Korean Pop Band Seventeen Interview

To spot a member of the Korean pop group Seventeen, just look at their pinky. All 13 members wear a distinctive ring on their little finger. Although it does not carry the promise of the Jonas Brothers’ kind, it symbolizes a promise of unity and an assurance to fans that they always have them in mind. The group first got these rings when they made their debut in 2015, and have gotten new versions prior to each full-length release since. Now they carry the fifth iteration of tradition – silver cut into what looks like two intersecting wavesrevealing a little diamond, the group’s symbol, in between – ahead of the release of “Darl + ing”, their latest single, from their upcoming album in May.

“Darl + ing” is the group’s first English-language single and features many of Seventeen’s signature flowers. It moves deftly from almost whispered confessions to beautifully expansive declarations of love and longing. Each element serves to expand the palette of warmth and sincerity developed across the plate. The group offers rapeseed with softened vocals, and the lyrics are imbued with double meanings.

The “plus sign in front of ‘ing’ in the title represents ‘persistent’ in our relationship with Seventeen and ours [fandom, called Carats]”Says rapper Vernon Rolling stones over video calls.

It is with this English-language single that members S.Coups, Wonwoo, Mingyu, Vernon, Woozi, Jeonghan, Joshua, DK, Seungkwan, Hoshi, Jun, The8 and Dino hope to connect even deeper with their fans – especially those abroad. “It’s like a gift to our Carats,” says soft vocalist Joshua, “because all of our international fans, even though they may not understand Korean, love us for who we are and love our music so much, so we just wanted to make a song they can easily listen to and understand. ”

Very few Western musicians record in different languages ​​for their overseas fans – call it a Western-centered bias where English is expected to be the dominant musical language – but for K-pop artists, it’s a common part of the job. Most often, groups will release a handful of Japanese records, and recently, groups have added Chinese, Spanish, and English to their discographies. But for Seventeen, the work of recording in another language is not just about making a global crossover, but about making a conscious gesture.

“In every language we sing in, we try to show Seventeen who we are,” says leader S.Coups thoughtfully, adjusting the little ponytail sticking out of his shock of pink hair. “And I know people whose mother tongue is not Korean have to work hard to understand our message. So when we record, we will try as much as they do when they listen to our music so we can share it together.”

This ethos – which stretches the boundaries of their art to create a deeper connection with those who enjoy it – goes through everything Seventeen does, even beyond songs. From making silly and interactive fan songs which essentially gives Carats parts to sing in their songs, to turn their lightsticks and albums into craft projects (fans can tie and decorate the pages of their EP Heng: garage, ;[Semicolon] including a loom set), Seventeen is always looking for ways to make loving their music a tangible, shared experience.

But recording in English is a new frontier for many of the members (only two, Vernon and Joshua, are English-speaking as native speakers), so there were definitely a few hiccups. “When we recorded, and it was DK’s turn, there’s this part that reads, ‘Again I dive,'” Joshua remembers, laughing. ” But he pronounced the word again as “gyeran (계란)”, which means egg. “He looks at DK smiling while he sings “Gyeran diving” and the group broke out in giggling attacks. “It got completely stuck in my head,” he continues. “But unfortunately we had to re-record it.”

In fact, even Woozi, who co-composes and produces most of Seventeen’s discography, admits that the line I want to know our problem, blood type or DNA ”was not a deliberate sprinkle of Korean culture. (For many Koreans, blood type is said to dictate this person’s personality type.)

“I actually thought blood types were a thing in the US and other countries when I wrote the song, I did not know it was not a thing,” Woozi admits, laughing sheepishly. “I do not particularly believe in blood types, but when I wrote this, I thought it would be something fun and sweet. Maybe I should have included zodiac signs in the text.” The vocalist Seungkwan, who is always the comedian, intervenes with his soaring tenor and sings “Blood type or MBTI”Provoked yet another outburst of laughter.

This is typically the mood when the members are together. More than their perfectly synchronized, razor-sharp dance, soaring vocals or dynamic stage presence, Seventeen is valued because they feel like family. Among the 13 members are the “parents”, the beloved youngest, the attention-seeking middle children. They support each other and tease each other in the same breath. And it’s not just talk – in 2021, members unanimously renewed their contracts with Pledis Entertainment a year too early for at least another five years, underscoring their commitment to each other and their fandom.

It was the same year Seventeen explored the theme of love through their “Power of Love” project, releasing a handful of songs and mixed media that ended with their Attack EP in October. It stretched over a period when things were still uncertain and it was more valuable than ever to find connection. For Vernon, it meant spending quality time, his language of love, with friends and members – “just having lots of conversations,” he says. For the agile dancer The8, it meant clear communication with those around him: “Love must be expressed for the person to know that they are loved.” But this next chapter seems to mark something of a tonal shift, and as performance team leader Hoshi teases, the upcoming album will be “hot and passionate.”

S.Coups adds another layer to that description: “So far, we have always been really sincere and honest with our music, but I think, especially with this upcoming album, that we are very honest and show our honest heart.”

People like to say that diamonds are loved for their symmetry and perfection, or because they symbolize wealth and power. But their true value lies in the way each facet reflects the light, sparkling, as if they want to delight all those who get to see it.

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