Girl group XG talk new single ‘Shooting Star’: “I want people to remember us as ‘Xtraordinary’”
Written by ABR on 25/01/2023
XG are trying to blaze a trail of their own. Formed by Jurin, Chisa, Hinata, Harvey, Juria, Maya and Cocona, the septet are almost a year into forging their own path as a “global” girl group that disregards the boundaries of language and nationality. Having trained for years under XGALX, one of many labels belonging to Japanese entertainment giants Avex, the up-and-coming act perform in three languages – English, Japanese and Korean – whether they’re delivering infectious hip-hop and dance-heavy singles or silky smooth vocal covers on YouTube.
You may have seen rappers Jurin, Harvey, Maya and Cocona on your TikTok feed. Their ‘GALZ XYPHER’ performance, in which the four idols (all aged between 16 and 20) impressed with spitfire trilingual raps over J.I.D. and Rosalía instrumentals, went viral on the platform. The video has since garnered over 12million views on their channel and spawned countless other reaction videos across social media platforms. Among these are reactions from massive Asian stars like Thai rapper MILLI, who was left speechless, and GOT7’s Jackson Wang, who confidently declared “XG is the future”.
Today (January 25), XG unveil their first release of 2023, dual singles ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Left Right’. Watch the video for ‘Shooting Star’ below and read on for NME’s interview with XG about their head-turning cypher performance, becoming a truly ‘global’ group and more.
Since XG’s debut, you have always referred yourselves as a ‘global’ girl group. What do you think defines XG as a global act?
Maya: “Our songs are all in English, and we don’t actually have a specific region. But we do want to share our songs globally, and inspire a lot of people and give them strength with our music. I think that’s what we’re focusing on.”
XG are not what most may expect from an act coming from Japan. What are some of the worries and challenges you faced while forging this direction as a global girl group by yourselves?
Jurin: “Maya also mentioned this, but we’re Japanese and we sing in both English and Korean. We have also been invited to participate in Korean music programs, so I think we’re a unique group. Taking on these new challenges can sometimes lead to anxiety, but we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from people around ‘GALZ XYPHER’ and ‘Mascara’, which has given us a lot of confidence and made us happy.”
Has promoting in Korea alongside K-pop idols given you a fresh perspective on what being in an idol group means?
Jurin: “What I felt through ‘Mascara’ last time is that I really think K-pop is turning into a global movement these days. It was very exciting for us to be in Korea, the home of K-pop, and to actually be in the same field with K-pop artists, we learnt a lot. It really inspired us to continue to work hard.”
Are there any K-pop artists you met during your promotions that have inspired you?
Jurin: “Hikaru from Kep1er was with us during that time. We were actually trainees together when we first started, so I was really happy and inspired to meet her.”
While you all grew up in Japan, you primarily release English songs and also perform in Korean and Japanese in your YouTube videos. What has your experience been like navigating the music industry in three different languages?
Harvey: “During our five years of training, we’ve been studying English and Korean a lot. I dreamt of rapping in three languages – English, Korean and Japanese – so I was really happy to be able to realise that dream. The difficult parts were actually a lot of fun and I thought, ‘Okay, let’s go for it!’ So I did a lot of research on pronunciation and practiced a lot.”
Since not all of you grew up speaking English or Korean, what has been the toughest part of learning these new languages?
Chisa: “There are some expressions that are only found in Japanese, so sometimes it’s difficult to say what I want to say in English or other languages. I’m still learning, but I’d like to be able to communicate my thoughts in other languages such as English and Korean the same way I can in my native language.”
Are there other languages you’re interested in learning for your fans elsewhere in the world?
Maya: “I’m personally very keen to learn Spanish.”
Maya: [laughs] “A lot of languages!”
Can you share the meaning behind your new singles ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Left Right’?
Cocona: “The concept behind ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Left Right’ is to trust yourself and be what you want to be. With ‘Shooting Star’, it’s [about] our dream to become world-class artists. It also includes the theme that not only our wishes, but also the wishes of the ALPHAZ [XG’s fanbase] will be delivered by us. Meanwhile, ‘Left Right’ sets the direction for this dream, the desire to push forward without being influenced by others, and to stay determined.”
Juria: “Music-wise, ‘Shooting Star’ has an ethereal sound [that feels like you’re] floating in space, and the rap and vocals stand out in the track, making it sound pretty cool!”
Maya: “And also, we believe that it’s a song that really grabs beyond your imagination, and we believe that it’s a track that shows XG’s true colours, so we hope that you all really enjoy it!”
Last year, the rappers also released your ‘GALZ XYPHER’ performance video on YouTube, which went on to gain a lot of attention among international fans. How did this project come about, and how did you decide on the tracks you wanted to perform?
Jurin: “We discussed the tracks with Simon, our executive producer, and decided what kind of message we wanted to convey, as well as how we wanted the tracks to fit our characters.”
Cocona: “We have a lot of good memories of late-night practices together, and as it was a four-member thing, we practiced together a lot so that we could bring out each other’s individuality.”
How did you feel when you realised that the ‘GALZ XYPHER’ video was getting such a huge international response?
Maya: “I feel like we were just so happy and super grateful to have this many people reacting to our video. We definitely didn’t expect so many people to react to it, so we were really surprised, and super happy!”
Some of Asia’s top artists like GOT7’s Jackson Wang and Thai rapper MILLI have also reacted to the video and given praise to XG. Have you seen those reactions? How did you respond?
Jurin: “We were really surprised. We had no idea when we were making it that so many people would react to it, so we feel very honoured.”
Chisa: “As a member, I’m so proud of the four of them, and that so many famous people reacted to it, so I thought ‘That’s our rappers!’”
How did each of you discover your love for music and performing as you were growing up?
Chisa: “I’ve loved listening to music and singing since I was a little girl, so I knew that music was the only way for me to live my life. I’ve also followed many artists who have inspired me, and given me hope, so I can hopefully spread that passion to others. I think that the power of music is amazing, and that’s when my love of music started to grow.”
Jurin: “Like Chisa, I was also always all about music for as long as I can remember. But since we started working together as XG, I’ve been more inspired by everyone and I feel that my passion and love for music has grown even stronger. I want to hold on to that feeling and put out even better music in the future.”
Who were some of your biggest music inspirations that still influence you today?
Cocona: “TLC! Doja Cat!”
Harvey: “Michael Jackson.”
Maya: “We have a lot!”
You speak a lot about self-confidence and empowering your listeners in your music. What are some ways you keep yourselves feeling empowered in your own lives?
Maya: “I feel like believing in ourselves is something that is very important, and something that we try to keep in mind all the time. Being able to give ourselves a pat on the back, giving each other love and support is what’s most important to us. I feel like that is what gives us strength to keep moving forward.”
Hinata: “We are very conscious of respecting and caring for each other, and I think that is the reason our friendship is so strong.”
It’s almost been a year since XG’s debut. Have your goals and priorities changed as a group during this time?
Harvey: “Our big dream that we have been dreaming of since we were trainees is [to go on] a world tour, and that goal has not changed. In fact, it is getting bigger and bigger, and we are determined to make it come true.”
Finally, what do you want XG to be remembered for in 20 or 30 years to come?
Jurin: “I would have to say that I want people to remember us as being ‘Xtraordinary’! I would be happy if people remember that XG did it on their own terms.”
XG’s new singles, ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Left Right’, are out now
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