K-pop girl group shares memories and sheds tears on documentary Blackpink: Light Up The Sky

Blackpink: Light Up The Sky, which premieres on Netflix on Oct 14, is a way for the group to get closer to fans.
Blackpink: Light Up The Sky, which premieres on Netflix on Oct 14, is a way for the group to get closer to fans.PHOTO: NETFLIX

SINGAPORE - The most memorable moment for Blackpink member Rose while filming their documentary was hanging out with her bandmates and watching old footage of the quartet from before the K-pop girl group became a chart-topping global sensation.

New Zealand-born Rose, 23, says at a press conference live-streamed from Seoul on Oct 13: "When we were looking at all our old footage together - those from our childhood and clips of us still as trainees, that was the most memorable. It was four of us just talking about stories we had from those times and teasing each other a lot." She appeared in knee-high boots and was seated socially distanced from the other members.

Blackpink: Light Up The Sky, which premieres on Netflix on Oct 14, is a way for the group to get closer to fans.

Member Jennie, 24, who wore a menswear-inspired white shirt, says: "From our trainee days to our debut to today, it shows all the hard work manifested on stage but it also shows authentic moments we have offstage that we can share with fans."

Jisoo, 25, and Thailand-born Lisa, 23, complete the quartet, which is one of the most successful K-pop girl groups of all time.

Their 2016 debut songs Boombayah and Whistle hit No. 1 and 2 on Billboard's World Digital Song Sales Charts that year. The music video for their 2018 song Ddu-Du Ddu-Du has 1.3 billion views - the most for any K-pop group. The members are also active in fashion and beauty, being the face of brands like luxury French fashion houses Dior, Chanel, Celine and Saint Laurent.

In the documentary, the four members have individual sit-down interviews and conversations about their gruelling trainee days and journey to fame get personal and emotional, with some shedding tears. The camera also goes behind the scenes of the group's Coachella performance last year (2019). They were the first female K-pop act to perform at the California music festival.

Vocalist Jisoo, hair pulled back in a ponytail and wearing gold hoops on her ears, says: "We wanted to show Blinks (the name given to Blackpink fans) the honest side of ourselves, so having those heart-to-heart conversations was very necessary for us."

Lisa, the group's rapper, sported her signature bangs and wore a maroon suit. She says of having a camera crew constantly around: "At first it was a little awkward and we weren't fully comfortable. But I think when we got used to it, we just forgot about it and became more playful."

The group credits feeling open and comfortable during filming to Korean-American documentary director Caroline Suh (Salt Fat Acid Heat, 2018).

While K-pop agencies, like Blackpink's management YG Entertainment, are usually fiercely protective of their artists' image, Suh says in a separate video interview with The Straits Times that she faced no pushback during filming.

"YG really stepped back when we were planning the film and deferred to the Blackpink members about what they were comfortable shooting and talking about."

Suh, who was also present at the press conference via video call, admits she was not an avid listener of K-pop before working with Blackpink. Her impressions of the group changed after working with them.

"I realised through filming that the members are very involved in the creative process of their music. I previously thought that they just got songs delivered to them."

She adds: "The four of them are really like sisters, like family. I hope the film will humanise them."

Jennie reflects on the members' relationship: "We've been together since we were teenagers to now, when we are in our 20s. We've seen one another grow and we're very open about our opinions among ourselves."

Aside from documentaries, the group is keen to explore other ways of enhancing the fan experience.

Jisoo says: "Music doesn't stop at music these days, the visuals are important, audiences like to take part in the music they listen to and maybe imitate it. There are many different factors involved now and we always want to bring something new to the table. I think that's why our fans love us."

Blackpink: Light Up The Sky is available on Netflix.