This interview is originally published in W Korea’s December 2015 issue and was accompanied with a photo shoot that CL did with her sister, Harin. Check out the pictures here or on W Korea’s website where a portion of the interview is also posted.
Good girls go to heaven but CL goes anywhere
W Korea: So you’ve done a special photo shoot with your younger sister today.
CL: I thought that it’s going to be a great memory with her so I really wanted to do it. We also did a fresh concept.
WK: Could you introduce your younger sister to us?
CL: She’s a university student in Hong Kong. She is just a normal student and has no plans of being a celebrity but she’s familiar with taking photos because we take photos of each other all the time. I was very worried because it’s her first time taking photos in such a setting but I’m glad she had fun and that she came out pretty in the photos.
WK: How is your relationship with her?
CL: We’ve lived apart from each other for 10 years since middle school as I started working early and she studied overseas. I think we would have fought a lot if we were together every day… and also since we are 4 years apart, I think that actually made us closer. My sister has taken a temporary leave from university to accompany me for my activities in the US these days. We’ve been making lots of great memories.
WK: I think sisters become great friends once they grow up.
CL: Maybe it’s because we’re girls that there’s a lot we can share with each other, and I like that. From the little things… to clothes and make up. We talk a lot about these things.
WK: Talking about clothes and make up, you’ve been searching for a style that matches you these past few years, haven’t you?
CL: I think I grew up in front of the camera. Although some people have a completed look from the very start, I’ve been trying a variety of looks ever since I was 17 years old as I grew up in the public eye. Although it’s embarrassing when I look at some of those looks now, I’ve always enjoyed the process of doing research and exploring (different styles).
WK: I think that the right style is obtained through trial and error.
CL: It certainly gets better as you try many clothes and make up looks.
WK: A fashion blogger overseas described your style as “bold, colourful and not afraid to experiment”. What would you say is your direction and principles when it comes to fashion?
CL: I like bold lines and distinct features. Although I’m wearing lace today, I like that I have some of my colour expressed in the concept through the witch concept. Basically I like ornate items.
WK: You said that you were ‘taking a big risk’ as you put on a conservative Valentino lace dress. Your definition of ‘risk’ seem to differ from others.
CL: Even though I put on a lace dress, I’ve tried on lingerie looks as performance outfits instead of covering my body, and there’s a lot of tight-fitting, austere dresses today. The Valentino dress is my favourite out of everything that I’ve worn today but I think it’s something that my mom would really like. It’s similar in style to what she’d give me to wear when I was young (smiles). I’ve traveled far from (that style) as I grew up but it feels like I’m going back to it today.
WK: Although you like trying new styles such as the style that you’re trying today, you certainly do prefer certain things over others.
CL: I’ve shot pictorials in swimsuits and in big fur… so in that sense today is new for me. Things like long dresses and lace one-pieces are risks and something new for me.
WK: As how the clothes your mom gave you when you were young are different from the performance outfits that you wear now, are there similar differences between the CL that you show on stage and Lee Chaerin as a person?
CL: Firstly, because Chaerin never leaves the house, she always has pajamas on. She’s really a homebody that only family is able to see (smiles).
WK: Your performance at MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards) in Hong Kong was a good opportunity to gauge CL’s position among other artists in Korea, especially among female artists. It seems as if you’re being pushed to be seen as the most ‘radical’ female artist in Korea with ‘Hello Bitches’. To what extent does coming off strong play a part in your strategy?
CL: To be honest, I don’t think about it much. Since it was going on live broadcast and I couldn’t swear or do things like that, and if I was to start by thinking how strong I wanted to come across, I wouldn’t be able to think of what to do and I wouldn’t be inspired. I wouldn’t be able to let my thoughts and heart go far if I felt like I had any boundaries to solve a situation within. Instead, I find that it’s much easier to go as far as I want to go with it and then remove the things that I need to remove from that. I’m more comfortable with this way of doing things and the people around me also support it.
WK: I’m curious about the context of your use of the word ‘bitch’.
CL: I would joke around with friends in the US and say ‘what’s up bitch’ in those situations. It is used in this humorous context. Although this song and video are presents for the fans from Asia that have been waiting for me, I also hope that it will be my introduction to people who do not know me in the US. I thought that it’s the most ‘me’ introduction that I could give.
WK: The characters that you’ve shown in ‘The Baddest Female’ and ‘Hello Bitches’ brings to mind that saying that ‘good girls go to heaven but bad girls go everywhere’. There’s a sense of being freed from captivity.
CL: I want to be a bad girl for my whole life. Although I’m much more conservative that people would think and I do have strict rules for myself, I want to think that there is no restrictions and limits to what I can do. I want to always have the mind-set of a young kid. Although you would be able to hear many other stories in various genres once the album is released, my first solo song ‘The Baddest Female’ and ‘Hello Bitches’ are both songs that focus on showing my identity.
WK: I’m sure there are both good and bad points of being active alone versus being active as a group (with 2NE1).
CL: Times in the waiting room are always noisy and fun with the (2NE1) members around. I acutely feel their absence when I go on vacations alone, or when I do photo shoots and interviews alone. Even though I’m the one who talks the most in team interviews too, it feels different when the members are beside me. Because I was forced out of a state that I was comfortable and familiar with, I think the past year that I had activities by myself was as period that was personally challenging and pushed me a lot.
