In each of their music videos, the six members of K-pop girl group EVERGLOW are fierce dancers, draped in elegant, urbane outfits as they charismatically greet the world. Beginning with last year’s debut single “Bon Bon Chocolat,” which landed them a top five World Digital Song Sales hit, the act has thrilled fans over the past 12 months with their dynamism and catchy, powerful electro-pop. The year’s success culminated in the release of February’s reminiscence EP, their first album arriving just ahead of their anniversary on March 18.
Fronted by the impactful “Dun Dun,” the album, which broke onto the World Albums chart, preceded their recent Everlasting Tour in the U.S., during which the act met their local fans, collectively known as Forevers, for the first time. Formed by Chinese company Yuehua Entertainment, EVERGLOW features five Korean members (Sihyeon, Aisha, Onda, Mia and E:U) and one Chinese member (youngest member Yiren) and already have fans across the world, with their two most recent music videos, for “Dun Dun” and August’s “Adios,” each with more than 90 million views on YouTube.
Though their recent tour was cut short because of the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S, EVERGLOW brought things to a close Friday in Jersey City with one final show. Prior to that, the members sat down with Billboard to discuss the first year of their career, and how they feel about being a “girl crush” K-pop act.
How do you feel about your first-ever U.S. tour?
Sihyeon: We were very excited to meet the fans here in America. While I was performing, I thought I would get nervous, but hearing their cheers helped settle us down and I wasn’t nervous at all.
Is there a difference to you between your fans here versus your Korean fans?
Sihyeon: In Korea, most of the fans do cheer for us but mostly seem to focus on videoing and taking pictures. Here, of course, fans do film. But they get up and dance along. All dancing!
The tour is coming to an end. How does it feel to have been able to visit a lot of different cities in the U.S.?
Aisha: I get kind of shocked at every single city we go to, all the diverse fans that I see during our performances. My goal is to be able to perform more so that we can meet them again.
Are there any memorable moments that stood out to you?
Onda: During our first performance of “D+1,” the fans altogether put up their flashlights [on their phones] and waved them, and seeing that from the stage perspective I was brought to tears.
Mia: Even before we actually go on the stage, we turn on the music [at the venue]. I saw fans doing the fan chants and dancing to the music before we even got there. I was kind of shocked by that.
[E:U walks in belatedly due to a health issue.]
Yiren: After each concert, we do a high touch [fan meeting] event, and I actually saw a fan crying. It was memorable and shocking that a fan would cry for us like that. We feel the specialness of our fans in the same situation.
I saw the video of the fans singing “Bon Bon Chocolat” for you because your music cut during one night’s event.
EVERGLOW: Oh, yes! [Laugh]
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— EVERGLOW GLOBAL (@EVERGLOW_GLOBAL) March 9, 2020
It’s almost your anniversary, and it’s been your first year since debut. How are you feeling nowadays?
Sihyeon: Looking back to our trainee days, I felt like time always lagged. “When will I be on that stage?” But after debuting, time just flew by. From that, moving forward I’d like to keep doing this and I hope we can show fans our best as EVERGLOW.
How do you feel that things have changed for you since debut?
Sihyeon: When we eat.
[Rest of EVERGLOW members laugh.]
Sihyeon: Before we debuted, we were anxious about dieting and taking care of ourselves, because we thought if we don’t do that we won’t be able to debut. But now, before going on stage, we always specify we want to eat before so that we always have energy on stage.
In the U.S., there are many negative stereotypes around K-pop stars about dieting. But it sounds like you’re able to enjoy it despite what people think.
Sihyeon: Eating healthy is important! Health is important!
How about the rest of the members?
Onda: I have something to say… Around the time of our debut, I thought, “Oh, I have to do these dance moves correctly” and perfect certain things. But after a year I havee realized that the energy and strength I give to fans, that’s more important.
Aisha: Before our debut, we did a lot of cover performances of songs by senior artists. But now since we can perform our own songs and meet our fans through that, it’s just really cool.
