It’s been over half a year since Day6 released December’s Remember Us, the second half of their Youth album series. Preceded by that June’s Shoot Me, the five-member Korean pop band spent the duology exploring topics revolving around the titular theme, but now they’re ready to move on. Today (July 15), the act dropped their new EP The Book of Us: Gravity, a six-track album that spends its time ruminating on ideas of how one interacts with oneself and the world around them, and how each individual writes the story of their own life.
Ahead of the release of The Book of Us: Gravity, bassist-vocalist Young K, who served as sole lyricist on all but one track of the album, and guitarist-vocalist Jae spoke with Billboard over the phone from Seoul to discuss what it meant to them to make their return with such heavy themes even while keeping the overall sound full of enthusiasm and jaunty excitement.
Billboard: How do you guys feel ahead about the album’s release? It’s been seven months since your last new music, and this is your first album of 2019.
Young K: Ever since 2017, because of the Every Day6 project, we were releasing two songs a month. So we were used to putting out albums very frequently, and having shows every time.
Jae: It’s been a while since we had this much time in between our releases, but we definitely want to hype you guys up a little bit because we’ve been gone but we’ve been plotting. We’ve been in the studio, just working out and trying to make an album that’s sufficient for the long term that we’ve been gone. And we’re pretty happy with the byproduct so I think it’s going to be a good album.
You were pushing out content so frequently with the Every Day6 project, so in comparison this must have been a lot more relaxed. Was there any effect on your creative process versus what you were doing then compared to now?
Young K: We were kind of rushed with the time [for Every Day6] but always had to put out our best, so we were, of course, stressed. This time we had more time but that also gave us a different kind of stress because we wanted to give out something we haven’t been giving out and something that could top the ones that we already put out. We’ve been preparing. We actually wrote more than the ones that are being released.
We only picked the songs that are the best. We didn’t, actually. The company did it. [Laughs]
Jae: Yeah, we have a lot of songs. Regarding feeling different from Every Day6, it does and it doesn’t. We always are songwriting, so it’s kind of like Every Day6 but not in that big format. [Laughs] The grind! We had a lot of fun with it. It is stress, but it’s a good kind of stress.
How do you manage that? You’re writing your own music, you’re working on your own stuff, but then you have to deal with the management of JYP Entertainment and what they expect you to put out.
Jae: Being at JYP, there are certain things that they look for in songs and I feel like we’re starting to come to an understanding of what that is. We always try to incorporate those elements into our music as well. But in general, I guess, everyone likes good music so I feel like if it’s something lyrically that you can connect with, that’s an important point. The melody sounding a little bit fresh. I just feel like good music is what makes it.
Listening to it, The Book of Us: Gravity has a bit more of an upbeat style than some of your past releases. What would you say is the inspiration behind this album?
Young K: The one before was the Youth series, so we talked about how people near our age grow up and how they are living. But in this album, we wanted to focus more on human relationships, how they interact with one another. Basically, the inspiration, of course, came from the life that I have been — we have been living. But also, everyday conversations, how people live, how they talk, the expressions they have on their faces. Basically everything that we experienced in our life could become an inspiration.
The album is called The Book of Us and the single “Time of Our Life” features a lot of literary references. What’s the meaning behind this?
Young K: I guess the book means a life. It’s a story we write down as we live. Our title song “Time of Our Life,” in Korean it means “So That It Becomes One of the Pages” (“? ???? ? ? ??”). So when we put out this song, and when we’re all singing it together at the concerts or when you’re listening to this song, I hope that this song can become one of your pages, a moment in your life, your book. The Book of Us. Everyone.
So the song is both about love and also an inspirational message you want fans to take away, “I want this song to be part of your life”?
Young K: Yeah, exactly.
What do you want people to know about the music video?
Jae: All music videos are different, but I think this one is particularly different because we took a little more of a fun approach to a lot of the scenes. You’ll see us do a lot of fun and silly stuff that we don’t normally do in our music videos, and I think that’ll be a little bit refreshing for the people that have been with us on this journey.
Why is the album subtitled Gravity?
Young K: Out of human relationships, we focused on the beginning. I guess because it’s a new beginning. Gravity means that we’re being pulled towards one another.
Jae: That kind of emotion and anxiety and positive stress that you get when meeting new people, where romantically or not. At the beginning of anything, the beginning of a relationship, whether it’s romantically or with a coworker or with a friend or with someone you’ve just met on the street, it all starts with this Korean word “???” (seol-le-im). I don’t know how to explain that.
Young K: It’s not “???.”
Jae: Oh, “??” (seol-lem). It’s “??.” Sorry, “???” is an ice cream.
Young K: It’s like the emotion…
Google says it’s “flutter.”
Young K: I guess flutter could work…
Jae: Basically, our album this time we did want to focus a little bit more on the positive things, at the beginning.
Is Gravity going to be the first of a series, since you’re talking about it being a beginning?
