CMA Awards 2018

Seventeen Reflect on Special New York Concert, Tease Unit Album Promotions: Exclusive Interview

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Members of South Korean boy band Seventeen meet fans at a shopping mall on Aug. 11, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Seventeen used their New York concert debut to showcase their individual strengths, but backstage before the show, the band proved to have a collective mindset and attitude. 

Talking with Billboard in their first-ever sit-down interview in America, the 13-member boy band huddled together in a circle of chairs to share their personal reflections on performing throughout the U.S. on their Diamond Edge world tour, discuss their latest chart successes and drop a major hint about what we'll be seeing next from the outfit. While one might assume a lot of different energies would be flying from a group of 13 different twenty-somethings and teenagers, the guys had a focused calmness and excitement where no one spoke over anyone and everyone seemed eager to let his fellow bandmate speak up and out about what he felt important -- whether that was Vernon sharing how his parents sent him Billboard articles about Seventeen's debut to Hoshi's animated expressions every time his band member cracked a joke or got deep.

Prior to taking the stage at New York's Terminal 5 and greeting a slew of VIP attendees with high-fives -- more than three dozen of which Billboard noted as crying after the brief meeting with the band -- see what Seventeen shared in their first sit-down interview in the States.

Billboard: Congratulations on your first show in New York, Seventeen. What is going through everyone's mind? Vernon, you were born here, how are you feeling? 
Mingyu: First off, it's such an amazing feeling that we're actually putting on our own show in New York. The biggest feeling is that we're so thankful for this opportunity and for the fact that so many of our fans have are attending. I think right now we're just all about showing our best in order to repay our thanks to our fans.
Vernon: Well, we're all thrilled but, personally, I think it's going to be a really special night for us. I came to Korea when I was five years old, so I don't have many memories, but I was told a lot of stories form my parents about this place. To make another memory of us performing in the city I was born in -- I was actually born at Tisch Hospital -- it's actually a really special experience.

The Al1 album was such a success not only in Korea, but in America -- you had your biggest U.S. sales week ever in America too. What do you think connected about this album?
Seungkwan: We always try our best to produce a great album. If you ask why it received so much love, I think it’s probably because K-pop in general is receiving so much love. We're always so thankful for that. So many fans around the world have come to love K-pop and I think they naturally came to show Seventeen love as well. Our most recent music video was also filmed in Los Angeles and we worked on songs there as well. I think that had a little to do with it as well as us having a little bit of luck too.

I read that Al1 had one of the biggest first-week sales ever for a boy band in Korea. Do you guys feel like you're one of the biggest Korean boy bands ever?
Dino: 
When we hear about such things from the people around us, first and foremost, we're always so very thankful. We are very thankful and aware, and we try to stay humble about it and not let it get to our heads. So we are always thinking about and trying hard in order to improve ourselves, and show a cooler and varied image of ourselves, not just to our fans but to the public as well. 

So does that mean you'll change up the EDM-electronic sound for, maybe, Al2?
Vernon: We always try to do new things, we don't try to stay in a box, so, new sounds, yeah.

Speaking of those sounds, Seventeen is known for producing, writing and choreographing its own music. I think you putting yourselves in the music is a major reason why you are connecting with such large audiences. We are seeing more K-pop acts do this too. Is this a positive trend, in your opinion?
Woozi:
 Of course, it's great. For our team, we have always taken the lead in working on and producing our albums. Rather than saying it's just a good thing, we think very highly of artists that decide to take a stance in participating in making music for themselves...we're very much inspired by us just hanging out and fooling around and overall everyday experiences. For sure we definitely love a lot of our Korean seniors, but we really like a lot of U.S. artists like Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, and Chris Brown.

It's also great how you get the chance to show your different strengths in units; I loved that KCON Los Angeles gave you three unit performances. Do you think we'd ever see full-fledged promotions from the units?
DK:
 The definition of Seventeen is 13 members, three units, and one whole group. We are always trying our hardest to show great music. If we had the chance, we would love to release an album [as unit albums].
Seungkwan: In the future, we think something there might be something good coming up...
Vernon: In near future...we're totally, totally looking forward to that possibility. High possibility...

I saw a TV show share that Pledis Entertainment is "2017's hottest company". That's not only thanks to you guys, but your label mates NU'EST, PristinHan Dong Geun, Raina...what's the vibe like at Pledis these days?
S.Coups: Pledis and the artists within the company create a very family-like atmosphere. We're always congratulating and happy for each other's success. I think we receive a lot of inspiration from one another. We are always cheering each other one and it's very much just like a family.
Joshua: Good vibes, for sure.

What else is coming up?
Joshua: We're constantly making new songs and new performances, creating beats, creating new contents -- not just songs and performances, but content that fans can see on YouTube. We have this thing "Going Seventeen," V Live, those kinds of things.
Vernon: Obviously, we can't tell in detail...
Woozi: For sure, we have a lot more to show, more than what we've already shown. 

So, have you achieved your goals as a group?
S.Coups:
I think our job is to always try harder and to show a better and improved version of ourselves. I think as long as we're artists, it'll be hard to say we've reached our goal.
Joshua: We need to strive to a really, really high goal to constantly improve.
Vernon: But we're happy. Totally happy.

Anything else to add?
Seungkwan:
 Honestly, just having this Billboard interview is so amazing. You have always given us great reviews and said such great things about our album so we're also thankful for that as well. I'm glad we can say our thanks in person as well. I hope we can meet again.
Vernon: And may I add something, personally? New York is the city where I was born, but it's also the city where my parents met. They went to Pratt [Institute], they got married here, they gave birth to me here. I'm really just so thrilled that all of our members are able to perform to show what we got to the people of the city. It's an honor.