Yiren: After a year, I’ve come to realize that our responsibility is really important to the group [image]. Especially, since artists are in the public eye, fans and other people can nitpick at what we do. So it’s important for what we do, what we say, to be good, and I want to give a good influence and give off a good vibe, and show off all the good things I can do.
Mia: Before our debut, I was really anxious about the idea of not being able to debut. But after, kind of what Yiren said, my focus kind of changed to how I could be a better person and better on stage.
Though it sounds like you had a lot of pre-debut anxieties, your first single “Bon Bon Chocolat” saw a lot of love. How did you feel about that at the time, and now a year later?
Mia: It was just an unthinkable amount of love that we received, and it was kind of like a gift for completing our training. I’m really thankful for our fans.
You recently returned with your single “Dun Dun.” What inspired it?
Sihyeon: After our first two singles, “Bon Bon Chocolat” and “Adios,” we wanted to come up with a song that was stronger, that would be memorable for our fans in a way that would make them go, “Oh, yes, this is why I like EVERGLOW and keep coming back to them.” I didn’t want to let down our fans’ excitement for our comeback.
Onda: I believe this song showed different colors that EVERGLOW could show, and individually the members showed different types of characteristics.
EVERGLOW has been showing off a very fierce “girl crush” style since your debut. How do you feel about that reputation? Is it something you’d like to keep showing?
Aisha: EVERGLOW’s six members all really like this concept, and it keeps getting better. It may kind of be just what we like, but we also have a lot of cute and fun songs on our B-sides, which show other sides to our music that we all also really enjoy. I hope that people listen to all of our albums and music so that people can look beyond just the image put forth in our singles.
How do you feel about representing this image? Do any members particularly fit it, or are there any who you feel doesn’t?
Sihyeon: I personally feel that Aisha fits the girl crush concept the most because, based on her appearance, she has a very foreign feel with her distinct features and her limbs are really long, she’s so tall! She fits this concept the best, I think.
Aisha: I don’t think anyone had trouble with this image, as we each have our own unique characteristics and express the different ideas of “girl crush” in our distinct ways.
“Girl crush” concepts are really popular in K-pop nowadays. Is there anything in particular about EVERGLOW that you feel has helped you stand out?
E:U: My thoughts are that many girl groups have a lot of charms, but we of course have our own unique elements that make us stand out. For EVERGLOW in particular, I think that our powerful dances and strong performances really have particularly caught the eyes of our fans.
Are there any other concepts you’d like to try in the future?
All, simultaneously: We really love this concept that we have now.
What’s every EVERGLOW member’s favorite song?
Sihyeon: From our new EP reminiscence, I’d like to suggest people listen to “Salute.” It’s very different from our main title songs, it has a very bright and cute feel to it. It has the kind of energy I think people can listen to when they first go to work, that kind of excitement. For me, the way I put the image together for the song, I imagined a very bright high school student. That kind of feel.
Aisha: For me, I like “Adios.” It kind of opened that door of strong image for us when we came back with it [as our second single.] I really love the part when fans dance the chorus [sings and emulates shooting dance motion with enthusiasm] “Goodbye, au revoir, adios!” It gives me a lot of energy as well.
Mia: I like “No Lie” and “Hush.” Compared to our singles, there’s almost a nostalgic vibe to those songs so I’d like to recommend them.
Onda: I personally love “You Don’t Know Me” because during concerts it’s a nice way to communicate with fans.
E:U: “Moon” from our first album is one of our favorite songs. The first reason is because we perform this with a chair dance on stage, and that shows a different side to EVERGLOW. It’s also a little more meaningful for me because I wrote the rap lyrics for the song.
Yiren: I like “Player” because, compared to the main title songs, it’s still strong but also sexy. Even compared to “Salute,” which is bouncy and energetic, it has a slightly different feel to it.
This interview was conducted in Korean and English, and edited for clarity.