exo chen door

EXO’s CHEN Opens Another “DOOR” To A Realm Rich With His Emotions And Musical Colors

A door to infinite possibilities.

CHEN, the phenomenal singer and storyteller that he is.

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Even with over 10 years of being part of one of K-pop’s celebrated groups, EXO, and five years of building his sleek discography as a solo artist, CHEN has yet to open a lot of “doors” — “doors” that will lead to new creative avenues. With DOOR being CHEN’s fourth EP, the artist has continually shown his evolved self. A growth evident in his storytelling, emotions, and vocals, his latest addition brings a new sense of refined maturity.

By how he conveys such emotions, he “immerses himself as the protagonist of it,” ultimately making the song his own. 

DOOR imparts dual symbolism through the themes of “Blank” and “Stack,” representing the heart’s journey of being both “emptied” and “filled.” And CHEN believes that this message is perfectly put across in his chosen title track, Empty: “I’ve tried my best to convey my message in a way that feels most authentic to me,” he tells NYLON Manila in an exclusive interview.


Boasting a total of six tracks, CHEN lent his hands to the creation of five of them, infusing his signature flair to elevate the album’s cohesion. Ranging from ballads to retro tunes, the tracks Empty, Dandelion (to which his fellow member BAEKHYUN contributed lyrics), PLAYLIST (feat. HAON and BE’O), Fall In Love Again, Starlight, and Remember explore themes surrounding life, existence, love, and nostalgia. It’s an album made with authenticity.

Ahead of DOOR’s highly-anticipated release, we talked to CHEN about his latest release, how the process of showing his facets through music is going, and how the album serves as an invitation to the listeners on a journey into the artist’s creative realm. Read the full interview with CHEN below!

First of all, congratulations on your new album! Tell us how it feels like returning after one year and six months since Last Scene. How’s your goal of “sharing how I see things through music” going?

Thanks for the warm welcome! As time goes by, my views and thoughts are constantly changing, and each album reflects my perspective throughout time. So, my goal of “sharing how I see things through music” is definitely going well so far! I’m curious to see what aspects of myself will be reflected in my future albums. 

It’s been five years since you debuted as a solo artist. How do you feel about time flying so fast? Is there anything you’ve learned from yourself the moment you embarked on your solo journey?

Time really flies. In the blink of an eye, a significant amount of time has passed. I was fortunate enough to have countless experiences. What I’m most proud of is that I’ve taken the time to gain a deeper understanding of myself during this time. 

Why did you decide to name the album DOOR? How do you think the album and the tracks represent what kind of person CHEN is and the thoughts you wanted to convey with this one?

The DOOR is a mediator that allows things to be filled, emptied, entered, or exited. This dual symbolism fits perfectly with my title track Empty as it also represents my desire to invite fans to my music. Each song contains my honest interpretation, and I’ve tried my best to convey my message in a way that feels most authentic to me. 

Do you think you have yet to open a lot of “doors” that will show a new facet of CHEN? What are you hoping to showcase to everyone in the coming years?

I see myself as an endless “door” and the way my fans perceive me is also a reflection of that “door.” I am always grateful to the fans who view me with pride, and within that, I always strive to remain my true, sincere self. 

Could you share with us why you decided to have Empty as the title song of the record? Tell us about the other tracks as well and your collaboration with HAON and BE’O for PLAYLIST.

I chose Empty as the title track because its unique, melancholic melody captured my heart. It was the perfect song that I feel perfectly embodies the more mature version of myself I’ve become. I’m grateful that this album contains songs from such diverse genres. PLAYLIST, a track written by Colde was created with the sole intention of creating a fun and enjoyable song. With the additional features of BE’O and HAON, the song has become even more energetic and fun!


You said in an interview that you hope the younger CHEN enjoyed a bit more, and that that is one of your regrets until now. I wanted to ask you: do you now know how to make time for yourself, how to enjoy fully? Are you doing it right now, and are you happy with it?

I feel like I’ve gained a lot more peace of mind lately. Even when going through the same daily routines as before, I now have the capacity to see and feel much more. I think because of this, I was able to make this album with even more happiness and excitement than before.

Last Scene was the first album you released in your 30s—and this is the second one. How’s your 30s been going? What’s something you’ve learned from your youth that you’re going to apply and bring with you until your 30s? 

Honestly, age doesn’t really matter to me. Turning 30 hasn’t changed me or given me new goals. I believe that who I am today is shaped by my past experiences. Among those, the most important experience has been receiving endless love from my fans. It’s an incredibly valuable and precious experience. Being loved is truly something to be grateful for.

In an interview five years ago, you said that hearing the phrase “Thank you for singing” makes you motivated. What else have you read that has had a big impact on you as an artist?

It feels like the same words still keep me going. I can still feel the love from those who continue to support me.

When preparing for an album, you find yourself asking questions like “How can I show my true self?” and “What exactly are my strengths?” among others. For this particular DOOR album release, are there any specific questions you’ve asked yourself? And how were you able to answer those questions?

I’ve pondered more broadly on why these lyrics emerged and how such situations came to be, trying to view various scenarios from my own perspective. It was a complex but enjoyable experience. Unlike before, I focused more on “What situation am I in now?” rather than “How would I have felt?”. Through this process, I found answers to my past experiences and interpretations. 

How did you work on displaying your vocals and emotions this time around for the tracks of DOOR? What do you do to relate with the lyrics you’re singing? 

To convey empathy and emotion, I try to fully immerse myself as the protagonist of the song. When the song becomes my own story, I believe I can relate, interpret, and convey it in the most authentic way. 

What lines/lyrics resonate with you, personally, the most?

In the song Dandelion, there’s a line: “Like a flower seed blooming white, let the wind carry away the sorrow.” This lyric resonates with me the most, as it reflects my desire to comfort people through my song.


Since there’s a song on your album called PLAYLIST, I was wondering which songs are currently on your on-repeat playlist these days.

I’ve been listening to Benson Boone’s songs lately. I stumbled upon them through a photoshoot, and ever since, I’ve been actively seeking out and listening to more of his music.

Any final message to your fans, especially your supporters in the Philippines?

It’s heartwarming to always think of fans in the Philippines, who passionately show love and welcome me all the time. I want to express my gratitude for eagerly supporting and loving me, and I look forward to the day we can meet again. I hope all the fans in the Philippines stay happy and healthy until the day we meet again!

Photos courtesy of INB100

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