Kep1er opens up about the meaning of their new mini-album, the bond with their fans, meeting Filipino Kep1ians later this year, and more.
It’s been a busy few months for Kep1er, but then again, when aren’t they? After holding their first arena tour in Japan and performing at KCON LA, the K-pop girl group is back on the comeback radar with the release of their fifth mini-album Magic Hour at the tail end of September. Led by the energetically enchanting title track Galileo, the EP is the group’s latest exploration of their artistry, as seen with how the effort contains the first unit songs of their career.
It’s a testament to how even if Kep1er is slowly approaching their second anniversary, the group is still on the journey of continuously growing. “Just like how we dove into these unit songs on this album, we’re not afraid to take a leap, and we’ll continue to challenge ourselves,” the group shares in an interview with NYLON Manila.
Ever since their whirlwind debut following Girls Planet 999, Kep1er has been non-stop as one of the most talked about girl groups of the 4th generation in K-pop. And while the road has had its ups and downs, it’s clear that Yujin, Xiaoting, Mashiro, Chaehyun, Dayeon, Hikaru, Huening Bahiyyih, Youngeun, and Yeseo haven’t lost sight of where they want to go. “Of course, things haven’t always turned out exactly as we imagined, but it’s been an opportunity to discover new things, learn, and take on challenges.”
Scroll down to read the rest of our chat with the nine-member group as they share what went behind the 15 minutes that make Magic Hour, reflections on their K-pop journey, doing the Gento dance challenge, and more.
How different is Magic Hour as compared to your past releases?
Since LOVESTRUCK!, we’ve been on our first arena tour in Japan, went to KCON LA, and met Kep1ians from around the world. These experiences have been game-changers. We’ve not only leveled up as artists but have also been showered with love by our fans, which has turned us into even more loving Kep1er. This album is all about spreading that love and creating more enchanting moments with our fans, just like the album title suggests.
What message are you hoping to deliver with Galileo?
Galileo portrays a girl’s journey into love and how she discovers its true meaning when she encounters her destined partner. We decided to weave the name Johannes Kepler, who shares the same name with us, and the astronomer Galileo Galilei from the same era into our music. Our goal is to make our music catchy and unforgettable. Love isn’t all sunshine and rainbows; it’s also about facing challenges and uncertainties. Yet, it’s love that lets us see the warm side of the world and helps us to live together. We genuinely believe this world revolves around love, and we wish everyone gets to experience it.
Aside from the lead single, which song/s from Magic Hour are you most excited for people to hear?
YUJIN: Tropical Light. It’s our first unit song, so it feels extra special. Also, it’s got this really soothing vibe that I’ve been digging lately.
XIAOTING: Love on Lock. It’s my favorite concept, right from the intro. I listen to it all the time.
MASHIRO: Love on Lock. It has a chic and trendy vibe, similar to our song MVSK which Kep1ians really liked. I think they’ll love this one too!
CHAEHYUN: Love on Lock and TAPE. These songs showcase our voices, and they suit each of us so well. They’ve been on repeat for me lately.
DAYEON: The Door. This one hit me with a fresh vibe when I first heard it. The melody’s just so catchy so I’ve been listening to it every day.
HIKARU: Love on Lock. This track is a bit of a chameleon. Every time I listen, different voices stand out and it switches between exciting and powerful.
HUENING BAHIYYIH: Love on Lock. Our voices mesh with this tune perfectly, and the beat and melody are just fantastic. It’s got that heart-pounding quality.
YOUNGEUN: TAPE. I’ve got a soft spot for this one (laughs). It’s the unit song I got to be a part of, and those confident voices and tight rap really capture Kep1er’s unwavering spirit.
YESEO: The Door. It has that light, refreshing feel that’s perfect for listening when traveling.
Since this is your fifth mini-album, how do you guys keep things new and fresh while still retaining that signature Kep1er feel?
We always want to show that we’ve grown and developed more than before. We constantly discuss how to demonstrate our new and improved selves and often share past performance videos in our group chat, dissecting what clicked and what needed a little extra magic. Those chats really help us shape Kep1er’s style. Just like how we dove into these unit songs on this album, we’re not afraid to take a leap and we’ll continue to challenge ourselves.
Your debut was more than a year and a half ago. Do you feel like you’ve been able to define who Kep1er is as an artist or is that something you’re still figuring out?
We’re in the process of crafting the distinctive Kep1er identity. Someone once told us, ‘When you hear a Kep1er song, you can tell it’s us right from the first few notes.’ That was quite the compliment. We’ve interpreted in all sorts of genres, from disco-funk to old-school hip-hop and pop, always adding our special twist. We’re not ones to stay status quo – we’ll keep challenging ourselves and showing our growth through different sounds.
Ever since your debut, a lot of eyes have been on the group in nearly everything you do. How do you deal with that much attention and is it hard working with that kind of pressure?
We really appreciate all the attention, and in a way, it keeps us on our toes and makes us feel more responsible in what we do. Instead of seeing it as pressure, we take it as a source of positive energy. This love and support inspire us to work harder and give our best. Sure, there are tough moments and times, but during those moments, we each do things we enjoy – listening to music, watching movies, a bit of shopping, or digging into some tasty food to recharge.
How do you keep on improving yourselves as artists?
We believe the key to getting better is just to keep on trying to show a better version of ourselves. We’re always working on our singing, our performances, and even our songwriting to really get our stories across through our music. We don’t settle with what we’ve got; we’re all about moving forward and growing in every way possible.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned about being K-pop idols since your debut?
Even now, it sometimes feels like we’re living a dream as Kep1er. We’re so grateful and over the moon. Of course, things haven’t always turned out exactly as we imagined, but it’s been an opportunity to discover new things, learn, and take on challenges. What’s even cooler is how close we’ve become to Kep1ians, almost like friends or family. It’s hard to put into words, but there’s this deep trust and love between Kep1er and Kep1ians
Has it sunk in with you yet the amount of love and support you’ve received even before you made your official debut?
The love and support we received even before our debut… That’s something that might stick with us for life, you know? Those cheers and love from Kep1ians at that time, and even now, still feel fresh. We’re always thankful, and we really do love you all. We’ll keep giving our best to be the kind of Kep1er who can give back the love.
If you could talk to your younger self who was competing on Girls Planet 999, what would you like to tell them?
When we were on Girls Planet 999, we had the mindset to go all out without any regrets. We poured our hearts into every moment. So, to our past selves, we’d simply say, “You’re doing awesome. Keep giving your best just like you are now, and things will work out great.”
Many Filipino fans were excited when Dayeon posted her cover of the Gento dance challenge on TikTok. What was it like learning the dance?
We decided to join in on the TikTok trend because it seemed like a fun challenge, and the song and dance were just so cool. We put in a lot of practice to nail it! We’re so thankful and proud that so many fans in the Philippines liked the video.
You’re traveling to the Philippines later this year for Asia Artist Awards 2023. What message do you have for your Filipino Kep1ians who have been waiting to see you in the country?
Hello to all our Filipino Kep1ians! We’re so excited about our comeback with the 5th mini-album Magic Hour and the chance to see you in a few months. Just the thought of sharing the stage with you makes us feel thrilled. We’re working hard on lovely and fantastic performances for you, so please look forward to it. We’ll soon meet, and together, we’re going to make some truly magical moments! Love you so much!