If you’re even somewhat familiar with second or third-generation K-pop royalty, you very likely know EXID. Going back to their ambitious 2012 debut, the all-girl group has been behind game-changing hit tracks like “Up & Down” (a buzz-worthy single that earned the group their first domestic No. 1 song) or the sultrier pop-jam “I Love You,” essentially presenting their tendency to go bold.
That very instinct to find their own lane in K-pop eventually helped the group discover a massive audience with millions of albums sold and the ability to design immortal dance tracks for both listeners to fully embrace regardless of current eras or trends. As the group went on a disheartening (but natural) hiatus in 2020, EXID’s recent 10th anniversary in 2022 rewrote their temporary ending with a highly anticipated revival of K-pop perfection. With the group’s celebratory EP X, EXID now daringly brings the heat with their single “Fire” to remind everyone (fans, artists, etc.) that the group’s power has no boundaries – and that we can expect the exact same tenacity from them despite their humble attempts to regularly downplay their lasting impact or current potential.
One thing that is certain is that EXID is back, and dare we say, better than ever – which we absolutely love for them. In our recent interview with the women of EXID, we made sure to get all the details on their anniversary reunion, future plans, and what it takes to create the perfect song.
It’s so exciting to see that you’ve reunited for this anniversary event because it feels like it became a critical K-pop reunion that also displayed the power of longevity! Did you ever anticipate in the earliest stages of EXID’s formation that you’d manage to be around 10 years later making music together?
SOLJI: I knew we were always going to be together and being able to keep our promise to our fans that we will return brought me the biggest joy of all. The single album not only celebrates EXID’s 10th anniversary but also celebrates each of us as a member of EXID!
HYELIN: It was always a big goal of mine to be able to make music for a long time with all the members ever since the beginning of our career. But it just feels so surreal that we were able to make this come true. I am just so thankful to release music together as EXID to celebrate our 10th year.
JEONGHWA: I always knew that we’d be still EXID even after 10 years! It has always been our goal and our dream to be EXID as a group and as a member of EXID. And this comeback demonstrated our achievement of this. I am just so happy that we have made this happen together through our celebratory release.
When you each decided to return, what would you say was the most exciting and conversely, the most nerve-wracking opportunity that was paired with this comeback?
HANI: Just thinking about fulfilling our daily schedules as EXID got me giddy with excitement and it was one of the things that I looked forward to the most; so, I don’t think I was nervous about this comeback at all. And being together with the members is so important to me because EXID and the members is happiness to me.
HYELIN: The most exciting part about this comeback was that we will be able to perform on stage for our fans but at the same time, I was the most nervous about dancing. It’s been a while since I’ve danced, so personally, I was afraid that I’d be extremely rusty.
JEONGHWA: I think I was too excited to even notice whether I was nervous. I was looking forward so much to meeting our fans. And as a person who loves EXID music, I was excited to present our new music and show our fans how much each of us has grown.
The group temporarily parted a few years ago which obviously was a sad day for the industry, but that time offered you each time to explore different passions or even some much-needed relaxation time as well! How would you each say you’ve changed since taking a step back from the group?
SOLJI: During my solo activities, I was able to work on genres that were outside of EXID’s concept and style, and this really impacted the way I approach music. Compared to the music that I shared with four other members, I had to pull through an entire song alone and this experience has helped me evolve musically.
HANI: Individual time has given us the opportunity to reflect and dedicate time to ourselves. I was able to become mentally stronger and was able to give myself time to reflect and look back. And through this, we were able to become a healthier EXID and a healthier [version of me].
ELLY: Time has given me the opportunity to re-discover myself and learn more about the things that I didn’t know. I was able to grow mentally stronger and learn how to accept differences in perspective and opinions when people don’t necessarily agree with me. This has helped me approach music with a different mentality because I have matured in so many ways.
HYELIN: Being together all the time was amazing but being alone also gave me the chance to be able to focus on myself. I was able to focus on myself and recognize myself more than ever. And our time off from EXID has given me the chance to grow and understand myself better, so I feel like this comeback represents not only growth as EXID, but our fans might have seen how each of us has also grown.
JEONGHWA: Compared to the days when we were promoting as a group together, I think I was able to give myself a bit more flexibility and freedom. I learned how to listen to my heart, and this isn’t easy as it sounds at times. The fact that I have learned to listen to what my heart says more made me realize that I am growing.
In terms of the group’s energy, did returning from a hiatus change the vibe at all this time around – as opposed to other back-to-back EXID eras you’ve each partaken in?
SOLJI: Since we each took the time to individually focus on different things during the last three years, I think we worked and spent most of our time channeling our hearts to our EXID days. As you have mentioned, we wanted to make sure our vibes were in check. Our 10th anniversary single, especially, is an album that each and every one of the members was heavily involved in, so it has become a very meaningful release. And I feel like our energy was still on point. It wasn’t easy but the way we approached this release felt different because it held a special meaning to us.
