VIVIZ talk their carefree new mini-album ‘Summer Vibe’ and moving on from GFRIEND

Eunha, SinB and Umji also tell NME about their favourite ‘Queendom’ performances and advice to rookie groups

Over seven years into their career, K-pop’s “experienced rookie singers” – as they have playfully dubbed themselves – VIVIZ continue to deliver a breath of fresh air with every release. Completed by Eunha, SinB and Umji, the vivacious new act had made up half of beloved girl group GFRIEND before their untimely disbandment in May 2021. While its remaining members went on to pursue careers as soloists and actresses, the trio swiftly reunited as VIVIZ under the newly established BPM Entertainment and kicked off 2022 with their sparkling debut mini-album ‘Beam Of Prism’.

Now, five months after their (re)debut and fresh off a challenging run on the Mnet reality TV show Queendom 2, the girl group welcome their first summer as VIVIZ with their radiant sophomore project ‘Summer Vibe’, led by its chirpy title track ‘Loveade’. “It was difficult making the vibe of the song come alive,” SinB admits, explaining that it had been awhile since they had put out a “cute and bright” track. If VIVIZ had any trouble embodying the summery spirit of their latest single, though, they sure didn’t let it show.

A breezy synth-pop number, ‘Loveade’ infuses the funky disco sound of their debut single ‘Bop Bop!’ with a fizzy, refreshing enthusiasm – akin to an ice-cold glass of lemonade on a blistering summer afternoon, but for your ears. It’s certainly a departure from GFRIEND’s summer releases, many of which – ‘Love Whisper’ and ‘Summer Rain’ come to mind – were tinted with a sense of bittersweet melancholy. In this chapter of their story, VIVIZ are all about having as much fun as they can.

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‘Summer Vibe’ could not have come at a better time – a welcome respite for the group and fans alike after months of fierce competition on Queendom 2, where they ultimately finished in third place. “There was a bit of pressure and worry in the beginning,” Umji confesses. Years of experience aside, it was an ambitious trial to take on, especially this early into regrouping.

Still, VIVIZ rose gracefully to the challenge, even adapting some of GFRIEND’s past hits – famously formidable vocal moments included – with only half its members. “The other members sent words of encouragement and praise,” Umji reveals. “I think we were able to quickly become comfortable during our practice sessions since it was a performance we were familiar with,” continues the youngest member, though she later admits: “It was difficult at first because the parts were so confusing!”

Despite the nature of the TV competition, VIVIZ saw it as an opportunity to forge new friendships with some of their fellow K-pop stars. “I wanted to applaud everyone’s passion and spirit. I could feel how everyone cherished and loved their groups,” Umji says. An act they had grown particularly close to, she tells us, is rookie girl group Kep1er, who they had teamed up with during the show’s dance unit battle challenge, though the trio are full of praise for the rest of the line-up. “I’d be so happy to run into the [other] groups at broadcasting stations,” she says.

Further reflecting on their time on the show, the members unanimously agree that their performance of ‘Red Sun!’, a song they recorded for the finale, was the most memorable. Originally an unreleased GFRIEND track, the trio could not be happier about finally bringing it to life. “I loved the song so much. I had been hoping for it to be released to the world more than anyone, and I was thrilled to be able to perform it,” says SinB, her bandmates echoing her sentiments. Eunha added that “the stage came out perfectly, and it was just like how I imagined it to be”.

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VIVIZ’s evolution into a confident, fully-realised act – despite how little time it technically has been – is heart-warming to watch, and it is incredible how Eunha, SinB and Umji have transformed an unfortunate situation into the prologue of their enthralling new story together. Just earlier this year, on an episode of SCAN VIVIZ, SinB had called GFRIEND’s disbandment the “hardest time” of her life, adding that she never thought she was capable of crying so much.

When we check in on them, however, it seems that the girl group have only grown stronger since. “Our members seem to be people who are able to adapt well to new circumstances and situations, even more than I expected,” Umji shares proudly, adding that VIVIZ have quickly eased into performing as a trio. “I’m not saying that it wasn’t challenging, but I guess, since we gave it enough thought before jumping in, we’re currently doing a good job of being flexible and adjusting.”

“I guess we became closer and more reliant on each other,” Eunha ponders, looking back on the trials VIVIZ have weathered as a trio. “But of course, we were always like family!” Even with a bond as powerful as VIVIZ’s, there remain those inevitable instances where they long for the familiarity of their former bandmates, a sentiment that is undoubtedly shared among all six of them.

In an interview with NME earlier this year, former GFRIEND main vocalist Yuju shared that she really felt the difference of being away from the girl group whenever she travelled between schedules, the rides becoming unusually quiet without the never-ending chatter of her bandmates, and it seems that the trio have experienced their own versions of such moments. “There are times, here and there, when we feel the difference in terms of the size [of our group],” Umji reveals. “There’s a small elevator we frequently use at M Countdown and compared to the time when six members would have to go through the trouble of trying to squeeze in, now, our three members get on with the addition of a few of our staff,” she humourously shares.

viviz interview summer vibe gfriend
VIVIZ. Credit: Big Planet Made

From being in one of South Korea’s top girl groups, to having to start over seven years in, to competing on Queendom 2, VIVIZ have truly been through it all. Tapping on their years of wisdom Umji urges fellow K-pop idols and rookie groups to hold on to the determination they had in the very beginning. Meanwhile, Eunha shares her own thoughts: “Calling it a piece of advice is a bit too grand, but I hope the process and results don’t stress you out too much. Even [criticism] from others! It’s more convenient to work if you numb yourself to such things and take in only the helpful motivations.”

With their unfaltering determination, it’s no surpise how VIVIZ have been able to make it this far and will, no doubt, reach even greater heights. “We’re always wanting to meet our Na.V all over the world. We want to work hard to make an amazing set list, and meet our fans through tours,” Eunha hints, casting her sights on the group’s possible future activities. “We still only have two albums so far, but I believe VIVIZ hold great potential,” she promises.

VIVIZ’s second mini-album ‘Summer Vibe’ is out now.

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