20 Questions With Ateez: K-Pop Group Reflects on Lessons Learned From Genre Leaders

KQ Entertainment


On Monday (March 1), ATEEZ dropped their sixth EP Zero: Fever Part.2, the fiery hip-hop-leaning follow-up to their best-selling project Zero: Fever Part.1.

The eight-member boy band's global reach on social media is evident: ATEEZ landed in the top 10 most-mentioned K-pop acts and top 10 most-tweeted about artist in the U.S. on Twitter in 2020, which the members feel honored and grateful for. And with its latest project, ATEEZ is tightening its grip on the global music market, dipping into hip-hop, flirting with synth-pop and further exploring English-language music on songs "I'm The One" and "Take Me Home."

To commemorate the release of Zero: Fever Part.2, the members of ATEEZ answered Billboard’s 20 questions about which song from the new EP fires them up the most, how K-pop veterans inspired their performance technique, and how they long to be reunited with their fanbase ATINY again at live shows.

Check out the Q&A below.

1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?

Wooyoung: The first album I bought was by BTS! I’ve been a huge fan, so I remember purchasing it online.

Seonghwa: I can't remember the first album I bought, but I often visited the album store in my neighborhood. I really liked to buy and collect albums so I bought albums of senior artists who were, and are still, very active. Of course, right now, I have our albums on display.

2. What was the first concert you saw?

Hongjoong: I remember going to a concert where many K-pop artists including Girls' Generation performed, when I was in elementary school. At that time, dancing and singing on the stage itself looked amazing and they looked like people living in different worlds.

San: It was iKON’s concert, and I went there with my mother and older sister. That experience remains in my memory!

3. Who inspired you to become an artist?

Yunho: U-Know, of TVXQ!, is my role model, and I could say both his life and his artistic aspects have influenced me. His great passion, dancing, and singing are all admirable, and he has influenced me a lot.

Yeosang: After watching Highlight’s performance, I thought, "I want to be a great performer on stage like them too.” That's how I developed my dream of becoming an artist.

4. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?

Hongjoong: It's a vague dream, but I want to perform at the Super Bowl. To achieve my dream, I'm trying my best to show better performances day by day.

Jongho: I wish for my singing skills to improve to the point where I, myself can be satisfied with, and could be acknowledged by the public as well. And I'm trying my best to do that. It's hard to determine “success,” but I'm working hard.

5. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?

Seonghwa: My hometown gives me nostalgia. I have a lot of memories and I really miss them. Thus, when I’m tired, I recall the happy past. When I face difficulties, I look back on myself of the past and cope with my problems.

San: My actual hometown has influenced me a lot too, but I think my practice, efforts and the members beside me made who I am now.

6. What’s the last song you listened to?

Yunho: I recently listened to a song that I like. It's been a while since I heard this song by the band The Script. I really like the song, “The Man Who Can't Be Moved.” It's a song about waiting for someone you first loved at the place you saw that person for the first time.

Yeosang: I listened to Michael Carreon's “The Simple Things.” The weather was so nice today that I couldn't help but listen to this song!

7. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?

Wooyoung: I really want to go to Michael Jackson's concert! He's such a great artist that I love so much. If I can go to his concert, I'll be really looking forward to it.

Jongho: I really want to go to Park Hyo Shin’s concert. I've been listening to his songs since I was young and learned how to sing that I know so many of his b-side songs. So, I want to listen to his songs live at the concert hall.

8. What’s your karaoke go-to?

Yunho: I like to sing “Emergency Room” by IZI. I don't know why I started to like that song, but I think I've been singing it in karaoke since the first time I sang the song.

Wooyoung: It's Lee Juck’s “I'm Fortunate.” I sang this song at my relative's wedding.

9. What do you want fans to take away from your mini-album Zero:Fever Part 2?

Seonghwa: I hope many people get to have confidence and courage for challenge after listening to this album. And I hope the meaning of loving each other is conveyed to them.

San: I wish for them to know that ATEEZ has grown one step further, and that we can love each other with a strong-as-"Fireworks" heart!

10. Which song on Zero:Fever Part 2 is your personal favorite and why?

Hongjoong: I really like what “Take Me Home” tries to deliver and [I love] the saxophone solo in the outro part.

Seonghwa: I like all the songs so much that my favorite changes every time, but for now, I like “Time of Love.” Because the meaning of the lyrics is what I want to deliver to others.

Yunho: “Time of Love” is a song that has a bright and exciting atmosphere that you can enjoy together.

