“If we’re supposed to be role models why would we only show our best moments?” Day6 guitarist and singer Jae tweeted last year. Coming from someone whose career is linked to an industry that often exudes this image of perfection, it was a refreshing sentiment to read. He has a point too – how can people look up to idols and use them as their guides and examples if they can’t see how their favourite stars have navigated the same struggles they’re going through?
Since debuting in 2015, Day6 have become one of the most honest and comforting groups to ascend in the K-pop scene. The notion behind Jae’s words is at the core of many of their activities, each offering comfort to fans and sharing the vulnerable but very real stories of the five-piece as a way to help achieve that goal.
The most obvious vessel for this mission is, of course, the band’s music itself. Throughout their career, Day6 have filled their songs with a whole range of experiences their fans might be grappling with. On the acoustic, harmony-filled emotional pop of 2017’s ‘All Alone’, they tackled loneliness and longing. The colourful anthemics of ‘Best Part’, from 2019’s ‘The Book Of Us: Gravity’, disguise an underlying notion of being motivated by fear as you try to make the most of every day.
On one of their best songs to date – last year’s ‘Zombie’ – they distilled the feeling of going through the motions in your life, vacantly rolling through the same routine but numb to it all. “Though I try to change something, I can’t seem to do anything,” keyboardist Wonpil sings at one point. “And I’ve got nothing left here with me.” They are lyrics that will resonate with anyone who’s found themselves in a rut that begins to feel like quicksand, sucking you deeper down and refusing to let go.
But it’s not just in the music itself that Day6 share these messages of comfort. When NME last saw the band live at the London stop of their Gravity tour in January 2020, the band filled the moments between songs with communication that was encouraging, moving and inspiring. “The reason we come here is because we want you to be happy, even after this night,” bassist and singer Young K told the crowd at O2 Academy Brixton that night. “It’s not easy, right? But that’s why we’re here – to make you guys feel better.” Leader Sungjin, meanwhile, added a promise of his own that summed up the spirit of the band: “When things are tough… we’ll be there.”
- READ MORE: Day6 – ‘The Book Of Us: Gravity’ EP review
If those words felt like an arm around your shoulder and made you feel like you had a friend, Jae’s speech on the same night went even further, suggesting that he too had been dealing with his own issues. Since that tour, he’s opened up further and further about everything from his first time experiencing panic attacks to the bullying he endured as a kid. Days after that London show, he went on Instagram Live to talk with the band’s fans, spending much of the stream talking about – and offering advice on – mental health.
Earlier this year, he added to that conversation and others he’s held on social media and in interviews, with a podcast series called Mindset on DIVE Studios. “I’m sharing these personal stories with you because I want you to know that you are not alone,” he said in one episode, getting to the crux of why having bands like Day6 in our lives is so important.
We may not be able to jump on the phone or FaceTime with them one-on-one to talk things over but their music, concerts and other activities stand in solidarity with us, judgment-free and always on call. The very fact that they don’t require us to talk back is part of the beauty of their work – we can listen, relate and process in our own heads, without the need for worrying that we’ll be rejected, mocked or considered a burden.
Over the last two years, Day6 have been steadily telling the story of ‘The Book Of Us’ series. Across two mini-albums and one album so far, they’ve woven tales of human connection and the chaos of emotions and experiences life throws at us. And today (April 19), they wrap up the series with ‘The Book Of Us: Negentropy’, the title of which they’ve said means: “In the end, the energy that restores us is love, and through love we become one.”
Not only is that a wise and true statement, but it’s also one that perfectly encapsulates what Day6 do. Through being open, honest and sharing their trials and troubles, they give everyone – from members of their fandom (known as MyDay) to casual listeners passing through – the chance to recharge, rebuild and feel less alone. No matter what’s going on in your life, Day6 have got your back.