By Natalia Ningthoujam
New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Z-Boys and Z-Girls, collectively known as the Z-Stars, recently turned one as a group together. The K-Pop inspired group from different Asian countries says its goal is to be “one Asia”.
Launched by the COZMIC Group, Z-POP DREAM is a project to discover pop music talent. In its inaugural season last year, Z-Boys and Z-Girls groups made their debut.
While the Z-Boys has Marvin (Indonesia), Sid (India), Gai (Japan), Perry (Taiwan), Blink (Thailand), Roy (Vietnam) and Josh (Philippines), the Z-Girls consists of Carlyn (Philippines), Priyanka (India), Bell (Thailand), Mahiro (Japan), Vanya (Indonesia), Queen (Vietnam) and Joanne (Taiwan).
Looking back at his audition days, Josh told IANS: “The audition in Philippines was nerve-wracking because there were a lot of contestants. With our hard work, we turned out to be the chosen ones. We are really grateful for this opportunity.”
What did they pick from each other’s cultures? “The gap for each member is the language. We have seven different languages. We communicate in English,” said Perry.
And then there’s the accent. “Sometimes when one member speaks too fast, we tell him or her to ‘wait’ and speak slowly or we use body language too. It’s an amazing experience for me,” added the singer.
The “It’s Christmas!” singers were recently in India for a multi-city tour. They even performed at the live music destination, Hard Rock Cafe in Delhi/NCR.
“This is the first time that I have come to India. I like the weather here. It’s colder than my country. I like the cold weather. I also like the food here. I eat a lot,” said Queen with a laugh.
Like K-Pop stars, they also have the perfect song and dance sequences. It is said that most of the K-Pop artistes undergo cosmetic procedures to get the perfect skin or lashes etc. Asked if Z-Stars had to go under the knife, Priyanka said: “Grooming is also part of our training. We are taught how to manage ourselves. I used to be a swimmer. If you are interested in sports, you don’t care about how you look or the fashion bit.
“But when I went to Korea, I had to change the whole thing. Of course, I have to care about myself because there are a lot of people who look up to us.”
But did anyone suggest them to get cosmetic surgery? Priyanka replied: “There were people (sponsors) who would suggest it but it’s up to you. If you are confident about yourself, I don’t think we need a change in ourselves.”
K-Pop is considered to be one of the most successful exports of South Korea. But it also comes with a price. Asked about the pressures the group has to face, Priyanka said: “We have been lucky to be under our company. We never felt that much pressure. They are very supportive. They help us grow. They never forced us to do anything.”
“We are busy with our schedules… I guess that’s the only pressure we feel – to do more for ourselves, for our fans, and practise more to be better version of ourselves. That’s the only pressure I guess,” she added.
But negativity didn’t spare them.
“When we were making our debut in Korea, people questioned our project because they did not know about it. There were mixed reviews like ‘are they going to fail? because we don’t have a Korean member in our group. People doubted it since our project is different from what they had expected,” recalled Priyanka.
“In the beginning, it was more negative. Now, it’s more positive,” she said with a smile.
On dealing with criticism, Josh said: “Personally, we worked hard and instead of being affected by criticism we focussed on making our countries proud. We just want to make the seven countries proud and we hope that in the future, they can accept the group more.”
They want to use music as a cultural bridge. “Our goal is to unite Asia and be one Asia. We not only plan to sing in English but also in as many languages as possible. We can be the cultural bridge through music in the world,” said Priyanka.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)