SF9 Talk 'Rpm' Album & Evolving as K-Pop Stars & Songwriters

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Courtesy of CJ E&M
SF9 perform at 2019 KCON Los Angeles on Aug. 17, 2019.

Since 2016, SF9 has put out a multitude of singles and albums, including seven EPs that have each entered the World Albums chart. K-pop chameleons, they’ve spent much of their career hopping between creative concepts and sonic styles, with each new release offering up a new side to the act. Their latest, June’s Rpm, put forth six songs through which the members blended electro-pop intensity and fierce balladry. 

Rpm was SF9’s most recent release prior to their appearing at both KCON New York and KCON Los Angeles this summer, during which they not only performed their own songs but also shared a stand-out cover of EXO’sLove Shot,” showing the world yet another side of the act. 

While in Los Angeles, eight members of the group -- Inseong was absent as he was on hiatus from the group’s activities due to an injury -- sat down with Billboard ahead of their performance at KCON LA to discuss their most recent album Rpm, and reflect how they’ve grown as artists as their career has progressed. 

Read what SF9 had to say below.

How are you guys feeling today at KCON LA?

Chanhee: I feel like I’m going to fly away. 

Youngbin: Thinking about meeting our international fans in such a big stage makes us really excited.

You released your single “Rpm” most recently. What was the inspiration behind that track?

Youngbin: “Rpm” is a song about someone running towards the woman you love. You rate the speed of your heart with BPM, but we changed it to “Rpm” to reflect the speed of a car, since that’s how you measure of the [revolutions per minute] of a vehicle. The song’s image is that our love is faster and rougher when running towards this person. We called it “Rpm” to reflect that intensity.

Who is the biggest car guy in SF9?

Youngbin: Rowoon’s really into it, and Zuho.

Hwiyoung: Youngbin too. 

Rowoon: He’s not saying it, but I think Youngbin is probably the one who is most into cars.

The music video for “Rpm” depicts a futuristic heist, why did you want to go in that direction? How did it relate to the song?

Youngbin: If you watch the music video, there’s a heart that we’re all running towards. Each of us has a different role, where some of us are chasing it and some are protecting it. I think that the whole idea of it is about running towards someone you love and being able to catch and protect it. 

What was the theme behind the Rpm album overall?

Zuho: There are two themes of the album, dreams and love. It’s about running towards your dreams and, once you’ve reached them, being able to give back to the ones you love. That’s the message behind the whole album, whether it’s through faster or slower songs, regardless of the genre.

Rowoon: I think that for 20-somethings, like us, and teenagers, at the end of the day what they worry the most about are their dreams and love. When people listen to our music and this album specifically, we wanted people to recognize that these are things we are concerned about as well. Up until now, many of our singles are about love, but in our B-sides on our albums we often talk about our own worries. The songs I wrote, Rpm’s “Echo” and NARCISSUS’ “Life is So Beautiful,” they focus more on what we want people to hear about ourselves, the things we want to say.

How do you feel your songwriting has changed over the years?

Zuho: In the beginning, we were more focused on really showing imagery and cool stories, but now that time has passed, it’s more about showing our own personal stories. Because our fans know us so well, it’s about sharing these stories that they can relate to.

What changed that made you want to step away from those showy concepts to something more personal?

Taeyang: It’s probably because we’re starting to get to know ourselves individually better. Rather than just singing, we’re thinking about being heard. In our performances and in our music, we wanted to show this growth and changes.

You’re talking about how you’ve changed and grown over the years, so are there any songs from your early days you’d want to revisit or think differently of now than you used to?

Hwiyoung: If you listen to our music from our debut album to our second and third EPs, you can very much sense that our music was made with help. But it came very naturally that you can sense the change in our albums. We’re much more involved nowadays in producing our album. Right now, we want to be able to show our own colors rather than be helped out and performing the music of others. We’re no longer releasing a product made for us, but show something that’s within.

What’s something you want to show fans in the future?

Youngbin: Something that we always want to portray that is there are no limits to us. Something that our fans are always worried about is that we’re tired and worn out, but we’re always happy to meet our fans. Our feelings towards our fans are endless. Beyond KCON, we’re going to be starting our Asia tour soon and we’re excited to meet all those fans.


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