The video you made before, “Holiday,” is like that, too, and retro overall. Was that also a reflection of your tastes?
WONWOO: Actually, I grew up watching a lot of well-produced videos, so I wouldn’t say I’m that into retro. It’s just that fashion videos are usually kind of retro, so it felt natural to give the GOING behind-the-scenes videos the same vibe. “Holiday,” I made completely retro. My main goal at that time was not to take up too much of the members’ time. We only had two days off while working in the United States and I felt really bad and guilty asking them to take time off to film. I’m in the same position as them so I know how precious that break time is. So I shared all seven-ish of my own cameras with them and asked them to take pictures while they were off having fun. I couldn’t really produce anything too technical since the texture of every camera was different, so I started with a retro framework and made it feel like candid video with black-and-white shots here and there. If you do it like that it can look pro even though the cameras are all different models.
I can tell you really cherish the memories you have with the other members.
WONWOO: As you can tell, I spend a lot of time with the other members of SEVENTEEN, but I suddenly started to think, Maybe after it’s all said and done it won’t be as long as I expected. Isn’t there a limit to how many of these moments I can keep in my memories? So after that I first decided to learn about making vlogs. I already like to watch videos, and I figured vlogging was the most appropriate way to preserve those memories. But the more I learned, the more these videos that were a little more cinematic than just vlogs caught my eye, and I ended up watching more of those. I actually think video is just a medium and the essence is making memories. (laughs) Music, lyrics and writing are that way, too. They’re all ways to convey my thoughts and feelings.
A little while back, in celebration of the sixth anniversary of SEVENTEEN’s debut, you posted this: “After climbing up six hills, I’m looking forward to finding out what kind of scenery and people will be on my next one.” How does it feel to look back on the old times?
WONWOO: From the very beginning we made our own music, but now that I’m working 100% from my own thoughts, independently, I think it’s helping me grow a lot. You’d be shocked if you saw our schedule: It’s meetings all day long—10 to 15 meetings a week. We all give our opinions on costumes, promotion, social media—everything. This time around, we revised the choreography for the lead single repeatedly, even when there wasn’t much time left, because we wanted to make it even better. Sometimes I wonder if we go too far, but we’re an ambitious bunch. (laughs) It’s great when you get the results you want after so many meetings and so much practice.
Going forward, what kind of landscape do you want to cultivate for CARAT and SEVENTEEN?
WONWOO: We’ve been preparing the land with fertilizer for the past six years, and I think now, with the seeds planted, all that’s left is to grow. Obviously we’ve been growing this whole time, but we put all the growing we’ve done until now into this album. I think all the time leading up to now was preparation. And now we’ve started to get just the right amount of water and sun, too. The only thing left to do now is to blossom.
You can find his full interview here.
What is your goal these days, as a vocalist?
DK: I can never really satisfy myself. So instead of saying, I’ll keep going until I’m satisfied, I just want to believe in myself. In the past, I just said I want to be a good vocalist and didn’t give it any other thought, but I think it’s more worthwhile to give strength to others, so I want to be a good singer with that intention to help.
Is there something that caused you to change your mind like that?
DK: To be honest, I’ve heard from a lot of people since our debut that I’m good. And I worked hard. But I’m never really satisfied, so I didn’t see it that way. So sometimes I was in a slump or lost my confidence or even wondered if I should sing at all. But as time went on I got over it, and I realized, it’s not like you have to be good no matter what, and that being good at it doesn’t make me happy. I try to find importance in giving people strength through one small part than go overboard trying to hit some high notes.
I felt your desire to overcome things in the “High Sky and Plump Horses” episode of GOING SEVENTEEN when you went bungee jumping. Where do you find the courage to challenge yourself like that?
