It’s been a little over six years since SEVENTEEN kicked off their lives as fully fledged K-pop idols, but they keep going from strength to strength with every subsequent release. The boyband, who now have eight mini-albums and three full-length records under their belt with the arrival of ‘Your Choice’, are continuously hitting new heights every single time they make a comeback – all the while exploring their own musicity as one of the most notable self-producing idol groups in the industry.
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Although SEVENTEEN might seem like they’re constantly running ahead to reach the latest milestone – and they are doing that, let’s be clear – the 13-member group have also taken a brief detour on their latest mini-album ‘Your Choice’. Here, the boyband take a moment to pause and reflect on their career so far, with songs that draw parallels to their early hits while being ambitiously forward-looking at the same time.
But beyond simply releasing new music, the group also have notably larger aspirations this year with their ‘Power Of Love’ project, which promises brand-new member combinations – MINGYU and WONWOO kicked it off earlier this year with ‘Bittersweet’. Not to mention, the solo series ‘The Thirteen Tapes’ that HOSHI launched in April with his first mixtape ‘Spider’, which made it to NME’s list of the best 15 K-pop songs of 2021 so far.
As the boyband make a leap for new heights with their ‘Power Of Love’ project, SEVENTEEN chat with NME on how they continue to draw inspiration from their earlier hits, pushing themselves to grow as artists and potential “never-before-seen” future unit teams.
Hello SEVENTEEN, congratulations on your new mini-album ‘Your Choice’! How does it feel to make a comeback in Korea as a full group after eight months?
S.COUPS: “Thank you! We’re obviously very excited and thrilled as we’re returning in eight months with our eighth mini-album. We want to deliver positive energy to those who listen to our music, and of course, our CARATs (the name of SEVENTEEN’s fandom). We hope everyone can find some solace and strength through this album in the midst of these difficult times.”
“We’re also tremendously thankful to our CARATs for always waiting and looking forward to new music from us. There’s a saying: ‘Spring, SEVENTEEN, Fall, Winter’, so make sure you enjoy your summer with ‘Your Choice’. We have our 2021 ‘Power Of Love’ project as well, so you can look forward to spending your entire year with SEVENTEEN!”
SEVENTEEN are known as one of the most notable self-producing idols in K-pop, and you guys have always been producing for yourselves since debut. How did you guys challenge yourselves as artists this time around in your new mini-album?
HOSHI: “I think we challenged ourselves by trying to show a more mature outlook on the topic of love while retaining some of our signature bright energy at the same time. We also wanted to demonstrate diversity and breadth in the album whether it was the genre of the tracks or the storytelling in the lyrics.”
“Up until now, SEVENTEEN has shown a bright and youthful sort of energy, but this album shows how we’ve grown and deepened our emotionality as artists. Really striving to bring this maturity to life, musically, was just one of the ways we challenged ourselves.”
In the preceding teasers for ‘Your Choice’, SEVENTEEN revisited a number of your older title tracks. Where did this idea come from and why was it important to the group?
WONWOO: “The keyword for ‘Your Choice’ was maturity. And to really emphasise this maturity and our growth, what better way than to travel back in time to the very beginning of SEVENTEEN? ‘Adore U’, ‘Pretty U’ and ‘Mansae’ were some of the tracks we released in 2015 and 2016, so we drew these parallels in our teasers to portray the fact that ‘Ready To Love’ was a continuation and more mature take compared to the love songs that we had released at the very beginning of our careers. That’s how we came to the idea of referencing these tracks in our trailers and teaser leading up to the release of ‘Ready To Love’.”
How does SEVENTEEN keep your music and songwriting fresh, even six years into your career?
WOOZI: “With every new album, I make a conscious effort to really pursue the musical aspects that don’t confine or limit our sound. I constantly study different musical techniques, genres and styles to challenge myself and push to think outside of our ‘box’. All the members are on the same page, so it’s a constant team effort and resolution from our end.”
Your new title track ‘Ready To Love’ has been described as a romantic song that “reveals the members’ matured mannish charms and vibrant energy”. What was your inspiration? And how is it different from your previous title tracks?
DK: “The main source of inspiration for this album and our ‘Power Of Love’ project was ‘love’ of course. It’s a very broad and extensive topic, so we found endless amounts of inspiration within the theme itself. The story that ‘Ready To Love’ tells is about a ‘me’ who falls in love and is ready to bravely confess my feelings to a ‘you’ that I used to regard as ‘just a friend’. We’ve finally gathered the courage to face our true feelings and profess our love to this special person.
