Elegantly synchronized performances and sweetly vibrant synth pop songs helped the girl group GFriend rapidly capture the K-pop world’s attention. Since their first release, 2015’s “Glass Bead,” the six-member team has been one of Korea’s most promising young acts. Their most recent album, their fourth EP The Awakening, brought GFriend to new heights, peaking at no. 4 on the World Albums chart as the single “Fingertip” hit No. 28 on the Billboard Twitter Top Tracks chart.
Five of the group’s members flew to the east coast last week — Yerin had a scheduling conflict — for their first New York City area performance. GFriend won over the crowd during the first night of KCON 2017 NY with their performances of “Fingertip,” “Rough,” Me Gustas Tu,” and “Navillera,” with much of the audience singing along and imitating the quartet’s dance moves.
Ahead of the concert, Billboard sat down with the ladies of GFriend to discuss their latest EP, their chart success, and their place in the K-pop world. Check out our translated interview below.
You’ve been on the Billboard charts a few times now, and your new EP, The Awakening, is your highest yet, at no. 4 on the World Albums chart. How did you feel when you found out?
All: Really???? Hooray! ??(mansae, a Korean expression used nowadays to express happiness or victory)!
ShinB: It’s the first time we’ve heard this.
So now that you know, how do you feel?
Umji: O.M.G. O.M.G
Yuju: It will be an unforgettable memory to us.
Sowon: We feel that the reception for “Fingertip” was especially well received by our foreign audiences so we’re really looking forward to some of our fans singing along to the lyrics [tonight, at KCON]. Maybe the reason for its popularity worldwide is because the title is in English.
“Fingertip” was a bit different from your first few singles with its quirky electropop, switching things up from your more melodic earlier tracks. What inspired the shift in sound for your fifth single?
Umji: Definitely, yes, “Fingertip” shows off a different concept than before. We wanted to widen our scope in terms of music. We wanted to show our fans how versatile we could be. Not just musically but choreography-wise too. You can see a lot more complicated dance moves, as well as a more structured look overall for the performance.
What’s each member’s favorite song on The Awakening?
Umji: I would say that my favorite song is “Rain in the Springtime.” I think that it perfectly reflects the sort of warmth of spring and the sort of wetness that the spring rain brings. I feel like it’s very atmospheric and really captures that very well.
Sowon: My favorite song is “Contrail.” I think the lyrics and the rhythm of the song are very interesting because it’s very cute and fresh in a way. So I like that one.
ShinB: My favorite is “Crush.” The recording went really well for that song and that’s why I like it a lot. But I also like it because the lyrics are about what it feels like growing up as a girl, the feelings of innocence. It’s very girlish.
Eunha: My favorite one is “Hear The Wind Sing.” We actually choreographed this one along with “Fingertip” to do a dance together so if you see those two juxtaposed with each other I think it would be a great experience.
Yuju: “Please Save My Earth” is my favorite one. The songwriters and lyricists on the team made it specifically for our group so I feel like that makes it all the more special.
How do you think GFriend is distinguished from other K-pop groups?
Sowon: I would say that something that made us stand out from other groups is that we try to incorporate a variety of charms into our music. For example, choreography-wise we have a very energetic vibe going on but musically it’s more innocent, happy. A girlish sort of style. If you look at our wardrobe choices too, it’s something else. All these different facets of everything that constitutes our group, you can see that it shows very eclectic elements of our group and I think that’s what makes us interesting and fun.
What’s next for GFriend? Are there any other styles of music you’d like to try?
Sowon: We’d really like to continue meeting our fans often through our shows. As for music, I feel that every time we release our singles, for example the songs “Rough” or “Me Gustas Tu,” I feel like they go well with the season when they’re released. So I would like for us to release songs that go well with the seasons. For example, I’d like a fresh song for the summer, while for the winter I’d like something warm and cuddly.
Final words to Billboard’s readers?
Umji: Our songs are primarily in a different language, so to know we have so many fans here who like our music, it’s very surreal and we’re very grateful for the love. We will do our best to keep that love growing.