Lisa (aka Lalisa Manobal) is a superstar. There's her 59.9 million Instagram followers, her ambassadorships with Bulgari and Celine, her role as a dancer and rapper in Blackpink, and now there's her solo debut, Lalisa, which has topped iTunes charts in 60 countries, and became the fastest track by a Korean soloist to reach a staggering 100 million views, a feat achieved in a mere two days.
Was there ever any doubt that this would be a record-breaking release for the 24-year-old artist? From the moment Blackpink debuted with Whistle and Boombayah in the summer of 2016, Lisa had "it". In the five years since, she's only expanded on those qualities, and yet, for all her success and accolades, remains the hard-working, cat-loving Lalisa that the Blackpink fandom first fell in love with.
The balancing act is woven throughout her new single Lalisa—the first off her debut single album of the same name. Not once does she relinquish the spotlight—such is the strength of her stage presence—and despite the whirlwind of extravagant set and outfit switches, she imbues the track with a combination of intimidating confidence and playfulness. "Want you to ring the alarm / Tell it to the world, kiss my name," she demands, and, honestly, who are we to disobey?
Below, Lisa gives us the lowdown on what makes a cultural icon of our times tick.
The title of your single is your own name... What do you hope fans will learn about you as they listen?
I wanted to show you who I am through my first single and solo album. The title song Lalisa is also my real name, and it's full of my confidence. I've often said to Blinks, "Always be confident," and I wanted to deliver this message through this record. Both the title song and the B-track, Money, are songs that I really enjoy dancing and rapping to myself.
When working as a soloist, what did you discover about yourself that surprised you?
While I was working on this song, I found out that I like not only melodic rap but also tight rap. I tried a tight rap in Money, and I really like this hip-hop style, which spits out fast with a strong beat. It's a new swag that was hidden inside me. It's probably the first time the fans have heard it, so I think it's fun to compare how it's different from the melodic rap.YG Entertainment
The teasers were dark and dramatic—like the shot of you hanging from a chain wearing an incredible Alexandre Vauthier dress—but the video and its styling were vibrant and bold. What fuelled these contrasting ideas, and how involved were you in the concepts?
Through this album, I wanted to give back positivity and energy to all my fans. So this is why the teaser and everything contained that strong vibe!
What was the most strenuous, but also the most enjoyable part of making your solo album?
There wasn't anything particularly difficult. Unlike working with a group, I have to fill up the stage by myself this time. The performance lasts for three minutes, and it can shine only when you maintain your own energy and power. I, therefore, tried harder to manage my physical strength and health with the thought of, "If you're going to do it, do it right!" I worked out every day and did Pilates steadily to keep in shape and gain strength. It definitely helped a lot.YG Entertainment
How many songs did you listen to and demo before deciding these two tracks were the right sounds for you?
I didn't choose just two songs from the beginning. I came out with two songs because I liked them the most. When I heard them for the first time, I thought they were mine!
You've become instantly recognisable across the world, and very much in demand—how do you ground yourself and keep a clear mind?
I always try to think positively. Even if I'm stressed out, I cheer up by looking at our cats and thinking about Blinks!YG Entertainment
You're known within fashion and music circles as a style icon, but what are you most comfortable wearing?
I usually wear cropped tops and sweatpants. It's a perfect look to practice dancing in. And I also like vintage styles, as well as pretty necklaces and accessories.
Being a globally successful performer brings with it its own set of demands and pressures; how do you overcome any unwanted feelings that might creep into your mind?
I'm always happy with my lovely family and friends—my [real] family, who has always given me love and support, and my other family, the Blackpink members. And also my fans, Blinks! These are the people encouraging me to work harder every time.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Also read:
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