Geri Halliwell leaving The Spice Girls. Beyonce flying the nest of Destinys Child. Camila Cabello waving goodbye to Fifth Harmony. There have been many instances of girl band members leaving their insanely successful groups for solo success.
And for Tiffany Young of Girls Generation, taking those solo steps was always going to happen – even after over a decade in the group.
Tiffany joined K-pop juggernaut SM Entertainment at the age of 15 and debuted as a member of its girl group Girls Generation in 2007. The eight-piece band – made up of Tiffany, Taeyeon, Sunny, Yuri, Hyoyeon, Yoona, Sooyoung and Seohyun (Jessica left in 2014) – became one of the most popular, lucrative and forward-thinking bands in recent K-pop history.
The girls celebrated ten years as a band in 2017, with K-pop classics including Gee and I Got A Boy in their arsenal. But Tiffany has now left SM, and is going it alone.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, the 28-year-old said: During the 11 years Ive been part of the band, weve had time and opportunity to try solo ventures, whether thats in a new unit or acting or my other solo stuff I did in Korea. But weve had the support and the trust for each other, and ultimately I was able to pursue and challenge myself with what I wanted to do because I was well supported by my bandmates and my fans.
This has been my dream my whole life. Like, my bandmates and fans remember bits of interviews and say “remember she said that she wanted to go back home?” Its so nice to be able to live out your dream.
This meant that Tiffany had to leave SM Entertainment, a decision she admits was hard. I have been blessed to be with SM. We got to travel the world, we got to do amazing interviews. Whatever you do, whenever you leave your comfort zone, it is hard – it was almost like leaving my family and going off to college. It was nerve wracking. But when your heart is set on something for so long… When I was making the decision and talking through it with the girls, I had a long time to think about whether Id be able to move forward and if I could still come back and see the girls. It all happened really fast.
But at the same time, I didnt want to take away from the decade celebration. That was such a big thing for me that I had been waiting to celebrate. Maybe therell be a second or third decade celebration, but I really wanted to keep the focus on celebrating what that meant for me and the girls and the fans. Regardless of how we got there, we wanted to look back at all the amazing music and memories we had, I didnt want to take away from that all.
Tiffany has dabbled in solo work, most prominently releasing her EP I Just Wanna Dance in 2016. But after celebrating the milestone with Girls Generation last year, Tiffany has released her first fully English single, Over My Skin – a funky and sexy upbeat track that showcases Youngs diva-style vocals, a mix of Xtina and Ariana flair, to perfection: I wanted to take everything I love about K-pop and the pop I grew up with, and team that with the concept of where Im at as a female and really do something outside the box.
While Tiffany spent her twenties in Korea with Girls Generation, she was born and raised in California, and the influences of both K-pop and her favourite US icons can be heard in her solo sound.
I didnt think too much into it. You listen to old school K-pop, and it all has a similar melody and arrangement and instruments. I think thats one of the reasons that K-pop translated so well into the global market and how its got to where it is right now – its not about the language being spoken. Same with the Latin American market.
Music is music, and I shouldnt worry too much about whether its US pop or K-pop. Its about embracing all the different things that youve learned about and putting it into music. Back in Korea, everyones like, “oh my god, [Over My Skin] is such a pop song!” and here, everyones like, “oh, its a K-pop song!” So Im happy.
Considering the heights K-pop is reaching at the moments thanks to bands including BTS, Red Velvet and EXO going global, its no surprise that Tiffany isnt abandoning those K-pop influences, and shes proud to continue carrying that torch.
She told us: K-pop has a history of amazing artists whove paved the way, and its forever growing and being put into its own art form. Im proud of that. The beauty of it is that it keeps growing. It went from the early 90s to the early 00s, when I started K-pop, and its amazing to watch – I cant wait to see where it goes.
Now 28, it wouldnt be surprising if Tiffany chose to ramp up the shock value and sexuality upon going solo, much like many former girlband members before her. However, while Over My Skin undoubtedly isnt shying away from its racy themes, Tiffany is all about being true to herself.
Thats an inevitable thought to have, but for me, it really is about what you want and what you felt about music from the beginning. Youre always going to tap into concepts and trends, but ultimately for me, I though “how do I want to do this?” And it was about being someone who can help someone else through their music, and that is ultimately why Im here – whether thats through a happy song or a sad song or an angry song. Theres so much to express and to talk about – especially when Im taking on my story, not a part of a story, and just living it out. Im finding myself while doing this, like we all are.
Over My Skin, written by Tiffany, Kev Nish and Rachel West and produced by the Far East Movement and Khwezi, is out now.
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