Yeosang: I really like the song “The Leaders.” I really like hip-hop, and this song will light up the atmosphere!

San: I like the last track, the remix of the title track single “I'm The One (Heat-Topping ver.)”! It’s very exciting and if there's a performance to this song, it'll be fantastic.

Wooyoung: I like “Fireworks (I'm The One)” and “The Leaders.”

Jongho: I really like the song “Take Me Home.” It's a style of song that we've never tried. I also really like the melody line.

11. How did it feel to be named one of the most-tweeted music artists in the U.S. in 2020?

Hongjoong: I’m very grateful and happy. I'm very proud of being able to share our name with world-famous artists and I'm so proud of ATINY.

Wooyoung: It's such an honor and I was so thankful to see our names with the artists that I look up to!

12. What do you hope to accomplish when you appear on the upcoming Mnet show Kingdom?

Yunho: While taking part in Kingdom, I’m looking forward to learning a lot by performing in front of my seniors and also watching their stages. Thus, I’m looking forward to learning the most.

Yeosang: Of course, I long for winning, but I think there are so many things to learn from other senior artists' performances. If ATEEZ develops further through such experiences, I think that alone will be a good experience for us.

13. It’s been a massive year and a half for the global expansion of K-pop. How does it feel to see so many K-pop songs, albums and artists setting records?

Jongho: We can grow and move forward because there were many senior artists who have paved the way for us. We will also work hard to become an artist who can promote K-pop to the world.

Seonghwa: I'm very proud and I think it's amazing how the passion of so many people are paying off. So, there are a lot of things that I’m seeing and learning, and I'm very honored to think that I’m a part of that history.

14. What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?

Yunho: Actually, I've never told ATINY any secret of mine. Because I'm literally the Yunho that ATINY knows, there's no secret!

San: I can make an elephant out of a mole on my clavicle.

15. What movie always makes you smile?

Yeosang: I feel happy when I watch Iron Man!

Jongho: Rather than choosing one movie, I think watching a movie that makes me laugh and cry is meaningful to me.

16. What were your childhood dreams?

Yeosang: I wanted to be a president and a novelist.

Wooyoung: I wanted to be a soccer player! When I was young, I liked watching and playing soccer.

17. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your pre-debut self?

Hongjoong: I hope you would trust yourself more and take your time. It's good to work hard and be harsh to yourself, but I hope you know how to rest when you need to.

Yunho: You're doing well now, and you'll become a better person later on, so I hope you don't give up and make a debut to perform on stage for the rest of your life.

18. What’s your message for your fans, ATINY, who have supported ATEEZ?

Hongjoong: It's been almost a year since we couldn't see ATINY and show them our performances. Nevertheless, thank you so much for always supporting and loving us. We will always be ATEEZ who can repay the love we receive without taking it for granted, so please keep your eyes on us. And personally, ATINY is still and always my inspiration, so I’ll be always looking forward to our future. Thank you.

Seonghwa: It's hard to meet ATINY now, but I promise that we will meet soon. I hope you will think and know that we are always together in each other's hearts. I miss you.

Yunho: As much as ATINY always supports and loves us, ATEEZ, too, will work harder and grow in response to your support.

Yeosang: Thank you so much for supporting ATEEZ. It's so sad that we can't perform live in front of ATINY, but I hope that the situation will get better soon so that the day we can meet ATINY in person will come soon. Let's make lots of good memories together!

San: How was your day today ATINY, whom we always miss and love? Make sure you don’t skip your meals and I hope today’s the day that you adore yourself as well. I love you! ATINY will shine today as always.

Wooyoung: ATINY, who we're always thankful for, we're making a comeback with Zero:Fever Part 2. Thank you so much for waiting for us. As much as you've waited, we'll show you a lot of great performances. Thank you always, ATINY!

Jongho: ATINY! Thank you for always supporting us. As much as you’re always supporting us, we are waiting for the day when we can meet you as soon as possible. I miss you a lot and stay healthy so we can all meet happily soon!

19. What country or place do you want to perform in most?

Seonghwa: We haven't performed in South America, so if we have the chance, I really wish to go there.

Jongho: In this situation, if we can meet our fans as soon as possible, I think any country would be welcomed.

20. What’s in store after Zero:Fever Part 2?

San: It's a secret!

Hongjoong: We’re always preparing for the next step in terms of our music, and there are many things we’ve already prepared, but right now we’re focusing on music work related to the Kingdom program.