BAE173 on being a self-producing boyband and their playful new mini-album ‘Odyssey: Dash’

The up-and-coming nine-member group talk to NME about staying spirited and managing contrasting concepts

It takes both resilience and a willingness to change to forge ahead in the K-pop industry. Just ask up-and-coming boyband BAE173, who’ve just released their fourth mini-album, ‘Odyssey: Dash’.

Having entered the scene at the end of 2020, the nine-member group – consisting of Hangyul, Junseo, J-Min, Yoojun, Muzin, Youngseo, Doha, Bit, and Dohyon – laid out an introductory chapter in the form of their ‘Intersection’ series, a musical trilogy built around a myriad of genres. And while their debut single ‘Crush On You’ and follow-up ‘Loved You’ presented a nostalgic pop experience, their third title track, ‘Jaws’, indicated a sonic move into more boisterous territory. On ‘Odyssey: Dash’, which dropped today (August 17), they offer a release that’s more playful – and more bold.

“If I could describe the colour of our group in one word, ‘energy’ comes to mind first”

At some point during their conversation with NME, Dohyon, the 17-year-old maknae and musical architect of this new record, identified “No interrupt on my way”, from lead single ‘Dash’, as the most important lyric that frames the group’s future journey.

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“It’s a very obvious, simple line, but that’s what comes into my heart,” he explains. “I’m a very emotional and quiet person, and by having that kind of thought, I am trying to get braver as a performer and as a person. That’s what we’re trying to say as a team [as well].”

Below, the members of BAE173 unpack the preparations for ‘Odyssey: Dash’, creative freedom, and what fuels their ambitions.

BAE173
Credit: PocketDol Studio

One of the objectives of this fourth mini-album was to display your abilities as a self-producing group, with Dohyon taking the lead in the recording studio. Can you tell us about the creative input that went into this release?

Dohyon: “When I was making the songs, of course I had to introduce [them] to the members. They were a big part of the process because they always help me, but they also follow me well. As for our final performance, I was happy to see how every member understood the song, and how they were really eager to express [the message] of it.”

And speaking the performance, do the main dancers put their ideas out for the choreography?

Junseo: “When we worked on the choreography, we thought about the main point of it together and shared ideas about how to make a better performance.”

BAE173's Bit
Bit. Credit: PocketDol Studio

Youngseo, as the main vocalist, which song did you find the most challenging to record?

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Youngseo: “I had a hard time [while] recording our title track. I should’ve recorded the high notes for the bridge, but I had a cold. But, even though the condition of my voice wasn’t good, I’m proud that I was able to get satisfactory results.”

If you had to pick one word to describe BAE173’s colour, what would it be and why?

Yoojun: “If I could describe the colour of our group in one word, ‘energy’ comes to mind first. The reason is when we prepare a performance, it’s important to show a successful performance, but I think it’s more important to show our energy to the fans. Before we start a show, we say, ‘Let’s perform energetically!’ and [then] go on stage. We want to work hard so our fans can feel our energy.”

Has this word always been the same? Because the group went through a conceptual change a few months ago.

Dohyon: “Energy has been [part of] our identity from the beginning. This time I guess it’s… more energy? [laughs]. Another word that came up is ‘villain’. We talked about ‘villain’ as a word, but not your typical bad guy. It’s more like being silly, playing around and having a lot of characters and you can see that on our stage.”

Moving on to your title track ‘Dash’, sonically speaking, what’s your favourite part of the song and why?

Bit: “I like the dance break because the bass drop is really my style.”

J-min: “The title track has a strong feeling because it’s fast and consists of many rapping parts. However, it’s nice to see a shift in the mood when the pre-chorus starts because it plays a role in making the chorus stand out more.”

BAE173's Youngseo
Youngseo. Credit: PocketDol Studio

And what’s the message behind the lyrics?

