South Korean girl group Blackpink is giving the world a sweet tooth. Their latest single, “Ice Cream,” features sugary vocals by Selena Gomez and melodies by co-writer Ariana Grande, not to mention a cavity-inducing, cuteness-overload music video. The song is the culmination of four years of building, from concept — Seoul’s YG Entertainment formed the group, whose members were “trainees” at the start — to sold-out arena tours to their long-anticipated debut, “The Album,” dropping Oct. 2 via Interscope. Preferring to be interviewed as a unit, Blackpink members Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa spoke to Variety as a group. (This interview has been translated and edited for clarity.)
What new genres did you explore for “The Album”?
We can’t spoil too much, but we definitely put a lot of different sounds into this album. You’ll be able to experience the difference between black and pink, with our fierce energy from tracks like “How You Like That” alongside pink bubblegum pop, like “Ice Cream.’’
Where did you draw musical inspiration from?
It starts with something simple — a conversation, an object, or even a word that comes up naturally in our daily lives. We talk to each other a lot so that we can dive deep into each other’s thoughts and emotions. That’s why the recording studio has become such a creative space for us.
Tell us about collaborating with Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa and Selena Gomez….
Making music is always a new and exciting challenge. Dua Lipa was our first collaboration and we also performed together, so she’s someone with whom we have a lot of precious memories. Lady Gaga is an artist who’s had a huge influence on us since we were trainees, and we were able to enjoy doing something new without any fear because it was with Lady Gaga. “Ice Cream” fit Selena Gomez’s voice so well — though we weren’t able to work together in person [due to COVID]. But we’re all huge fans, and as we worked with Selena, we fell in love with her all over again. She’s so humble and easygoing.
You’re among the most followed Korean groups on Instagram and most subscribed on YouTube. As influencers, do you feel a responsibility to be a role model?
We’re so grateful for the interest in our daily lives, just as people. Whenever we hear that our fans have been inspired by us, we feel this huge responsibility. But from that, we also gain inspiration to do what we do. We want those who listen to us to gain strength and to have the confidence and freedom to challenge themselves.
You all represent different fashion brands. Is there a philosophy to what the group wears and how it meshes with your music?
Fashion and music are inseparable. Fashion has the power to take the atmosphere of our music videos and performances to the next level. The images we want to portray are definitely strengthened by what we wear. We’re so blessed to work with brands that fit us well individually, but also look cohesive when the four of us come together.
You all come from different backgrounds; are there cultural differences that you’ve noticed with each other? How do you come together as Blackpink?
We’ve been together in the same space since we were so young. There are definitely some differences, but now we are like family that we have become so alike now. We haven’t felt much cultural shocks because we’ve spent so much time together and we also try to understand each other’s differences. We all know that we care for each other so we can tell what each other wants just by looking at each other. Caring for each other just comes naturally to the four of us.
How have you each grown in the past four years?
As trainees, we were working towards debuting, but now we have space to just enjoy this journey. We have the freedom to enjoy the process and the work. There are definitely times when it gets difficult, but viewing things more objectively, and learning from the small things to the big things, helps us to be more careful and detailed, which is how we pursue perfection in what we do.