DK: I have no idea where it came from. (laughs) That was really, really challenging. It looks short in the edited version, but the other members waited around for 30 minutes. They could’ve asked me, “Why aren’t you jumping?” But instead they kept saying, “You can do it!” All right, they’re all waiting—just jump for their sake. (laughs) I just kept thinking, I just have to jump the one time—why can’t I do it? I’m a chicken and I was really scared, but I was able to jump because the others cheered me on. I think I can take on anything I want to as long as they’re next to me. They’re really great people.
Not surprisingly, you’re a good influence on the other members. You even have the nickname Seokhadachak [“Seokmin’s next to God when it comes to kindness”].
DK: That was a burden, honestly. (laughs) I mean, I was worried I would be trapped in that image. I’m not consciously being nice; I just really have a mindset of “fair is fair.” I’m quite sure that’s why the other members and the fans said that. Because I do what I feel like doing—it’s not a conscious effort. I just try to be thankful and not get too stuck. I get angry too, you know. (laughs)
You remember all the other members’ MBTIs, too. I can always tell how much affection you have for them.
DK: I’ll sound like I’m making this up if I say it in an interview or on air (laughs) but—and sorry to my family, but the other members are more like family to me than my family. I don’t know if it’s because we normally argue so much, but I think it’s a chance for us to get close to one another and get to know each other better.
If the members are like your family, what are CARAT?
DK: Seriously, CARAT are my legit legit besties. (laughs) There’s a saying that it’s hard to find even one true friend in life. They’re honestly precious to me. They give me strength in my life and are a huge help.
You can find his full interview here.
I felt like the way you acted in “ONE MILLION WON” was just like your real role in SEVENTEEN. You’re well known for listening to the other members well.
JEONGHAN: I was 18 when I started out as a trainee and I grew close to the ones who started before me. But I was one of the last people to join, and when any of the younger trainees who joined like me had a problem they talked to me. On the other hand, I hung out with the older trainees a lot, so during those years I was in the middle when the younger trainees struggled to talk with the older ones or when the older trainees couldn’t understand the younger ones. Even after we debuted I tried to keep the older and younger members all connected, I think. I think we got to know each other a lot better as we talked back and forth. I can tell things like, Something’s up with him, or, I better leave him alone, just by looking at their faces. Or sometimes their tone or expression change and I ask them what’s bothering them and they ask how I can tell.
Isn’t it physically taxing communicating with all the members? You must find you’re quickly out of battery, so to speak.
JEONGHAN: Yes, so three years after our debut, I just let that go. (laughs) I felt like we were good enough that I didn’t have to play that part anymore. But I think I took on that role for so long up to that point that the other members still talk to me when something’s bothering them, and I make sure to listen to them. It’s fun talking to them. Sometimes I cry from the things they tell me. I don’t know why—I never cry when my parents tell me anything. I don’t really have any friends who are celebrities other than the SEVENTEEN members, so I always hang out with them. I end up relying on the other members more and more.
It seems the members hold a special place in your heart. It feels like you can’t just say they’re people you work with anymore.
JEONGHAN: I never thought of SEVENTEEN as a business, not even once. I think SEVENTEEN is SEVENTEEN. It’s not exactly a family, but it’s not a business, either. We’re just group members, but—members with a strong bond? Like a lifelong members’ club. With SEVENTEEN, it feels like we’re always there for one another. And I think the other members will always be there for me.
You paid a lot of attention to detail on every part in the new album, Your Choice, too. Every members’ voice is different in “Heaven’s Cloud” but they keep the same emotion throughout the song, and toward the end of “Anyone” you sing more intensely than usual.
JEONGHAN: Me and the label both thought my part in “Heaven’s Cloud” suits me well so I feel confident singing that part. And “Anyone” is actually easier to sing that way. The voice I sing with now is my “SEVENTEEN JEONGHAN” voice that suits the group better, but before I was a trainee I would belt out songs at karaoke like I do in “Anyone.”
You mentioned “SEVENTEEN JEONGHAN.” Does a different side of you come out when you do things that are unrelated to the group?
