Familiarize yourself with the ‘mysterious’ hip-hop and R&B group XG as they reveal their inspiration, future plans and what it takes to be an ‘xtraordinary’ group
2022 is undeniably the year of women in the music industry. With iconic groups such as Girls’ Generation making their highly anticipated comeback and Blackpink releasing new music, to K-pop girl groups such as Twice selling out stadiums in America, it was only fitting for all-Japanese girl group XG to swiftly take hold of the baton and re-define what it takes to be a global hip-hop/R&B group in this decade.
Comprising members Jurin, Chisa, Harvey, Hinata, Juria, Maya and Cocona, XG (short for Xtraordinary Girls) is the first group to debut under the global entertainment production company, XGALX. With a mission to produce artists with a defined worldview and create a culture of bold creativity, XGALX fostered a holistic regime, ensuring the septet be second to none in rap, vocals and dance. With a fresh and inventive base in music and performance, XG debuted on March 18th, 2022, with “Tippy Toes,” aiming to empower young people from all over the world – from all walks of life. “I think that if we can be a catalyst for something in your life, then that is empowering for us,” explains the group’s leader Jurin. “We need to love ourselves and be grateful to those around us, and to focus on and cherish the present. We try to keep this in mind every day. I think this is also the secret to having confidence and staying strong!”
Reminiscent of their pre-debut performance videos, “Tippy Toes” keeps it sleek and luxurious with a monochrome color palette dictating the cinematography and wardrobe. Displaying crisp, precise choreographed moves, dynamic raps and alluring whispered choruses, the hip-hop and R&B number was a perfect single to show the world that XG are here to “wreck the game,” defying stereotypes one step at a time: “Bad gyals on the rise, you a nuisance/ Drop jaws, tie tongues, and the loose ends/ Got pushed out a queen, I’ve been true since.” According to a press statement, upon its release, “Tippy Toes’” music video entered the iTunes Alternative Song Chart, with the track hitting number one in seven countries as well as reaching the top 10 in 15 countries including the U.S. and Japan.
Shortly after debuting, the septet returned with “Mascara.” Dialing up the tempo and pop quotient, XG’s sophomore single saw the group mesh pop and trap beats, weaving a compelling hook. With lines like, “And when I find me another baby/ Who treats this lady good/ / You’re gonna cry me a river, baby/ But I won’t waste another single minute on you,” “Mascara” is a powerful anthem, underlining XG’s fearless spirit and determination to never give anyone the power to make them cry. “We wanted to show the unity and friendship in XG as well as the individuality of each member, so we have prepared it [‘Mascara’] with a lot of communication between the members!” Chisa shares about how the single came to life. “By knowing each other’s strengths, roles, and mindsets, I think we were able to give a performance with a greater sense of unity.”
To fully appreciate XG, you need to forgo everything you know about K-pop and J-pop. Though trained under the K-pop model, the Japanese artists are drawing up their playbooks, helping them craft a unique identity for themselves right from the heart of K-pop, Seoul. Think of XG as a group that colors outside the lines; a group that chooses to be unconfined by the norms and challenge what’s already established. “Very exciting!” Chisa exclaims when I pose the question of what the group’s experience of formulating their sound outside of the structures of K-pop and J-pop has been like. The 20-year-old singer continues, “We like to try new things and are always listening to and incorporating lots of other music genres! Since we’re a group, we have the advantage that the seven of us can express ourselves in ways that we couldn’t do alone.” Hinata offers a peek into the group’s experience, which perfectly captures XG’s perseverance to pen down a new chapter for girl groups: “When starting something new, sometimes it feels like it’s not that easy because nothing is ever easy. But I think it is wonderful to be able to create music that is uniquely ours, music that only we can make, and share with the world.”
In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone India, Jurin, Chisa, Harvey, Hinata, Juria, Maya and Cocona open up about their latest release “Mascara,” hip-hop, R&B influences and what sets XG apart from the legion of girl groups that are currently active in the circuit
What makes XG extraordinary?
