All Eyes On TWICE

We spoke to K-pop group TWICE about quarantine, touring the US, and their latest project ‘Eyes wide open’.

“I know I want it / ‘cause I deserve it,” TWICE emphasized at the very beginning of their last album, More & More, which dropped just over four months ago. This unwavering, machine-like drive—one that’s established them as one of the most renowned K-pop groups to date—resurfaces almost immediately at the top of Eyes wide open, released this morning. “I can’t stop me,” all nine members echo each other on the title track, almost nonsensically in sync. And if you don’t catch their drift they’ll repeat it—melodies are layered in an acoustic amalgamation of sorts, becoming intoxicating. 

This presence has become somewhat standard for TWICE over the past few years; which is, of course, by design. Even their name is a reference to the allure—as Park Jin-young puts it, TWICE beguiles you “once through the eyes, once through the ears”. And they’ll do it synchronously, with every movement precisely choreographed. 

Which is fine, because, for Western audiences more accustomed to whisper-tones on the charts, the maximalist approach is somewhat of an indulgence. Something about TWICE evokes sensationalism, refusing geographic constraints—their video “Like OOH-AHH” became the first K-pop debut to surpass 100 million views on Youtube, now averaging around 200-400 million per video, and they’ve sold millions of albums since. This past year, one member, Momo, trended ahead of Apple’s launch of the iPhone 11, which coincided with the release of “Feel Special”. There’s quite a fervor to it. 

But TWICE doesn’t seem too concerned with the particulars. Despite their image, and the general hype, they’re incredibly grounded individuals. Still, critics (mostly in the US) look to diagnose a social neurosis, claiming groups of the sort to be “Factory Girls” and overly algorithmic. Though it only goes to show they’re looking—staring awkwardly, squinting, and then rushing to unravel a cultish endeavor. Their eyes are, certainly, wide open. 

And that’s quite alright, because, perhaps in a cultish manner, TWICE has amassed some millions of followers (termed ONCE) which have become an independent force of their own. With the release of Eyes wide open, there’s no signs of stopping any time soon—and the critics will just have to look on. 

A few weeks before the release we spoke to all nine members of TWICE—Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu—about the iconography. 

V Magazine: You guys just finished your first American tour last year. What was it like to perform in the United States? 

NAYEON: Thanks to the tour, I was able to visit the cities I’ve always wanted to go to, and we received such positive energy from our fans there. The tour was full of memorable experiences. I still think about them these days, especially since we cannot visit or go for concerts abroad like we used to.

JIHYO: I remember being extremely excited about our first American tour. The reactions of our fans in the United States were very fresh and new. I would love to go on an American tour again. I also enjoyed traveling to various cities in the United States and meeting fans there.

V: We’ve seen how your fan base, ONCE, has sold out stadium tours in seconds. What are some of your favorite memories with ONCE at your shows in the US?

JEONGYEON: Because it was our first American tour, I was both nervous and excited. My favorite memory is definitely meeting ONCE in the United States and hearing their cheers. Because of the positive reactions, I was able to enjoy my time performing and singing to ONCE.

MOMO: I was quite nervous to perform in the United States for the first time. However, ONCE always welcomed us and looked at us with warm eyes, wherever we went, which made me comfortable and delighted to perform onstage. Seeing ONCE enjoying our music and performances made my heart melt.

TZUYU: I was very grateful since our fans enthusiastically welcomed us. During the tour, we were able to look around the hotel and have a fancy meal at a restaurant in Chicago. The food there was very tasty and the vibe was very comfortable, so I still think about how much fun I had there. If I get a chance, I would love to visit the United States once more!

V: ONCE has created thousands (if not millions) of online accounts to share information regarding TWICE. What’s it like to constantly maintain an online presence? What’s your favorite part of connecting with fans on social media?

NAYEON: In times like these, if we didn’t have a space like social media, we would have even more problems staying connected with our fans. I also love how we can exchange conversations with fans overseas through online media.

JIHYO: I think social media is especially important these days. Since we are prohibited from meeting our fans physically due to COVID-19, we have to rely on online media to stay connected and interact with our fans. It enables us to communicate with our fans all around the world without limitations in languages.

V: No doubt, the demand for online content and creation has only increased in the past few months. Have you been working through the pandemic?

JEONGYEON: For the past few months, we have been trying different ways to present our fans with different content without meeting face to face. Online concerts and virtual fan signing events are examples of these new attempts we are trying. Since we cannot meet our fans often, we also try to upload video content more frequently to keep our fans interested and engaged during our breaks in between albums.

SANA: With multiple schedules getting canceled due to COVID-19, we have been discussing amongst ourselves and with our crew, the best ways to interact with our fans during these times. Luckily, the company listens to us and works with us in creating the content we want to show our fans! We have also been working on our Korean and Japanese albums while recording English versions of our songs.

DAHYUN: I believe most groups are in a similar situation as we are, and are figuring out ways to overcome this situation. We are substituting our fan meet up events with Live Streams, and live concerts with online concerts. We’re trying to proceed with our schedules and stay connected, while also staying safe and healthy.

V: You’ve recently announced your latest comeback with Eyes wide open. What can fans look forward to on the new tracks?

MINA: I hope ONCE looks forward to our B-side tracks in Eyes wide open. Since this is our 2nd full album, we have included 13 tracks, each with their own concept and style. They are all lovely to listen to, so please give them a try and enjoy!

CHAEYOUNG: In Eyes wide open, some members, including myself, have written the lyrics for the B-side tracks. As we were writing the lyrics, we tried to deliver our messages while enhancing the songs’ unique style. I’m sure our fans can enjoy the album even more if they pay attention to these details.

V: Of the new releases, are there any, in particular, you think ONCE will love?

MOMO: We included tracks with retro concepts in Eyes wide open. Among these, our title track, “I CAN’T STOP ME” manifests that retro feel the most. Since ONCE always cheered for us whenever we tried a new concept, I think they will love ‘I CAN’T STOP ME’ and its new style.

SANA: We have shown a little bit of a retro vibe through our song “SIGNAL,” before, however, “I CAN’T STOP ME,” gives off a completely different atmosphere. I think ONCE will be able to enjoy this new side of TWICE even more if they look back on the time we performed ‘SIGNAL.’

V: You also recently celebrated TWICE’s 5th anniversary (and ONCE’s), congratulations! How do you think the group, and the sound, has matured since the beginning?

DAHYUN: Thank you! We always went with cute and bright songs in the beginning, but as we grew older, we wanted to show how our music style is growing up with us. Therefore, TWICE members are trying hard to show this mature side of us. We still have a long way to go, but I hope the fans will continue to cheer us on as we grow older and develop further.

CHAEYOUNG: Compared to our earlier years, I believe we have grown up to be a group that can adapt to various styles and make them into our own. We are continuing to explore our music spectrum and how far it can stretch. In regards to how the group has matured since the beginning, TWICE is a family. Our bond has gotten stronger ever since the beginning, and all 9 members are essential to the group.

V: What can we look forward to in the next 5 years?

MINA: Just like how we tried the retro concept this time, we would like to try and show a wider variety of concepts in the next 5 years. We still have a lot of concepts we haven’t tried and want to show, so I look forward to revealing those one by one.

TZUYU: For the last 5 years, we have tried on diverse concepts and styles. However, I think our spectrum of the styles we can try will get wider as we grow older, so there’s a lot more to show. I hope our fans will keep looking out for these new concepts and get ready to have their ‘eyes wide open’!

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