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Watch CL's Insane Video for New Solo Song "Hello Bitches"

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By Jakob Dorof

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If you’ve been paying attention, you already know CL. The 24-year-old South Korean superstar’s sung and snarled on recent tracks with everyone from Skrillex to Riff Raff, not to mention bringing the heat to Diplo’s Mad Decent Block Party tour all summer long. She’s been ubiquitous at fashion weeks and photoshoots for years now, forging creative bonds with top designers like Jeremy Scott and Alexander Wang along the way. Her group 2NE1’s undeniable anthem, the Korean-sung “I Am The Best,” even crept onto American FM radio, three years after its release, following a massive Microsoft ad sync last year.

For a certain kind of person—several kinds, really—CL has been tough to miss for a minute, and guess what? Ms. Chaelin Lee's visibility is about to go intergalactic. “Hello Bitches” is a casual first wave from a traveling dignitary of our pop cultural future, a street single freebie to hype fans new and old while she hones her debut album under the steerage of young legend Scooter Braun (yep: the manager of such pop juggernauts as Bieber, Grande, and Jepsen). Noisey's got the exclusive premiere of the fierce and free-spirited video below, which sees a leather-clad CL reeling off English bars and Korean hooks over a characteristically badass beat from her mainstay producer Teddy. World famous choreo queen Parris Goebel, who also directs, flies over from New Zealand with her ReQuest crew to meet CL in Los Angeles, where the longtime friends and collaborators get loose together like never before. (Read i-D’s style-centric interview with CL here.)

Growing up and rising to fame on a worldwide web that continues to break down the borders and boundaries of last century, CL is a living symbol of the global pop golden age to come. We talked about what it’s like standing at the cultural crossroads, the making of “Hello Bitches,” and what it means to be the baddest female.


Noisey: “Hello Bitches” is bold from top to bottom, but the bossiest thing about it might be the Korean hook. What made you want to keep it bilingual?
CL:
It’s not an official single but more of a street single. I wanted to give a little surprise video to excite the fans who have been waiting while I prepare for my solo album. Since I am Korean, it’s a good way of presenting me and it’s for everyone around the world to see where I am from and to keep it authentic.

You’ve worked with Parris Goebel on choreography before, but this is the first video where you actually dance with her and the rest of the ReQuest crew. That must have been pretty insane.
I actually started in dance and it’s how I came to become a performer. It felt really good since I haven’t danced this much before in a video. Creating and spending time together with Parris and the ReQuest crew was really fun.

You’ve filmed lots of music videos in America in the past. What felt fresh about the experience this time?
It was very different. It was just a cameraman, Parris, the girls and me. It wasn’t a big budget shoot so it was very stripped down and done last minute. It wasn’t about where we shot the video but rather the kind of video we were creating. It was very raw. We played it by ear and only had a six hour timeline to actually film. It was a challenge and a very different experience.

Convergence culture is a big thing right now—we’re seeing many more international collabs compared to just a few years ago, and I feel like western music fans are getting used to the idea of pop songs not entirely in English. Where do you think global pop culture is headed?
With YouTube and the internet, my fans can find me and when it comes to that there are no boundaries. It’s amazing how artists like me can connect with people all around the world through the internet.

You’ve recently mentioned your eclectic musical background, growing up on your dad’s 80s British pop and Japanese rock records, and falling in love with hip-hop in grade school, when you lived in France and Japan. Do you remember any of the music that really left an impression on you back then?
There are so many that it’s hard to pinpoint one. These days, I am listening to Foxy Brown, Da Brat, Missy Elliott, Lil’ Kim, Eve and late 1990s and early 2000s female rappers. I listened to them back then and felt inspired.

What are some things that have been inspiring you more recently?
Lately, I am back in Seoul and connecting with friends and the people I grew up with when I started my career. I have also been taking a lot of pictures which inspires me too. Really just living my life and reminding myself that I have a personal life.

What does being “baddest female” mean to you?
It’s just like the lyrics from the “The Baddest Female”: “Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good.”



You’ve spent a lot of time working on your new material in Los Angeles. How does it feel different from all the work you’ve done in the Asian music industry?
I haven’t done much promo but I have done studio sessions in LA where it is different without the crew I work with in Korea. It’s a challenge, but it is fun.

Tell us about your other new material. What’s something you’re especially excited about?
This is my first solo album and something that I have always wanted to do so I am excited. I have good people who support and trust me. I feel blessed. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I wanted to do something for the fans and I love how this music video came out. I wanted to share it just for people to enjoy so it’s free music… it’s a gift to my fans.

Over the summer you had a chance to do a lot of shows on the Mad Decent Block Party tour. What did you get from that experience? It’s probably been a long time since you last played to a crowd where not everybody already knew who you were.
Yes. Mostly I jumped on Jack U or Diplo’s set so it wasn’t really a new crowd except for one of the shows where I had my own set. Going in, I didn’t really have expectations, but for me, I wanted to do it with my friends, Diplo and Skrillex. I also wanted to do it because I missed being on stage and it was good to see my fans come out. It was stripped down, just me and the DJs so it was fun and new. Definitely looking forward to doing more.

You often get asked what you’d like your career in America to do for your fans back in Asia. On the other hand, what would you like your new western audience to get out of your solo career?
What I am trying to do is not start from zero. I am the same person I have always been. I still have had the same image but I just grew and learned more every year. I am going to continue to do that same thing but I’m playing to a different crowd.

You recently hopped on “Doctor Pepper” with OG Maco and Riff Raff—definitely a wild lineup. What was that like? How’d you react when you first realized it was definitely on?
I went with Diplo’s vision and it kind of just happened naturally. Working with Diplo, OG Maco, and Riff Raff was a good experience.

You’ve talked in the past about the difference between CL, the superstar, and Chaelin Lee, the person you are when the lights and cameras aren’t watching. Do you still feel a kind of separation there?
I do but they’re both me. I’m definitely a little different on stage—I am louder and stronger. I do show a different side of me but it’s still me.

Jakob Dorof is a writer living in Seoul. Follow him on Twitter.