HyunA on Being a Girl with “Attitude”, Evolving Artistry and Resilience: 'It's OK to Say I'm Not OK' (Exclusive)

K-soloist HyunA talks about her long-awaited EP comeback, her upcoming North American tour and reflects on her evolving artistry throughout a 17-year-long career

HyunA's a girl with attitude.

For many fans, the legendary K-soloist’s name is almost inseparable from her bold tapestry of confidence and charisma, woven together through 17 years in the music industry. Like peas in a pod, the 32-year-old performer seems to embody the definition of attitude, as if it were somehow innate—a natural part of her.

Yet, she smiles and waves away any thoughts of a purely gifted talent.

"Training," she emphasizes to PEOPLE. "I’ve always been training and going to the studio. Whether I’m working on an album or not, I always try to use my time smartly — on something that doesn’t betray me. I always have that mindset, that attitude to maintain charisma for 17 years."

Attitude certainly includes fashion, and the model hasn’t failed to serve looks since her 2007 debut with the K-pop sensation, Wonder Girls. Even as she chats with PEOPLE, her personality radiates through her bold cheetah-print hat, which sits just above her light red hair framing a face of pink-blushed cheeks.

<p>AT AREA</p> HyunA



Few K-pop artists have ever experienced a career as long or as trailblazing as HyunA, who was a part of the iconic group 4Minute before embarking on her solo career in 2010 with debut single “Change.” The rapper’s influence has reached levels to where pop fans even outside of K-pop have seen her featured in PSY’s ultra-viral hit, “Gangnam Style,” in 2012.

The HyunA of 2024 is now alive with a new attitude — an evolving artistry of a new era that the songwriter hopes will shine through with her new album and upcoming North American tour.

The latest EP, Attitude, is the performer’s first comeback in nearly two years. It consists of four tracks that display a new side of HyunA, while simultaneously living within her beloved genres of pop, dance and R&B.

In track two, the music video of “Q&A” whisks fans away to the cinematic streets of Bangkok, where they can observe HyunA in a different light. Instead of the assured and sexy HyunA in the first track, fans see how she’s exploring the more vulnerable aspects of a new love. Against a backdrop of lyrics that depict a back-and-forth relationship, a honeymoon era unfurls with dancing in the living room, playful paint fights and the rush of a motorcycle racing down the streets.

“Whenever I write a song, I always think about how I’m going to be seen when performing — I always have that mind control in writing,” she muses.

At the same time, the performer acknowledges that the new album is inspired less by the type of music that people watch — the kind with those familiar striking visuals and girl-crush dances — and more so by the kind of music that people listen to.

“I’m famous for being very good at performance, so must people acknowledge me as a performance artist, or just for the visual aspects,” the singer says. “But this time, I wanted to try a lot of different genres and want to show that I also have this musical ability.”

Right as the “RSVP” performer felt this desire, she came in touch with GroovyRoom — a producing duo she wanted to work with for nearly a decade. Under the duo’s hip-hop label, Attitude came to life, along with her freedom to participate in every aspect of its production.

“The first song, ‘Attitude,’ was a track that I presented like the first day of school,” she says. “As the album’s progress went on, the staff or GroovyRoom always asked, ‘How’s this? How about that?’ That’s how naturally they all went about the discussion."

<p>AT AREA</p> HyunA's Attitude


HyunA's Attitude

With 17 years in the industry behind the “Lip & Hip” singer, change is something that’s no longer as scary as it is exciting. Thanks to a dedicated support system of fans, she says she’s always been able to focus on the mood of performing on stage.

Yet, the “Why So Lonely” performer admits she isn’t immune to the hundreds of thousands of external perceptions of who she is and what she does. Although “really difficult,” she says there’s a separation she tries to make.

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“For instance, whenever I’m on the stage, I try to make my performance perfect,” she explains. “And whenever I go down the stairs off the stage, I just turn it off and try to stay happy. That way, I won’t be tired of being an artist or working as artist HyunA. So, I try to be on and off, HyunA performing, and HyunA off the stage."

"I also often ask myself, ‘Are you OK?’” she continues. “But one day, I realized that it’s OK to say that I’m not OK. After that, I was able to have a better balance of work and life.”

<p>AT AREA</p> HyunA



HyunA not only became more honest with herself, but opened up to her fans as well. Nearly four years ago, she revealed to Instagram for the first time about the physical and mental health conditions she faced, like being diagnosed with depression and panic disorder. It was a daunting move for the “Bubble Pop!” performer, given that such topics were rarely touched upon in the K-pop industry.

"At first, I was scared that when I spoke about these things, people would leave and forget about me because of this health issue, but I also knew that there were fans and people that always supported me for a long time,” she says. “That’s when I decided to be honest and speak about this. After that, I felt more responsibility and obligation to think more about my own health and those who have the same symptoms as me. It gave them power to see that, ‘Oh, we are in the same situation, but she’s trying to do her thing and inspiring herself.'"

Related: ITZY Is 'Born to Be' Resilient on New Album: 'Think About How Strong You Are' (Exclusive)

Through thick and thin, she says she felt thankful knowing that her fans have had her back after 17 years, to the point where she can still perform alongside a younger generation of K-pop artists.

<p>AT AREA</p> HyunA



Her attitude toward the future hasn’t dimmed its light either.

North American fans can get a taste of exactly what she means in her upcoming 2024 “My Attitude” tour, with eight shows spread across the United States and Canada this August. It’s been a long time coming, according to the superstar.

“I really want to perform and meet people all over the world,” she says with a sense of excitement. “I want to perform as if the stage would collapse.”

Attitude is now available to stream.

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