Korean Boy Band GOT7 Discusses Breaking Records, Selling Out Shows & Dabbing
During the group’s second and final show of their FLY in New York tour -- a portion of this year’s larger FLY world tour -- the K-pop act performed to a packed house. Throughout the night, GOT7 let loose their youthfulness at Playstation Theater, where they performed for nearly three hours and delighted the crowd with straight-up bangers, powerful raps, slower ballads, comical mid-set interludes and a lot of hip thrusting.
Produced by JYP Entertainment, one of South Korea’s largest music labels, GOT7 debuted in 2014 with their chart-topping EP Got it? Since then, the K-pop group has risen to be one of the industry’s most popular rookie acts through their addicting genre-blending songs, acrobatic performances and charming personalities. With three non-Korean nationals -- eldest member Mark’s family lives in California, Jackson hails from Hong Kong, and Bambam is from Thailand -- GOT7 is one of of the most diverse acts carving out a place for themselves in K-pop in 2016. Their FLY tour has seen this popular team sell out shows around the globe, including Tuesday's concert in NYC.
After finishing their final performance in the Big Apple with the midtempo synth R&B track “Before the Full Moon Rises,” GOT7 met Billboard backstage and took the time to chat a bit. As during the show, the members showed off their camaraderie, talking over one another with exuberant answers in both English and Korean. As they unwound a bit before going back out to meet fans at a special VIP event, the seven men playfully answered questions about their tour, trip to New York, their dreams, and what it’s like being one of Korea’s most prominent multinational groups.
Welcome to New York! How does it feel to be “Fly”-ing all around the United States after you became the highest-ranked Korean act on the Billboard Artist 100 chart?
Yugyeom: Like a dream.
Jackson: Yeah, like a dream. And the most important thing is that it’s always nice to see fans from all over the world.
Bambam: It’s an honor. We’ve never really come to America a lot, so it’s really fun and [we’re] really happy to be here.
You had to add a second show to your New York leg of the tour, so how are you guys feeling right now? I mean, New York! Two shows! What’s going through your mind?
Jackson: It’s a beautiful city with beautiful people. But besides that, the fans are the reason why we’re here.
Bambam: It’s our first time and there’s so much to do in New York that it’s really our honor to perform. I don’t know, there’s just so many things to do. It’s so much fun [here].
So what did you think of your show tonight?
Bambam: The show? It was really fun.
Junior: [Via translator] It was a lot of fun and really amazing. Actually, it was originally only supposed to be one show, so since we added a second show, we weren’t really expecting too much [from the crowd]. But it was way beyond our expectations.
JB: [Via translator] We were really genuinely able to feel that fans love our music and are really passionate about watching our performances. It made us feel really good.
What have you guys been doing while you’re here in New York? You’ve been here for two days, right?
Bambam: Three. We’ve gone a lot of places. Times Square. SoHo. And we ate a lot of lobster, lobster rolls. They were so good.
Junior: Today afternoon [at] 2 o'clock, I went to see Blue Man [Group].
Yugyeom: Just walked.
Bambam: I hope we’ll have more time.
Jackson: And we went to the mart. [Laughter] It was a 24-hours one. C…C...C…?
Jackson: Right! CVS.
Bambam: That’s so random.
Jackson: CVS, guys!
Yugyeom: [And] Halal Guys… So delicious!
What did you buy at CVS?
Jackson: Muscle Milk. Proteins.
Bambam: Root beer.
Jackson: And some toothpaste and deodorant. Spice, Old Spice right there! And self checkout -- deet deet deet deet. [Laughter as Jackson imitated scanning products]
Bambam: What is going on? [Laughter]
That’s wonderful that you got to enjoy the city. But on a bit of a different note, you guys have introduced a more mature sound on some of your newer songs with elements of experimental hip-hop and trap influences. That style comes across as quite a bit different from your previous concepts. What do you think fits GOT7 best?
JB: [Via translator] We tried many different genres, and they all kind of fit. There’s not one specific genre that suits us. We really want to show our fans the different types of music that we can pull off. We do all different kinds of things.
