Girls’ Generation aren’t known as ‘the of Asia’ for nothing.
The eight-member K-pop group, consisting of Taeyon, Sunny, Tiffany, Hyoyeon, Yuri, Sooyoung, Yoona and Seohyun, broke out onto the scene in 2007 with their debut Into The New World, and their mission for world domination was in full effect.
Not only have they enjoyed a number one on the Billboard World Album chart, but they’ve accumulated album sales of over 600million, nearly three million audiences over 150 concerts worldwide, and over 2.5billion total views on their music videos.
Yes, before we got to know and adore the likes of BTS and Blackpink, Girls’ Generation were on their meteoric rise to success.
Oh, and did we mention the Gee hitmakers have seen five of their tours listed in the top 10 highest grossing girl-group tours ever — placing them only behind TLC, Destiny’s Child and Spice Girls.
And now, after a five-year break from performing with the group and embarking on solo projects, they’re back with new album, Forever 1, their seventh so far.
As Girls Generation return to the spotlight, Metro.co.uk caught up with the girls to celebrate their 15th anniversary…
It’s been five years since you were last together, why did it feel like now was the right time to reunite?
SOOYOUNG: Not only is this a celebratory moment as our 15th debut anniversary, but all of our members missed performing together on stage. What I’ve been realising these days is that all our members are in such mature, beautiful stages in life. Everyone has this aura to them, and I feel like we’ve grown and matured a lot through our individual activities as well. This maturity also shines when we’re on stage, and I love it!
SUNNY: We wanted to release an album this year in line with our 15th debut anniversary. We’ve all been waiting for this album and worked hard in preparing it, so I hope everyone’s been enjoying it just as much.
Forever 1 is such a fun album! What was it like recording together after so long?
SEOHYUN: It’s been five years since we sang together as a group so all of us worked hard to show a better version of ourselves. When I was in the recording studio listening to our members record, I could tell that each and every one of us prepared so much for this with the same heart. It was a very touching moment and I was really proud of us.
YURI: Forever 1 is our first album to include a track composed by one of our own members. It was a fun, new experience having a member direct when recording.
TIFFANY: When I heard the track after all our members recorded their parts, I started to cry… I was moved to tears. It was a very blessing moment hearing my members sing the track that I composed, Villain.
HYOYEON: As much as it’s been a while since we got to work together on an album, we gave it our all to bring all the tracks from our title track to the B-sides to perfection.
What did you want to do differently with your new album? Some of you have worked on solo music in recent years, did that experience change the way you approached the music with Girls’ Generation?
TAEYEON: I wanted to showcase songs where we can share more messages that suits where we’re at in our stage of life. Since Girls’ Generation albums have different colours compared to solo albums, we chose a song that could highlight our group’s harmony.
SUNNY: Since our last album, we’ve all grown and matured a lot. For this album, I hope we’re able to keep Girls’ Generation’s colours while at the same time showing a new level of maturity.
While busy with your own projects and unable to participate in group activities as much, how did you go about maintaining friendships with each other?
SEOHYUN: We have spent such precious time together so even if we aren’t physically together, we’re always with each other in heart. We keep in touch with each other through our group chat where we’ll upload selfies and just talk about random things together.
TIFFANY: Our members have always kept in touch with each other. Though it may be difficult schedule-wise to meet all together at once, we still aim to do so with those available, even if it’s just one or two members at a time.
HYOYEON: We have a group chat where we update each other, ask about how everyone’s doing, check out each other’s starring roles in TV dramas, movies, and solo performances, and more. We’re always in touch and when we have time, make sure to grab meals together too.
Do you think Girls’ Generation and what you achieved before has been a strong influence for newer groups over the years?
YURI: When I see younger artists mentioning us as their role model, I feel very proud and it’s also a driving force that keeps me going and influences me positively to work harder.
YOONA: Since we’ve been active as a group for quite some time, I feel like we’ve made a mark whether that’s through our diverse concepts or even on variety shows and broadcasts, so I’d actually like to hear how this has influenced the younger artists!
K-pop was a very male-dominated industry in the 2000s – what was it like for you to enter that space and represent female artists at the time?
YURI: We were able to reach this position as a representative girl group and spread our positive energy thanks to our fans and the public who have been supporting and cheering for us for the past 15 years, and also waiting for our comeback as a group. I believe it’s our job to give back by continuing to be a positive influence.
