So close, so hot
Local Mandopop duo By2, made up of identical twins Miko and Yumi Bai, turn up the heat in debut photobook 2020. -TNP
The first thing that strikes you about local Mandopop duo By2's debut photobook - other than the girls' luscious locks and porcelain skin - is how affectionate they are in some of the pictures.
In one, identical 20-year-old twins Miko and Yumi Bai, decked out in matching bikinis and soaked, translucent tank tops, lie forlornly on a rocky beach, side by side.
Another shows the nubile starlets gazing lovingly into the camera.
Then, there's a playful, teasing shot of them sitting in a bathtub - fully clothed - with eyes closed.
In a telephone interview with The New Paper from Taipei, where the pair have been based since 2007, By2 laughed when asked if there were any difficulties "flirting" for the cameras with one's own sister.
"Even when we're not posing, we are really that close," chirped older sis Miko.
"It's just natural for us, as we are always together and hardly spend any time apart.
"There is no awkwardness or shyness whatsoever."
Yumi even joked that they are the "romantic half" of the each other.
"We have been 'married' for 20 years!" she quipped.
The sisters, who are signed to homegrown record label Ocean Butterflies, released the eyeball-grabbing A3-sized photobook, titled 2020, last month.
It comes with an accompanying EP of four new songs and is available at all major record stores here.
Calling 2020 a "milestone" in their brief showbiz career, Miko said that they decided to do a photobook as a "significant way to kick-start our 20s".
"We turned 20 in March and are no longer teenagers...This photobook would not only be a great way to remember our lives so far, it would also be a platform to showcase the different sides of By2," she explained.
"Some pictures show our vitality, some show our femininity, there's also a bit of sexiness.
"Overall, we hope to present a wonderful, summery feeling to our fans."
By2 were talent-spotted in 2006 at the Extraordinary Singer's Course organised by Ocean Butterflies' subsidiary school, MusicForest.
Then, the girls made headlines for dropping out of school and skipping their O levels altogether - they were students of Yio Chu Kang Secondary - in pursuit of stardom.
Today, By2, with five studio albums under their belt and renowned for their bubblegum dance pop tunes, have more than 500,000 followers on their official Sina Weibo microblog.
According to Yumi, the photobook took three months to conceptualise, while the actual shoot in Kenting, a popular beach resort destination located at the southern tip of Taiwan, took five days in total.
"We had actually intended to fly back (to Singapore) to take some pictures, but unfortunately we had a hectic schedule," said Yumi with a sigh.
"Nevertheless, visiting Kenting was a dream come true for us. Although we have lived in Taiwan for five years, it was our first time there and we were bowled over by the scenery."
By2 didn't have much time to enjoy sightseeing, however, as the shoot consumed most of their time.
"You wouldn't be able to tell by flipping through the finished product (referring to the photobook), but our shoot was no cakewalk," shared Miko.
"There were days when we had to stand under the hot sun for hours... On other days, we had to get ourselves wet."
The girls must be pleased with the enthusiastic reception that has greeted 2020.
Earlier this month, they launched their photobook and EP at an autograph session in Jingzhou city, Hebei, where more than 1,000 copies of the colourful bundle (book & EP) were snapped up, reported Chinese news site HunanTV.com.
The article also mentioned that a "mysterious male admirer" had bought 2,000 copies.
When quizzed, By2 confirmed that they were aware of the massive purchase by the besotted fan, but had no idea who he was.
"We are extremely touched by and thankful for his support," said Miko.
"He must be a romantic, as he sent us flowers too."
While By2 have no current plans to head home to promote 2020, their Singapore fans will soon be able to catch them popping up on our television screens.
Alongside fellow homegrown singers Rachel Chua and Kelvin Tan Weilian, they represented the Republic in the continental singing competition Asian Wave.
Come Oct 8, the 20-part pre-recorded show will air here on E City (StarHub Channel 825).
The event, which included K-pop boybands Teen Top, ZE:A and Cross Gene among its strong pool of contenders, wrapped up last Thursday, with Malaysian powerhouse vocalist Shila Amzah being crowned champion.
Chinese crooners Chang Shilei and Huo Zunji were second and third respectively.
Were By2 upset that they failed to finish on the podium?
"We weren't too disappointed," said Miko.
"I guess we were just not fated to win... Every time we were slated to go on stage, something would go wrong. Either one of us would fall ill, or our schedule would be so packed that we had only one day to rehearse our dance routine.
"It was just impossible to give (the competition) our all."
But one thing's for sure, By2 are giving their all for another more important life goal - buying a comfortable house for their 55-year-old widowed mum in Taipei.
Their mother is still living in Singapore and Yumi said that over the last five years, they sometimes do not get to see her for "nearly six months at a stretch".
The twins' father died of cancer in April 2007.
"We really miss our mum a lot...Hopefully, by the end of next year, she can finally relocate to Taipei to be with us," said Yumi.
"Miko and I viewed a house earlier this year, but the price was too much!" she added without giving details.
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