K-Pop superstars SEVENTEEN: There’s a lot to learn from Indian culture
In an exclusive interview, the South Korean group, K-Pop superstars SEVENTEEN, opens up about their desire to tour again, love for India, interacting with a live audience, CARAT fandom, and dealing with the pressures of fame.
Known as ‘K-pop’s performance kings’, South Korean boyband SEVENTEEN teased a world tour after two years of the pandemic, and India is there on the artistes’ mind. The Rock With You and Don’t Wanna Cry hitmakers, who have been scripting success by writing, producing and choreographing their music, made history last year by becoming the first-ever K-pop act 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 Album Sales chart, following the success of their Your Choice and Attacca.
Now, the 13-member group wants to go big with this live performance this year, adn reconnect with their fans, known as Carats. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with the 13-member group, consisting of S.Coups, Jeonghan, Joshua, Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, DK, Mingyu, The8, Seungkwan, Vernon, and Dino:
You have started a new chapter in your musical career with the release of your English language single “Darl+ing”. How do you think the transition has been?
JOSHUA: We wanted the song to help us take another step closer towards all our listeners around the world and deliver a message of affection.The outlook of being able to connect with a larger audience through our new single and new music has kept us restless!
WOOZI: When the track first began to take its shape, it felt like a song that could reach out to a wide range of listeners, a song that is approachable and is easy to listen to. So we decided to make it an English track that could speak to our CARATs at every corner of the world, and convey the message that we are thankful for the fact that we are ‘together’.
The K-Pop phenomenon signals the blurring boundaries of language and style. How do you look at it?
VERNON: It’s exciting to see boundaries blurring because I believe it 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 ahead of the single release, there was a fan who commented, ‘I don’t understand but I love you’. It was a livestream in Korean without subtitles... The love and support they showed us beyond the language barrier really stayed with me. I think the blurring of these boundaries, across genres, languages and more, speak to the power of music, and there is a great sense of strength that comes from these connections built past the boundaries.
As self-producing idol groups in the industry, what were the challenges you faced, and how do you think things started changing for you?
WOOZI: The thirteen of us as a group have had so many conversations about music since we were young. Not just music, but also movies, dances, and many different forms of art. Soon we began to have ideas that we wanted to express ourselves through music, at which point we were producing our own music and albums. Because we started from scratch, however, we lacked the skills and finesse at the beginning, and there was the pressure of producing high-quality music.
Your CARAT fandom is increasing with every passing day. What’s the message that you want to send to them?
THE 8: We want to let you know that we really appreciate all your love and support, it means a lot to us. I hope SEVENTEEN is also a part of those small moments of happiness in your everyday life.
DK: We know that you’ve always been by our side and we are thankful beyond words for your support. When we get to see you in-person, hopefully we will be ready to deliver the energy we’ve saved up over the past two years. We’ll have so many stories to tell and the very best of our performances.
Talking about India, is there anything about the culture, fandom, or music which inspire you as performers?
DINO: I’m not an expert in Indian culture yet, but I’ve often thought that I love the energy of Indian music and Bollywood films. We often talk about becoming a source of energy and happiness for our listeners through music and performances. I think there is also a lot for us to learn from Indian culture, and we would love to get to know it better!
How important is it to resume touring for concerts after the pandemic lull to revive the music industry? What about coming to India for a concert?
JEONGHAN: It’s probably one of the first things on our wish list. We can’t wait to face and interact with an audience again. Our first concert film ‘SEVENTEEN Power of Love: The Movie’ is about to be released. We watched the final edit recently, and my heart was beating so fast. I was reminded of that level of energy that you can only feel on the concert stage in front of the audience, and I can’t wait to be back at it.
JUN: We met our fans in-person for the first time in a really long time recently, through our fan meet ‘CARAT LAND.’ There were restrictions to how much we can interact, but it was still a powerful reminder of what we’ve been missing out on. There is so much energy we derive from the concert stage, and we also want to be able to share that with CARATs in India as soon as we can.
With growing fandom, what kind of pressure does that create?
SEUNGKWAN: Yes, we sometimes feel pressured, but at the same time we are thankful for it. The fact that we feel pressured means that there are fans and listeners who await our music and look forward to hearing more from us. It also serves to drive us forward. Rather than being fixated on the word ‘pressure’, we like to think of it as ‘anticipation’.
You have addressed the pressures of life, stress, struggling and rise to success through your songs. When things get heavy, how do you find a sense of freedom?
MINGYU: Rather than putting effort into finding ways to lessen the pressure, I think we find reasons to keep moving forward. And there are so many reasons. It may sound cliche, but I derive so much energy from CARATs and our members. I can continue to venture forth regardless of the pressures because there are people who await our music and stand by my side.
As a 13-member band, 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, holding us together. Overall, the thirteen of us learned how to work around our differences through conversations. We are able to talk through our differences because we believe that we wouldn’t simply dismiss each other’s opinions. After all these years, we believe that we want to walk the same path.
What’s next in store for your fans?
S.COUPS: We have a long journey ahead. There is so much left that I want to accomplish with our members as SEVENTEEN, and knowing the thirteen of us, I have faith that we will be able to reach new heights.