A year after leaving one of K-pop's most successful girl groups, 2NE1, South Korean singer Minzy is raring to kick off her solo career.
In April, the 23-year-old released her debut EP, Minzy Work 01 Uno, a release that marks her new start as a singer.
"'Uno' means 'one' in Spanish. And I would like to say that this means 'start' and also 'the best'," she says of the title in an e-mail interview. "Most of my fans think I am good only at dancing, but I would like to show that I can sing as well."
The songs in the EP, which charted at the top of the iTunes albums charts, are also important to her because they showcase her skills as a songwriter.
"I wrote all of the tracks in the album and included my songs for the first time," she says. "I participated in all parts of the album through communicating with the staff."
She also had a hand in the music video for Ninano, a dance-pop single that features Korean-American rapper Flowsik, adding what she calls "Koreanised" moves to the video's dance choreography.
Compared with 2NE1's recordings, she says she "could be more creative on the album".
After winning several dance competitions, Minzy signed on with YG Entertainment when she was just 12.
She was 2NE1's youngest member when the company formed the group and released their debut single, Fire, in 2009.
With their edgy stylings and versatile pop sounds, 2NE1 stood out from their peers. Their two albums, 2010's To Anyone and 2014's Crush, and two self-titled EPs, released in 2009 and 2011, went to the top of the Korean charts.
After they went through a twoyear hiatus, Minzy quit the group in April last year and 2NE1 disbanded seven months later. She then signed on to music agency Music Works, which includes acts such as Baek Z Young, whom she says treats her "a lot like family".
Going solo after seven years in a group makes her feel both "nervous and thrilled".
While she relishes the creative freedom, performing on her own is not without its drawbacks.
"When I work as a solo artist, sometimes I feel the burden that I have to be on the stage all by myself."
But seeing her fans from the stage keeps her from feeling overwhelmed, she adds.
And when things get extra heavy, she indulges her sweet tooth. "When I feel get stressed, I usually eat dessert."
Asked if she still keeps in touch with former 2NE1 members Park Bom, CL and Dara, she replies: "We are monitoring one another. All of the members are busy, so it is a bit hard to meet one another. But we wish all of the members well."
Minzy's appearance in the second season of reality television series Sister's Slam Dunk also brings back memories of the act. In the show, she helps to realise her team members' dream of performing as a girl group.
"I was the leader of the team. They trusted me a lot because I had experience being in a girl group for seven years. I gave them advice about how to dance and sing on the stage naturally," she says.
"When I talk with the members and monitor one another, it reminds me of when I was in 2NE1. It is so hard to prepare a girl group; on the other hand, it is very exciting sometimes."