It’s been over two years since DRIPPIN – comprising members Yunseong, Hyeop, Changuk, Dongyun, Minseo, Junho and Alex – made their debut with their ‘Boyager’ mini-album. Its title coined by combining the words “boy” and “voyager”, that record was an optimistic first chapter to their story, inviting listeners along on their musical journeys to come.
Earlier this year, DRIPPIN decided to explore darker sides of their identity. So they kicked off their ‘Villain’ trilogy, which chronicles the epic battle between the good ‘X’ and evil ‘DX’ sides of themselves. Following the suave, sleek ‘Villain’ and the powerful battle cries of ‘Zero’, the septet are back with ‘The One’, the series’ thrilling, cyberpunk rock-inspired closing track. This record doesn’t just mark the end of DRIPPIN’s ‘Villain’ era – it’s also their first studio effort, a milestone release for the boyband.
NME recently caught up with DRIPPIN to discuss the release of ‘Villain: The End’ and how their teamwork has evolved since their debut.
Congratulations on your return with ‘Villain: The End’. Since this new release is also your first full-length album, how do you feel about reaching this milestone?
Hyeop: “In the two years since we debuted, this is our very first studio album and we can really feel how quickly time has gone by. We’re really determined to show everybody even better performances, and even cooler versions of ourselves.”
Can you tell us more about your new title track?
Junho: “Our title track this time is called ‘The One’, and it’s the last of our extended worldview of our ‘Villain’ era. Compared to the other two title songs [in the ‘Villain’ trilogy], this one has a slightly brighter, more fresh feel, and we’ll be showing you sides beyond just that of the typical ‘Villain’.
As you said, this is the final instalment of your ‘Villain’ trilogy, through which you have explored different aspects of villainy. What are some of the ideas you are exploring with this album?
Yunseong: “The overall concept of this album portrays two identities clashing into each other, and these two identities being the ‘X’ and ‘DX’ versions [of ourselves].”
Would some of the members like to share what their favourite new songs on the album are and why?
Minseo: “Since this is our first full-length album, there are a lot of tracks [to choose from]. My favourite is a song called ‘Escape’, because I think it’s a track you can comfortably listen to over and over. It has a very addictive rhythm and melody. ‘Escape’ is so good, I personally think it could have also been our title song!”
“I felt a lot of pressure and nervousness… I had no idea how I would portray our music and performances while acting like a villain and maintaining DRIPPIN’s own style”
Changuk: “My favourite song of the album is ‘Deja Vu’. The overall vibe and atmosphere of the song reminds of a noir film, and I feel like it’s very relevant to the album as well.”
‘The One’’s music video also heavily features the “dark” or “DX” version of Junho in its storyline. Can you tell us more about the story in the video?
Changuk: “The previous music video portrayed the ‘X’ and ‘DX’ identities right before they clash with one another, but this one showcases the actual clash between these two identities, and how all the members come together as one, combining their powers to defeat evil.”
For Junho, what was it like filming this music video, especially since you play such a major role in it?
Junho: “I definitely felt some pressure, and tried to work as hard as possible. Since the overall storyline of this series is about gathering the scattered powers and becoming one to defeat evil, I do also feel like the overall atmosphere and teamwork in our group has improved. During the recording process for the album, we really concentrated on its meaning.”
After nearly a year working on your ‘Villain’ trilogy, is there anything that you have learned about yourselves while getting into the mindset of playing villains? What does being a villain mean to you?
Alex: “Through playing the part as villains, what I understood was that villains aren’t necessarily all bad. I believe that villains can do both good and evil, and that they can be really charming. Villains are really charming characters.”
Before the ‘Villain’ trilogy began this year, DRIPPIN had a brighter, more youthful image. How was it adapting to a dark concept? Did any members in particular struggle with it?
Dongyun: “Before, we used to have a very bright and fresh image, so when we first heard that we would be doing a ‘Villain’ series and acting as villains, I felt a lot of pressure and nervousness about it. I had no idea how I would portray our music and performances while acting like a villain and maintaining DRIPPIN’s own style. But I think we all worked really hard and have successfully portrayed our group’s colour over this series.”
Are there plans for DRIPPIN to continue on this darker, more mature streak, or is there another concept or image you would like to explore next?
Hyeop: “We definitely had trouble adjusting to this series at first, because it had been our first time trying out a darker concept. But as time went by, we started to adapt to it and truly understand and express this difficult image, and I believe we will be able to successfully act out other concepts as well. Since we’ve been working on a dark concept, I hope we’ll be able to do something bright and cheerful [on our] next album!”
Also, congratulations on marking the second anniversary as a group on October 28. How do you think each of you has evolved since your debut?
Minseo: “In the beginning, I was really nervous in front of the camera and wasn’t able to speak smoothly. But after debuting, going up on stage in front of so many people, I think I’m a lot more confident and I do try to be more active for the camera now. That’s probably what has changed the most about me.”
Looking back on the past two years, what are the most meaningful moments you have shared as a team?
Changuk: “I think a lot of our most meaningful moments [happen] during music video shoots. There have been times where we had to put our heads together as a group to solve problems on set or successfully complete the shoot. I realised that our members don’t just try to handle problems by themselves. Instead, we’re always willing to give and receive help from each other. Being able to [complete our shoots] as a result of this teamwork is really meaningful to me.”
As we approach the end of the year, what are DRIPPIN’s hopes for 2023?
Dongyun: “We’ve had a very meaningful and busy 2022. In 2023, we want to work even harder and not rest too much, so we can make it another meaningful year. We’d definitely like to do more overseas activities, go abroad to meet our fans and show more of our different charms to the world.”
Is there anything else DRIPPIN would like to tell readers and fans?
Hyeop: “Over the past two years, we’ve put out a lot of releases and connected with many fans through our music. But since this is our first full-length album, we all worked extra hard on it, so I really hope everyone can look forward to hearing it. You’ll definitely enjoy it!”
DRIPPIN’s first studio album ‘Villain: The End’ is out now