JEONGHAN: There was a time when I was being molded into a moving piece of this team, and when that was happening there were times when I felt conflicts between SEVENTEEN JEONGHAN and Regular Jeonghan. Now they’re all nice and mixed together and I feel like the line between them has disappeared. Talking with the members helped a lot, too.
In your interview with Cosmopolitan, you said, “I think I feel best when I’m standing in from of CARAT as SEVENTEEN JEONGHAN.” I felt like that’s how you feel about SEVENTEEN, too: wanting to express yourself from within the team and do a good job together.
JEONGHAN: Exactly. I think the feeling’s the same for CARAT, too. I want to be even closer to them—like friends from around the block. I think I should also treat them with more care, though, since we’re friends.
You can find his full interview here.
When it came to “Feeling Good,” you created a classic dance routine and put it on top of a jazzy song.
DINO: When I first did “5 in the Morning,” I packed so many moves into every beat that it took me over 30 minutes just to get through two bars. Then I wondered what I could do better. I needed something new and I started working with an instructor who teaches Korean traditional dance, so I took on a completely different genre. I used to only care about the beat and detailed movements, and then suddenly I was struck with this whole new thing. The techniques were basic and the important part was to communicate through the dance. The choreography for “Feeling Good” was a breakthrough for me. I learned how to be true to the way I feel in the moment.
It feels like you were trying to express something a bit emotionally deeper with your choreography for “Thin White Lies,” since it describes the pain associated with becoming gradually more isolated.
DINO: My idea was a big frame that suffocates me as it gets narrower, and just when I think I finally got out, I’m still trapped in there. I wanted to express what I was feeling around that time. As the years went by with the team, it felt like every day was similar and I was trapped. I didn’t want to hide my feelings in the very project I started in order to express myself. I’m gonna be honest. I’m gonna reveal myself through dance, basically.
How would you describe DANCEOLOGY? Some people have even covered your videos on YouTube.
DINO: It’s a record of myself and a cover letter to showcase myself, or the diary of a dancer-singer. I don’t have to get approval from anyone (laughs) and there isn’t pressure like when we plan the group’s choreography. It’s so fun that it melts my stress away. It helps to make it possible to keep going with SEVENTEEN work.
You and SEUNGKWAN in particular have a unique kind of relationship. Lots of people like the way you two joke around.
DINO: We bicker when we’re in front of the camera, but don’t be fooled—when we’re off-camera, we get along well. (laughs) I like him as one of the members and cherish him as a person. When we first met when we were trainees we couldn’t live without each other, but as we grew up we found out our personalities and our values are completely different. I’m more of a “you do you, I’ll do me” person, but he likes taking care of other people, so we actually fought a lot. Like, to the point that we didn’t speak to each other for two months. I think figuring each other out that way led us to where we are today—the way we get along well now.
In the GOING SEVENTEEN 2020 “High Sky and Plump Horses” episode, you yelled out, “I love you guys!”—showing how much they mean to you.
DINO: When I bungee jumped, I overcame one of my biggest fears in life. I wanted to yell out something a lot more powerful than just “thanks, here’s to many years more” to help me find the courage. When we first debuted, I had all these thoughts about wanting to somehow give the other members energy and be helpful. I felt anxious, like I had to raise their spirits and pull them along whenever one of them felt worn out. But then it becomes easy to feel worn out yourself. I think I know how to rely on the other members and how to get a boost from them now. I learned how to take care of myself.
Do you take care of yourself in any other way?
DINO: Accepting that experience is a natural process. I think I’d understand if CARAT who love me now at age 22 stopped loving me next year or even tomorrow. You can’t predict human relationships, but I realized that CARAT could do that, and it wouldn’t be unusual. I think if I become a better and cooler person they might come back someday. Even if they didn’t come back, they’ve been so generous with their support and given me so much love that I wouldn’t hold a grudge against them.
You can find his full interview here.
How’s it going with making music these days? We saw in HIT THE ROAD how you spent time working with your own equipment even during your hectic tour.
