K-pop rookies Billlie push the envelope: “We’re having fun because we’re experimenting”
2022 is undoubtedly the year of women and girl groups in K-pop – and rookies Billlie are determined not to be counted out.
- READ MORE: Choi Yoo-jung makes solo debut with ‘Sunflower’: “I feel a lot of pressure… but also anticipation and excitement”
They turned heads earlier this year with ‘GingaMingaYo (the strange world)’ – one of the best K-pop songs of 2022 so far, by our reckoning – and followed it up with ‘RING ma Bell (what a wonderful world)’, a rush of spirited punk rock. That and the five other tracks on new mini-album ‘the Billage of Perception: chapter two’, released late last month, show how they and their label Mystic Story have begun crafting an artistic identity where imagination parallels reality.
Talking to NME over Zoom following the release of their third mini-album, the septet – of Moon Sua, Suhyeon, Haram, Tsuki, Sheon, Siyoon, and Haruna – talk the eclectic project, their ‘multiverse’ concept and their first year as K-pop idols.
Billlie’s developing vision could be described as a ‘multiverse’ because your story exists in both the ‘real world’ and the ‘dream world’. How do you personally comprehend this concept?
Sheon: “Billlie’s name could be explained in our concept film ‘Be11lie’. In this case, ‘Be’ is very important [because] it means that we all have our B-sides and we all sing our B-sides within our lives. And that leads to [the essence of] Billlie’s story and music – we all have dualities.”
Suhyeon: “In my perspective, my B-side could represent my time curve, and the other side could be the world that I dream, which is a little bit different from reality. This means we interpreted it as a multiverse by linking these realities together. It can be a little bit tricky to understand at first, but I personally think it’s a simple and interesting concept.”
‘RING ma Bell (what a wonderful world)’ is a 180-degree sonic shift from your previous single ‘GingaMingaYo (the strange world)’. What was the most difficult part of embracing punk rock as a genre?
Suhyeon: “Rather than being challenging or hard, we’re having fun because we’re experimenting. Because we are trying all these different genres, we just have the urge to try more new stuff and get the opportunity to show it to our fans.”
Can you share any behind-the-scenes moments of the recording process for ‘RING ma Bell (what a wonderful world)’?
Siyoon: “We were very nervous because we were trying a new genre. Before recording, we gathered up as a team and we studied and practised a lot. Thanks to that, we completed the recording in one day, and even though we worried a lot, our staff always cheered for us and they always told us we were doing a great job.”
Your B-side ‘$UN palace (Stroop effect)’ is a sequel to ‘Moon Palace’ – a track from Billlie’s first EP. I think the lyrics “I keep walking against the sun, I’m walking towards the moon” resonate because they mean moving forward to reach tomorrow. Would you say this song encapsulates the core of this mini-album?
Haram: “[Since] this mini-album is a sequel to our first record, the story is that becoming an adult doesn’t happen all of a sudden, and [this process] always has a lot of challenges. ‘$UN palace (Stroop effect)’ is a crucial part that points the direction in which we always question, and we always think about what we do when we make decisions, and [we believe] it defines this whole theme of the album in general.”
I’m also curious about ‘Brave ~ a song for Matilda’, a track based on the novel written by Roald Dahl. What message did you want to express with it, and how does this literary character influence you as a person or artist?
Siyoon: “Before we recorded the song, we actually read the book multiple times. Personally, even though I don’t have any special ability [like the main character] to solve my problems, I was able to obtain a lot of courage and inspiration after reading the book. When we recorded this song, I really wanted to transmit that courage I gained inspired by Matilda.”
As we already stated, there’s a difference in genres from your past releases, but that’s part of what makes your group stand out. What are your thoughts on presenting this experimental sound that has become synonymous with ‘Billlie’?
Moon Sua: “We absolutely think that one of our strongest points as Billlie is that we are able to recreate any type of genre and make it into our unique style. We are really excited about living this process as a group and we are having a lot of fun while creating our music. We are always thinking about what else we could do next – always up for a challenge.”
November is rapidly approaching, and Billlie will be celebrating their first anniversary soon. How would you describe the change in your sentiments this past year?
Tsuki: “We always think that we should express how thankful we are to our fans and people who love our music and what we do. As a group, we always feel that we should practise more and put in a lot of effort to be better.”
Moon Sua: “When we were trainees, we used to practise with specific types of genres, but once we debuted, we had the opportunity to apply our own musical taste and colour. I think that’s the most significant difference we have experienced [so far].”
Moon Sua, you are currently participating in The Second World, a reality show that tests the vocal prowess of rappers. You’re up against other artists who already have years in the industry, but this isn’t new to you, as you also competed in Unpretty Rapstar 2. What goals do you have this time around?
Moon Sua: “Showing my new self is what I want to focus on right now. Through this competition program, I want to demonstrate that ‘Moon Sua from Billlie’ is a real all-rounder, not only good at rapping but also that I’m able to build a whole stage by myself as a vocalist and musician.”
Finally, how do you want Billlie to be recognised five years from now, and how do you plan to reach that objective?
Haram: “We want to grow as artists that represent Korea, and we are continuously working to showcase Billlie’s colour with every single album. We believe that in five years, we are going to send our message not only to Korea but to all our fans around the world. They will be able to recognise us because of our music and unique storyline.”
Billlie’s ‘the Billage of Perception: chapter two’ is out now via Mystic Story