After forming through an intense, three-month TV singing competition last year, Kep1er didn’t wait long to prove themselves again with a new TV competition and a new album this year.
After competing on Girls Planet 999 — where 99 K-pop hopefuls from Korea, China and Japan fought for a spot in a new K-pop girl group — Kep1er entered the music industry strong with an anthemic debut single, “Wa Da Da,” which peaked at No. 13 on the World Digital Song Sales chart in January. Despite just one EP to their name, Kep1er joined the girl-group competition show Queendom 2, which saw them hit the stage for weekly performances alongside K-pop heavyweights like LOONA and WJSN. By the time the show wrapped earlier this month, Kep1er had prepared their second EP, right in time for the summer and to showcase the growth they’ve experienced since these busy six months.
Since entering the K-pop scene at the top of this year, Kep1er members Yujin, Xiaoting, Mashiro, Chaehyun, Dayeon, Hikaru, Huening Bahiyyih, Youngeun and Yeseo say that they’ve been working nonstop to show the fans who voted them into the group a continuous evolution. After weeks of Queendom performances that focused on intense theatrics (like their cover of Girls’ Generation’s “The Boys” that has more than 5 million views on YouTube), Kep1er’s new single “Up!” switches things up with a fun and bright take on K-pop to set the nonet on a multifaceted musical path.
Learn more about the rising superstars’ new album DOUBLAST, girl-group friendships and their excitement to visit U.S. fans later this summer.
Congratulations on your return, Kep1er! How are you feeling after releasing DOUBLAST?
Youngeun: We are very happy to make our comeback with really good songs with our second mini-album! From our debut song “Wa Da Da” to Queendom 2, we have shown our energetic and powerful sides, but in this album we want to show our bright side with Kep1er’s cool and refreshing energy.
Let’s start with the album title DOUBLAST. You released it in two different versions: “B1UE BLAST” and “LEM0N BLAST.” Can you explain what these blasts are?
Huening Bahiyyih: To help you survive the hot summer, there’s the cool “B1UE BLAST” and refreshing “LEM0N BLAST” which represent Kep1er’s happiness and each member’s happiness, respectively. The DOUBLAST album tells an unraveling story as we arrive at what we’re calling “Kep1er Island,” the dream island of happiness, with these two blasts.
Your new single “Up!” feels right on time for the summer. What does this new song show and represent for you?
Yeseo: I think “Up!” is a song that shows a clear and bright energy unique to Kep1er. From the addictive melody to lively choreography that will make you want to try and join along, it’s [a song that represents] the summer itself.
Xiaoting: I think the lyrics are right on with us too. Because the lyrics are about embarking on an adventure to find the “dream island,” I think it’s a song that feels more special to our members who chased their dreams and made their debut [in Kep1er].
Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories from filming the music video?
Dayeon: I shot a scene where I looked like I was flying through space that was filmed while I was attached to a wire. Maybe because I enjoy rides, it was fun and wasn’t scary!
Huening Bahiyyih: While we were waiting for filming, we all stood in a circle and played this game where everyone was very serious and tried hard not to lose — the loser got thrown into the pool on set. It was fun! That was most memorable to me.
There are upbeat and energetic tracks like “Up!” and “Attention” on the album, but also chill songs like “LE VOYA9E” and “Good Night” that feel perfect for summer nights. Does this duality connect with the “double” theme?
Yujin: Most people think of a sunny afternoon when they think of summer, but we wanted to create an album that also goes well with the ambiance of a summer night symbolized by the tropical night — like how we’ve expressed happiness in blasts of two different colors. Because the album consists of songs that suit both afternoon and night, I think you can listen to them and match different moods throughout the summer.
Looking at your time competing on Queendom 2, were there any special friendships you created with the other artists?
Yujin: I’ve known WJSN’s Bona unnie for a long time! After so long, we reunited at Queendom 2; we had a conversation, and she told me that she is watching Kep1er’s work and that we are doing really well! I got in touch with her to meet up once we’re free. I was so proud to see her TV [acting] work too!
Chaehyun: First of all, our Sun and Moon unnies — LOONA’s Haseul, Kim Lip, Jinsoul and Chuu — and Yeonjung [of WJSN] unnie! We all got close through the vocal unit performance and keep in touch to this day.
Did you find any similarities in Queendom as your time on Girls Planet 999?
Youngeun: While the environment and the teams we were part of were different, when we finished our performance stage with a united mind and passionate will, I think the resulting synergy was very similar to that of Girls Planet 999.
Mashiro: I felt the drive to do well and the competitiveness while preparing for the stage; I could recall the days when we prepared for the Girls Planet 999 performances and felt that the two were similar.
Since this album celebrates summer, can you share some of your favorite memories from the summer?
Yeseo: Summer reminds me of my birthday [August 22]! I remember always having fun at the water park all day long with my family on my birthdays.
Xiaoting: When I think of summer, I remember being happy watching TV while eating iced watermelon in an air-conditioned room when I was little. But now the Dream Concert is the most memorable of all.
Hikaru: When I was a kid, I went camping every summer with my friends and family, so when it comes to summer, I want to go camping.
How have you noticed your members grow from the first album to this second album together?
Dayeon: There aren’t many opportunities to see the performances of artists senior to us up so close and so frequently. I think we were able to learn and grow a lot while watching them on stage thanks to Queendom.
Mashiro: Spending so much time together with our members and talking about future goals and albums, I get further motivated that working hard becomes my only option.
Kep1er will soon visit the U.S. as part of KCON in August! What are your hopes for this trip?
Youngeun: I heard that the KCON LA is the biggest stage we’ll have performed on so far, so I look forward to meeting so many of our fans. I hope to finish the stage with our fans with this happy spirit.
Yeseo: We are so happy to meet not only our Kep1ians in South Korea but also our Kep1ians overseas at the KCON LA! We’re sure there will be a lot of energy to receive from the countless fans we will meet at KCON! We are so looking forward to it!
Is there anything else you’d like your international fans to know now?
Yujin: To the fans who always love and support us and give us a great source of motivation: Our only wish is to repay our fans through good artistic growth. I hope we have the opportunity to meet our fans overseas frequently!