VERNON: I try to do some at least once a week. I usually work in BUMZU or another songwriter’s studio, or sometimes if I have an idea when I’m alone I’ll do some simple work in this one tiny room. Actually, I don’t have any concrete plans for a mixtape yet, but the main reason I do it is because I want to make my ideas come to life. If I think of it as work, it becomes sort of stifling. If I start caring about what other people will see in it, my head fills up with all these variables. Of course, there’s some personal ambition there, but I try not to be hasty. I put a lot of time aside for myself instead. I think about what I like, what I want to do and what I want to present.
In 2016, in the 17 13 24 photo book, you said, “I look different anyway, so I said it’s only natural that people look at me differently, and didn’t worry about it.” Did you think carefully about your identity after that?
VERNON: At the time, I was like, There’s so many things in the world that I don’t understand. Can I go around learning every single thing? Won’t it all just eventually come to me later anyway? So I didn’t want to worry about things too much. I think I wanted to avoid everything. Once I became an adult I started to process my thoughts about my own identity. “TRAUMA” was the first song I made to show CARAT that side of me. I feel scared revealing that part of me, so I think it was more meaningful, opening up about myself that much.
Whenever you talk about your fans in interviews, you always emphasize responsibility.
VERNON: SEVENTEEN wouldn’t exist without CARAT, period. I was reading a comic book series last year but it was unfinished and I felt annoyed and disappointed. I ended up thinking about that from the perspective of a fan, and applied those feelings to myself. I thought, CARAT’s feelings matter and I need to be more responsible about them. My current goal is for SEVENTEEN to do a better job.
Could you tell me about the identity you found inside yourself?
VERNON: He’s diverse. I don’t have any prejudices and I try to make an effort and to be aware. I was taught a lot about this from when I was young. There wasn’t any particular trigger or big incident; we just talked about it this way and that way every day. And he’s unpretentious. I guess you could call it a pursuit of natural things rather than artificial ones.
It can’t be easy to stay unpretentious in a job where you have to be on display.
VERNON: It is hard. That’s why I have to stay rooted in reality and look at myself objectively. You have to be prepared to accept that reality isn’t always the way you want it to be, and you have to be careful that you don’t put your desires ahead of your own well-being. I like to keep my body hair the way it is, but when the label says I need to wax before I wear shorts, I do what they think is best. I’m always looking for the middle ground between us.
You’re very honest. (laughs) In some of your other interviews you’ve answered some questions with a straightforward “it’s a secret” and stopped there.
VERNON: I think I’m trying to hold onto a part of myself, since a lot of me is exposed because of my job. If I sort of beat around the bush, I end up talking about someone who isn’t really me. I hate that. You don’t want to take advantage of people by lying. Who wants to be cheated like that? Sometimes you have to lie, but I think it’s better to avoid it if you can.
In the “CARNIVAL” episode of GOING SEVENTEEN 2020, SEUNGKWAN and WONWOO said to you, “A strong mentality is a strong weapon. So, thanks for bringing that weapon.”
VERNON: My confidence changed after I established my identity. Maybe that vibe helped the other members? I honestly didn’t do anything special. It’s on the same level as if someone’s exhausted and I go, There there… (pretends to pat shoulder). Because I think everyone needs time to struggle, so I don’t like to boost the mood artificially. I got a lot of help from the other members when I dropped out of middle school and learned to socialize through SEVENTEEN. I hope I can be the one having a positive impact now. Let’s just call the comments I leave on Weverse for the other members my own special way of showing affection. (laughs)
You can find his full interview here.
You said you wanted “Spider” to show people what makes you the leader of SEVENTEEN’s performance team. I guess this means you feel responsible toward SEVENTEEN even when you’re doing solo projects.
