Boy group VERIVERY hit the K-Pop scene in 2018 and in the following four years they've churned out six mini albums and two single albums that regularly feature the group's compositional and lyrical skills; between their music, their performances and their personalities, members DONGHEON, HOYOUNG, MINCHAN, GYEHYEON, YEONHO, YEONGSUNG and KANGMIN have found themselves with a multitude of dedicated fans (also known as VERRER) worldwide.
In the wake of their newest digital single release - SERIES 'O' [ROUND 0 : WHO] - they chatted to &ASIAN all about their artistry and why you should check out their brand new release.
For the answers in Korean as written by the members, please click here. The English translation for this interview was verified by a PR representative for the group.
Firstly, congratulations on your single album SERIES 'O' [ROUND 0 : WHO]! It must feel great when something you've worked on for so long is finally out there. It's been seven months since your last mini album: how do you feel you've grown as performers, artists and creators in that time?
DONGHEON: During the seven-month-long break, we of course prepared for the album and had some free personal time where we grew, but I was also able to work on composing and think about things I want to do with some leisure. If you take a look at our Soundcloud and our [other] works, it was really a time for me to experience emotions and do the things I wanted to.
HOYOUNG: Within the seven months, we’ve practised, prepared for the album, gone to the U.S. and come back, and felt so many emotions during all of it. Most of all, I thought about how I should work harder.
MINCHAN: We’ve had various activities such as holding fan meetings and visiting the U.S. tour in [the past] 7 months, but I think as we experienced and made more memories with VERRERs, we have grown further with their love.
GYEHYEON: I think my body and mind have grown a lot after going on tour, holding a fan meeting, and communicating with fans through the seven month period.
YEONHO: I think I've grown a lot over the past seven months. While working on composing together with the members often, I think I've developed my artistic side and personally, I thinkI've grown a lot.
YONGSEUNG: During the past seven months, we built many experiences and memories with our U.S. tour and fan meeting. With a good rest, I also improved my body and mind. I'm sure I'll be able to show you [a version of] myself that is better than before.
KANGMIN: I think I had a lot of new experiences and new thoughts after the U.S. tour, as we waited and prepared [for the comeback]. I think it was a good time because I felt like I grew, even if it was a little bit.
As a group, you're very involved in your own creative output; how do the members deal with the responsibility of making sure that you are putting out work you think does the group justice but still connects with your fans?
DONGHEON: Compared to the early days of our debut, our group expresses mainly music with messages. As a whole, we also think a lot about putting the sides of ourselves that fans know into the messages so that it can be interpreted in the story.
GYEHEON: I’m the type that always makes works thinking about my memories with fans. This is because I think we exist because of VERRER.
YONGSEUNG: There are times when I try to write a song that suits the color of the album, and other times when I work on fan songs that I write while thinking of the fans. Recently, I have been focusing on making songs that can meet both conditions.
It's known that you have choreographed your own stages! Could you explain a bit more about what that process is like, from your first few ideas to finalising the finished product? Is the process the same every time?
DONGHEON: We usually participate in the choreography creation process when among the B-side tracks, there is an event we want to show the fans. If there is an event that we’re planning, then I start to think things like “I want to show this side of us more” or “this performance is a stage that the fans can enjoy”. For example, in 'Paradise', I wanted to talk about the road we’ve walked together in the past and the road ahead of us that we’ll walk together in the future. In 'Prom', I started with thoughts of wanting the fans to really have fun by aligning with the theme of ‘college party’ for our fan meeting.
HOYOUNG: The first thing I do is listen to the song and think, ‘what kind of vibe would suit this?’, and then divide it into sections like the – verse – chorus. I think in detail about the movement and bigger picture of what would be fitting as I create the choreography.
MINCHAN: I think I first consider the performance type, and organize it according to that kind of background. Then I look for references to complete [the choreography].
GYEHYEON: The process seems to be different every time, but I first try to set a concept for the dance and then I try to make a choreography that matches it. As I do so, I also think about how to make it a performance that we can have together.
YEONHO: I think the members who create the choreography make the frame, and the rest learn it. The members who create choreography take the initiative.
YONGSEUNG: While listening to the song in the practice room, the members first decide on a theme, clearly decide what they want to express based on the lyrics, and make a choreography. The process is [usually] similar, but the results seem to vary depending on the mood and keyword of the song.
KANGMIN: After always discussing with the company, we tried to do it ourselves, and there were a lot of shortcomings. Still, during the process, we found our own things and gradually became veterans of choreography creation.
The vocal abilities of the members are really wonderful and it of course takes knowing one another very well to figure out what songs and sounds compliment each member best. When you approach a new song, how do you decide who gets what lines and who ad-libs where?
Is it a natural process that just happens, is line distribution picked for you or do the members try out different parts until you find what works best? Is the process the same every time?
Actually, in the case of part distribution, after delivering our opinions, we decide internally through meetings with the company. Then the members tend to try to bring out the part[s] to the best of their capabilities. We try to match the part with the person who suits it the most as much as possible.