Yugyeom: All music is OK.
Bambam: We can do cute concepts, dark music, everything.
During the concert you repeatedly highlighted what members worked on individual songs off of Flight Log: Departure. What was it like taking a larger role in the creation of your music?
Yugyeom: So fresh, and [it] feels so good.
Bambam: It feels better that you can rap your own rap, not other people’s raps.
Jackson: You have a chance to do your own music.
JB: [Via translator] It’s almost like an educational experience for us. It’s a learning experience, because when we make our own music and go through the recording process, we learn what we need to improve on and just what we need to do for the next time.
You’re all clearly growing as artists and K-pop is filled with collaborations. What artists, Korean or otherwise, would you like to work with in the future?
Yugyeom: Chris Brown.
Jackson: Does it have to be an artist? Kevin Hart. I’m such a big fan of Kevin Hart. And Conan.
Bambam: But Conan already [worked] with our boss JYP [Park Jin Young].
Jackson: Yeah, but if it’s possible we want them in our music video.
Yugyeom: Oh, Kendrick Lamar.
Junior: Justin Timberlake.
Jackson: ...You guys know these are impossible, right? It’s just our dream.
Bambam: I know, these are never going to happen.
We’ve heard from everyone other than Mark and Youngjae?
Youngjae: Bruno Mars.
Bambam: And Mark? You like Drake and Tyga, no?
GOT7 has three non-Korean members and a large multicultural fanbase, which we clearly saw earlier tonight. In a way, you’ve become a representative of the growing diversity of K-pop. How do you feel about that?
Bambam: We are?
Junior: [Via translator] The fact that GOT7 is being called a representative of growing diversity is such an honor.
Yugyeom: [We’re] really so happy.
Jackson: We got Thailand [Bambam], America [Mark], Korea [Youngjae, Yugyeom, Junior, JB], and China [Jackson], so it’s like [we’re] family.
Bambam: I think we can communicate with fans from other countries better. We don’t have to use a translator all the time.
Yugyeom: [Because] IGOT7 are only one.
JB: [Via translator] Because we have roots in many different cultures and members who speak different languages we’re probably able to communicate a lot better [than others] and spread our music even more.
What legacy would you like GOT7 to have later on in your career?
Bambam: Role models for other people.
Junior: Like we were talking about collaborating with others before, we want to be the group that others say, “I want to collaborate with GOT7.”
Bambam: So we gotta be Drake.
Jackson: No no no no no.
Bambam: It’s not a bad thing. Just be like Justin Bieber or Drake.
Jackson: Can you make sure to write that Bambam said that? [Laughter]
JB: Since you spoke about the diversity of our releases and our group, we hope to be a group that can be a representative of Korea.
An international group that can represent Korea worldwide?
GOT7 members [at once]: Yes, yup, you’re right.
Fans on Twitter wanted to know: What’s up with the dabbing? When will GOT7 stop dabbing?
Bambam: I think you should just ask me that. [Laughter] I started it and I’m never going to stop. When there’s something better than that [I’ll stop]. We started from the Dougie and then went to the whip [and nae nae], but when the dab came out, I thought it was the best move. It’s so simple. You can do it any time and it’s so funny. I know [the fad] has kind of passed already, but we’re still stuck on it.
Junior Next time, Bambam will make the special move.
Bambam: Just tweet it: Bambam will never stop. Not even gonna think about it.
You’re still in the middle of your FLY in USA tour. Is there anything else you would like to say to your American fans?
Yugyeom: I love you. From Yugyeom!
Jackson: Thanks for coming to our concert and thanks for showing love and support to GOT7 all the time, even though they [the fans] are really busy with their own lives. We promise that we’ll be back soon. Always be healthy.
Junior: [Via translator] Since we don’t get to come to the US very often we are thankful that every time we do come here we receive a lot of love and support. Please continue supporting us and listening to our music until we come back.
JB: [Via translator] Even though we’re from far away we’re very thankful that fans have been so supportive and showed us a lot of love and interest. We want to be able to repay all of that love with even better music and better albums.