HYELIN: I think I can say that the way we had put our minds and hearts into this comeback was no different, but I feel like my body wasn’t able to keep up. I believe I rested every five minutes during our practices for our ‘FIRE’ choreography.
JEONGHWA: Our energy and vibes were the same, but I think we were able to bring a different sort of energy in addition to our usual EXID persona. Compared to our previous eras, each of our individual character and energy have become more distinctive, so I feel like this comeback and we, EXID, returned stronger than ever.
The title track “FIRE” feels very fearless! There sincerely isn’t a fault within the track, so it feels very on-brand for EXID with a slightly modern edge to it. Did you immediately want to go hard for this comeback or did the group have a different vision in mind when you initially discussed ideas?
HYELIN: We took a lot of time in picking out the right tracks. It was important for us to find the ‘right’ song for us and for this comeback. We had discussed a lot of ideas and listened to a lot of tracks, but we felt that the concept that would bring out EXID’s best side would be a ‘girl-crush’ style. And because of this, we came to choose ‘FIRE’ for our main title song to front our anniversary single.
JEONGHWA: ‘FIRE’ was a track that had character. We decided that the song would showcase EXID’s identity well, so once we heard the song, we immediately knew that this would be the one. Because we found the song that would be a perfect fit for us, we knew that the music video and the stages that we would be presenting were going to be powerful. And just like we had expected, our music video turned out fearless and charismatic and exactly the way we wanted to express the song and ourselves.
The music video for “FIRE” delivers! Getting to see you each together and in such powerful ways feels satisfying as a general pop music listener, but more importantly for every long-term EXID fan that’s been with you throughout your career. How magical was it to step back on set and see this vision come to life?
JEONGHWA: During the past three years, I spent the time focusing on my individual career so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for me to show my charismatic and sexy side through a performance. I’ve been dying to perform fully, and I have been waiting for this moment! I feel like the music video especially helped me unleash everything within me.
HANI: I had so much fun. Literally had so much fun being part of this entire process. I think I can finally say that I was able to fully enjoy being part of the album-making process, and it made me realize and regret that I wasn’t able to do the same during the previous comeback eras. It was such a meaningful time for me to be able to be with my members together for this special single.
HYELIN: It was truly magical. We had put so much work into making this come alive together. We had filmed the music video together all night long and we exerted a lot of energy because it’s been a while since we’ve made a comeback. I think I just enjoyed every single moment together and it was just so much fun spending the time with our members.
Over the past 10 years, your group has been perceived as being K-pop icons, so you have a very organic group of supporters behind EXID! How would you say that stature has affected your approach to music, if at all?
HANI: Due to the immense love and support from our fans over the past 10 years, I think we were able to gain confidence in our concept and style that makes us EXID and solidify our affirmation. Because of this, we were able to express ourselves more with confidence.
HYELIN: Our fans’ support and love have been always our number one source of motivation and energy. However, our fans have been waiting for a long time to see our return, and thinking of them made this comeback preparation a bit more emotional for me. So, the way I had approached this comeback felt different because we wanted this to be like a reunion between long-term friends. And it really felt that way!
We also have to acknowledge when you’re able to join forces, you create some of the most infectious pop music of your time – so what would you say is the key to creating a repeat-worthy track?
ELLY: Our musical identity as EXID solidified over time. During that period, we worked on finding the best EXID-like music and elements that we could represent ourselves with. And naturally, since we know what would represent us the best, it made it easy for us to create a concept and music that our listeners and fans can identify us with.
Looking to the future, do you think that an anniversary is the main requirement for EXID to return, or has this possibly opened the door for more music sooner rather than later?
SOLJI: Of course, we always want to be able to return! This is what we hope and dream for all the time. Realistically, it does require a lot of conversation as each of the members is signed to different management, so we will have to discuss and look at what we could do next together. Our love for our fans will not change and the five of us will work hard for our LEGGOs for our next step.
In closing, what advice would you offer other groups who hope to attain that same level of respect that EXID has garnered for an impressive 10 years now?
HANI: EXID’s biggest career achievement is the fact that we still value all the time we’ve been together. Each of the members has been at a crossroads and we’ve faced some difficult situations, but I believe that we were able to come this far because we made those difficult decisions. I know it’s not easy, but I hope you make hard decisions for yourself and for the group. Because when you look back, you’ll realize that it was the right decision to do so.
ELLY: During your career, there are times when you’re under pressure and times when you can’t enjoy the moment to the fullest. Whenever our juniors experience this, I want to tell them to try to enjoy every moment together because everything is an experience and a memory that you’ll be creating.
HYELIN: If you love your members, your fans, the role you play in the group, and the music you make, then your bond with the group will be strong. This will make you persevere and open doors to more opportunities so the time and effort will be well worth the wait. Patience is the key and being able to acknowledge and be able to endure the wait is the most important of all.
Make sure to stream EXID’s anniversary album X, and check out the music video for “FIRE” included below!