LE SSERAFIM opens up about their new album, first year as a group, their friendship, and more.
Making its debut on May 2, 2022, LE SSERAFIM has been making waves all over the globe and breaking records left and right, and it’s been only around a year since its first appearance in the industry. If you’re a K-pop fan, you definitely have at least one of the group’s songs in your playlist, or even danced to it already. And the hits continue for the girls as last May, LE SSERAFIM came back with another no-skip album, proving that they really don’t disappoint with their music every time they return to the K-pop scene.
The five-member female group under SOURCE MUSIC, comprising KIM CHAEWON, SAKURA, HUH YUNJIN, KAZUHA, and HONG EUNCHAE commemorated their first anniversary with the release of their debut studio album, UNFORGIVEN. This comes on the trail of their two successful albums, FEARLESS and ANTIFRAGILE. UNFORGIVEN revolves around the unfettering idea that forgiveness is not always necessary. “We want to encourage our listeners to resist pressures set by societal standards and instead follow their own hearts and beliefs,” says CHAEWON, the group’s leader, in an interview with NYLON Manila.
“The release of our first studio album feels like a whole new chapter for us,” adds SAKURA. The 13-track album features seven new songs, a 2023 version of three tracks from last year, and three songs from the EP ANTIFRAGILE, including their first fan song, FEARNOT (Between you, me and the lamppost), which all members contributed to writing. YUNJIN explains that this collaboration added a layer of depth and meaning to the song, making it even more special for the group and their beloved fans.
“It’s truly humbling and we’re more than grateful. It means that we’re able to spread positive influence to our listeners,” SAKURA shares. KAZUHA then echoes her sentiments, “We hope that this album will not only meet but exceed the expectations of FEARNOT (the group’s fandom name) and allow us to connect with even more global listeners.”
While LE SSERAFIM encourages listeners to flee from societal pressures through their new album, the members themselves recognize that pressure and judgments are a natural part of the process and can even serve as inspiration for improvement. YUNJIN explains, “While there is certainly pressure, we embrace it as a normal part of the journey. It’s actually a good type of pressure because it motivates us to strive for something greater. We approach it with a positive mindset.”
THE SECRET BEHIND THEIR SUCCESS
Although each one of them contributes significantly to their continued success which also creates powerful synergy within their band, EUNCHAE notes that it is their “strong teamwork and dedication” that propelled them to the top. But CHAEWON is quick to credit FEARNOT for playing a vital role in their journey. She says, “Their passion drives us to grow, evolve, and reach new heights.” With FEARNOT’s passion behind them, LE SSERAFIM is ready to write the next chapter of their journey. “We can’t wait to share even more music and special moments with them.”
Above all, the members of the group regard their strong ties as a pillar of their success. SAKURA notes, “Despite our unique personalities and styles, we’ve developed a strong bond by actively listening to each other, collaborating on creative decisions, and embracing constructive feedback from each other.” This apparent communication and shared respect have allowed them to provide valuable feedback to one another, which enhances their stage presence and all creative work.
KAZUHA agrees, adding that their long hours of practice also contribute to their teamwork. “Spending time rehearsing our music and synchronizing our moves creates a sense of unity and togetherness,” she explains. This oneness allows them to move in perfect harmony and showcase the chemistry they share both on and off stage.
The band is widely recognized as one of the most talented groups of the 4th generation. One of the members, YUNJIN, a skilled opera singer, has brought her top-notch talents to K-Pop, leading her to not only participate in creating the tracks for the group but also release two self-penned and self-produced solo songs this year: I ≠ DOLL and love you twice. Both songs have been remarkably lauded by fans, as they tackle relevant themes such as the harsh realities of being an idol and finding your own selfhood.
As a prolific songwriter, YUNJIN has a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to finding inspiration. She explains, “I always have a memo tab called ‘inspo’ pinned in my notes app, so whenever I get an idea or some word or phrase strikes me in my day-to-day life I like to write it down. I also like to save links to YouTube videos or TikToks or screenshots of things that inspire me. Though it’s not always, I usually have some kind of motive when I write, ’cause I feel like my melodies come out best when I have a clear message to sing first.”