HOSHI: I think all the members probably feel the same way. My love for the team is so immense that it was a no-brainer. When I came back to the group after working on my solo stuff, I could really feel the stability that all the other members provide. I felt all the more grateful for the work we do as a team when I realized how much the members had energized me during that time. We basically have to spend all day anytime we do anything because there’s so many of us. After shooting, we have to practice, too, which leaves us without a break in our schedule, so we’re obviously worn down and exhausted, but we always say, Fighting! Just a little bit more to go! And that way we can really encourage each other and cheer each other up.
Seeing as SEVENTEEN has tried so many different things, you must spend a lot of time thinking about how to continually show new sides of the group.
HOSHI: It’s always been a concern, but maybe even more so now. We’ve been releasing music for six years—there’s nothing we haven’t done. So I have to come up with new ideas, but it’s a little difficult these days. It felt like I hit my limit. Sometimes I think, Am I not imaginative enough? (laughs) Or when I think, What if I’m falling behind? That’s when I know it’s time to really look at myself. I feel like I need to learn more, so I’m trying to broaden my horizons, but it’s not easy.
I can tell how sincere you are about music and performing.
HOSHI: I always want to put on performances I can be proud of. I want to wear the clothes that suit me best, metaphorically speaking. So I kept trying to write songs and things while thinking about what I’m good at, but after trying to write, the toplines came out sounding unoriginal. Everyone has their own talents, of course. So, while I can write songs, I don’t think the ones I write are always what I’m looking for. I can’t just write something and feel proud about it; I have to keep a critical eye and open mind. In the end, I realized I’m a performer and a singer, and I felt a little more certain that I should focus on developing the skills I have that I’m good at. I’ll map out the kind of music I want to do, explain it in detail to the songwriter and the producer, and when the song’s ready I’ll write the lyrics and work on the performance and staging. I think that’s the best fit for me. Performing on stage is what I do best; then there’s WOOZI and a lot of other composers who are great at writing songs. So I can really focus, thinking about the music I want to make and the performances, and collaborate with others for the rest.
You always say music and dance are your only hobbies. How do you feel about doing your hobbies for a living?
HOSHI: The euphoria, you know—it’s exquisite. (laughs) It makes my songs and performances feel so precious to me. What I really like is being on stage. The energy CARAT give me when we’re there—it’s just unreal, honestly. It’s not hard to perform, even for three hours straight. I hear them screaming, I feel their love—and the way they look at me! I never want to let them down. When I’m on stage, I even think, This is exhausting, but I could die happy here. Seriously. When we were playing a concert in the Saitama Super Arena, and I was on a lift, going up, I got goosebumps all the way down to my fingertips. That was a first. Wow. How am I supposed to hold in all this excitement? How do I channel this energy? I remember feeling so happy.
If you love performing that much, you must have felt a real sense of loss when you weren’t able to.
HOSHI: I used to think I don’t really feel my own pain very much, but—wow. That was the first time I ever felt empty. That was back when I was keeping myself busy and preparing for the DOME tour, but everything got cancelled and now I couldn’t do what I like to do most. I felt so lonely. I felt really bad. I was having trouble sleeping at the time, so I wrote a lot of lyrics and worked on a lot of songs. I think making songs with my thoughts and feelings helped me overcome it little by little. Before that I was just going around without thinking too much about what I was doing, but now I had time to look back and think about myself, and look at my feelings more honestly. It was interesting, being able to write down all the things I could never say before because I was too embarrassed. But that empty feeling didn’t last, and when I worked on my solo projects and got ready for the SEVENTEEN album, I was back to living a fast-paced life. (laughs)
You can find his full interview here.
How was preparing for the comeback album, Your Choice?
SEUNGKWAN: There were a lot of details that had to be worked out for the lead single, “Ready to love,” like our pronunciation and emphasis. There’s a part where I sing, “My heart by your side forever.” When I tried singing it, my pronunciation wasn’t as clear as I thought. I honestly recorded just that one part something like 100 times. I remember walking home by myself after recording all that. There are times when I’m doing okay, but once I go into the recording studio, it doesn’t sound so good anymore; or sometimes I record a good take and decide to try it one more time, but then it doesn’t sound like I expected. This is my seventh year but recording is still hard. (laughs)
Seven years is hardly a short amount of time, but you’re still giving it your all.