WK: To attempt a burdensome challenge that is advancing in the US… Is there anything that you fear even though you appear brave?
CL: I just don’t think about them. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking in the past year. (The US) is a really different market (than Korea) and it’s a situation where I had to meet new people and start all over again. But I thought about it and realised that nothing changes. I concluded that I just have to have fun living my life just as I always have, no matter if I’m in the US or if I’m in Korea. I’m used to having everything set when I work with my team in Korea but I went to the US with the least amount of people possible. The stylist, producer and CEO that I always worked with and gave me advice weren’t around and I was really worried because of that and I had to start from scratch. However, I think going through those experiences allowed me to enjoy what I’m doing now.
WK: Would that be what is referred to as the sweetness after the bitterness.
CL: (Smiles) Yes, it is so now. These days, I’ve been thinking that I have to have fun every day and live while doing what I want to do.
WK: It sounds like something you’re saying as you look back on 2015.
CL: Although I’ve been going back and forth between Korea and US since 2014, this aspect is also what I feel the most about in this past year.
WK: Where do you get that energy that seems to pour tirelessly out of you?
CL: Firstly, I think I stockpiled energy for the past year of activities. When I rested for even a day, I’ve always felt like I gathered so much and I had to release them. The people around me that are aware of my impatient nature told me to wait a lot though. You have to have lots of energy, desires and passion to work in this line and if you don’t consistently better yourself, you would lag behind others and disappear in a second. I want to continue working as long as I have the energy and passion to keep up. It’s not because I want it to be like so but (this thought) seems to have come from somewhere…
WK: Were you born with it?
CL: I don’t know about that. Although it’s possible that I’ll still be as passionate when I’m 100 years old, I don’t think I will be. I want to use (this passion) on something good whilst it is still intense.
WK: If you were to define happiness?
CL: I don’t think ‘stability’ is a synonym of happiness for me. Since I’m still young, instead of it being fulfilled through wealth, popularity or accomplishments, I think I’m the happiest when I’m striving towards a state of being troubled or somewhat anxious as I tend to work the hardest when I’m in that state. Also, happiness to me is also growing with friends that get you as you solve troubles together.
WK: I think that’s a definition of happiness that is very ’25 years old’.
CL: However, I’ve had a lot of experiences where instability isn’t good when I work with friends. I also think that it’s a given that I’m not aware of everything nor do I have everything together at 25 years old. Having good outcomes give me encouragement as I work hard and it’s fun to think of it as passing levels as if I’m in a game. Being aware and experiencing.
WK: New Zealand musician Lorde commented that you’re ‘sweet and cool and 100% a star’ on Twitter today. (Check out their interactions here)
CL: We’ve liked and replied to each other on Instagram on Twitter and do know that we support each other but I haven’t met her yet. I think I’d probably meet her one day.
WK: Working on a single with Skrillex and Diplo seems to have also given you momentum for global expansion.
CL: I didn’t really have opportunities to get close to any other artists except for those in my agency (YG Entertainment) but I had a lot of opportunities to meet a lot of new people at parties and performances in the US. (Working with Skrillex and Diplo) didn’t seem like it was scheduled and felt like it was an episode that occurred by chance. It was a good experience and was fun.
WK: You’ve used the word ‘fun’ many times in this interview.
CL: It’s a habit. I’ve also heard that I use the word ‘fun’ a lot in English interviews too. I think (fun) is just really important to me. Be it men, work, and diets, whatever it is… I feel empty and distressed when I’m not interested in anything. Enjoying something and being excited about it… I feel like you have to have things that make you feel like that for there to be something to live for.
WK: So is there a man that you’re interested in recently?
CL: This is really from the bottom of my heart but I don’t think now is the time for me to be thinking about men. I think I will regret it in the future if my focus is disturbed in such an important period of my life. And if he’s really a good man, he would wait for me wouldn’t he?
WK: How do you manage yourself through your diet and exercise routines?
CL: I want to be slim too but… (Smile) Actually, since I like exercising and also dance a lot, my muscles grew bigger. Although the dance team that I shot a music video with are really powerful, I can’t look that much bigger than them so I worked hard (at dieting). I also do choreography that takes a lot of energy.
WK: 2016 will be an important year for you. What sort of expectations and wishes do you have for it?
CL: Shakespeare said that you’ll be able to be happy every day if you don’t have any expectations. So, without any expectations, and although I really want to show everyone what I’ve been preparing as soon as possible, there is a time for everything. I hope it’ll be a fun year.
WK: It seems like you have a lot of female fans.
CL: Cool unnies* like me. I’ve been close to my aunt’s friends ever since I was little. I enjoy being the child in the adults’ world and feeling like I’m getting previews to experiences that I would have in the future. I like to indirectly experience the daily life that I’m not able to have. That’s why I like sitcoms like ‘Friends’.
*Unnie – Korean way for a younger female to address an older female.
WK: Who is your favourite character in ‘Friends’?
CL: Phoebe. Because she’s so silly/outrageous and does something new every day.
Translated by CLTHEBADDESTFEMALE.COM
Much thanks to @whitewoodCL for the full interview text from the W Korea magazine.
Please credit if you’re taking these translations out of CLTHEBADDESTFEMALE.COM
Fingers crossed that 2016 will be an amazing year for CL ♥