The Korea Herald


Chuu makes tearful solo debut with 'Howl'

Chuu sheds tears as she closes chapter on Loona and embarks on solo journey

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Oct. 18, 2023 - 17:44

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Singer Chuu speaks during a press conference for her first solo EP Singer Chuu speaks during a press conference for her first solo EP "Howl" in Seoul on Wednesday. (ATRP)

Singer Chuu has made her long-awaited solo debut with EP "Howl."

The new album, launched Wednesday, marks Chuu's first solo foray, coming six years after she debuted as part of the group Loona, and after she was removed from the group in November due to a contract dispute.

The young musician, appearing tearful at her debut showcase, has had to chart a rough course, having fought with her past agency and needing to rebuild her career.

"I felt bad to be involved in an issue that I'd not intended. My fans were more hurt than I was, and that made me feel worse," she said speaking to the press.

"But like I said before, I haven't done anything shameful to the fans. I made this album out of that trust."

The event was held in Seoul a few hours before the release of "Howl" that evening.

Fronted by the namesake title song, "Howl" is a five-track EP that takes listeners on a journey of rediscovery.

The title track sends a comforting message with a story about two hurt people, becoming tiny yet powerful heroes for each other and healing one another.

According to Chuu, the lyrics are for herself and her supporters.

"The lyrics write out my honest heart that I haven't been able to speak out loud until now. We all have moments in life when we feel hurt and want to turn away from. I think this song helps to gain the courage to face that moment and howl out to the world," she said.

The expression "tiny hero" in the lyrics especially resonated deeply with her.

"I thought about what my tiny hero was, and it was singing. Not only do I enjoy singing but I gain confidence and comfort from it. Also, although they're not tiny heroes but giant heroes, my fans, Kkoti, have always stood by my side and have driven me to come this far," she said, adding, "I hope this song sails afar to empower many people."

Four other tracks on the album, "Underwater," "My Place," "Aliens" and "Hitchhiker," all of different genres from R&B to synth-pop, reflect Chuu's broad sonic spectrum.

Singer Chuu performs at a press conference for her first solo EP Singer Chuu performs at a press conference for her first solo EP "Howl" in Seoul on Wednesday. (ATRP)

At the press event, she made the surprise announcement that she will soon release a music video for "Hitchhiker," adding to the two music videos for "Howl" and "Underwater" that were published last week.

Chuu said after finishing all their planned video shoots in Portugal's Porto, she and the staff spontaneously decided to film the music video for "Hitchhiker" to "record the freewheeling energy" they felt.

"It was such a beautiful city, flourishing in its uniquely vintage vibes, delicious food and astonishing scenery," she recalled.

At the media event, Chuu performed "Howl" and "Underwater" for the first time.

Chuu, whose real name is Kim Ji-woo, began her K-pop career in December 2017 as a pre-debut member of the 12-piece multinational band Loona. The group debuted officially in August 2018.

The comeback signifies more than a solo debut for Chuu, as she seeks to shut the door on a difficult period that was marred by her long conflict with Loona's agency Blockberry Creative. It's also the first record she has launched under her new label, ATRP, which she signed with in April.

She left the company in March 2022 when a Korean court partially upheld her request for an injunction to suspend her exclusive contract with Blockberry Creative. She took part in the group's special album "Flip That" in June 2022, but the firm in November announced her expulsion from the team, citing "inappropriate actions" against the staff and a breach of an exclusive contract as the reason.

The rest of the members followed Chuu's lead, applying for an injunction to end their contracts with Blockberry Creative and got court approvals this June. Save for Yves, all the other members have found new labels, with some forming new groups under them.

Singer Chuu performs at a press conference for her first solo EP Singer Chuu performs at a press conference for her first solo EP "Howl" in Seoul on Wednesday. (ATRP)

Chuu on Wednesday said the 12 bandmates still gathered often and cheered for each other as they set off on different paths. Just that morning, she received texts from some of them.

"We always play our songs to each other before the official release and boost each other's confidence. ... We've talked countless times about the 12 of us performing together again. We're always open to that possibility and want to make it happen as soon as possible," she said, her voice shaking.

Looking forward, Chuu hopes she can achieve more as a solo singer.

"I gain energy from singing and return it to others through the process. Going onstage as a vocalist was what I've longed for the most and that's why I couldn't give up on the dream until now," she said, adding, "I hope I could become an artist who continues to surprise the public with unexpected charms, who delivers delicate emotions and who enlightens people with messages."