Chisa: I think we’re extraordinary because we share the same mindset. When we go to rehearsals and when we perform, all seven of us usually have the same goal – and we really value that strong, hungry mindset.
Juria: I think the extraordinary part of us is that we always have a common goal as a group and always try our best to realize that goal, and we’ll continue to do that in the future.
Cocona: I think it’s because we’re a team and we’re not individuals. What we couldn’t do alone, somehow we are able to overcome as a team. We’ve been like this since we were trainees. We are able to support each other as a team and we believe we will continue on to be ‘normal but not normal,’ thanks to all the members.
XG’s power undoubtedly lies in its choreography. I’ve seen thousands of fans praise your dance routines, especially for your pre-debut videos. Where do you think the group’s strengths lie? What sets you apart from the other acts?
Jurin: I think our strength is definitely the chemistry that the seven of us have built up over the five years of practice. I’m very happy that our fans often tell us that XG’s strength is our collective power, and I think this is reflected in our performance! We also value the individuality of each of our members. The power of the group and our individuality are opposites of each other, but I believe that when the seven of us who have worked on our individuality become one, we will become a more vibrant group, capable of producing tremendous energy.
Harvey: In terms of performance, our strength lies in the fact that we value our sense of unity as a group while expressing our individuality to the fullest. Whenever we create something, all the members are united in the same mindset and prepare together as one.
Our deep friendship creates a sense of unity in our performances, and I believe that is where our power comes from!
Cocona: I think it is the power of teamwork. Whenever we tackle any task, I think one of XG’s strengths is that we are able to do it more efficiently by discussing and deciding on roles for everyone. Whenever there is something we cannot do or something that is lacking, the members who are good at what they do support us and we can all do our best. I’d like to continue to cherish and build stronger teamwork in the future.
Jurin, you’ve held various titles in professional snowboarding. How do you think your foundation in sports has shaped you to become the leader of XG? Has it helped you in any manner?
Jurin: The sense of responsibility and independence to think and make decisions on my own, which I learned while I was an athlete, has been very useful for me as a leader of XG. Snowboarding is a very individual sport, so I have to think and make decisions on my own, and I am responsible for the results of those decisions. The role of ‘leader’ also entails a great deal of responsibility, standing one step in front of the other members, thinking one or two steps ahead and leading them.
It is still a daily struggle, but my goal is to be the best leader I can be for the members!
“Mascara” has a slightly more upbeat production with trap influences. How is it different from “Tippy Toes?”
Chisa: XG’s music is based on hip-hop/R&B and we want to create a genre that has never been done before by incorporating the message and expression we want to spread. In “Tippy Toes,” we showed a cool XG with a more hip-hop base to show XG’s enthusiasm and strong core, but in “Mascara,” we focused on XG’s pop side. The track expresses our team power, our friendship, and our true colors with more emphasis on the pop side of XG. It’s a very addictive song, so please listen to it!
Hinata: While “Tippy Toes” was a bit darker and generally more subdued, “Mascara” is a powerful, fun and energetic song. We hope you can feel our feelings and energy overflowing through the track and performance!
Jurin: Our debut song “Tippy Toes” is a song that expresses our worldview and declares our enthusiasm. “Mascara” is an anthem that expresses ‘boldness’, ‘power’, and ‘strength’ with attention to detail in every note and lyric. There are many positive and confidence-inspiring messages in the song, and you can feel our unity in the choreography.
Cocona: “Mascara” is more intense, dynamic, and poppier than “Tippy Toes.” In the case of “Tippy Toes,” we expressed our enthusiasm and worldview by declaring, ‘This is just the beginning for XG.’ In “Mascara,” we want everyone to feel the message of friendship, unity, and strength.
How was the experience preparing for your first comeback? What would you like fans to focus on with this release?
