Known as the “performance kings of K-pop”, South Korean group SEVENTEEN have embarked on a world tour after two years of the pandemic, and India is right there on the artists’ minds. The Rock with you and I don’t want to cry The hitmakers, who successfully write, produce and choreograph their music, made history last year by becoming the first-ever K-pop group to be named MTV’s Push Artist. They were also the first group overall that year to earn two No. 1s on Billboard’s Top Selling Albums chart, following the success of Your Choice and Attacca.
Now the 13-member band wants to go big with this live performance this year, and reconnect with their fans, known as Carats. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with the 13-member band, made up of S.Coups, Jeonghan, Joshua, Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, DK, Mingyu, The8, Seungkwan, Vernon, and Dinosaur:
You started a new chapter in your musical career with the release of your English single “Darl+ing”. How do you think the transition has been?
JOSHUA: We wanted the song to help us reach out to all of our listeners around the world and deliver a message of affection. The prospect of being able to connect with a wider audience through our new single and new music has kept us restless!
WOOZI: When the track started to take shape, it sounded like a song that could reach a wide range of listeners, a song that was accessible and easy to listen to. So we decided to make it an English song that could speak to our CARATs all over the world and convey the message that we are grateful to be “together”.
The K-Pop phenomenon signals the blurred boundaries of language and style. How do you look at it?
Vernon: It’s exciting to see boundaries blur because I believe that means more room for creativity, and it would also lead to a more diverse range of interpretations of creative work.
HOSHI: During a recent livestream we did before the single was released, there was a fan who commented, “I don’t get it but I love you”. It was a Korean livestream without subtitles… The love and support they showed us beyond the language barrier really stood out to me. I think the blurring of those boundaries, across genres, languages and more, speaks to the power of music, and there’s a great sense of strength that comes from those connections built across boundaries.
As self-producing idol groups in the industry, what were the challenges you faced and how do you think things started to change for you?
WOOZI: The thirteen of us as a band have had so many conversations about music since we were young. Not just music, but also films, dances and many different art forms. Soon we started having ideas that we wanted to express through music, at that time we were producing our own music and albums. Because we started from scratch, however, we lacked skill and finesse early on, and there was pressure to produce high-quality music.
Your CARAT fandom is growing with each passing day. What is the message you want to convey to them?
THE 8TH : We want to let you know that we really appreciate all of your love and support, it means a lot to us. I hope that SEVENTEEN is also part of these little moments of happiness in your daily life.
DK: We know you have always been by our side and we are grateful beyond words for your support. When we can see you in person, I hope we will be ready to provide the energy we have saved over the past two years. We will have so many stories to tell and the best of our performances.
Speaking of India, is there anything in the culture, fandom or music that inspires you as a performer?
DINOS: I’m not yet an expert on Indian culture, but I’ve often thought I like the energy of Indian music and Bollywood movies. We often talk about becoming a source of energy and happiness for our listeners through music and performance. I think we also have a lot to learn from Indian culture, and we would like to know it better!
How important is resuming concert tours after the pandemic lull to revive the music industry? How about coming to India for a concert?
JONGHAN: It’s probably one of the first things on our wish list. We look forward to facing and interacting with an audience again. Our first concert film ‘SEVENTEEN Power of Love: The Movie’ is about to be released. We watched the final cut recently, and my heart was beating so fast. It reminded me of that level of energy that can only be felt on the stage of a concert in front of an audience, and I can’t wait to go back.
JUNE : We met our fans in person for the first time in a very long time recently at our “CARAT LAND” fan meeting. There were restrictions on the amount of interactions we could interact with, but it was still a powerful reminder of what we had been missing. There is so much energy that we get from the concert stage, and we also want to be able to share that with CARATs in India as soon as possible.
With a growing fandom, what kind of pressure does that create?
SEUNGKWAN: Yes, we sometimes feel under pressure, but at the same time we are grateful. The fact that we feel pressured means that there are fans and listeners waiting for our music and eagerly waiting to hear more about us. It also serves to move us forward. Rather than obsessing over the word ‘pressure’, we like to think of it as ‘anticipation’.
You have addressed the pressures of life, stress, difficulties and the rise to success through your songs. When things get heavy, how do you find a sense of freedom?
MINGYU: Rather than striving to find ways to ease the pressure, I think we are finding reasons to keep moving forward. And there are so many reasons. It may sound cliché, but I get so much energy from CARAT and our members. I can keep venturing no matter the pressures because there are people waiting for our music and standing by my side.
As a group of 13 members, how do you deal with creative differences?
S.COUPS: When it comes to our creative processes, WOOZI does an amazing job at the center of it all, keeping us together. Overall, the thirteen of us learned to work around our differences through conversations. We are able to speak through our differences because we believe that we would not simply reject each other’s opinions. After all these years, we believe that we want to follow the same path.
What’s next for your fans?
S.COUPS: We have a long journey ahead of us. There is still so much I want to accomplish with our members as SEVENTEEN, and knowing the thirteen of us, I am confident that we can reach new heights.