SEUNGKWAN: I was practicing choreography with the other members last night, and we consoled each other by saying things like, “We’re seriously gonna become overloaded.” It’s already been eight months since our last album, so we’re all feeling really ambitious. I was also really worried because even the choreography for “Ready to love” is less of a clear-cut story or idea and more about subtly conveying a train of emotions. We modified the choreography any time it felt lacking and all the members practiced up on their gesturing a lot, too. I think our whole image is that we do everything ourselves, so I couldn’t just let anything go. Sometimes it’s challenging, but I’m just thankful we have the opportunity to do work like this, so I think we just have to stay strong and move on.
In the “ONE MILLION WON” episode of GOING SEVENTEEN, at one point you said, “No one trusts me anyways. Why do I have to cooperate with them?” It’s just a show, but you looked really dejected when you said that. (laughs)
SEUNGKWAN: Because I did feel dejected. (laughs) I was a little sad that everyone was always suspicious of me, but I got over it by playing the game. I honestly kept going back and forth on whether or not to betray them, but I didn’t. I just kept it up right to the end. The members all said, “Can we please not do an episode that involves money?” (laughs) It almost got tense at points. We all said anyone who became a traitor would be “worse than a piece of plastic.” So, I mean, who would betray us after that? After shooting—after filming—when we go to the studio to practice, that member would be remembered as a traitor. (laughs)
I guess you could pull that off because the members are so close with one another.
SEUNGKWAN: I think that describes us well—we have fun when we’re together, we take care of everything without a problem, when we’re exhausted, we’re exhausted together. Everyone plays their part. We’ll get together and they’ll say something like, “SEUNGKWAN, you do the marketing.” Like that. Coups is in charge of social media; THE 8 and MINGYU are on visuals. (laughs) When we have a concern, we talk to whoever can take care of it. We never find a perfect compromise between all 13 of us, to be honest, since we all have different opinions. But for each area of concern, there’s a member who leads and members who follow along. WOOZI leads the music side of things, for example, while I take the lead when talking about marketing and content, and then I can compromise in other areas.
That all 13 people can all be so considerate toward one another and move forward together is amazing by itself.
SEUNGKWAN: No matter how well I’m doing personally and what opportunities come my way, I already know it never would’ve happened if not for SEVENTEEN. So the more I appear on variety shows, the more I end up focusing on the team. I realized that even my ability to be confident in anything I do when I go somewhere new is all thanks to my experiences with my team members and the chord we’ve struck together, like the way they laugh at my jokes and respond to my ideas. I didn’t set out to think that way; I just ended up thinking about it like that. Like, It’s all thanks to the other members. I have to try even harder for the team.
The theme of SEVENTEEN’s project this year is the Power of ‘Love.’ How would you describe the love you’re trying to show CARAT with your new album?
SEUNGKWAN: This love is a way to repay them for their love. The love I have given to CARAT is still nothing compared to the love they have given me. I think this album is the starting point for returning that love. And I’ll continue repaying it. I went through that period of being a fan of idols, too, of course. Waiting for my favorite singers to make a comeback was both a wonderful time and a tough one. I’d get impatient waiting for their comeback and hope they’d do it soon while hopelessly returning to their performance videos over and over. It would exhaust me, and then, I’d fall in love all over again. It’s really not an easy thing to do. Then when an album comes out, you instantly forget everything you were feeling and go, Ah, that’s exactly why I love this artist, and then you feel delighted. It might not be much, but I look at this album as a present for CARAT, and a way to repay them for all the time they’ve been waiting around for us.
You can find his full interview here.
source: weverseofficial 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, weverse magazine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I'm surprised by how good the interviews are, the interviewers sure did their research. Vernon's interviews are always a breath of fresh air, definitely my favorite of this batch!