[Exclusive Interview] BLACKSWAN Talks Cat & Mouse, Accomplishments and What's Next

Courtesy of BLACKSWAN

BLACKSWAN has finally dropped their highly anticipated MV for the B-Side, Cat & Mouse, from the That Karma album released in May.

As they prepare for further promotions, KpopWise caught up with the global group to discuss showcasing a new side of BLACKSWAN, their recent accomplishments and what’s next for the girls.

You all recently won the “Next Generation Hallyu Star” award at the 5th Newsis Hallyu Expo and also performed at the event. First of all, congratulations! And second, how did that experience feel?

Fatou: It was the first award show that we’ve been with like a red carpet and like the fans in front of us. It was our first official award show and it was an amazing, amazing experience. Not only that but we got to receive that award. And for me personally, it humbled me more like, oh, I should do better. I should always do better. So I am very thankful.

NVee: I think for me, it was a new experience for me. I've never had an award be given like this, especially as my first time with BLACKSWAN. So, it was a new kind of experience and it was fun to be there and kind of be appreciated with the hard work that we've done as a group. So I think it was a really, really good experience. And I enjoyed it because I didn't know what to expect at first. I was like oh what's going to happen. So we went through the interviews, the press. That was a new experience. It was fun, and the food was good *laughs*!

Your debut “KARMA” did very well, with 6 million views on youtube and reaching over one million streams on spotify. How does this make you all feel

Gabi: Karma was really, really a great era for the group. This was just possible because of Lumina because, like, they are so amazing. Everything that we got this era was because of them. They're amazing.

Sriya, a lot of your beautiful culture was integrated into KARMA. Did you play a part in guiding this decision if so, how and why? Is incorporating each member’s cultures within your music/aesthetic something we will see from you all in the future?

Sriya: Yes, of course we would like to do things like that because we are from different cultures. We also learn from different cultures, different countries, and it's an amazing experience, I would say. When we were shooting in India, my unnies (Korean term for a female friend or a female sibling who’s older than you), they learned and tried their best to learn about the culture so that they don't do something wrong. So it was a great experience! So next time, I would also like to learn each of their cultures. It's an amazing experience to see all of our cultures.

Courtesy of BLACKSWAN

Cat & Mouse promotions are next for the group. It is a completely different vibe than Karma. What side of BLACKSWAN are you showcasing  this time around?

Fatou: A more girly, cute-sy, sexy kind of image because till now, BLACKSWAN has had a very strong image. You know, confidence, very powerful. Cat & Mouse is more soft, more emotional, more mellow song so we want to express that side of BLACKSWAN too.

Have you all made any new idol friends during KARMA promotions? If so, who? 

Sriya: There was, ADYA who asked me, ‘unnie, I want to get close to you.’ And we talk to each other sometimes whenever we have time!

Fatou: And AleXa.

NVee: That’s our girl!

Are there any idols you would love to meet in person?

Gabi: It’s still far but I would love to meet Jeongyeon from Twice. My bias! She’s an inspiration.

NVee: I would like meet; personally because I've met them, Oneus. I’ve met them through the Karma promotions but I haven’t personally been able to like talk or introduce myself to them. But them or any of the BTS Sunbaenims (Korean word that refers to an experienced person within the same school, company or group).

Sriya: Kai Sunbaenim, so badly! Also I just saw Stray Kids Sunbaenims through Karma promotions but I would like to meet them!

Fatou: Shinee!

Gabi, you used to do musical theater and were a part of a K-Pop dance cover group “Queens of Revolution.” How did these experiences help you in your journey to becoming an idol?

Gabi: Any experience that you can have before applying to audition will help you in some point. Like, even if you still have too many things to learn, like at least you started from somewhere. So like, at least some knowledge I could get from musical theater, or in the dance cover group. It doesn't need to be in a specific skill, sometimes it's just like in the dance cover group, I need to learn how to work in a group and then this helped me now being in BLACKSWAN too. So yeah, these kinds of things helped me the most.

Nvee, you recently had the opportunity to sing an OST “One More Time” for the Netflix show Love After Divorce. Please tell me about that experience.

