Noting the marketing, promotion and publicity that will support the group, Barnett said that, “SuperM is uniquely positioned to become the highest-profile U.S. debut of a K-pop group in the history of this phenomenon.”
Taemin debuted as a member of SHINee in 2008 and has also released solo music. Kai and Baekhyun have been active in EXO since 2012, and the latter recently released his first solo album. The four other members from NCT 127 and WayV are from units of SM’s boy band brand NCT, and have worked in a variety of different teams and featured on a wide array of releases.
In the past, SM has formed inter-company groups, such as SM the Ballad and SM the Performance, the latter of which both Kai and Taemin took part in. The company was founded by Lee in 1995 and has been a key player in the K-pop industry for the past two decades.
NCT 127, which is signed in the U.S. to Capitol, appeared at Capitol Congress prior to the SuperM announcement. A video aired relaying the group’s recent releases and successes, and ended with the newly-released music video for the English version of “Highway to Heaven.” Their May EP, NCT #127 We Are Superhuman, became the second-highest charting position for a Korean artist on the Billboard Top 200 at No. 11 following its release.
Billboard spoke with Chris Lee, A&R executive and director of SM Entertainment, about the origins of the new K-pop supergroup:
Billboard: When did you start developing the idea of SuperM?
Lee: It’s been in the works for about a year.
What are your expectations for this project? Why is this something SM wanted to pursue now?
Lee: We keep describing them as “Avengers” because I think that’s the best conceptual analogy that will immediately be understood by others. Each Avenger has their own group and Iron Man has his own movie and Thor has his own but together they have an even greater synergy, so like that the members will pursue their own careers and own groups but also join together with synergy, a positive one.
The distinctive part of SuperM is that it has its own conceptual world in it -- K-pop -- just like how all the stories in The Avengers are linked we’re trying to make K-pop storytelling go out to a bigger audience. It’s a new sort of team but they will be in their own teams still, of course. We’re trying to unite the fandoms. Fans, please don’t worry about it. We’ll make you all happy.
Why did you decide to work with Capitol on this project?
Lee: After working with Capitol on distributing, via Caroline, and marketing NCT 127 in the States, we were very impressed by their enthusiasm. We felt like what we were trying to put behind SuperM is similar, we’re trying to bring K-pop and our groups to the public in the States and the world. It synched together with Capitol’s perspective on how they’re looking at K-pop, that it can be the next thing. Today, seeing the Congress really made us feel like we made the right decision because of Capitol’s approach to music, we felt that connection between people who love music and try to bring music into people’s life. We felt like we made the right partner.
Will SuperM only be focused in the U.S. since they’re partnered with American-based Capitol and debuting here in October?
Lee: Starting in the U.S., but it’ll always be global. But even on a bigger level, their fandoms are all over the world so it’s a global thing. Lucas is from Hong Kong, Mark is from Canada, Ten is from Thailand, other members are from Korea, this is very global.
This article was updated to correct an error in the attribution of the Q&A.