But songwriting is more than just a creative outlet for YUNJIN, noting, “There’s always something about finding myself talking about something I guess I hadn’t realized I was going through. Songwriting, for me, is therapeutic in that sense.”
LE SSERAFIM boasts not only an opera singer but also a professional ballet dancer in KAZUHA. The Japanese-born idol opens up about what it was like to transition from ballet dancing to K-pop dancing, saying, “Ballet and K-pop are completely different, especially when it comes to using the body. So it was very difficult to make the shift at first, and at times, it still is.” Although there are challenges in learning new choreographies in a short amount of time, KAZUHA sees each experience as an opportunity to even grow as an artist. “To perfect the performance within the allowed time, I have learned to push myself in the most efficient way possible and work as hard as I can to outgrow my previous performances.”
THE MEMBERS’ CLOSE-KNIT BOND
According to EUNCHAE, the maknae of LE SSERAFIM, her fellow bandmates have been her unwavering support system, always there to cheer her on and boost her self-esteem. And she has something to tell them: “It’s all thanks to you that I’ve been able to showcase my talents and become a member of the talented and charismatic LE SSERAFIM. I’m so happy and thankful.” At just 16 years of age, EUNCHAE also shares what was the turning point in her life that inspired her to pursue a career in the music industry. “K-pop has been a worldwide phenomenon since I was in elementary school, so I naturally became interested in it, especially after seeing amazing seniors like BTS, TWICE, and SEVENTEEN on stage,” she explains. “The turning point came after going to SEVENTEEN’s concert, and that was the day I decided that I wanted to become a K-pop artist.”
LE SSERAFIM may have only debuted on the K-Pop scene a year ago, but according to CHAEWON, she feels as though she has grown immensely since then. “I feel I’ve grown the most after I debuted as LE SSERAFIM,” she reflects. As the group’s leader and a seasoned industry professional, CHAEWON says that she feels a greater sense of responsibility and courage to protect her team and their dreams.
Meanwhile, SAKURA, who has also spent most of her years as an idol in Japan and South Korea, shares that her love for performing on stage was the driving force behind her decision to pursue a career in the music industry. “Ever since I started connecting with the fans and pursued this path, I realized that right here is where I belong. I truly feel my dreams came true, and I will do everything in my power to keep it my reality,” she affirms.
For EUNCHAE, joining LE SSERAFIM has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to her. “The best part of it all is the strong bond we share as a group. We’ve all grown together, faced challenges, and created unforgettable memories. I feel more than blessed to have four older sisters who I can call my family away from home,” she gushes. CHAEWON wholeheartedly agrees, adding, “We also have a similar sense of humor, which leads to endless laughter whenever we’re together. Even when we’re tired or feeling a bit blue on some days, spending time together with the members is all it takes to brighten up my day and get recharged.” Their tight-knit bond is clearly a source of joy and support for all the members of LE SSERAFIM and a key pillar in their success.
PERFORMING IN FRONT OF FEARNOT
As their career took off, everything seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Now, the group is embarking on their very first tour, aptly named FLAME RISES. For these artists, meeting their fans and performing live in front of them bring unparalleled joy to them. “We’ve performed in a variety of settings, but nothing compares to the feeling of performing right in front of our fans,” shares SAKURA. CHAEWON adds, “The ‘stage’ is what motivates me to wake up and keep moving forward every day. No matter how tough the day might be, I’ve learned that I’m happiest and most fulfilled when I’m performing in front of FEARNOT.”
YUNJIN also expresses her love for performing: “There’s nothing more invigorating than being up there and putting on a great show for everyone who waited to see us.” While KAZUHA emphasizes the importance of practice, “For us, the key to enjoying the performance itself is making sure we practice until we’re all satisfied with our performance and what we can do as LE SSERAFIM.” Finally, EUNCHAE shares how she pumps herself up before a show, “I tell myself ‘I will rock this stage’ and freshen up my confidence before I go up. Performing in front of FEARNOT truly means the world to me.”
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