YOONA: I am truly thankful for all the love we have been receiving, and believe it’s because of the diverse sides we’ve been showing as Girls’ Generation.
HYOYEON: I’m really proud of how far we’ve come as Girls’ Generation. I believe we were able to reach this sort of status because we’ve been continuously trying out new concepts and genres in our tracks, concepts, and music videos as well, which I’m glad our fans and the public liked.
You all have millions of Instagram followers combined, we’ve noticed the members like to comment on each other’s posts. How has social media helped you keep in touch as a group?
SOOYOUNG: To be honest, we usually talk with each other through messenger more so than social media platforms. At the same time, we like and comment on each other’s posts just like friends do! It’s not with any specific intentions, but fans seem to really like it.
YURI: There are times when we aren’t able to talk as much as we’d like to when everyone is busy with their individual schedules, so social media does feel like a place where I’m able to receive updates on how they’re doing. Fans seem to also enjoy seeing us communicate back and forth through the comments because they like the chemistry we have so you could say that social media has become one of the communication channels we use.
The K-pop scene has changed dramatically since 2017 and is now enjoyed on a mainstream level, is there anything about the industry that feels different now to when you promoted with your last album Holiday together?
SOOYOUNG: K-pop has been receiving love not only in Korea but worldwide as well. There’s a lot more national diversity in K-pop groups and more confident, girl-power artists rising from it, in addition to various collaborations with international artists. It fascinates me to see these changes in the K-Pop industry in line with the global generation.
SEOHYUN: K-pop has always been fast-paced, new and colourful. Our group has consistently faced new challenges and worked hard to show our growth. In regards to the difference between this album and our past ones, this is truly us and our goal was to show music that only Girls’ Generation can do.
YOONA: I believe K-pop has been receiving a lot of attention from all around the world, and when it comes to music shows, we now have 4k videos and ‘ending fairies’! It’s quite a new experience! [Laughs]
SUNNY: K-pop has been developing year by year with a plethora of music styles, performances, and concepts. I’d have to say it’s the love and interest from fans worldwide that’s made it possible.
Many K-pop acts are now household names around the world, what has it been like to watch their success develop over the last few years?
TAEYEON: It’s incredible seeing the growth of K-Pop worldwide through so many groups. I’m always fascinated by how there’s so many artists who are talented in everything and have such great skills, physical abilities, and more. I respect them a lot.
YOONA: It’s amazing and I’m quite proud of them. I’m also glad that Girls’ Generation got to be a part of that growth in K-pop, and hope that a lot more groups will receive love because there’s so many talented artists out there!
SUNNY: Whenever I see younger groups these days, I feel very proud of them and how much they’ve expanded K-Pop worldwide. I’d also like them to know that I am always here for them if they ever need anything!
You’ll be celebrating the 15th anniversary of your debut in September! How have you changed and grown as individual people?
SEOHYUN: Coming back together was a very sentimental moment. I realised again how special each and every member is and how each of us have grown charmingly during our own times. It was also heart-warming to see how when we’re on stage performing, it’s as if we’ve gone back in time.
TAEYEON: If I used to be a young girl who dived deep with just my love for music, now I feel like
I’ve become more professional when it comes to working. I have a better understanding of the business involved, how to maintain my energy, and have definitely matured more to accomplish the things I like to do.
TIFFANY: I’ve grown a lot, and feel like I’m different from who I was in the past. I’ve become a lot healthier physically and mentally, and know how to take time to reflect on myself.
Finally, what’s next for Girls’ Generation?
SOOYOUNG: This album is in celebration of our 15th year anniversary, and it’s an album that gives confidence to our fans who have been waiting by saying, ‘We are always one’, and could come back again with a new album later in the future with a good album. I’m thankful for those who trusted in us, and we hope to make plans in accordance with the stages each member is in so we hope you’ll continue to support us.
SEOHYUN: We’ve been preparing a lot for our upcoming Girls’ Generation fan meeting taking place on September 3. I want to show that we are always working and growing in our own places, separately yet always together.
TAEYEON: We will always remain together as Girls’ Generation. If we’ve grown our influence as a team, I believe it is time for us to build up that influence individually as well. In the end, it is all for Girls’ Generation.
SUNNY: Everyone will be active in a variety of fields, working hard wherever they’re at, but when we come together, it’ll always be the same. I hope we’ll be able to continue meeting our worldwide fans all over the world!
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