Jurin: I wanted to show “Mascara” to you all as soon as possible. We were also all very excited and thrilled to make our first comeback! We finessed the song and choreography right until the very last minute before the release, and I think we have created a song that is full of XG’s character. I especially want you to pay attention to the second half of the song, from the bridge starting with Chisa to the big chorus, where you can feel the flexibility and energy of XG even more. I’d love for you to listen to that!
Juria: Preparations for our first comeback were very exciting! I am so happy that our fans will be able to listen to “Mascara.” I hope you will listen to the song and take a look at our performance as well as our message of confidence and courage!
Cocona: As with our debut, we were so happy and excited to prepare for our comeback this time. We can’t wait for our fans to see the new us! I was filled with the feeling of ‘I can’t wait for our fans to see this.’
With “Mascara,” I believe we’ll be able to show you the strengths of XG even more than before. I hope that everyone will enjoy the individuality of each member and the many concepts that are made for each of them.
The dance choreography is also more powerful and catchy than that of “Tippy Toes,” so I hope you will copy [it] and dance along with us! I hope to dance with all my fans when we meet someday.
What are your expectations from this release?
Chisa: Through “Mascara” we hope that more and more people will get to know XG. With our comeback, we have been given opportunities to do interviews and perform on TV, so I hope we can show you what we can do as much as possible. I hope we can speak more with our fans than ever before!
Jurin: I hope that through this period of activity, we’ll be able to reach not only our fans who support us every day, but also people who don’t know XG yet! I also hope that we will be able to speak with our fans more and more! Since the release of “Mascara,” we’ve appeared on Korean music TV programs, and we were so happy to see the sparkling smiles of our fans in person! I can’t wait to meet our fans who support me all over the world.
Harvey: I hope that “Mascara” will reach many people around the world and give energy, courage, love, and confidence to all those who listen to it. I hope it will be a song that will be a source of strength for you all!
What are some core values the group lives by? What do you consider of utmost importance when it comes to working together?
Chisa: As we are a group of artists, solidarity, unity, and friendship among the members is very important, so we are always conscious of communicating with each other! We have a code of ‘Be as one’ when we perform and we always try to unite the seven of us together!
Jurin: I believe that the most important thing is to be united while respecting each other’s individuality. We believe that by respecting each other and giving each other good energy, good synergy will follow and lead to strong unity.
Cocona: As a team, we value not lying and being honest with ourselves and our members.We share and discuss every little thing with each other, no matter how good or bad it is. We sometimes have disagreements, but we always end up resolving them in the right direction. I think it’s very important for us to be honest with our team members, and I think it is important for me to be honest with the other girls as we continue to act as a team.
Maya: As a team, we believe that it is important to be humble and not self-centered. We shouldn’t take other people’s help for granted. There are limits to what an individual can do. We will keep on appreciating the support we get from others. That is what we think is important and we will always keep that in mind.
XG is rooted in hip-hop and R&B; who are some of your favorite artists from these genres? Who do you usually look up to for inspiration?
Chisa: I listen to Kehlani and SZA a lot because I love their music! I love the groove and the feeling of their songs, and I use them as references when I practice. Also, Madonna is like a goddess to me and an artist who inspires me a lot. I admire her unimaginable hard work and passion for music, which is a great motivator for me, seeing how she has been doing music for almost 30 years and is still constantly evolving!
Jurin: I’m inspired by so many artists that I listen to on a regular basis that I can’t pick just one, but I was shocked when I heard my first R&B song from the ’90s when I was 13 years old. Since then I always dreamed of being an artist, so I listened to a lot of them, especially female artists like Destiny’s Child, TLC, Aaliyah, Faith Evans and Lauryn Hill. I still love them!
Also, Rihanna and Billie Elish are inspirations for me; I usually look up to them not only for music but also for fashion and other things.
