Since their debut last November, ENHYPEN have become one of the most exciting rookie groups in K-pop. On their first release – the ‘Border : Day One’ mini-album – they crystallised their feelings of being on the edge of the spotlight, about to achieve their dreams of becoming idols. Making your debut with a record about how you feel about making your debut is fairly meta but it worked brilliantly, setting the seven-piece group up as artists ready to share honestly with the world.
Five months later and with four Rookie Of The Year awards from the likes of the Gaon Chart under their belts, Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo and Ni-ki return to let us into their inner world with ‘Border : Carnival’. On the mini-album, the boyband characterise their first steps into the life they worked so hard to reach as a festival – vibrant, colourful and fun, but also overwhelming and disorienting at times. “The way you want it, go as far as you can to reach it,” they sing on title track ‘Drunk-Dazed’. “Trapped in the carnival.”
The band spoke to NME about the new mini-album, their journey so far and what lies ahead for the group.
Hello ENHYPEN, congrats on your new release. Looking back on ‘Border : Day One’, what were the biggest lessons you learned during your debut that you’re taking with you into this comeback?
Sunghoon: “Although we didn’t have the opportunity to show our fans in person our performances for ‘Border : Day One’, many ENGENEs [the name of ENHYPEN’s fandom] have cheered us on from the start. We’ve learned how precious their love and support is to us and we want to show our appreciation through this album.”
<‘Border : Carnival’ deals with the emotions you’ve felt since your record-breaking debut. Since becoming a team, everything has happened pretty quickly and your journey must have been quite overwhelming. How have you coped?
Heeseung: “As we’ve experienced so many things for the first time since our debut, there were times when everything seemed amazing yet so confusing. One thing that’s clear is that we were able to adjust together as a team. We were actually able to utilise these complex emotions as the underlying subject for this album and express, through music, our desire to enjoy this moment even through the confusion.”
What’s been the best moment of being a part of ENHYPEN so far?
Jay: “Every moment as a member of ENHYPEN has been precious, but if I had to choose the best moment of all, it would be meeting our fans in person at our first fan meet in February. I remember being so excited to meet ENGENEs and practicing even harder while preparing for it. I was happy to see that our fans seemed to enjoy it.”
‘Fever’ features the idea of waiting patiently for someone special. What are ENHYPEN patiently waiting or longing for most right now and why?
Ni-ki: “Without a doubt, meeting our ENGENEs in person. They are inseparable to ENHYPEN and so special to us. We not only want to communicate face-to-face, but also show them an amazing live performance.”
‘Not For Sale’ centres around the belief that giving and receiving must be mutual. How do you relate to that idea, both as members of ENHYPEN and as the people behind the idols?
Sunoo: “I relate to the song as it contains a realistic message about the mindset of today’s teenagers. It’s common to think that you need to give in order to receive something in return. This song, however, captures a boy’s change in beliefs at the appearance of someone to whom he wants to give his everything. As ENHYPEN, we always want to return the endless love from our fans through various aspects, including our music and performances.”
So far, you’ve only been able to communicate with ENGENEs digitally. How has the pandemic altered the effect you want your music to have on fans?
Jake: “Music has a huge role in connecting us to our fans whether it’s in person or online. Since we’re currently in a situation where we can’t meet our fans face-to-face, our desire to make music that more fans can relate to has gotten greater in order to form deeper connections with them. Regardless of the situation, however, we want to continue to express our honest thoughts and relate to one another through our music.”
‘Outro : The Wormhole’ teases what will come next for ENHYPEN. What artistic legacy do you want to leave behind?
Jungwon: “There’s a lot from us that our fans haven’t seen yet. Although we just embarked on our journey as artists, we’re determined to challenge ourselves and push boundaries to become the destination for K-pop fans around the world.”
ENHYPEN’s new mini-album ‘Border : Carnival’ is out now.