Each generation of K-pop groups comes with its own set of doors to open. For previous generations, their hurdles included things like breaking into the Japanese and Chinese markets, holding tours outside of Asia, and placing on the U.S. Billboard charts. Now, with K-pop being a global movement, the next step is to formally target said global audience. Enter NMIXX, one of the few K-pop groups aiming to target the often ignored Latin American market from the jump.
NMIXX is part of a handful of acts that have incorporated Latin America into their marketing strategies since their early days. While it’s common for idols to learn English, Japanese, and Mandarin, the group has been studying Spanish in order to communicate with fans and has even been known to perform in the language.
NMIXX is a seven-member group consisting of Haewon, Lily, Sullyoon, Jinni, BAE, Jiwoo, and Kyujin. Having made their debut merely six months ago, their discography boasts only two songs so far. Though limited, NMIXX has made a bold impression on the K-pop scene with “O.O” (pronounced “oh oh”) and “TANK,” straying miles away from the more saccharine or funky sounds often associated with female ensembles (though they can also do that). Words aren’t enough to properly describe the sonic journey that is their debut single, “O.O;” it’s best to go into it blind to properly experience the track.
Remezcla spoke to NMIXX at the STEEZY studio in Downtown Los Angeles just days after their KCON Chicago performance. This being one of their first interviews in English, the members are shy but friendly. Though not her official role, Lily, the only fluent English speaker, leads the entire conversation, acting as a translator for her members, letting them into the questions before answering herself. However, when answering questions, they all responded in English. During our conversation, the septet talked about their Spanish-learning journey, the Latine music they like, and Latin American countries they’d like to visit in the future.
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.]
I watched your Hello82 video, and what stood out to me the most was that you said you were learning Spanish. It’s common to hear that idols learn Japanese, Mandarin, and English, but it was the first time that I heard a group say they’re studying Spanish. Can we talk more about that?
Haewon: I’ve heard Spanish is one of the most used languages in the world. So I want to share our song [with] more people in the world. So if we study Spanish, we can become closer to our fans. So we started learning Spanish.
Lily: We all see Spanish [comments on our social media] a lot, and it always means a lot to us.
What has been the hardest part about learning Spanish?
Haewon: The first thing is pronunciation because it’s too different from Korean pronunciation, right? [turns to members, they agree with her] And accent marks.
Lily: Yes, tildes.
Haewon: Like, Di·rēc·ta·men·te.
Oh yeah, the intonations.
Haewon: Yes! Intonations are so hard. So we always practice intonations.
Lily: For me, it was also the differences between the English language and Spanish. Because the language itself, the alphabet is kind of similar, but there are a lot of differences, and getting used to that. But it’s such a beautiful language, especially spoken. So I really want to work harder to be better at it.
Speaking of Spanish… Lily, I know you’re a big Rosalía fan.
Lily: [eyes illuminate, big smile] Yes, I am!
First of all, I need you to solve a mystery for me. Do they play Rosalía on the radio or something in Korea? Because I’ve heard many K-pop artists say they’re fans of her music.
Lily: I don’t know what it is, but I feel like Rosalía, she just — her music style meshes well with K-pop, but especially with NMIXX’s music style. So I think it would be the perfect collaboration, right? Her newest album, I thought, was pure art.
Lily: Yeah. Very experimental. And I think that we try to be experimental too, so yeah. Hopefully, one day, I’m wishing that it could happen.
Out of curiosity, off MOTOMAMI, what are some of the songs you liked?
Lily: I like “SAOKO” and “MOTOMAMI.” And “Chicken Teriyaki.” Yeah, I think those are my faves.
Lily: Oh, me too. I like that one, too.
Since Rosalía is from Spain, are there any artists or songs from Latin America that the members like?
Kyujin: Camila Cabello. I covered Camila Cabello’s “My Oh My” before I debuted.
Lily: Sing it for us!
[everyone cheers in encouragement]
[starts singing, the rest of the members do backup vocals for her]
What about the rest of the members?
Jinni: “Qué Calor.”
Lily: When [Kyujin, Jinni, and Jiwoo] were trainees, they danced to a song called “Que Calor.”
You said you’d love to collaborate with Rosalía, but we’re starting to see more and more Latine and K-pop collabs. Is there anyone on your wishlist?
BAE: Selena Gomez.
Going back to the Hello82 video, one of the members said that they associated the word “passion” with Latin America and that you also associated it with NMIXX. Can the members expand on that? Why the word “passion?”
Haewon: In Latin America, [they have music like] bachata. For me, that music is very passionate. So I think Latin America [has a lot of] passion.
I tweeted that I was going to talk to you guys, and a lot of fans wanted me to thank you for learning Spanish to communicate with them. Do you have a message for Spanish-speaking fans?
Haewon: Estamos muy agradecidas con los fans que también nos apoyan en America Latina, así que muchas gracias por la atención. [We’re very thankful with fans in Latin America who support us, so thank you for the support] [laughs nervously]
Sullyoon: Muchas gracias por apoyarnos siempre. [Thank you for always supporting us]
Fans also wanted to know if there was a word or phrase in Spanish that maybe doesn’t have a direct translation in Korean or English that you like.
Lily: Since we’re still in our early stages of learning Spanish, we’ve only kind of been learning the basics and how to communicate with Spanish-speaking fans. So I think, so far, we haven’t really found anything exactly like that. However, as we learn more and more Spanish, we can find even better words and vocabulary that interests us.
That makes sense. Let me teach you something funny. In Mexico — you know how the word for female friend is “amiga” in Spanish? In slang, you can say “amix.” So some fans refer to you as “amix.”
[oohs from all the members]
Haewon: So amigas, NMIXX, amix?
[more oohs from all the members]
Lily: That’s so cool!
And then “enemiga,” “enemy,” shortened is “enemix.” So people will say, “are you an amix or an enemix?”
Haewon: Amix, enemix.
Lily: I hope we’re amix, right?
Yes, definitely. So you’d say, “ella es mi amix.” “She’s my friend.”
[even more oohs from all the members]
Lily: That means a lot to us.
If you were to tour Spanish-speaking countries, what are some countries you’d like to visit?
[the members take a moment to think, start telling Lily different countries]
Lily: Obviously, Spain –
Haewon: – Argentina –
Lily: Argentina, Mexico. Definitely the big ones. We’ve heard so much about them, so we would love to visit them.
Haewon: I want to go to Mexico.
Last question. What’s next for NMIXX?
[Haewon tells Lily her thoughts in Korean]
Lily: First of all, we want to show our fans a continued growth, and hopefully, we can continue to meet their expectations and maybe even [surpass] those expectations. And also, we just wanna show them a lot of different sides, especially using Mixx pop. We’ve tried these types of genres, and now we wanna show other types of Mixx pop songs, and hopefully, yeah, that could go over well. And I really hope that the Latin American fans will continue to support us. And we will continue to work hard. Especially with our Spanish.
NMIXX will perform at KCON LA on Aug. 21 at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, CA.