Almost a full year after releasing its debut EP, SuperM is back with a new single, the song “100,” ahead of a studio album, “Super One,” due out Sept. 25. The group, comprised of members Baekhyun, Taemin, and Kai, of seasoned K-pop groups EXO and SHINee, alongside Taeyong, Mark, Ten, and Lucas, of NCT 127 and WayV, was poised to break big in the U.S. market following their first release last October, the song “Jopping,” but the coronavirus pandemic had others plans.
Still, the group has found ways to stay active amidst the shutdowns of shows across the world and was the first band from from its label SM Entertainment to host an online concert for fans, experimenting with AR and engaging with viewers directly. Earlier this month, SuperM revealed a rollout schedule for “Super One,” which launches in earnest today with the release of “100.” Variety connected with the members via Zoom to chat about the group’s dynamic and how the full album came to be.
The SuperM show at the Forum in February was not long before the complete shutdown of live events in the U.S. How have you been passing the time the past several months?
Baekhyun: During this time, I worked on my solo album promotions and also worked on preparing for SuperM’s album. Aside from that, we’ve spent time resting at home and on hobbies. We were able to take this time to learn more about things we’re interested in, while also searching for ways to improve ourselves.
Speaking of solos, your EP “Delight” was a success earlier this year. How does it feel to be working together again after doing activities individually?
Baekhyun: It’s been a long time since we’ve all come together, so honestly, it’s been really fun. Recently we’ve been getting together daily due to our schedules, and I definitely am able to get more energy when we’re together compared to when promoting alone. I find myself being eager to work. We’ve been in a positive headspace.
You were among the first artists to stream a concert during COVID, for V LIVE’s “Beyond Live” series back in April. How was that experience?
Baekhyun: It was our first time doing something like that and to be featured on “Beyond Live,” so we didn’t know if many people would be interested, and we were unsure if we could properly deliver the energy that we’d like to. We had our concerns in the beginning, but they disappeared once it started. We did direct video chats and Q&As with our fans aside from just performing, so it felt more like a true fan event than a typical concert. It had more of a playful energy since we had the ability to engage with the audience directly. I personally really enjoyed it. I think we could build a stronger relationship with our fans if we added these elements to our live concerts in the future as well.
Your first full-length album, “Super One,” is out next month. Promoting your new album during this time is bound to be different from the typical promotion schedule that you are familiar with, but there are still ways to connect with fans using technology, whether that be virtual fan signings, FaceTime chats, etc. What are you looking forward to most with your album release?
Kai: Our plan is to do everything we can with the tools we have available. We want to try everything that’s out there to meet with our fans and we’ll definitely pitch in ideas to our promotions team to come up with a variety of different ideas. We like to create our own content and be involved in the process, so we’re working on ensuring that our fans can see different aspects of SuperM. We worked on this album for a long time and haven’t seen our fans for a long time, and on top of that, since the situation isn’t great right now for connecting in person, we plan on treating all of the tracks like title tracks and promoting them.
The teasers for “Super One” focus on individuality and self-reflection. How did the concepts for your individual teasers come to life?
Kai: The concepts for the teasers came out of important moments of our lives. Mine is rooted in dance and the thoughts I have about working as an artist. I think we were able to share our individuality and also how these individual thoughts come together for “Super One.”
Can you tell us about the message behind “Super One” as a concept for the album?
Baekhyun: The message for this album is based on hope and overcoming hardships together. Each individual teaser shows a struggle that is overcome so we can be happy as artists on stage. The message emphasizes that during difficult times, it’s important to reflect and identify what it is you’re good at and what you’re capable of, rather than dwelling. We came together as SuperM after spending time apart and you’ll notice that all the songs on the album convey a similar message. I think it’s great to be together again.
Kai: I think the biggest difference between promoting within our original groups versus within SuperM is the change in our roles. For me, I am one of the younger members in EXO, but in SuperM, I am suddenly a senior member with more experience. Taemin was also the youngest in his group, and Baekhyun has become a leader. [Laughs]
Baekhyun: [Shrugs] It just happened.
Kai: Taeyong is also the leader in NCT 127, but in SuperM, he is one of the junior members. I think with changes like this, there is a shift in energy. It’s definitely enjoyable to experience different roles while working as SuperM and it’s a fresh atmosphere. It’s also helped us become closer a lot faster.
Mark: We wanted to express how even though we’re all individually talented and have distinct qualities, we can come together as one to create “Super One.” When we’re together, we’re able to overcome hardships. That’s the main message for the album and you’ll see that in all of the tracks, there is that common theme of hope. We hope our fans can receive that positive energy.
For the tracks that we’ve performed but not officially released, our fans probably already know the songs, but it’ll be new for them to hear the studio versions, so I think they’ll definitely look forward to that. I remember the reactions to the new songs were positive when we were touring and they seemed to like them, so I can’t wait for them to hear the actual audio.
Have you given the younger members any advice now that you’re one of the senior members with more experience? Or on the other hand, can the junior members share any memorable advice they’ve received?
Taeyong: To be honest, rather than a piece of advice, the older members say and do a lot of things that help us relax and feel comfortable. For example, if we’re nervous before going on stage, they–
Taemin: “Be nervous”
Kai: We tell them to be even more nervous. Since we have to do well. [Laughs]
Taeyong: This is a good example. They make the mood fun and light while providing us with good energy.
Kai: They always do well, so there’s not much for us to say.
Are there any fun stories from behind the scenes of “Super One” that you can share with us?
Baekhyun: When we filmed “100,” there was a set that was made of optical illusions. I’m not sure if this will appear in the behind-the-scenes video for the music video, but on this set, when you move backward, you become larger, and when you’re in front, you appear really small, like a mini-me. I thought that was really cute and interesting to see. It’s the only time that Kai and I will appear to be the same height. [Laughs]
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans and Variety?
Taeyong: We have multiple music videos coming out, so I hope you all look forward to them all. We also hope everyone can continue to take care and keep healthy during these times.
This interview has been translated from Korean and edited for brevity and clarity.