Harvey: In the hip-hop and R&B genres, I love Mary J. Blige, TLC, Rihanna and SZA. I was inspired by their songs, performances, and visuals, and I still refer to them a lot! I also look up to Michael Jackson, who inspired me to dream of becoming an artist when I was young. I am inspired by his performances, style, and the dreams he has given to people all over the world. I hope to bring happiness, love and courage to many people around the world through my songs, words, and performances, just like Micheal Jackson.
Cocona: My favorite artists are Lauryn Hill, Tyler The Creator and Keyshia Cole, who always inspire me and I respect them a lot! I really like hip-hop culture and fashion, and I think Lauryn Hill and Tyler The Creator have influenced me in that respect as well. I also discovered Keyshia Cole with her song “Love” when I was in the sixth grade, and I was shocked to find an artist who could convey her feelings while enjoying the music so much, not to mention her singing voice.
Every group – be it in the K-pop or J-pop space – is known for something. How do you want the audience to remember XG? What group do you wish to flourish into?
Jurin: We want to be remembered as a ‘one and only’ group.
As our team name suggests, we always want to be ‘Xtraordinary’ in all aspects of our mindset and performance. We will be happy if we can give our fans some courage and strength by being ‘Xtraordinary!’
Harvey: We want you to think of us as a group that will continue to challenge ourselves and introduce new things to the world! I hope that more and more people will be inspired and motivated by XG. To achieve this, first of all we want to be a group that has a confident and majestic aura, that can deliver energy to a lot of people and that can have a great impact on the world.
Cocona: We want to be a group that people will think of as new and unprecedented. Like the meaning of our group name ‘Xtraordinary Girls,’ we want to be a group that is not ordinary, but different and cool no matter when you see us!
What are some of the goals you’ve set as a group and individually?
Jurin: As a group, our main goal is to do a world tour. We would like to meet all of you who support us on a daily basis, and deliver our thoughts and feelings to you in person. I can’t wait to see your happy and smiling faces up close! As an individual, my goal is to be more proud of myself than I was yesterday.
Harvey: As both a group and as an individual, my goal is to become world-renowned! I hope to leave behind many pieces of work and give courage, strength, confidence and dreams to many people!
What are some of the projects you’re working on this year?
Chisa: With “Mascara,” we hope to perform on Korean music programs and to show more of our personal side as individuals.
We will do our best to make XG known not only to our fans but also to many people around the world!
Hinata: As we are already underway, we are planning to release many other pieces related to “Mascara” as well as undertake activities on Korean TV music programs and many more. Also, we are planning to release more and more songs after “Mascara,” so please look forward to them!
Maya: This is a secret, but we have a lot of exciting content coming up soon. We hope you can get to know us more in terms of our personality and style.
Do you have a message for your Indian fans?
Chisa: Thank you so much for your support. Your support is a great strength for us. We have prepared a lot for ”Mascara” so that we can show you a new side to us and deliver the message we want to convey.
We hope that listening to “Mascara” will be a good inspiration for you, and we will do our best to meet you in person someday for sure!
Thank you for your support.
Hinata: Thank you for your support! We will continue to share our energy and thoughts with you. We hope to meet our fans in India in person someday for sure!
Jurin: To our fans in India, my name is Jurin of XG! and I’m going to work even harder in the future, so please support me! I would love to meet you all!
Harvey: नमस्ते [Namaste]! मेरा नाम Harvey है [My name is Harvey]!
We will be posting a lot of new content for you guys to get to know us more! Hope we meet in person soon! Thank you for reading till the end! Stay safe.
Juria: Thank you so much for knowing and loving XG. Please keep supporting XG!! I love you!
Cocona: Thank you so much for always loving and supporting XG so much. We can do our best because of your support for us at any time.
I hope we can continue to walk the same path together! I love you!
Maya: Hi to all of our fans in India! Thank you all so so much for showing us lots of love and support! We can’t thank you all enough! One of the things I want to do is definitely meet you all in person. Don’t forget that we love you all so much!