Over on the Social 50 chart, Astro has been one of the most frequently appearing K-pop acts. A boy band under Fantagio Corp., the six-member group was formed in 2016, and has rapidly gained a sizable following, landing them on that chart — which tracks the most buzzed-about musical acts — 20 times. But much of 2018 has seen the boy band missing in action after a power struggle at Fantagio early this year led to the company’s artists and their plans being put on hold.
But July saw the group make their return with their Rise Up EP, and late last month the six members –JinJin, MJ, Eunwoo, Moon Bin, Rocky, and Sanha — visited New York City for a performance at K-Expo. Ahead of taking the stage, Astro sat down with Billboard to check in on their career and how they’re moving forward.
You released the single “Always You” this summer, which was a bit more of a darker, dramatic song than your prior releases. What inspired the changes?
JinJin: We haven’t been active for eight months [since the release of November’s Dream Part. 02 and July’s Rise Up], so during that time we tried to think more deeply and seriously about our music. We put all of our thoughts towards the album, and that’s why Rise Up is a bit heavier than other albums. We had a situation where we couldn’t come out even though we wanted to, so that’s why how we had so much desire to release the album and meet our fans.
Moonbin: We haven’t been very active so we’re thankful for the fans who waited for us, and wanted to gift them this album.
You put out four seasonal releases and then pursued your Dream series; why is it important to Astro to draw connections between your singles?
JinJin: Our concert series is called Astroad, so it’s as if our albums were the steps up to that road. It was our first time having a seasonal concept, and our fans really liked that so we chose to create the next series thematic as well, the Dream series. We feel very satisfied making a connection with fans, and fans also make a connection through our music so to make these connections we create albums that have themes.
Astro’s sound typically veers towards melodic electro and synthpop. What about those sounds suit Astro?
JinJin: We didn’t intentionally plan to make our sound revolve around synthpop, but we want to show the progress of our improvement and growth which is why we’ve stuck to one soundscape for now. But whatever our sound is in the future, we want to focus on concepts that suit us.
You had a big gap between releases recently, how did it make you feel to take time off from releasing music?
JinJin: We focused on self-development as individuals. Especially Eunwoo, he worked on television dramas and reality shows.
Do you have any music videos you are particularly fond of?
Moonbin: My favorite is “Confession.”
JinJin: “Always You.” Beforehand, we heavily focused on the team in our videos. But this was the first time we emphasized ourselves as individuals within the group. I thought that it brought a different atmosphere compared to other albums.
What are you listening to nowadays
JinJin: Hip-hop, I listen to a lot of hip-hop.
Moonjin: Shawn Mendes.
How has Astro changed over the years?
JinJin: We’ve been covering our growing process. We used to express our happiness and bright expressions, but now we want to show a more mature concept and atmosphere through our music. I think we’re going to show a concept or look that we haven’t tried yet in the future.