TREASURE is a gem in its own right. Aged 15 through 22, the members of TREASURE first propelled to national fame via a popular televised singing-competition program in Korea called YG Treasure Box, which aired in 2018 and 2019. The new 12-piece K-pop boy band — comprised of Choi Hyunsuk, Jihoon, Yoshi, Junkyu, Mashiho, Yoon Jaehyuk, Asahi, Bang Yedam, Doyoung, Haruto, Park Jeongwoo and So Junghwan — then announced its debut with lead track “Boy” on Aug. 7.
The group is YG’s newest act in four years, and it is set to garner much interest and attention; the numbers are already proving their immense popularity. “Boy” debuted at No. 7 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart and and the group landed on the Emerging Artists and Social 50 charts, while the music video for “Boy” hit more than 10 million views in just 26 hours of its initial release.
It took them no time at all to be the first place nominee in a Korean music show, engraving their powerful presence in the local music scene. TREASURE plans to release three albums by the end of this year in hopes of paying back the fans anticipation for their long-awaited debut.
Ahead of their new two-track release The First Step: Chapter Two on Sep. 18, TREASURE met with Billboard Korea to share their stories about their debut and new album.
It has been two years since the reality-survival program YG Treasure Box ended. When did it sink in that you’ve actually made it this far?
Haruto: It really hit me when I saw the fancams of us on stage on YouTube.
Hyunsuk: For me, it was at the ending of the live music show, where we stood among all the sunbae [veteran] artists. It really felt like I’d made it.
Yedam: I was looking at the camera during the performance and it really felt like I was a singer. There were a lot of mixed feelings.
Video clips of TREASURE, including your recent interview with Billboard Korea and even the pre-debut content, have been gaining popularity. Do you ever read the fans’ comments on those clips?
Jihoon: I try as much as I can. I particularly remember the ones who commented on our debut stage clip saying, “Good job.”
Hyunsuk: Same here. I’m so touched by those kinds of comments. It’s just a few words but they’re such meaningful messages.
Jihoon: Comments like “great work” and “keep it up” are just so encouraging for us.
Yedam: The heartfelt cheers are always a great source of energy.
The First Step: Chapter Two was released just one month after Chapter One. It must not be easy, working on a new release while keeping up with an intense schedule related to the first.
Yedam: It’s not. But we’re doing this for our fans that have been waiting for us, and we want to perform as much as we can. We’ve been working on [Chapter Two] for quite a while, so it’s definitely manageable.
What do you feel is the biggest difference between the two lead singles, Chapter One’s “Boy” and Chapter Two’s “I Love You”?
Hyunsuk: As you can take a hint from the name, it’s a sequel of our first album. I’d say [the single “I Love You” is] a lot more passionate than “Boy.” You will definitely find the sound more mature.
Jihoon: I’d say the choreography [in the video for] “I Love You” is also much more difficult than ‘“Boy.” I personally like the ending.
Hyunsuk: There’s a very dynamic part of the choreography during the chorus. The dance, the vocals and the overall sound are all very sassy and powerful.
Jihoon: Yes, the ending is very catchy as well. All of us do the finger hearts in the end, following the powerful and energetic performance.
Hyunsuk: From a lyrical perspective, with “Boy,” the message we were conveying was more gentle, whereas with “I Love You,” we’re making a much stronger impression with, “Open up to me! I love you!”
What else do you want your fans to take away from “I Love You”?
Jihoon: The rap parts are really awesome. Hyunsuk, Yoshi and Haruto take turns rapping on the second verse, and both the rap and dance are very impressive. To be honest, “Boy” was not the most ideal song for raps, but in “I Love You,” the rap parts are really well highlighted.
Haruto: I love the vocals. The part where it begins with, “From the head to…” is very catchy and easy to sing along to.
Yoshi: My personal favorite is Mashiho’s bridge part. It’s also the part that showcases some of the best choreography.
With this release, some of you have contributed to writing the lyrics. Where do you get your inspirations from?
Hyunsuk: I get inspired by everything I come across in my life — the feelings and thoughts I have in a certain moment can turn into lyrics.
Yoshi: I sometimes get ideas from a Korean poetry book I got as a gift. It has some great expressions.
Haruto: For me, movies give me some good ideas. I also use imagination when I write. For instance, if I’m writing a song about love, I try to imagine myself in a certain situation to express myself. Hyunsuk helps me a lot as well.
It took two years before your debut, Chapter One, was released. What was the first thing that you wanted to do after the debut?
Jeongwoo: I really wanted a fan meeting and it’s such a shame that can’t happen now. But I’m sure one day, we will.
Jaehyuk: I want to be on stage and be able to hear the fans’ cheers and interact with them. I really hope that day will come soon.
Yedam: I’d wanted my official profile on [the South Korean site] Naver to read my occupation as “singer.” I thought that would really make me feel like I’ve become one.
Hyunsuk: I’m with Yedam. I wanted to see the word “artist” next to my name on YG’s official website.
Asahi: I want to write our own songs.
Jihoon: Right. That won’t take too long, since Yedam and Asahi are working very hard on it.
What is your goal for exactly one year from today?
Mashiho: If things turn around and get better, I’d want to do a world tour.
Doyoung: I want to visit our fans around the world. It’d be nice to give them my autographs and take pictures with them.
Yoshi: I hope to have more songs written by me on the future TREASURE albums. I really want to come into my own in the group.
Junghwan: Being a great artist is obviously important, but I really hope we are all still healthy and well.