The captivating four-member girl group known as KISS OF LIFE (@kissoflife_s2) is easily one of the strongest debuts of 2023 (and in recent years) for assembling a brand new blueprint that celebrates the brilliance of collaborations and individual passion. Because in a perfect universe, both creative avenues should be accessible to hardworking artists with a love for their craft.
Before the group’s electrifying debut, KISS OF LIFE first garnered substantial attention across social media from fans who speculated about the highly-anticipated S2 Entertainment creation months before any announcement was made. By the time the group was officially revealed to be composed of artists with previous industry experience or training (Belle, Julie, Haneul, and Natty), the impressively balanced roster of the visionary rookie group was finally working on a way to kick-start the unbridled potential of futuristic fifth-generation artistry.
A few tireless months later, the group successfully fulfilled their exhilarating pre-debut prophecy hype by making a phenomenal impression through their six-track EP KISS OF LIFE. Across the span of the (literally) perfect album, their unique concept effortlessly enamored fans courtesy of an emotional, cinematic-inspired narrative with distinguished solo singles, and two instantly iconic group tracks – showing audiences that the quartet was well-versed in genre deep-dives, teamwork, skilled vocals, songwriting, rapping, choreography, and acting. As a group, the KISS OF LIFE pre-release track “Bye My Neverland” was the first shared concoction to ignite their sound by producing an astonishing vocal performance enriched with soulful technique, yet, their official title track “Shhh” opts to pivot for a less serious, attitude-heavy pop/R&B single that’s all about having fun.
On the other hand, the more personalized, artist-tailored additions to the debut album include solid forms of self-expression destined for longevity. For Natty’s popular track “Sugarcoat,” the well-known soloist-turned-group member delivers top-tier R&B competence in every aspect of performance – perfectly paired with Julie’s own deeply hypnotic solo pop/hip-hop track known as “Kitty Cat.” When it comes to other genre productions, singer-songwriter Belle commits to an emotional plea on “Countdown,” while still leaving room for an upbeat reinvention of a youthful classic on the addictive “Play Loves Games” from the group’s own maknae, Haneul. So needless to say, within just one era, KISS OF LIFE has proven to the world that they’re one of the most qualified groups in the business.
As of now, the daring K-pop unit is officially leaping into their next exciting chapter with their first comeback album (Born to Be XX) that’s prepared to take them to sensational new heights. At the forefront of this release, the decadent group utilizes their previous experiences to fortify their already tangible chemistry for a gritty, hip-hop title track labeled “Bad News,” and a second equally magnetic funk-tinted track titled “Nobody Knows.” With that resilient, confident sound at its center, several experience-enhancing b-sides (including “My 808” and the irresistible track “Gentlemen”) the Born to Be XX era is virtually supplying fans with the group’s most exploratory, uninhibited music yet.
First and foremost, the entire Vanity Teen team is very excited about this cover story and are big supporters of KISS OF LIFE after your flawless debut releases! Can you share a little bit about how this lineup came to be? And how long after your first meeting did you learn that you would actually get to debut together?
Natty: First of all we feel very blessed to be a part of the Vanity Teen photoshoot as well! We would like to thank everyone for the love and support you guys have been giving us! KISS OF LIFE was formed with members who already had great skill and a long training history! Julie and I met around two years ago in a different company and we met Belle and Haneul in S2! The four of us trained together for about a year and a half before our debut!
As a four-member group, there’s a chance for people to really see your individual skills – and your debut EP took that concept a step further by giving you each a song to perfectly represent your limitless potential. How would you each say your solo track reflected your own identity as an artist?
Natty: I feel like the first solo songs were an introduction to each of the members! All four members have such different styles as well as areas that they are specifically good at! Each solo tracked kind of gave everyone a taste of each member’s potential! There’s still so many things we can do and I feel like it’s just the start!
That first EP feels like it helped usher in the next generation of K-pop, because from concept to your fresh take on artistry, there isn’t a current group that people can accurately compare you to. Though, in your own words, what’s probably the most unique quality about KISS OF LIFE?
Haneul: I think all four members just being genuine and real is the most unique quality of KISS OF LIFE!
Thematically, you’ve created a compelling story about four people who are trying to find themselves through art – and keeping your music videos connected was such a great way to introduce yourselves to fans through a visual medium. Considering all of the acting that was required, what would you each say was your most fulfilling moment in your solo videos?
Haneul: I would have to say the acting part! Specifically in my music video I had to act in detail. For example when the classmates at school tried to get me to dance I had to act like I was shy and I feel like I did a pretty good job!
You then come together for “Shhh,” and “Bye My Neverland.” which are both complete hits. And personally, I’m extremely obsessed with the latter! After sharpening your solo skills, what was it like to finally merge your individual styles into a cohesive group sound?
Belle: It was really entertaining for me to watch other members rocking on their solo songs because I know how good they are. Our members’ individual skills are amazing and I have a huge pride about that. But on the other hand, our individualities were too strong and different to be a team for a short period of time. And finally when we gathered with our title song “Shhh,” when we got to debut together, our voices and characters blended so well that I regretted all of the concerns I had about us becoming a team!
Within just a few weeks, you quickly garnered attention from listeners worldwide, several of your peers, and as of now, you’ve garnered millions of monthly listeners on Spotify alone. What has been the biggest change in your day-to-day life since your debut?
Belle: We are so honored. The people’s recognition of us were so much more than we actually expected. Sometimes we can hear our song playing on the random stores and streets. But the one thing that is different the most is that now we have our biggest supporters, Kissy [our fandom name] so I’ve been even more excited to show people our upcoming album. ‘Cause I just know that they’re gonna love it!
Obviously fans are eager about your next move which will officially be released by the time this is published — and there’s understandably a lot of anticipation about what it will look and sound like. How would you say this next era of KISS OF LIFE compares and contrasts to your debut?
Belle: With this album, we’re gonna be showing more of our group’s combined charms and interests in different kinds of music. It’s more hip-hop, and it’s what we’re more confident about!
Chemistry is a vital factor in a group’s longevity, and KISS OF LIFE appears to be very solid in that regard. Looking to the future a bit, what are a few of the biggest things you hope to achieve together?
Julie: Well first of all because KISS OF LIFE contains members with very diverse personalities and skills we want to be able to show many people that these four very different girls can come together and create very amazing things. Although we are unique in our own ways we have the same dream and passion for music which makes us stand out even more. We want to be able to explore new things together and break down walls that no one has ever tried!
It’s really important to mention that you each have extensive training and industry experience which is another reason that KISS OF LIFE is deserving of a super rookie title! When you think back about that time, what has been your biggest area of growth so far?
Julie: Everything about the training process was necessary and helped us all grow to become a better KISS OF LIFE. I think the practice in detail and time we put into developing our personal skills really helped us to be a stronger group.
Lastly, as next-gen trendsetters, what do you believe the next few years might hold for K-pop? And are there any specific changes that you’d like to be a part of?
Julie: The next few years for K-pop is super bright! There are so many talented artists that are preparing to show the world their passion for music and KISS OF LIFE wants to be a big part of that journey! We want to make history, explore new paths, and open doors for future artists as well. We hope to make a new genre of music and be long-remembered artists!