[Herald Interview] Rookie Xikers gears up for real game with second albumBy Choi Ji-won
Published : Aug. 2, 2023 - 09:10
In less than five months after its debut, boy band Xikers returns revamped, ready to invite listeners deeper into its universe.
Opening the second chapter of their fledgling journey is the band's second EP, "House of Tricky: How to Play," which is set for release on Wednesday evening.
In March 30, the 10-member boy group -- consisting of members Minjae, Junmin, Sumin, Jinsik, Hyunwoo, Junghoon, Se-eun, Yujun, Yechan and, the band's only foreign member, Hunter -- debuted as the second group of KQ Entertainment, the label behind the global group Ateez.
The rookie sensation made a remarkable entrance in the K-pop scene, with their first EP, "House of Trick: Doorbell Ringring," racking up the fifth-highest sales for a K-pop boy band's debut album in history and entering the Billboard 200 albums chart at No. 75 in just 12 days. It was also named among the top 11 K-pop groups to watch for by the Grammys.
Having made a smash hit with its first album, the boys have returned with an album that unfolds further into their musical universe that revolves around the character of "Tricky."
Speaking with The Korea Herald in Seoul a week ahead of their new album release, the members explained the new album is like a "practice session" before they begin the real game.
"The 'House of Tricky' series follows our adventure inside the 'House of Tricky.' With 'Doorbell Ringring,' we'd entered the house and 'How to Play' kind of begins the story but not quite so. Here, we learn more about the house and get a glimpse into what kind of tasks we'll play inside it. It's like a practice game," Minjae, the band's leader explained during the interview.
Just as with the first album, which had been fronted by two songs, "Tricky House" and "Rockstar," the new album is also led by double title tracks: "Do or Die" and "Home Boy."
"I think our strength lies in our versatility with different concepts. So this time, we also brought forward two contrasting concepts with the upbeat 'Do or Die' and a more fresh 'Homeboy,'" Junmin explained.
Adding to the album's variety is "Koong," a powerful hip-hop tune that was pre-released with a performance video a week in advance, and three other tracks: "Skater," "Sunny Side" and "Run."
The band's rappers, Minjae, Sumin and Yechan, took part in writing the lyrics again, this time contributing to all six songs of the album. The three had written verses for five tracks on their debut album, including for the two main songs.
Yechan's attempt with the lyrics was focused more on adding creativity, the member said.
"For the first album, the songs were centered on revealing our universe, so I also tried to choose words that described it. But this time, I tried to find expressions that are more fun. I'm not a webtoon reader, but I tried to get inspirations from it this time. When I would see an object, I would think about what kind of sounds it makes and how I could pronounce them in words," Yechan shared.
In case of Minjae, he tried to bring changes in the rap style.
"In the first album, I wrote lyrics that matched my low-toned timber, but this time, I wanted to reflect my preferences in style through the raps. For instance, as much as I like the strong rapping, I also enjoy a more 'melodical' flow, which is also my initial style," Minjae said.
Hongjoong of Ateez, an experienced composer and producer, again played a major in the composition and lyrics-penning of Xikers' six new songs.
Having spent restless months since debut, promoting their album for an extended period and performing at many festivals here and abroad, the members said they felt more confident on the stage.
It isn't just perfection of the moves but the small details, like expressions and gestures -- even when not caught on camera -- that matter now, Yujun stressed.
Hunter said likewise, saying he hoped to demonstrate composure on stage.
"With the first album, it was important that we sport the powerful energy of a rookie group. We poured everything into the stage from the start until the end. But this time, we're relaxed so that we have the room to demonstrate each of our individual charms and colors," Hunter, who hails from Thailand, said in Korean.
Debuting amidst a rush of new boy bands this year -- which includes the likes of 8Turn, The Wind and Lun8 -- Xikers has managed to stand out among them, successfully branding itself as a group strong in live performances. Despite its short career, the group has already been on several big stages, including the major annual K-pop festival, KCON, two times ahead of its debut, in Japan in October and in Thailand in March.
In April, the band made its debut stage performance at the iconic Olympic Stadium in Jamsil at the Lovesome Festival and, just last week, flew to Spain to attend "2023 Kpop Lux by SBS Super Concert," a K-pop event hosted by local broadcaster SBS in Madrid.
"It was the biggest concert we had in Spain and we were shocked that so many people could sing along to our songs," Se-eun said, adding, "It was the biggest audience we saw that knew our songs so well."
On Aug. 19, Xikers is set to make their first foray into the US at the KCON festival in the Los Angeles.
The boys hoped to hold their own concert soon.
"Although we don't have a clear plan now, a concert is one of the main events at which artists and fans can have fun together, and we're open to all opportunities where we could show our performances. If there comes a chance, hopefully we can launch our concert and a world tour soon," Minjae said.
Closing the interview, the members hoped their new album could remain with listeners for a long time.
"It's a summer album, and I wish that it could be remembered for a long time along with this summer. When time passes, hopefully, our second EP can be the album that reminds people of now," Se-eun said.
Xikers' second EP, "House of Tricky: How to Play," is set to come out at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Korea's GNI rebounds on stable won
Med schools demand over 3,400 new student seats
Yoon to expand state-backed college student aid