VCHA strives to be the “girls of the year,” and we’re here for it.
“Tonight’s like a dream, I bet you never thought you’d see,” sings VCHA, JYP Entertainment’s new talent under their roster, and the first American girl group trained through the K-pop system. Once fierce competitors from the survival show America to Korea, also known as A2K, Lexi, Camila, Kendall, Savanna, KG, and Kaylee are now making their shared dreams a reality, one by one, step by step. And with their official debut single Girls of the Year bursting with contagious confidence, VCHA is sure to make you feel like the person of the year, too, instantly transporting you to a world where you’re the star of your own show.
The six-piece group may have just debuted, but they have already shown a great deal of growth, both in terms of their skills and onstage confidence. Their journey—though may have just begun—is a testament to the power of desire in action: dreams thrive when action is taken, not just by mere wishful thinking. “[A dream] is something that doesn’t just come to you. It’s definitely something that we have to chase after,” KG tells NYLON Manila.
Prior to their official debut on January 26, VCHA has released four stellar songs in total: Y.O.Universe, Go Getter, and Know Me Like That, offering a glimpse into the dreams they’re chasing. The R&B track XO Call Me, which was released along with Girls of the Year under the single album of the same name, is another masterpiece with unique sounds that will make you fall in love with its vibe. In this exclusive interview, read what VCHA has to say about their debut, inspirations, and everything in between.
Congratulations on your debut! Firsts are always pressuring but they’re something special and memorable. How would you describe your “firsts” you’ve experienced so far?
Savanna: Everything has been super exciting since we started with our first music video filming for Y.O.Universe. As well as our first time on the music shows in Korea. That was also a lot of fun and was such a great learning experience. We enjoyed them a lot.
Lexi: Honestly, going to music shows is one of the special “firsts.” I think it’s something we all watched from when we were K-pop fans. And now, actually performing on stage and being on the channel is so crazy. That was an amazing first.
Camila: I would say recording our songs in the studio where so many amazing artists from JYPE record their songs. I think that was a great experience as well.
If “Girls of the Year” is an award, and VCHA took it among any other nominees, what do you think were the criteria? What qualities does VCHA possess that you think embody the spirit of the “Girls of the Year”?
Savanna: I think confidence is No. 1. The song, Girls of the Year, does really give a lot of self-confidence to the listeners.
Camila: Growth as well because I think we have all improved so much. I believe now, we are more confident and comfortable in performing and showing our talent. So, I think growth would be part of the criteria.
After going through evaluations and talks with significant people in the industry on A2K, if you could compare your 2023 selves to your 2024 selves, to yourselves right now, what remained the same and what changed?
KG: For me, I have noticed a big improvement in my dancing. Before coming on to A2K, I had never danced before. It’s my first time learning how to dance, and it’s in a competition…in hopes of winning. Now, being one of the members and seeing myself dancing is a really special moment for me. The hard work paid off.
Kaylee: For me, it is something not skill-wise, but I would say I got more relaxed. Before the show and training, whenever I dance or perform a song, I would be super nervous and that would sometimes result in being very stiff. But now, I’ve gotten to actually enjoy performing a lot more and not worrying about trying to be perfect, but just showing everyone what I can do.
Kendall: The show was such a learning experience. I feel like a lot of us are able to learn more about ourselves than we may have known beforehand. Throughout the process, we learned everything including about ourselves and how we handle situations. It was such an amazing experience.
Speaking of A2K, are there new pieces of advice you learned from senior artists or maybe J.Y. Park himself? What are you most thankful for being part of the JYPE family and being around a leader/producer like JYP?
Kendall: We were able to go to the show with J.Y. Park PD nim, someone who was giving us so much advice and who was helping us grow. He gave us such an amazing opportunity. Also, he has nurtured so many artists, and to be one of those under this company is such an honor. I believe one of the best pieces of advice he gave us was probably on the show, at least for me, when he said that you should trust your practice.
Lexi: When you’re practicing, just trust the process. Let it flow on stage because you’ve worked hard behind the scenes.
KG: Yeah, I think that advice is very special to us, because coming before this, not all of us had performed before on stage. So, when we are on stage and remember that piece of advice, I think it really allows us to walk into the moment and give our absolute best performance.
I was wondering what your first impressions of each other were. What do you think about your bond right now, and how do you see that bond within the group develop years from now?
Kaylee: For me, when I first met the members, I got really scared. I think because I am the youngest and they all looked so cool. I first walked into the room with everyone and I was like, “Woah, what am I going to do? I don’t think they’re going to like me at all…” But now, after I got to know them, I realized that everyone was really sweet. I’m very glad that we all get to go through this journey together.
KG: I remember seeing Savanna… I was looking at her and thinking, “Oh my gosh, she’s so cool!” At first, I didn’t know if she was a part of the competition, but when I found out she was, I was like, “Oh, she’s going to make it. She’s going to make it.” She’s cool!
Savanna: I thought the same of KG as well because we both saw each other going in the elevator at our hotel. She was all dressed up in bright colors and I was like, “Oh, she definitely knows what she’s going for.”
Lexi: The really good thing is that we were all brought together, sharing the same passion for singing and dancing. I believe this genuine connection is really going to help us take a step forward in our journey.
A year ago you were living “normal” lives as teenagers going to school and all. Does the constant work ever feel like it weighs down on the carefree joys of being a teenager, or do you view this as a good thing because you’re already doing what you love at an early age?