One of my favorite VERIVERY songs which features lyrics by the members is 'Love Line':
'신호를 보내 mayday 너에게, 어둠을 밝혀줘 baby 불을 켜 너의 맘'
(Light up the darkness baby, turn on the light, your heart)
They're lovely lyrics! What are your processes as lyricists and how long does it usually take for you to finalise the lyrics for a song?
DONGHEON: First of all, thank you!! When I write lyrics, and also in various aspects of song composition, I input thoughts like "I want to write this story, I want to write that story”. I tend to choose the overall theme and then outline the points I really want to get through. Then, I focus on the keywords and continue the storytelling. Usually, it can either be completed on that same day if I’m fast, or it can take up to a week to be finalized.
MINCHAN: I think it's most difficult to set a theme that suits the atmosphere of the song. Sometimes it’s expressing freshness with simple words, and sometimes it’s making it seem like there are hidden meanings.It varies from time to time, but [the process] usually takes about a day.
YEONHO: I think it usually takes about one to three days to write lyrics. I first start by getting a grasp of the theme and then setting a frame. [The inspiration] comes from experience and my imagination.
YONGSEUNG: Thank you for liking our song. Depending on the song, the time it takes to produce satisfactory lyrics varies widely. Some songs are almost completed within two hours, while others don’t feel satisfactory even after being released into the world.
KANGMIN: I still have only one experience as a lyricist, but I don't think it took long that time. I think we all sat down together [with the members] and mixed the lyrics that we wrote. It was fun.
DONGHEON, your qualities as a leader are often complimented and it's sometimes said that being empathetic to others and setting a good example are essential qualities for leaders.
I'd be interested to hear what you think makes a good leader in the idol industry and if you have any role models or inspirations that guide you in leading the group well? Do you feel you've changed as a leader since your debut?
DONGHEON: I want to share my experiences as they are, rather than teaching my friends, so I think I act under the motto of "living as much as I have experienced" rather than being a role model. I think a good leader tells what they’ve experienced and creates a number of examples even if they can’t be fully empathized with. In the end, the choice is up to each person; so from the beginning of my debut until now, I think my role is to create multiple options when I encounter unexpected obstacles.
HOYOUNG, as one of the group's main dancers, what other dance styles or choreographical elements would you love the group to try out in future? What styles do you personally like the most?
HOYOUNG: As a group, we've done a lot of choreography that focuses on sharpness and synchronization, but I want to try hip-hop. It's a genre that I personally can't do, but it's a genre that I like, so I want to try it together [with the other members].
MINCHAN, given that you are skilled in piano and guitar, do you think we might see an acoustic VERIVERY special album one day? What VERIVERY tracks would you like to cover in an acoustic style?
MINCHAN: The only [song with an] acoustic version is our pre-debut track ‘Super Special’, but if I have a chance, I would like to cover our title song, ‘O’, in an acoustic style.
GYEHYEON, listeners love your distinctive vocal color! What do you do to keep your voice in good shape, and what advice would you give fans who aspire to be singers?
GYEHYEON: I always practice singing because I think consistency is the most important thing to maintain a good voice. The advice I want to give to those who want to become singers is that you have to find your own color.
YEONHO, you have some of the most composition credits out of all of the members. When did you realize you wanted to compose and out of all the songs you've created, which are you the most proud of?
YEONHO: I originally had a lot of dreams for composing, butI think it became more fun when I started writing with the members. Doing and creating something together is a very fun and proud thing for me. The songs that I'm most proud of are ‘Love Line’ and ‘All I Do’.
YONGSEUNG, you are known for being very disciplined and organized, yet you are also incredibly creative as well. How do you manage to find balance between the strictness one associates with organization and the freedom one looks for in artistic pursuits?
YONGSEUNG: As you said, I'm strict with myself, and I think these self-made rules help me move forward step by step without becoming rusty. At the same time, as this is a profession that always demands creativity, I keep my eyes open for artistic inspiration. It mainly comes from fans, books, songs by other artists and poems.
KANGMIN, as the maknae, you must find yourself babied more than most! What responsibilities or duties do you feel are uniquely yours because you are the youngest?
KANGMIN: Being the youngest, there are things I want [to do] to make the team atmosphere good. The older members really care about me. But it's hard because I'm not a fun person! ☹
As idols, you must be used to being filmed almost all the time: with your documentary Let’s Face Who We Are out as well, what are you hoping fans will see from the series that they might not have seen from the group before?
Honestly, if we’ve shown a lot of decorated and formal aspects of us before, we hope you can see the natural and relatable, as well as the serious and honest sides of VERIVERY through this documentary.
And since the fans have always seen our flashy side, I think this documentary, which contains all the processes, trials and errors before our performances are ready, will be interesting. I hope the fans enjoy watching this process.
Whilst I'm sure you're all excited for your new album, what are each of the member's favorite albums out of your discography so far?
DONGHEON: I will choose the new VERIVERY albums that will come out.