Dohyon: “The concept of ‘Dash’ is to run away and move forward like a racer. The lyrics also mean don’t hide, be brave and run through the fear no matter what’s coming after you. I think that’s the message we want to send: Be fearless and keep dashing like us.”

BAE173's Yoojun
Yoojun. Credit: PocketDol Studio

Dohyon, you composed all the tracks in this album – what an achievement. Can you please guide me through the music production process? Where do you take inspiration from when working on music?

Dohyon: “I always had a passion for producing and composing, and I was used to [doing it] from a young age. It’s about how I’m going to show this [passion] through this group. It was always like a mission for me, but this time, after our previous comeback [for ‘Jaws’], I thought, ‘What else can I add to this team? And how can I use my musical skills to add more to the group?’ Speaking of the process, it was kind of tough because we didn’t have that much time – or I didn’t have that much time because [together] with the company, we stated that our comeback was going to be around August, so I needed to have the songs ready by July.”

BAE173's Muzin
Muzin. Credit: PocketDol Studio

How long has it been in the making?

Dohyon: “As [the one] making the music, it started right when our last comeback ended. It was around April or May when I started connecting with producers and [executing] my plan, but the actual making started from June. With the members, we started [practising] for the performance around July.”

BAE173's Junseo
Junseo. Credit: PocketDol Studio

You just said that you always had this passion for music, but I’m curious how this passion started. Did you attend a music academy, or did you learn by yourself?

Dohyon: “I got interested [in music] because I started learning [how to play] the piano from a very young age. I also started learning about music production and programming in elementary school. Initially, I [wanted] this career as a music producer, but by chance, I debuted [as an idol]. That [gave me] an opportunity to make more songs, and even though I debuted as a performer, I still think that I’m in the process of becoming a music producer. I’m on my way, and I’m trying my best.”

BAE173's J-Min
J-Min. Credit: PocketDol Studio

As mentioned earlier, BAE173 shifted their concept recently. Your debut title track ‘Crush on You’ and your first comeback ‘Loved You’ stand close in the spectrum, but then with ‘Jaws’, things turned edgier. Why the contrast, and how is that connected to your group’s identity?

Junseo: “Our first and second albums had a refreshing and sentimental concept, and the last one, ‘Jaws’, showed a new look to the fans with a strong concept. Of course, we got satisfactory results, but we feel regretful that we didn’t show everything we have. So, through this new album, we will showcase a more playful side and be more relaxed.”

“I think that’s the message we want to send: Be fearless and keep dashing like us”

Doha: “As Junseo mentioned, this time our concept has a playful side, but compared to our previous comeback, we prepared for it more comfortably. It seems that we are gradually finding our concept through Dohyon’s producing.”

BAE173's Hangyul
Hangyul. Credit: PocketDol Studio

How much has your motivation to be an artist evolved, from when you first stepped onto the stage until now?

Muzin: “At the beginning, I had a lot of worries about what to do in certain parts [while] on stage, but now, through a lot of practice, I can get along well in the performances with the members, and I enjoy the stage a little more. Looking at me like this, I feel I have improved compared to my debut.”

BAE173's Doha
Doha. Credit: PocketDol Studio

Hangyul, looking back from your first debut in 2017 to this point in your career, what’s the most important lesson you have learned?

Hangyul: “There have been many difficult times before, but whenever that happened, I have learned that it’s important to think positively rather than negatively. I believe these aspects are important for future activities as well.”

BAE173's Dohyon
Dohyon. Credit: PocketDol Studio

BAE173 debuted when the rhythm of life was relatively slow due to the ongoing pandemic. Considering this, what’s something meaningful that you want to show the world that you think will have an impact in the upcoming years?

Yoojun: “Due to the pandemic, we have never performed in front of fans on a music broadcast stage, and we had no choice but to show our energy only through a screen. However, since the situation has improved little by little, we want to show our energy directly to the fans through actual performances.”

BAE173’s ‘Odyssey: Dash’ mini-album is out now

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