K-pop sensation Z-Stars in India: Performing here was surreal
On their maiden visit to India, Z-Stars — an international K-pop act — recently performed in Pune, Mumbai, and Delhi. The group features two Indians — Sid and Priyanka — who were beyond ecstatic to be performing as global stars in their own country. “It feels really great to be home, and when you get a chance to perform with the whole group on home ground, it’s the best feeling ever,” says Sid. Priyanka joins in, “I was very nervous because it was my first time as an international artist in front of my mother. I was also glad that the rest of our group enjoyed performing in India, thanks to the enthusiastic audience.”
Z-Stars is a 14-member collective of Z-Girls and Z-Boys, with artistes hailing from Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The group trained and debuted in South Korea in 2019, and with singles such as Streets of Gold, Holla Holla, they have amassed an avid fan base already. They describe their brand of music as Z-pop — inspired by K-pop and for Gen Z (those born after mid-1990s). We present a freewheeling conversation with the Z-Stars on their India showcase and love for Bollywood.
‘Indian audience was so passionate’
The artistes admit that they were apprehensive about performing in India, on a stage hosting worldwide sensations such as Diplo and Machine Gun Kelly. “We were skeptical… ‘Are we really that famous in India?’ we wondered,” one of the Josh continues, “But the crowd was so passionate… It was surreal. We didn’t expect the audience to know our songs but they actually sang along!”
Even their 9am visit to a Mumbai college received a “crazy” response. “The students were very supportive and, touchwood, so far Indian GalaxZs (the name they call their fans) have been amazing,” Sid says.
Brush with Bollywood
A squealing chorus of “Shah Rukh Khan” is the answer when we ask Z-Stars about Bollywood, considering they covered a few Hindi songs (Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire, Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2, and more) during their performance. “We love Shah Rukh Khan and Bollywood music is really catchy. Even when we don’t know or understand the lyrics, we can’t get the songs out of our heads,” they tell us.
Mavin insists that the Indian members didn’t need to introduce the others to Hindi cinema or music. “If you go to Indonesia or Philippines and mention Shah Rukh Khan, everyone knows him...Bollywood is really famous there,” he says,and starts humming Kuch Kuch Hota Hai… Vanya joins in with a boisterous rendition of the SRK-Kajol-Rani Mukerjee-starrer song. “Bollywood has its own special flavour. Also, Indian actors are very charming and handsome, the dancing is really good, too,” says Vanya, the most outspoken of the group.
So, that explains their boundless enthusiasm about coming to India for the first time. Well, that and the fascination with Indian food — panipuri and curries seemed to be among the highlight of their food adventures in the country.
‘Lots of surprises to come’
Ask them about their future plans and they share that preparations are on for a new album (comeback in K-pop lingo). Some interesting collaborations with Indian and international artists may also be in the offing, but the artistes refuse to divulge more details. “Lots of surprises, and a lot more to come for our Indian fans,” they say conspiratorially.
As a group catering to a young, impressionable audience, it is obvious that there must be a burden of responsibility. Vanya agrees, but is quick to clarify that it’s not exactly a burden. “Being responsible about our influence helps us become better people, too,” she says, explaining that they too were inspired by other artistes. So, now the Z-Stars want to pay it forward and inspire others.
Any advice for aspiring singers or performers who hope to make it big? “Keep dreaming. Keep working hard,and don’t give up. Always try to explore and try new things. Some things might not work out as you had planned but you need to be flexible. If it doesn’t work one way, you can find another way,” says an impassioned Priyanka. Her group mates, too, insist on the importance of getting out of one’s comfort zone in order to make a mark. “Think out of the box. No point in doing what everybody else is doing. Let others follow you,” signs off Sid.
Author tweets @TheMissCurious
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