HOYOUNG: I like SERIES ‘O’ [ROUND 0 : WHO] that came out recently. It was a song with a vibe we were trying out for the first time and I had a lot of fun preparing it.
MINCHAN: I like SERIES ‘O’ [ROUND 2 : HOLE].
GYEHYEON: I like SERIES ‘O’ [ROUND 1: HALL] the most, because it's an album that made me feel my growth the most.
YEONHO: I like the SERIES ‘O’ [ROUND 0 : WHO] album the most. Maybe it’s because there’s so many things we’ve never tried before that we got to put into it, but I'm looking forward to it.
YONGSEUNG: To me, all the album releases and promotional activities are like a dream, and I think it makes it so special to know that each one is a time that will never come again. I hope VERIVERY and VERRERs can keep the excitement from those times whenever they think of the memories from each album.
KANGMIN: I've liked the FACE ME album the most so far. There are a lot of songs composed by the members and it was a time when we really started challenging new things.
Could you recap or give some insight into the meanings behind each song on the album?
The title track ‘O’ is an R&B dance song that creates a dreamy yet sexy atmosphere and represents the confrontation of the imperfect self through the empty void depicted by the space in ‘O’. A song with a strong guitar riff and a powerful groovy drum rhythm, ‘O’ is also a prequel to SERIES ‘O’ that we previously released. It is a story of the shortcomings and deficiencies that become the seeds of darkness sown in young boys teetering on the edge of good and bad, who have been alienated and hurt.
‘Our Spring’, which our members participated in writing/composing, is a warm acoustic ballad song that compares a short ‘Spring’ season to the moment someone walks into your heart. Through this song, which combines a lyrical melody, voice, and a delicate performance, we tried to capture the feeling of having disliked ourselves in the past when we couldn't be courageous and ended up with an unrequited love, but having grown to accept that it was up to us!
What messages or thoughts do you hope listeners take from SERIES 'O' [ROUND 0 : WHO]?
DONGHEON: I hope you can feel a little more relaxed through this album. We also felt really comfortable while preparing for this album.Even though this album may not show a side of us that is as flashy, I hope that our fans can enjoy this album for a long time.
HOYOUNG: I want to convey the message that everyone is not perfect.
MINCHAN: I hope that listeners can see that VERIVERY has a lot of sides that haven’t been shown yet, and more diverse concepts that will be challenged in the future.
GYEHYEON: I want to send a message that you can overcome pain when you have someone that is precious next to you, that would otherwise not be possible alone.
YEONHO: I hope that many people listen to our songs and are comforted [healed]. [Also,] I hope that everyone can overcome their different struggles.
YONGSEUNG: It's hard for everyone to have confidence in themselves, and it's easier to see what you lack and over-emphasize it. Through this album, I hope you can empathise with your inner self and enjoy the songs and stages without overthinking.
KANGMIN: I think we put a lot of effort into this song. I want to let [the listeners] know that a lot of thought was put into creating a new feeling [for the song].
If you had to pick one song that either defines or represents you, and one song that you think defines or represents the group, what would you pick?
DONGHEON: I’ll choose ‘G.B.T.B’. I think it goes best with the ever evolving group, VERIVERY, that breaks the given framework we find ourselves in.
HOYOUNG: I'll choose ‘Ring Ring Ring’! I think it matches our daily life well.
MINCHAN: I want to choose a song called ‘So Gravity’ as a song that defines or represents me. I personally like the 'D.I.Y'. music video that we made for that song, and when I listen to it, I don’t really know why, but I get an overwhelming feeling. For the group, I would like to choose ‘Ring Ring Ring’. This is because it's our debut song and I hope that many people will feel joy while listening to our song.
GYEHYEON: I don't think there is a song that represents me yet, but I think to represent VERIVERY, I’d choose our debut song ‘Ring Ring Ring’.
YEONHO: I think the song that defines me is ‘Love Line’. I think I’m a little positive and bright, so it fits my mood well. I think the title song from this digital single ‘O’ represents our group. I think the boyish sexiness goes well with our group.
YONGSEUNG: Until now, ‘Get Away’ has been the song for me, but I'm looking forward to seeing if the title track of this album, ‘O’, will be like that.
KANGMIN: I choose ‘O’.
Finally, could each of the members sum up what their hopes are for 2022 in a sentence?
DONGHEON: I hope 2022 will be a year where we can be healthy and happy and spend more time with VERRERs.💜
HOYOUNG: I hope VERIVERY can win first place [in a music show].
MINCHAN: I hope we can continue to grow without hesitation.
GYEHYEON: A year when the pandemic ends and we can freely meet and communicate with our fans.
YEONHO: I want to win first place in 2022! I hope VERIVERY can provide healing to many people.
YONGSEUNG: There are always many things we hope for, but these days, when everyone is having a hard time, I hope that VERIVERY and the fans who support us will be healthy in 2022. All the things we hope for beyond health will come naturally.
KANGMIN: Let's not get sick and let’s be happy!!