South Korean pop group Aespa debuted in November 2020, but the rising stars didn’t let the pandemic get in the way of their dreams. Ever since, they’ve gone “Next Level,” becoming ambassadors for Givenchy, releasing their debut EP, Savage, in October, and performing during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade — the first Korean girl group to achieve that status. The quartet comprising Karina, Winter Bottom, Giselle, and Ningning share some hallmark first times with Rolling Stone.

“When I heard our song on the radio, I was in a taxi,” Winter says. But then the taxi driver skipped their song. The experience, which made them all laugh, ended up being a positive one. “It made me want to do more genres to show that Aespa can do energetic and powerful songs, but there are people with other preferences, like emotional songs, groovy songs.”

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Now that concerts have resumed, Karina shares that it’s been great to finally perform in front of audiences. “We couldn’t see our fans for a long time after debuting,” she explains, adding that it’s invigorating to “feel the love directly” in person.

Karina’s first concert was Girls’ Generation, which was a dream for her, and she said the show inspired her to work even harder. Meanwhile, Giselle has been to several shows but shares that she’s seen Ariana Grande three times. “I definitely got a lot of influence from her and wanted to do a stage like she did and give so much powerful energy to the audience.”

While they are rising stars themselves, Winter adds she’s starstruck by Harry Styles “because he has a very charming voice.”

Their collaboration with Givenchy has been “exciting” and they’ve learned a lot about fit and fabric as Giselle notes. One collaboration they hope might come to fruition is with a musician who they’ve been told is a fan: Grimes. They were told “she wanted to meet Aespa and we were like, ‘What? Like that’s crazy!’” Giselle says. “We had no idea that she would even know who we are and it would definitely be an honor to work together. We love your music and we love your Instagram feed as well. So, if one day if we get to do something together that would be great!”

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