From performing in sold-out world tours to dipping their toes to nearly every genre, GOT7 has spent half a decade gaining a slew of musical experiences. After celebrating the group’s five-year anniversary in January, the next steps for its members undoubtedly need to push and challenge their artistic boundaries which makes the group’s latest splinter project all the more significant.
For GOT7 leader JB and the band’s youngest member Yugyeom, their next step saw them coming together as the duo Jus2 to explore music that catered closer to their particular tastes and fit towards the duo’s connections to the senses, colors and moods. Talking to Billboard in the midst of their promotions for their new Focus EP — which recently debuted in the Top 10 of the World Albums chart — the stars get most in-depth when talking about aspects that go deeper than music promotions. They see Focus as an exploration of human sensations and seem keen to keep exploring more aspects of the music industry that allow them to go deeper into their multidimensional love for music.
From the significance of their own SoundCloud accounts (both of which boast more than 120,000 followers each) to the synesthesia they feel when listening to their new songs (you’ll be surprised what color they attach to “Long Black”), tap into the mind of JB and Yugyeom as their Jus2 sub-unit with this intimate chat.
Billboard: Congratulations on the debut of your new unit, JB and Yugyeom. How are you feeling about the reaction to Jus2?
JB: Well, while we’re doing our promotions and broadcasting stages we do feel passionate support from our fans. Our main focus for this album was just to show this compact album itself and since we were able to release it, we’re satisfied.
I feel like Focus shows a lot of different sides of yourselves on the tracks, but does the EP align more with your music tastes? Why was “Focus on Me” the perfect song for your debut single?
Yugyeom: Compared to GOT7’s songs, yes it does. It’s like an intersection of our music taste.
JB: It represents one of the moods that I like; there are a wide spectrum of genres and moods, and [this EP] is one section of it. “Focus on Me” was a song that both liked — us and the label. We didn’t expect it could become a title track, but since it’s a track that we put in a lot of effort, it’s a song that we really love.
When it comes to GOT7, JB is the leader and Yugyeom is the youngest, the maknae, which I imagine has different roles and dynamics built into them in a full group setting. But as a duo, what are your roles like?
Yugyeom: We’re pretty much ourselves wherever we are — I’m being myself and JB being himself. We show ourselves as we are, and Jus2 is just the same.
JB: Whether it’s Jus2 or GOT7, Yugyeom’s role is Yugyeom and JB’s role is JB. One different thing, however, is that GOT7’s leader is me and Jus2’s leader is Yugyeom.
You both were very involved with this project, but it seems like maybe JB was slightly more involved with the music and production, and Yugyeom with choreography? JB, can you talk to Yugyeom’s input as a songwriter and composer. And Yugyeom, can you talk to JB’s input as a choreographer?
JB: Yugyeom has brilliant ideas. Sometimes, I get surprised how Yugyeom brings new factors into his music. Personally, I think the output could turn out much better if it’s more organized…it’s very important to maintain one’s color; bring in other influences from different genres and moods and make them your own.
Yugyeom: He’s very talented. When he dances, he has this “all sexiness existing in this world is inside JB!” kind of vibe — which I really love. Every time we go on stage, I’m impressed by JB’s dance. His dances got even better.
I’ve read that each song of Focus is supposed to refer to different senses, including the sixth sense. What sense is most influential to you both?
JB: Sight, sound and smell — I love the smell of seasons.
Yugyeom: Sight, sound and taste — cheese pork cutlet, fried rice and hamburgers!
Have either of you ever experienced synesthesia?
JB: Of course. When I think of a song, there are specific colors that pop up in my mind. Sometimes it’s colors, sometimes it’s visuals, other times it’s smell. Sometimes, it’s very new and feels like “sixth sense.”
Yugyeom: I also experience it a lot. For example, when I listen to Travis Scott — who’s my favorite — I think of the color black.
Are there any specific sounds or visuals that come with the different Focus songs?
Yugyeom: “Love Talk” is blue…
JB: …yes, blue for “Love Talk” and for “Long Black” it’s red — red-ish.
Yugyeom: Yeah and for “Touch’–
Yugyeom: Wow, I was gonna say pink too!
JB: “Focus on Me” is more like a “fog” than a color.
Yugyeom: Yeah, it’s not a color but something else — like a smoke, fume.
You both have your own personal SoundCloud accounts. This is still a new platform among many Korean artists, can you share a bit more about how you use SoundCloud?
Yugyeom: For me, it’s a platform to express myself. The playlists are filled with what I like and the playlists satisfy my love of introducing my favorite music to the people that I love — to our fans. It’s like, “This is Yugyeom, and I love this kind of music. I want to do this kind of music.”
JB: It’s same for me too. And for me, it’s a platform where I can tell my story. I sometimes release single tracks, but I love releasing songs as a compact album or mixtape. Each mixtape has its own story and it’s all connected to each other. Parts of my personal stories are inside these mixtapes so it feels like my own way of expressing myself. What I’m doing, what I want to be good at, and what I want to become — it’s all songwriting and producing. Soundcloud is a platform where I can express these [kinds of things].
JB, this is your second GOT7 duo project after JJ Project. What is the biggest difference between promoting with Jinyoung and now with Yugyeom?
JB: When I’m with Yugyeom, my hip-hop and R&B vibe comes out. With Jinyoung, it’s more of a pop/urban vibe. When I think of the album and the “team color,” Verse 2 of JJ Project had a message of youth — all feelings that all young people go through; insecurity, anguish, and looking back on our life. Focus from Jus2 is filled with senses…the theme and story, and the thought behind the tracks are totally different. These two albums are my favorite out of all albums that I made and they have different roads of approach.
Jus2 will also be meeting fans in your showcase tour throughout Asia later this year. What should we expect from these shows and what else you have coming up this year?
Yugyeom: We want to deliver the message that “We love and make this kind of music, and we released an album with a story.” Personally, I think when you listen to “Focus on Me” and other tracks alone, it’s been hard to imagine the performance. When it’s put on to stage, it’s going to feel like a new dimension for our song. I am sure our fans will love it.
JB: I feel like it’s a whole new challenge. I feel like we made new waves through our music. I hope these different attempts are well seen and received. Also, I am sure that we could provide a new insight of “sexy” – our music and performances could surely satisfy both your eyes and ears. I want to show lots of different aspects of myself this year. As Jus2, there are vibes that I want to deliver. I’ve been thinking and experimenting a lot since last year so I am confident that our fans can expect a lot from us. I really want to thank our fans, since they really feel the feelings inside the album and show support — which I am really thankful about. It’s a thankfulness that I could never forget in my life. No song has its meaning if it doesn’t have listeners. In this sense, our fans are the main meaning and reason for our songs. It’s only the start of 2019, so please look forward for many different attempts — as a musician, as a performer, as an artist. Please look out for our tour in April. Thank you!
Yugyeom: In 2019, we will be showing more growth in terms of music and showing new aspects of ourselves. We’re going on a showcase tour, and I can’t wait to find out how much we would learn from these experiences. Everyone around us were surprised when they heard that we’re going on a tour just by us only two. “Only two? Tour?” We also know that it’s a really big opportunity, so we’re really thankful and looking forward for it. One thing we could promise to our fans is that we will be improving and making growth every moment, every year. And I especially want to say that I really appreciate and care for our fans, and that I really love you all. Thank you!