Aespa Want to Reinvent the K-Pop Girl Group Sound

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Members of the group cite everyone from Beyoncé to Stevie Wonder to Blink-182 as influences on their innovative sound.

Aespa has only three songs out, but they have already shown incredible range for a budding supergroup. The quartet (Karina, Winter, Giselle, Ningning) was assembled last year, becoming SM Entertainment’s first new girl group since the popular Red Velvet six years earlier. Their debut also reinvented how a K-pop group looks, often accompanied by a quartet of virtual avatars.

“From the moment it was decided that we were going to debut as Aespa until now, we’ve always had great teamwork and communication, with many heart-to-heart conversations,” Giselle says. “I think we were able to build a stronger bond because we were always open to talking about our feelings and what’s on our minds.”

Aesop’s first single, “Black Mamba,” introduced them to the world as an influential pop act, with its heavy synths and dubstep-y beat. Their second song, “Forever,” surprised them by showing off a softer side. “We receive inspiration from other artists, but instead of trying to become like someone else, we want to create our music genre,” Karina says.

All four (physical) members say they wanted to pursue music from a young age, and they were raised on a diverse array of genres and artists. Karina’s grandmother played plenty of older Korean songs while her mom got her into classical and jazz. Winter’s older brother played in a band, so she loved guitar-driven music. Giselle’s influences are perhaps the widest-ranging: She cites everyone from Stevie Wonder to Blink-182 to Ariana Grande, with her taste leaning toward rock and R&B. And Ningning’s hero? “Beyoncé is always on my playlist,” she exclaims.

While the recent pandemic proved challenging, Aespa has done what it can to make the most of these unprecedented circumstances. As a group, it’s all they know. “Watching the staff work so hard with their masks on makes us want to work even harder,” Winter says, of recording music and videos during this time. “We are sad that we can’t meet our fans in-person and perform in front of an audience, but we’re always trying to utilize various social media and video platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase the different sides of us that you don’t necessarily see in our music videos or performances.” (They’ve also promoted the group with virtual avatar versions of each member.)

Aespa is planning much more shortly, and Karina has her wish list for what she hopes they get to showcase — including their remarkable harmonies, more rapping, and chances to share their own stories in the songs. “I’m sure that our song lyrics will get more interesting as they tell a story of our adventures in that world,” she explains, “adding on to the fun in uncovering the full story with each new release.”

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