Jae: To be honest, I don’t know if anyone can answer that question. But… I don’t know. Possibly? Maybe, maybe not. I’m not sure. We just like making music.
There are five other tracks on the album. What do you want people to take away from The Book of Us: Gravity as a whole?
Young K: One of the messages that we did want to give out was that, in order to start a healthy relationship with somebody else we feel like we need to know who you are first. You need to know yourself first, so there are some songs giving out that message. For example, there’s a song called “For Me.” In the beginning, the song talks about, “Who are you? I want to get to know you.” But actually, it’s to the person standing in the mirror. From now on, I’m going to get to know you. I’m going to try harder to be closer to you, even though I’ve been next to you longer than anyone in this life. So that’s why it’s called “For Me.” And there’s a song called “Cover.” In Korean, it’s called “??” (po-jang), which is like “packaging.” Throughout my life, I’ve been covering up who I am to be better, to look better. But as time went by, the cover started to get worn out, and you’re starting to see who I am. I feel like, we feel like, everyone goes through this kind of thinking, the idea that we always need to do something or be someone else in order to be better, to satisfy other people. But who you are inside is more important, I guess.
Do you feel you’ve uncovered what the packaging used to be covering up?
Young K: Yes, and no. Because that’s the song that I co-wrote with [rhythm guitarist-vocalist] Sungjin. We both talked about this idea. It can also happen for everyday life. For example, business. You want to look more professional, or you feel like you need to talk more [using] difficult words. For example, right now. I want to talk more fluently, but I don’t know much vocabulary. And also coming from the idea of “Young K” because I felt like I needed this Young K character to be the person who stands on the stage, and be somebody I’m not. I feel like I made that because I want to become better at my craft, better as a person in general. I want people to see that better, cooler person. I’m working towards that.
You want people to see that person, but does that mean you’re still covering up your self?
Young K: I’m not really covering it up, but at the same time I’m filling up the things that’s inside the packaging. While having this cover, making something that’s inside the cover become better.
Jae: Evolving in the cover.
Jae, what are some songs on the album you particularly feel you put yourself into that you want people to take note of?
Jae: I’m not saying it because it’s our title song but I really appreciate “One Page” [“Time of Our Life”] because it’s interesting. When we’re choosing the songs, there’s a system, right? We had like 15-20 songs we wrote from this album plus other songs we wrote before. We were giving rankings, like top three, that we thought would be a good fit on the album. It was really weird because I never really thought about that song too much after writing it, but after listening to all the songs the next day I would just be thinking about that one song. It was really weird. But it has a weird pull that it has on the listener.
Young K: Gravity!
Jae: Gravity! It was really strange, but I really feel that people will enjoy the song.
Day6 changed up its style a little bit on this album, with a lot brighter sounds and more vibrant synths than some of your prior releases. Was that intentional?
Jae: Definitely. We’re always working towards progressing ourselves, whether it’s towards a change in a different genre, or different sources or different sounds. We’re always looking for change, positive change.
Where do look to inspiration from as you continue to develop as artists?
Jae: I feel like we draw different kinds of inspiration for every song. If you listen to our title and then “How to Love,” they’re both vibrant and they’re both very positive, but they’re different kinds of positive. One’s a little groovier, a little bit more of that brass, while the other is a bit more pop rock, punk rock. I guess specifically speaking, when we were writing “Page [Time of Our Life],” I was thinking of a more Fall Out Boy kind of feel would be nice on a song.
Young K: Everyday life would be the biggest inspiration. Basically we wanted to write about how people live their lives, any feelings that they would get from anything.
What do you hope people will feel like when listening to the album?
Jae: We say this a lot, but we really hope that people will vibe with it. Really feel the kind of emotions that we’re putting into it. Like I said previously, something that we work on lyrically is that they’re situations or emotions that you can feel in everyday life. We just want you to live those emotions with us because we’re living it with you.
We’re running out of time, but is there anything else you want people to know about the release of The Book of Us: Gravity or your upcoming world tour that it precedes?
Jae: We’re really sorry that it took so long for us to comeback, but we really wanted to comeback with an album that satisfies our curiosity with music as well as would satisfy everybody else’s.
It’s only been seven months, which is relatively short for musicians outside of the K-pop industry where things are much more fast-paced. But it doesn’t seem that long, especially since you were putting out that much content over the past few years. Do you really feel you need to be sorry?
Jae: I think so. [Laughs.] I think so, because being an artist you have a responsibility to put out music and let people hear the emotions that you feel. Once you take upon this mantle, you kind of accept that. That you’re being very honest and open with your audience. And we are a little bit sorry that we couldn’t express what we were feeling in our everyday lives a little bit faster. But we wanted to get it right. That’s what took a little bit of time. Oh, and for our tour! We’re super excited. Super ready. I hope everyone is ready to have fun and have a good night. When you come to our show, make sure to bring all the stress, all the hardships, all the bad emotions that you’ve been feeling in your everyday life. Bring those, we’re going to settle those.