Q: It’s been so long, how have you been?
I’ve been quite busy, but it’s also been relaxing. It feels like I spent time for independent maturity. I travelled a lot; I went to Japan, where I used to go for promotions, two or three times and I went to a backpacking trip to Europe by myself.
Q: I’m curious about the ordinary daily life of girl Jung Yongjoo when she is not in front of a camera instead of Nicole’s.
During my trip to Europe, I realized a lot as I met and talked to various people. One was to take care of my body, so I eat mostly at home nowadays (to cook her own food). I made Gomtang (Korean soup dish) to Kalgooksoo (Korean noodles dish), and various Korean food and Italian food this year. This morning, I even woke up early to eat and cook meat. Sometimes, I plan my meal for the week beforehand.
Q: Is cooking your hobby?
Yes, it started with baking, then Korean food, and now Italian food is fun (to cook). I want to try making them all. Gomtang is the best dish I made! I tried it just once but even I admit that it was great. People that ate it also said, “it was really good!” I have fun inviting guests over and serving them food. I get energy from that sort of hangouts.
Q: I’ve been watching and I’m surprised by your figure. Please share your secrets.
(My figure) has been okay up until last week but I ate way too much this week so it’s whatever now (laugh). I like to work out so I do Pilates three times a week. I take a walk with my dogs at least 30 minutes every day.
Q: There are many fans who are curious because there hasn’t been a solo Nicole album since the one in 2014.
I’m always thinking of a good time for a comeback. I think the image people usually associate with Nicole is healthy and cute/bright sexy, so I think summer would be fitting. I want to try many songs. The kind of music that women can relate to and men would think, ‘Nicole has that kind of charm’. I think it would come out next year but I’m not sure.
Q: Where do you usually get your musical inspirations?
I look up many foreign artists. I like Camila Cabello and Ariana Grande’s music. I also like the voice of Kehlani. I also have a strong ‘dance’ image so I tend to pursue pop music. But I like to listen to soulful country music, like from the artist Tori Kelly.
Q: I’m curious about Nicole’s music that will be coming. What kind of story do you want to tell through your lyrics?
The side of a confident woman. I want to portray an energetic charm.
Q: You are from an idol group, what is the best part about being out of it?
It’s that my opinions get reflected a lot. I also feel the pressure because that means I am responsible. But I like being able to do things I want to try.
Q: On the contrary, when do you miss being an idol?
It’s less lonely, and it was good that I got breaks. For example, I had no breaks and had to keep on with the photoshoot today since I’m all by myself. When I was with my members, even if the wait time got dull, it was good because I got to rest for a bit. During that time, I would just chat, and 30 minutes to an hour would zoom by.
Q: There are many solo female artists nowadays, who’s the person that catches your eye?
Chungha. From singing to mannerisms on stage, I think she is very good. She also seems relaxed. Whenever I see staff members around me, I end up complimenting Chungha. And I like to dance so seeing other artists who can dance well makes me happy (laugh).
Q: Is there a hoobae idol group that gets your interest?
BTS. They debuted when I was promoting as KARA. I thought they were cool back then as well. It was amazing to see them on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Billboard (Music Awards), which are shows I always watch when I’m in the states. It was cool to see them grow to become the hottest (group). I’ve been hooked to the song ‘Anpanman’ from their recent album.
Q: I’m curious if you still keep in touch with KARA members.
Of course, we constantly do. It was KARA’s 11th anniversary recently. It was weird that so much time has passed by already. Time moves on too fast. It is starting to feel more so since this year. When we promoted as a group, Gyuri and Seungyeon unnies would always say “we are too tired” when we were dancing, and I thought, “they can’t be that tired”. But now I understand them. I’m sorry to the unnies (laugh). To think, “why couldn’t I understand how tired and exhausted the unnies were before,” I feel sorry.
Q: Do you guys meet up often?
I see Jiyoung when I go to Japan. Due to everybody’s schedules, we can’t meet up as much as we keep in contact.
Q: When you guys meet up, what do you guys usually talk about?
We talk about the old days, which means that time has passed a lot. We also talk much about the future, and about our work.
Q: If Kara gets together again, what kind of music do you want to present?
I think KARA’s image was associated with healthy energy. I want to showcase that kind of bright/cheerful music but I also want to do the opposite, ballads. I want to gift the fans with a song that carries the message I wish to tell them. A while ago, I listened to an older song (of KARA) and I got emotional.
Q: What is Nicole’s goal as a singer?
I want to showcase a Nicole-esque stage. Looking back, I had many inexperienced moments during my first solo. How do I say it, I was very anxious. But for my next album I want to show off a more natural side of me. It’s kind of funny to say that I have aged but you can’t ignore the fact that much time has passed so I became more relaxed. For my next album, I just hope not to feel small next to other artists (laugh). I want to pursue music that gives off energy and showcases my strong suits.
Q: Other industry you want to try other than being an artist?
I didn’t have that much interest in acting before but these days I think it would be fun. I am a bit worried due to my Korean accent. Or it would be fun to go for a certificate test in whatever field.
Q: You got attention from variety shows, is there one you want to do?
Instead of talk shows, I think variety shows that are more physical/active fits well with me. After going on a trip to Europe by myself, I see the world a bit differently now. I used to have a personality that was like, if things didn’t go the way I planned, I couldn’t deal with it. But I am more at ease now. I feel like I got out of some kind of a pressure. I think I would be good in a travel related variety show.
Q: It’s been 11 years since your debut, you must have had some tough times, but what kept you driving to keep on working (as a celebrity)?
Even though there were hard times, this occupation fits me well. I enjoy hard work. I also have fun with the progress I make with performances and such.
Q: Three most memorable moments after your debut?
It’s hard to pick just 3. I remember when we performed at Tokyo Dome and the Japan tour. I like to take pictures so I have many photos of the members and the staff. I have all their embarrassing/funny photos (laugh). For example, when we were on a diet, we ate cucumbers with mayo and ssamjang? (laugh) Oh, and unnies (gyulham) would always go home after completing a schedule because they were too tired. But Hara, Jiyoung, and I, us three, would go get massages and hang out. I think I have a huge heart for memories and jung.
(ssamjang= mix of gochujang and Korean miso, so it’s a very strange food combo with mayo
jung= there really isn’t a good English word for this but it’s like affection, feeling of attachment, and friendliness)
Q: What troubles you or what do you think about the most these days?
The thought that ‘I’m already in my late 20s’. It’s probably because I’m in my late 20’s even with the American age. Time passes too fast. Maybe it’s because spring was so short? It’s already summer.
Q: Do you get lonely?
A lot. I was getting groceries by myself recently and my friend sent me a text message asking, ‘Are you not lonely’. I got lonely immediately from that text. When that happens, I invite people and cook them food and talk together. Or I read a lot. It makes me ease up.
Q: Please leave a message to the fans who are waiting for you to make a comeback
I am sorry to my fans for not being able to promote continuously. One by one, I’m preparing to meet with you guys so please wait for me. I have matured over time, and I feel confident in showcasing the better side of me.
Q: Lastly, what is Nicole’s version of a happy life?
To feel calm. When I’m anxious I get negative thoughts so I want a steady life. I want to be always happy.