When boy band Golden Child arrived on the K-pop scene in 2017 with their peppy debut single “DamDaDi,” they brought a sense of youthful, vibrant energy onto the scene and high expectations as labelmates to INFINITE and Lovelyz. Two years later, they’re back this week with something brand-new: their Re-boot album, which is re-energizing their musical identity after a lengthy break.
Their first release since October 2018’s Wish, it’s been over a year since Golden Child put out new music, and the 10-member group is eager to show the world something new through their latest album. According to them, Golden Child’s Re-boot references how the word represents resetting something back to its original state, saying that they wanted to try a new concept that they haven’t tried before to try to capture the attention of more fans across the world. They say that they “wanted to change and try out a different type of concept, sound and visual style,” according to Jae Hyun, in order “to show off their determination.”
Fronted by the dramatic groove of synth-pop tune “Wannabe,” through which the members sing about how their love of another conflicts with their own emotions and ego, the album puts its emphasis on how the group and its members have matured. Throughout the 12-track EP, five are split among smaller unit and solo tracks, giving each a chance to shine in his own distinct way and fitting his own unique musical tastes. Throughout it all, the members of Golden Child — Dae Yeol, Y, Jang Jun, TAG, Seung Min, Jae Hyun, Ji Beom, Dong Hyun, Joo Chan and Bo Min — share new sides to themselves, relaying how they’ve grown since the start of their career.
Prior to the release of Re-Boot last week, the members of Golden Child spoke with Billboard from Seoul to discuss their return. Check out what they had to say below.
It’s been a while since your last album came out. How do you feel about getting back into the swing of things?
Dae Yeol: We are so excited to release an album as it has been over a year since our last EP Wish. We really want to show you our changes, a new style, and concept as soon as possible.
What do you feel, if anything, has changed for Golden Child between the release of Wish and now?
Y: Early on [in our career], we tried a different sort of vocal style; we tried to make things bright and upbeat. From now on, we’re trying to drive our own style, that is both sentimental and sexy.
Do you feel that this shift reflects your own growth as you get older and mature in your career?
Joo Chan: We wanted to show a mature version of Golden Child. Actually, we had a long hiatus so that made us grow up a bit. We really practiced hard on our performance and vocal skills during that time so we’re more than ready to show a more incredible performance from us than what we’ve shown people before.
K-pop groups often release multiple singles and albums a year. How do you feel about having had a year off in such a fast-paced industry?
Jang Jun: We feel no pressure looking at other artists releasing music. We’re just trying our best and working hard, practicing our skills, so we don’t really care about things like releasing a lot of EPs and things like that.
Were you keping busy during the break? Was it hard to keep motivated during this time? Did you go through any periods where you felt down since it was such a long period?
Jae Hyun, in English: We actually did a lot [of things], we talked to each other all the time. All the time, we were saying, “We’ll be perfect on stage, so let’s never get down. Let’s practice a lot and show our fans how we practiced during the year.” So we were happy all the time. We never got down. That’s the way we keep up all the time.
TAG: Never give up.
Who is the best member at hyping everyone up?
Jae Hyun, in English: Maybe our leader, Dae Yeol? He’s our hyung [oldest], and he knows the way to treat our members, and he’s like our mom.
TAG: He is the best leader ever.
Jaehyun, in English: He’s the kindest member all the time.
What do you want listeners to take away from “Wannabe”?
Jae Hyun, in English: I think “Wannabe” will let listeners know that we can bring more sexiness to the stage. They should know that we practiced a lot. All the members practiced a lot at night time, at midnight. We actually [worked a lot and] got up, we didn’t have downtime all the time. So they should probably keep in mind how hard we worked and how much we practiced, and keep in mind that we are doing something new, something sexy.
It sounds like you worked really, really hard in preparation for your return. Did that come out of a sense of nervousness ahead of showing this new side to yourselves after so lengthy of a time away? Or was it just something that came naturally?
Jae Hyun, in English: Yea, we’re really nervous about our new album, but never say never, right? Never say never, yeah. We’ll be doing great on the stage, and we’ll show you the best we can do on stage. We’re really looking forward to it.
Aside from the single, what are some songs on Re-boot you want people to pay special attention to?
Y: I want to introduce the song “Compass,” the song we’ll promote [on South Korean television shows] together with our title track. “Wannabe” is a song about the struggles within our ego, and “Compass” is more about the direction of those struggles, so I really want people to listen to it.
Dae Yeol: There’s a song that features Seung Min, Dong Hyun, and me called our “Our Heaven.” It conveys some pure lyrics different from the other songs, so I think that a lot of people will enjoy it as it is easy listening. I hope you listen to it. Don’t miss it.
Several members wrote lyrics on this album –
Jang Jun, with a big smile and waving his hand: Yep!
What was the experience like for you?
TAG: On the Re-boot album, different from our past releases, there’s a lot of focus to show off our rapping skills. This time, when people listen to our songs we really want to make them nod along and understand that we’re showing our true selves.
Jang Jun, in English: It was a very good experience for me. We we really want to show our [selves] and ego, and how we grew up during the hiatus, how we leveled up our skills.
What are your favorite lyrics that you wrote?
Jang Jun, in English: In TAG and my unit song, “No Matter What,” [featuring Joo Chan] the lyrics, “I can see the fantasia through one hundred fingers/We gotta go up other world hakuna matata.” [Lyrics translated from Korean courtesy of Golden Child.]
This is a new start for you, so how do you feel you have grown as Golden Child since your debut in 2017?
Seung Min: We practiced really hard and determined how we should aim to develop by watching our old performances, we’ve considered how can we make a better us. I think it’s been a really meaningful time, with every moment mattering. For this album, I really hope that people expect a mature Golden Child.
You’re making a new beginning for yourself towards the end of 2019, the end of a decade. What are somethings that you want to accomplish moving forward as we move into this new era?
Jae Hyun, in English: It’s almost 2020, and we actually want to have our first concert this year. Or next year [in 2020]. We’re actually practicing a lot all the time, so we want to show our fans how we grew up and how we sing on the stage so that they know, well they probably know, that Golden Child practiced a lot and are actually proving it. So yea, we want to have our first concert with our fans. Second, we want to become singers that fans can say, “We’re Golden Child’s fans. They’re really awesome.” We want to give them confidence. That’s our new goal for 2020.
TAG, in English: Our team name “Golden Child” has two different meanings. First, a very special person that only comes once every 100 years. Second, that we’ll lead the K-pop industry with our music charms for the next 100 years, to be an example for more K-pop groups to come.
TAG mentioned that you want to become an example for K-pop, and K-pop is really popular in the U.S. right now. How does it feel to be part of the industry as its presence is growing internationally?
Dae Yeol: Many K-pop groups have paved the way to go and show our industry to the world. Through these opportunities, us, Golden Child, also will try really hard to attract a lot of fans throughout the world. We’re progressing at the moment, but never giving up!
This interview was conducted in both Korean and English, and edited for clarity.