mamamoo Plus' first EP "Two Rabbits" (RBW)

A decade together has passed already for Solar and Moonbyul of Mamamoo, yet the two singers still feel like fresh rookies, they said in a recent interview.

The interview, conducted with local press on Tuesday in Seoul, came a few days before the duo's subunit return as Mamamoo Plus, with their first EP "Two Rabbits."

Imagining this moment around a decade ago when they first set off as Mamamoo in 2014, Moonbyul said she did not imagine a rosy future just then.

"I thought that my career as an idol singer would not last long, because fame wanes. I'd already been worrying about what I would do 10 years later," the Mamamoo rapper, who has enjoyed quite a stable career as a solo singer, said.

Now she realizes it was all needless apprehension. According to Moonbyul, having accumulated the knowledge and experience of the past 10 years, it is just the beginning for her.

Considering that many new idol singers do not have much control over their career in the early years, especially the first seven when they are tied to the company-friendly contract, Moonbyul's statement may not be an exaggeration.

That's why Mamamoo Plus carries a personal significance for the two, as they willingly chose to come together as a subunit where they could do music to suit their own tastes.

"The two of us always preferred bright and upbeat music, which was what Mamamoo music was in the early stages, but later turned darker. We really wanted to pull up the energy inside us and that resulted in the new song, 'Dangdang,'" Solar said.

"Dangdang" is the lead single on the duet's new album "Two Rabbits," which is set to be released Thursday evening.

The boisterous dance tune with an easy-listening melody and repetitive lyrics was initially intended for a Mamamoo album, but was dropped, the duo explained.

"It was replaced by 'Starry Night.' The situation was complicated, but above all, I had a herniated disk and couldn't dance. Instead of 'Dangdang,' we went for 'Starry Night,'" Solar explained. "Starry Night" led the quartet's sixth EP, "Yellow Flower," which came out in March 2018.

At the time, they only had the chorus for "Dangdang." But Moonbyul said she was gripped by it the instant she heard it, so much so that she wanted to include it on her solo album.

"I felt just like the first line of the song. 'My head is going dangda-dangdang.' I felt numb hearing the song for the first time. But, the song was constantly pushed down the list. I'd kept it in a corner of my mind ever since and brought it back up because it's such a perfect match for Mamamoo Plus' identity," the rapper said.

Group image for Mamamoo Plus' first EP Group image for Mamamoo Plus' first EP

Upon the prime sound, the two piled on new sounds flourishing with Mamamoo Plus' iconic peppy energy, Moonbyul explained. Their bandmate Hwasa, who contributed to writing the original chorus, is also credited as a composer and lyricist along with the duo.

While the forthcoming album is not the first from the Mamamoo subgroup, the two musicians say it's the album through which they introduce and define the sonic landscape they hope to paint as Mamamoo Plus: innocently uplifting music.

Welcoming listeners into the album is "Intro: Two Rabbits," which sets the foundation of the team's identity, according to Solar. "It plays in the outro of the title song music video, like a foreshadowing of what's to come. It's that significant and has much more to show," she said, expounding on the first track.

One of the tracks, "I Like This," was a song from 10 years ago, she added.

"The members together wrote the lyrics and made the choreography then, but it couldn't come out due to bad timing. I've been hanging onto it since," Solar said.

The fourth track, "Starry Sea," is a melodic hip-hop tune with sentimental lyrics inspired by Mamamoo's "Starry Night."

"Save Me," which was prereleased from the album in July, stands out among the package of perky scores with its calm, doleful tune. Moonbyul took part in writing the melody and words for the song.

Mamamoo Plus came out as the four-member group's first subunit in August 2022 with the first digital single "Better." In March, the duo dropped the first official single, "Act 1 Scene 1," fronted by title track "GGBB" and prerelease "Chico Malo."

According to Moonbyul, "GGBB" and "Chico Malo" were both of distinctively unique styles. The groovy dance-pop "GGBB" and "Chico Malo," a fusion of Korean and Latin sounds, had touched upon the broad musical landscape the two artists were capable of.

With "Dangdang," the two say they hope to reach a larger audience and boost their presence as rookie artists.

"We're pop singers, so it's inevitable that we stay aware of the public reaction. Whether to follow popular trends or to follow our creed is a never-ending dilemma," said Solar, the leader of Mamamoo as well as the subunit.

She continued: "That's why as a soloist I try to do what I want, like the shaved head style I did before. But as Mamamoo Plus, popularity is important as we will only exist as long as people continue to like us and our music."

A No. 1 on any music chart -- and staying on it for multiple weeks -- is the main goal with "Two Rabbits," according to Solar.

Making themselves known and thriving beyond Mamamoo is another goal, Moonbyul added.

Group image for Mamamoo Plus' first EP Group image for Mamamoo Plus' first EP

Surpassing the high standards set by Mamamoo is a task that all four bandmates of the massively popular K-pop group share as they venture forth to the next stage of their careers.

Moonbyul and Solar remain with RBW, while Wheein and Hwasa left the company with the termination of their exclusive contracts. Wheein departed in 2021 and Hwasa last month.

Although groups tended to disband naturally in such situations in the past, recently many -- the likes of 2PM, GOT7, Girls' Generation and Infinite -- continue as a team despite contractual differences, Mamamoo being one of the latest examples.

"We think we've contributed to extending the longevity (of idol groups), and we feel proud," Moonbyul said, adding, "Even if we all belong to different companies, it doesn't mean Mamamoo has come to an end. We cherish each of our own dreams as much as the group. We'll exist alone yet together."

Solar said Mamamoo Plus will launch its first standalone concert tour this year.

"We're planning to hold concerts within the second half of this year, here and overseas. We expect we'll have many opportunities to meet our fans this year," she said.

Mamamoo Plus' first EP, "Two Rabbits," comes out at 6 p.m. on Thursday.