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TWICE’s Nayeon Reveals Her New, ‘More Mature’ Side

TWICE has been on a roll this year. They discussed the anticipation around the final leg of their Ready to Be tour with RS back in February, ahead of the group’s latest album, With YOU-th — and here we are four months later, and the group still has three shows next month in Japan remaining. Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu are always delivering new music and shows for their fans, ONCEs, and while the rest of the group has been on a short break from touring, Nayeon has been busier than ever. 

Nayeon was the first member to release solo music from TWICE two years ago, with her debut EP, Im Nayeon, which featured “Pop!,” which we also listed on our Best Songs of 2022 list. And now she is back with Na, out today. While her debut EP may have been more quintessential bubblegum pop TWICE, Nayeon shares a more mature sound with Na. We met over Zoom to chat all about the making of her latest solo release. 

Hi! It’s been a while. I’m not sure if you remember, but we actually ran into each other at a cafe the day after your Vegas show. How have you been since then? I’m sure you’ve been busy preparing for the release. 
Ah yes, I remember! It’s been very busy. I’ve been preparing a lot, filming a lot of different contents, from social posts to variety shows, that will go out timed to the release of the EP. 

I know you’ve been touring for a while, so I’m curious to know when you started preparing.
We started planning and ideating for the album at the beginning of the year, but the actual production started in February. So it’s been a few months in the making. 

How would you describe Na? What type of album is it to you? 
I think it shows a lot of growth and maturity. There were a lot of styles in the album that I have never done before, or ones I would typically consider to be difficult. So it was definitely a challenge for me. I remember we once spent seven hours without rest in the studio for a recording session. 

What’s your favorite track? 
My favorite song is definitely “ABCD,” but aside from that, I also really like “Butterflies.”

And on the other hand, which was the most challenging or difficult song for you? 
Even though “Butterflies” is one of my favorite songs [laughs], I think it was still one of the harder ones to record actually.

I noticed there’s a lot of English on the EP. “Butterflies,” for example, is an English track. How was that? Is there a new phrase or word that you learned while preparing?
I learned a lot of English while preparing this album because I wanted to make sure I was understanding all of the lyrics correctly to properly convey the tone and emotion. I looked up a lot of the words to be sure. “Butterflies,” actually, was a new idiom for me. I didn’t know that word could be related to love or a feeling of excitement. I thought that was really cute. There’s also another line that is cute, something with a mouse and cheese…

Oh, the mouse wanting cheddar! 
Yes, “I love you more than a mouse loves cheddar.” I thought that was such a fun and cute way of describing the emotion — like I am the mouse and I love you like cheese. [Laughs.] 

I’m sure this was intentional, but the name of the EP, Na, comes from your name, and means “Me” in Korean. Like how the first EP was Im Nayeon, which is your full name, but could also be read as “I am Nayeon.” I assume the other options floated around were along those lines as well? 
Yes, there were a few different options. [Laughs.] IM POSSIBLE, NAYEON-able, Na-ttractive. I think most of them also had a tie-in to my name. Na was the one that really stood out though. Much more compared to the other options. … I think for all of TWICE’s solos, like Jihyo’s Zone as well, the label thought it would be a fun idea to have the solo releases tied to the individual’s names.

Which song’s lyrics do you relate to the most on this EP?
I don’t know if I would say relate, necessarily, but I really liked the lyrics of “Magic.” It’s a very self-confident song so I thought the lyrics were fun. 

How was it working with the three different artists credited on the album, Sam Kim, Julie from Kiss of Life, and Lee Chanhyuk, who produced “HalliGalli”? 

We actually haven’t met in person for working on the song. [Laughs.] But they are all artists I really admire and have been wanting to work with. Working with Chanhyuk was really fun. I’ve seen him from afar over the years at music shows and whatnot, but never really got to know him. It was a new experience for me. He’s an interesting person — interesting to my standards.

You wore a lot of different outfits for “Pop!” I remember the Louis Vuitton towel being one that was talked about a lot. Do you have a favorite outfit from “ABCD”? 
There’s an outfit in the music video where I’m wearing a hat— I haven’t danced in a hat like that before, so that was new and fun for me. I also really liked my outfit where I am wearing jeans and a white tank top. It was a very simple, but clean look. 

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What was your favorite scene to film? 
There is a scene where I am dressed in a school uniform and have all the boys wrapped around my finger. I thought that was a fun and cute scene to shoot. 

How would you say this album differs from your first one? In the first one, obviously “Pop!” was a hit, but I really enjoyed the other tracks as well, like “No Problem” and “Candyfloss.”
Oh, thank you. I think this album definitely has a more mature vibe to it. 

Have your members or other artist friends all heard the album? What were their reactions? 
All the members have listened to the album and they had really positive reactions. And as for artist friends, Yeri from Red Velvet also heard it as well. Interestingly they also all really liked the main track, “ABCD.” 

There are so many amazing female soloists with new music here in the U.S. right now, Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish to name just a couple. Do you get inspiration from them?
I’ve been listening to Ariana Grande a lot, and Billie Eilish’s new album too recently. Ariana Grande is an artist I’ve admired since my earlier days and one that I continue to admire.

Next year marks the 10th year anniversary of TWICE already! What do you think 2015 Nayeon would think of the Nayeon you are today?
It’s really shocking how fast 10 years can pass. I think 10 years sounds and feels like a lot of time, but it really went by so quickly. I’m just thankful that I’ve been able to become an artist with longevity who continues to grow. 

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Do you feel like you’ve accomplished the things you may have dreamt about years ago? Like world tours, stadium shows, for example?
I feel like I didn’t have a grasp on the concept of a stadium show, or how big venues are, back then. Just being able to receive love from our fans for this long is something I’m so grateful for. 

People will surely remember “Pop!” for years to come since it was from your first album, but what do you want your second one to be remembered as? 
A cool one. [Laughs.] As this is my second album, I hope it will be remembered as a reflection of my growth and I wish for people to recognize and anticipate the new side of me, and to remain curious about my various sides.

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