NVee: Our company had shown me the song and said that this would be an opportunity that we could do depending on whether you feel like you could do well on it. And I listened to it, and literally after the first like four beats of the song I was like oh yeah, I want to do this and I hadn't even started to listen to the vocals yet. I just really liked the flow and just the intro had a nice subtle groove to it. It was definitely a different take on what I normally sing. It was more of a chestier side that I'm still kind of learning and getting my skills together on that one. So it was a nice thing to learn and then the recording process was actually very fun. It was my first time alone, recording something alone without the group. It was a little lonely, the girl’s weren't there. But it went very smooth and it turned out very well. When I heard the finished song, there's a small rap part in it. *Laughs* And rapping is not my style. And so that was probably the hardest to do. But it was nice. *Points to Fatou* She’s smiling because she knows it wasn’t good *laughs.* But I still really liked the finished product of the song.

So when you heard the rap did you go to Fatou for a bit of guidance?

NVee: I did, I did!

And how did that go?

Fatou: Interesting *laughs.* That’s the only word I can say, interesting.

Courtesy of BLACKSWAN

Fatou, last time we spoke you mentioned your excitement yet nervousness in being the leader. How is that going so far? 

Fatou: So far it’s going well, it's going okay. There are some times where it gets a bit heavy on the shoulders. But most of the time it's going, I’m living, I’m alive!

All of you have worked extremely hard to get where you are now. How do you keep that drive and motivation despite the obstacles you went through and are still facing?

Fatou: The love of music, personally. That's the only thing that keeps me going. And the fans!

Sriya: I get energy and motivation every single time I see Luminas and their edits. And whenever I listen to new music it kind of gives me goosebumps every single time. 

NVee: I'd say, for me, other than music--obviously a big influence for me--I think another thing to add to it would be always needing and making sure to improve on the skills that I already have because there's always things that needs to be worked on. And I think the want to always one-up yourself, to be better than what you were yesterday.

Gabi: For me, everything that the girls say is also like part of my motivation. But I personally, at the end when the final product comes, I like to look back and see. Like, oh my god, everything was hard but even if I struggle a lot, look what we made. It's something that makes me proud.

As you all come from different cultures and backgrounds, how do you go about learning, understanding and respecting your differences while coming together under a common goal?

Fatou: Stay open minded. You don’t know everything in this world, you got a lot to learn. Yeah, I would say stay open minded and be open to learn. Don’t be a harda**!

Courtesy of BLACKSWAN

LUMINA CORNER: Questions from Lumina’s online

Nvee, how do you keep your voice warmed up?

NVee: At least for like performances or I guess just covers in general. I always like to do a warm up called sirens and it helps warm up your whole range. I'll do this a couple times. At least to slightly warm up my voice and then I'll go through lip trills and like all this stuff. But other than that I think before performance specifically I like to do at least some sort of like thing to get my blood pumping and to get nerves off.

Gabi, you’re an iconic Blonde but is there any other hair color you’d like to try out in the future?

Gabi: There are so many colors that I want to try. I am a person that loves to change like everytime. But there is a color that I want to do before trying a full hair change. But when one of the colors I really want to try is Strawberry Blonde. Kind of orange/pink, a really light pastel.

Sriya, when are we getting more dance covers from you?

Sriya: I also want to do some dance covers and I'm actually shooting them right now and I will be posting some. And I also shoot some things, like a surprise for Luminas and it will go up really soon I guess. And I'm trying from now on to post more covers and more dance lives. Before, because of the busy schedule it was really hard to do those things but these days I’m trying to.

Fatou, you already speak like 5 languages, do you plan on learning some Hindi and Portuguese from Sriya and Gabi to add to the list?

Fatou: Why not? It's always good to have more language in my head. 

Sriya: She talked to my mom in my language and I was like, wow. And she always asks me when I talk and since my mom can’t speak English.

Do any of the members have plans for producing in the future?

NVee: I'd love to learn to be more of a lyricist. Also vocalizing, I really want to learn how to do more melodies for a song so I think that would be fun to do eventually. A nice little skill to learn.

Gabi: I think why not *laughs*? There's still a long way to there but why not!

BLACKSWAN That Karma - Pop Edition includes English versions of Karma and Cat & Mouse plus a new 3rd track 'A World Without Pain.'


Glow Ngwe

Glow Ngwe is a Cameroonian-born writer based in Washington D.C. She has written for Teen Vogue, CNNStyle and has won two Student Production Emmys for her work as a journalism masters student at the University of Maryland College Park. Glow has a strong passion for dance and is a member of the DMV area K-pop dance team, Konnectdmv. Through her interests and passion in fashion, dance, culture, and more, she hopes to embody her name, "Glow," in the lives of those on--as well as off--line. Follow her on instagram, tik tok or twitter @gloworldd.

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