Since their debut two years ago, multi-national Chinese boy band INTO1 have released four albums and made impressive progress in music, thanks to their unique charms.
Meeting in early spring 2021 and disbanding in late spring 2023, the group’s 11 members from all over the world have made an indelible impression on their fans with their devotion to music.
INTO1 released their final album, Grown Up, in March. Whether it’s a gentle croon or an impassioned, rocking melody, every song captures INTO1’s growth from young men to adults.
Here are five questions and answers from their recent Billboard China cover story, translated to English, about their two-year group career and new album Grown Up.
From the first album to the latest one, you have tried many music styles, such as Chinese operas, hip-hop, electronic dance and so on, and you are becoming more and more mature in your musical performance. How did you grow musically while recording Grown Up?
Liu Yu: My biggest growth in music is learning how to listen to the story behind the voice and hear how the singer handles fine details, timbre control and creativity through the voice.
SANTA: When recording the album, I felt like I was watching a movie about the two years of INTO1, so my biggest gain was to be reminded of these precious memories.
RIKIMARU: When I first listened to the demo, I was worried about whether I could sing the high notes well. But when practicing before recording, I found that I could give it a try.
Mika: For me, my biggest growth was that all the songs on the album contain our shared emotions, and it is a perfect graduation gift of INTO1.
Nine: We can show our growth in two years through these songs.
Lin Mo: We try new styles on every album. I can also find a different self.
Bo Yuan: I learned how to release my emotions and began to understand that volume and pitch are not the only things that determine emotional performance.
Zhang Jiayuan: I think I made great progress in aesthetics and new style, like a cappella and indie rock. And I experienced different emotions through music.
Patrick: In our new song, “Grown Up,” there are many harmonic elements. I learned a lot about harmony during the recording and understood the layers of music better.
Daniel Zhou: I’ve learned a lot of different things from recording each album over the past two years, because album recording involves different aspects of music. For example, we can convey the emotions of the music through our dance, our voice, our performance and so on. I think I can find different possibilities in different styles of songs every time I record.
AK: My biggest gain is that I wrote a whole song for INTO1 and our team for the first time: the harmony, lyrics, music and some ideas on the arrangement. In this process, I think I made some progress in comprehensive aesthetics and music production.
You started out in a closed environment on the talent show, and after you became a group, you started living together. After getting to know each other for a while now, who is the most different from your first impression of him? How is he different from who you though he was?
Liu Yu: I think it’s AK. The first impression he gave me was that he looked like someone not to be messed with. After getting to know him, I think he is a simple boy with a playful side and can write some very delicate songs.
SANTA: I think it is Liu Yu. My first impression of him was that he was professional and serious-minded. In fact, this has not changed even now. But after getting to know him for a long time, I found that he also likes to joke around, and it is relaxing to be around him.
RIKIMARU: I think it is Bo Yuan. I never thought we could be such good friends now. We are very comfortable chatting with each other, and we think alike in many ways.
Nine: I think Daniel and Mika. My first impression of them was that they were cold and distant, but they are actually very cute and lively.
Bo Yuan: I think Mika and Daniel. They both transformed from the reserved cool guys to jokesters.
Zhang Jiayuan: I think it is Liu Yu. I used to feel that he was cold and distant, but now I think he is rather funny.
Daniel Zhou: I think it is Mika. When I first met him, he was very cold and quiet, so I thought he may not be so easy to get along with. However, after two years of getting along with each other, I found that he is the most easygoing. I think he is a combination of very cold and very cute.
AK I think it is me! [Laughs] In the past two years, I have tried many new styles in terms of music and styling and grown up a lot.
In two years, you have created four albums together, collaborated on many stage performances and participated in many variety shows. You have brought many surprises to your fans, and you have become the pride of your fans. What has been your most fulfilling moment as a member of INTO1?
Lin Mo: When we were rigged on wires [for a performance] for the first time. It was so cool.
Daniel Zhou: We went to the Super Novae Games, and each of us participated in a different event. Even though we represented ourselves as an individual, the rewards we won belong to the team. During the process, we felt a strong sense of collective honor and we were proud to be part of the team.
AK: The most fulfilling moment may be when I wrote the song “Grown Up.” I wrote about regrets and sadness, and also wrote about positive wishes for the future. I hope that all 11 of us will have a bright future. That is what the song is about.
INTO1 was born in the stage performance competition, and in two years, you have also created many stage performances. What has been the group’s most impressive stage performance so far?
Daniel Zhou: What impressed me the most was when we performed “Shanhe Tu” at a big party in 2021. During the performance, we were rigged on wires and hung in the air about 20 meters [66 feet] off the ground. Eleven of us hung in different corners in midair and then convened on a stage covered with water. I have never been on such a well-equipped stage before, and I was filled with uncertainty and excitement, so I think it was the most impressive performance for me.
AK: It was when we sang “We Are the Youth” onstage for the first time. At that time, our group had just been formed and did not have enough time to try to bond with each other and rehearse, so the final stage performance was not so good. I always remembered this stage performance, reminding myself that I must do my best to prepare for every stage in the future.
You have been working as an idol group for two years. Which field of work would you like to continue to pursue in the future?
Liu Yu: I will continue on the road of music. Of course, I would like to try out other fields.
SANTA: I would like to continue to work in dance, music, variety shows and new opportunities in China and explore more possibilities in myself.
RIKIMARU: Find my own unique music style.
Mika: I hope I can improve my stage performance, dance and singing to be a better performer.
Nine: I will not give up the stage, and I will try harder in acting.
Lin Mo: I will try everything if there’s an opportunity. I won’t set any limits for myself.
Bo Yuan: I would like to continue singing. Besides singing, I also like live broadcast. Both performing live onstage and chatting on a live broadcast in real time is challenging.
Zhang Jiayuan: I will work harder on music, variety, film and TV, art and so on.
Patrick: I played a role in a movie before, and I like the feeling of learning about a character and then embodying it, so I hope I can make more film and TV works in the future. At the same time, I also hope to make my own album and sing on programs or in concerts for everyone.
Daniel Zhou: There are many things that I have not tried yet, so I hope to have more opportunities to try different things.
AK: I will definitely stick to music. As a next step, I am particularly interested in enriching my life experience, improving my emotional perception and expression, and recording what I see. Currently, I am also planning my concert tour, music festival and EP.
After two years of training, the team members of INTO1 have all grown up. For them, farewell is also a new beginning, and each of them will also embark on a new stage of their career. Mika, Lin Mo and Daniel Zhou have all released new projects; Bo Yuan and AK will also start their own tours. There is reason to believe that whether they are members of INTO1 or developing independently, they will all shine brightly.