Lexi: Yeah, I think there’s always just that bit of, obviously, sadness because our families are back at home and we’re here. We left our normal teenage life. But this is something that we all love. And our families are also very happy for us. After all, there’s always that little struggle. Honestly, I think our worlds happen to be able to come together, shine together, and do what we love.
Kaylee: I don’t think we view it as work because this is more of a dream. This is what we have been wanting to do. So, even though it might be considered as work, I don’t think any of us would actually go on this journey thinking about it as a job.
Despite being in the industry at a relatively young age, you’re able to pull off really good results and performances. Where do you think that kind of confidence comes from, and what do you think will fuel this aspect in your continued growth?
Savanna: We are just being naturally confident in our growth. We trained a lot, and at this point, I think that is what has given us the confidence to go and perform and give our best. Knowing that we leveled up in terms of our skills, I think that is where our confidence comes from.
KG: Also, being with each other makes us more confident because we’re all introverts. When we’re together, we bring out that extrovert energy. When we’re performing, we hype each other up. With each other, there’s confidence in us.
Do you have any advice for younger individuals who already have a clear goal in mind? Perhaps it would be something along the lines of the attitude you had when you wanted to become an idol while you were on A2K.
Kaylee: My advice would probably be don’t view it as just a dream or a goal. Just work hard, because if you do, it will pay off.
Kendall: I also feel like it’s important for those who already have a clear goal to just remember that goal and try to do it and go for it. Don’t please anybody else and just do it for yourself. As long as you love what you’re doing and you put in the work behind it, you don’t need to listen to what anyone else says. Just believe in yourself.
Let’s say in 5 years, there are already a lot of idols who look up to you. What do you believe are the reasons behind them being inspired by you? Tell us about your specific strengths that will make you beacons for future aspiring artists.
Lexi: Well, I hope that it’s because we were able to bring so many different cultures and backgrounds to this group and that we could show everyone around the world which is something that’s never been done before. I hope that our different backgrounds and cultures being brought together shows that. I believe that you can do it and you can achieve anything.
Kendall: I also hope that in years to come, we will be able to become a testament to hard work paying off. We were once just teenagers working for a dream, but now, we will finally be able to become idols who will be a testament that if you go for what you believe in, you can achieve anything. I hope that’s something we can inspire others with.
Have you been to concerts or festivals back when you were not part of VCHA yet?
Lexi: Yes, for sure!
Do you remember the first show you attended?
Kaylee: Well, the first one I went to was from Street Woman Fighter because my friend had gotten 2 tickets for me and her. The only K-pop concert I’ve been to was Stray Kids’s with other VCHA members. That was memorable and I would love to see it again.
KG: The first concert I went to was not K-pop, but it was a rock band. It was a band called R5. It was really cool because they were playing guitar, live singing, and all. The first K-pop concert I attended was KCON. I saw ITZY, Stray Kids, and a lot of major K-pop groups who inspired me to be here.
Savanna: My first concert was not K-pop as well. I think my first concert was Ariana Grande’s back in…. I don’t even know how many years back, but I think it was The Honeymoon Tour era. For K-pop, the first concert I went to was P1Harmony’s. From then on, that inspired me to be here.
Lexi: The first concert that I attended was BTS’s. It really moved me and inspired me to do what they’re doing up on stage.
Camila: My first concert was Celine Dion’s. That was when I was in Canada. It was a special moment that inspired me to pursue my dream as a singer. My first K-pop concert was Stray Kids’s with the VCHA members.
Kendall: I can’t exactly remember the first. But even before I knew K-pop, I actually had attended a SuperM concert. I believe just because someone had taken me, so I ended up going to their show. After I got into K-pop, one of the first concerts that I believe I went to was TWICE’s, which is why it’s such an honor to be an opening act for them for their upcoming concerts.
Then now, you’re the opening act for TWICE’s upcoming shows. How does it feel, from someone who was watching from the crowd to hearing screams for you on stage? What’s that whirlwind journey like?
KG: It really feels surreal. I don’t know. It’s just crazy to think that I was once part of the audience and now, I am going to perform on the stage. It’s a special moment. It’s a moment to know that our hard work paid off. It’s something that doesn’t just come to you, where you get lucky. It’s definitely something that we have to chase after. It’s going to be a moment that we’re going to be proud of for the rest of our lives.
As you said in interviews, what made you interested in K-pop is that it’s more than just music. The idea of being good at almost everything sounds amazing, but it can also be nerve-wracking. Is it about meeting expectations, personal satisfaction, or something else entirely?
Kendall: I feel like there’s definitely pressure coming from a lot of different sources to be the best that we can. For us, I feel like as long as we give our best and work hard to be able to put out the best that we can do is the most important. Another thing is that because we have such passion for the art that we’re doing.
Can we look forward to the members taking part in the creative process of the tracks in the future? What message do you want people to pick up from your journey right now and the next chapters of your career?
Kendall: I would say, as a group, we definitely want to go far. We want to end up in the future being able to be part of the writing process and music production part. Many of us already write and would like to write and produce songs, so we hope we will be able to get the opportunity to put those out in the future. As a group, we hope that we can be somebody else that can inspire others. When we were younger, there were also a lot of people who inspired us and people who we looked up to that made us want to get where we are right now. For us to be able to become those people for somebody else would be our biggest honor.
Lexi: We would like to say that this is just the start of our journey, so please stay tuned and look out for more content. Thank you so much for everyone’s support! Thank you so much for being here with us today!
Photos courtesy of JYP Entertainment
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