“‘Ready To Love’ captures SEVENTEEN’s duality: a little bit of familiarity in the sense that it contains our bright energy, but also something new – our more courageous actions that we take in the name of love.”
What was the most difficult part about creating this song?
SEUNGKWAN: “Whether it was the instrumental itself, the recording, or even the choreography creation process, I think this track was one of the toughest lead singles we’ve worked on in a while. Not for one specific reason, but the entire process just went through a lot of revisions and modifications at every turn.”
“Quite candidly, I think we also felt a lot of pressure to share amazing music with the world because we wanted to repay our fans for the huge love they showed us throughout 2020. We’re all very happy with the final output, and we hope our CARATs love it as well.”
For ‘Your Choice’, SEVENTEEN have returned to the Hip-Hop, Vocal and Performance units for the first time since 2019’s ‘An Ode’. How did the group decide on returning to these units, and what potential combinations could we see in the future?
JOSHUA: “Love is the primary emotion at the centre of our many actions. Through ‘Your Choice’ and our ‘Power Of Love’ project, we hope to express some of these emotions in our own unique way. Because the topic of love is just so broad, we approached the topic by breaking up into our units so each unit could delve a little more deeply into the emotions and stories they wanted to address.”
JEONGHAN: “‘Your Choice’ is part of our ‘Power Of Love’ project and each unit shared their respective interpretations of love in their unit songs. But instead of regarding each unit track as its own separate story, I recommend listening to the entire mini-album from beginning to end as one sort of cohesive take on the topic of ‘love’. And you’ll surely see even more unique unit combinations from SEVENTEEN in the future, stay tuned.”
SEVENTEEN have tried a large variety of genres since your debut, from the emotional, EDM-inspired ‘Don’t Wanna Cry’ to the dark and brooding ‘Getting Closer’ and most recently the big band-esque ‘Homerun’. What other genres and concepts would you like to try in the future?
THE 8: “I’ve always wanted to try house music. In ‘Your Choice’, we were able to try this genre in the Performance Team’s unit track, ‘Wave’!”
“‘Wave’ is a house-based dance-pop track and all four Performance Team members participated in the songwriting of it. We’re constantly pushing our borders and testing our limits to challenge ourselves, so we’re open to a lot of various genres in the future.”
How do you think SEVENTEEN’s sound has evolved since your debut six years ago?
MINGYU: “In a way, I think we’ve tried to retain the signature sounds and musical elements that are emblematic of SEVENTEEN’s music. But at the same time, we’re constantly trying out new things and challenging our musical ‘limitations’. That’s something we strive to do with every comeback and with every new album.”
“That being said, I think our sound has evolved quite naturally over the past five to six years, because we always tell the stories and messages that we feel best reflects us at that point in our lives. As we continue to grow as artists and individuals, I feel like our discography and sound grows with us and embodies the SEVENTEEN of that time.”
Earlier this year, Hoshi successfully kicked off SEVENTEEN’s ‘The Thirteen Tapes’ series with his solo mixtape ‘Spider’. When can fans expect solo mixtapes from the other SEVENTEEN members?
VERNON: “While we can’t reveal too much just yet, what we can say is that we’re always hard at work in the studios working on creating more tracks and performances with our CARATs in mind.”
“Also, through our 2021 ‘Power Of Love’ project, we’ll be returning frequently throughout the year with more music and in never-before-seen unit combinations so please look forward to it!”
Lastly, what can fans expect from SEVENTEEN moving forward?
JUN: “Through various opportunities and stages, we’ll continue to release new music and show new sides of SEVENTEEN. We miss our CARATs so much and once the situation allows – wherever our fans may be – we hope to visit them and perform for them in person.”
DINO: “The one big goal that all 13 of us have in common is to become artists who can have a positive impact. We want to deliver energy and comfort through our music and performances. Earlier this year, we performed on The Late Late Show With James Corden, The Kelly Clarkson Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and we’ll also be performing ‘Ready To Love’ on Jimmy Kimmel Live! this time as well.”
“We plan on sharing even more of our energetic performances with the world so please look forward to them. Thank you for always loving SEVENTEEN and we’ll continue to work hard to show you even better sides of us in the future.”
SEVENTEEN’s ‘Your Choice’ is out now via PLEDIS Entertainment.