In «Love Talk» with WayV
Exclusive interview with the K-pop group that visited Europe with their Phantom tour and fan meet
«I know you don't speak my language, but I love the way she's talking to me». Two lines. One song (Love Talk). The epitome of what it's like to be a K-pop fan. WayV's superpower and distinctive charm is getting straight to the point, like a piercing arrow, and speaking directly to their fan hearts.
After all, WayV, which stands for "We are your Vision," radiates an undeniable aura of ambition and creativity. They flawlessly blend pop, R&B, and hip-hop aspects to create a distinct sound that resonates strongly with their global fans.
WayV, for those unfamiliar with the Korean music panorama, is the fourth subunit formed in 2019 by the SM Entertainment superstar group NCT. The "Chinese branch of NCT", despite being born as a seven-member group, is now composed of KUN, TEN, WINWIN, XIAOJUN, HENDERY, and YANGYANG.
WayV developed a succession of chart-topping songs with their remarkable discography, a trove of musical gems: the captivating "Love Talk" charmed fans with sensual and seductive vibes. Moreover, "Action Figure," with its addictive energy and bold lyrics, "Action Figure became an exciting hymn highlighting their powerful and dynamic performances. WayV recently revealed another side of their musical journey with "Phantom." The song stands out as a hauntingly beautiful ballad that highlights WayV's emotional depth and vocal prowess, and it tugs at the heartstrings with its reflective lyrics and heartbreaking melody.
Phantom is also the moniker chosen by the group for his most recent fanmeet, which took place across Europe as well. While in London, we had the chance to jump on a Zoom call with the group and learn more about them.
Nice to meet you, WayV; thank you for your time, and welcome to Europe. How does it feel to be here with your Phantom fanmeet?
YANGYANG: It's actually our first time in Europe as WayV, and it was a pleasure to perform in front of European fans. We didn't expect so many fans to come and support us. So thank you to the fans, thank you.
Your mini album Phantom came out last December, and since then, a lot has happened. Can you share with us some memorable moments of your path as WayV until today?
TEN: We have been preparing this album for two years, since before the pandemic. It was meant to come out about two years ago, but it just got delayed, so we worked even harder and prepared much more to release Phantom. This is the final piece, the final selection we made of all the songs in the album. We are very proud of this album.
"Phantom" showcases a unique and experimental sound, different from your previous releases. What motivated you to explore this new musical direction, and what challenges did you face in bringing this vision to life?
YANGYANG: I feel like this time, in Phantom, we were more focused on things like acting; we actually got a lot of inspiration from Phantom of the Opera, and I think it was a challenge for the members because we had to go really dark this time, but I think the members pulled it off really good with the acting and the dance; even the vocals. They were really deep for us but sometimes also really high too. So it was basically like playing in a musical.
TEN: As YangYang said, we tried different vocal styles within this album. Phantom is more like a rap; we have to sing on a high note, and then we have to switch on something more like a ballad and then bounce back to a rap song. So in this album, you can hear a different singing style from us.
Talking about Phantom, How do you feel this song represents the growth and evolution of WayV as artists?
YANGYANG: It was a new challenge for us. So it made us figure out how we can go in different directions. We don't have to stick with one way only. So now, we feel like, as WayV, we can do many concepts; if we try hard, we can do anything, and anything is possible for us after pushing ourselves in this album.
TEN: Yes, it feels like we can continue to try new stuff later on. Because I feel like before Phantom, we were fixed on one image or type of song, but now we know we can try and go even more significant with different genres. So I would say, for the next album, we might try something new that our fans can't expect.
From your debut with Regular, walking through Love Talk, Action Figure, and Phantom… What key values and messages do you hope to convey through your music and performances?
YANGYANG: I feel like the message that we want to send to our fans is just to be confident in yourself. So starting from Regular to Love Talk, what we wanna share is "just be confident in yourself because by doing so then, you can beat any challenges in front of you". That was always our main message, which we wanted to deliver. We're happy that our fans love our songs so much, and we're also excited that our music gets to unify all different people together. So I feel like it's a big success for us.
Are there any personal stories or experiences that have significantly impacted your journey as members of WayV?
XIAOJUN: Maybe the biggest challenge was improving every time we did something new, like a new album or song.
TEN: How to improve ourselves. I know what XIAOJUN means. We get to do a lot of different stuff all the time, but still, we think about how to improve constantly.
How do you strive to connect with your fans on a deeper level and positively impact their lives through your music and activities?
YANGYANG: One of the reasons why we wanted to have the Phantom tour in Europe and Southeast Asia was because we wanted to create a deeper connection with the fans because, through these two years, they have only seen us through YouTube videos or something, but they didn't actually have a chance to see us in person; and the same was for us, we didn't have the opportunity to see them in person. So we feel like this tour made our connections even deeper with the fans and really tied our emotions.
What are some of the ways you stay grounded and maintain a healthy mindset amidst a demanding and competitive industry?
YANGYANG: We have to be better than ourselves to keep a competitive edge, right? Like when you talk about competitiveness, I keep thinking that we are making our own music right now and enjoying ourselves doing it. So I won't pressure us or myself with thinking about how competitive the industry is right now. I just want to enjoy WayV's music and what I do as WayV.
I have a question for each one of you: if you could define yourself within these three things - a song, a perfume, an object - which would they be and why?
WayV stopped a little to think. "It's hard," they mouthed, looking at each other.
KUN: I think I'm like a perfume because of how things smell different over time. I think it is very different for fans when they see or meet me for the first time, and then this first impression changes again when they get to know me more. And then again, it'll be very different at the end when the fans finally get to know me well. So I think I can describe myself as a perfume.
Ten smiled brightly after KUN's answer and commented, friendly laughing with the others, "Wow, romantic".
HENDERY: For me, I would like to say an onion.
The boys started mouthing "onion, onion" jokingly.
HENDERY: Because onion has many layers. So I do too, but I don't show what's that deep inside of me to other people. You have to peel off every layer to get to the core. And only people close to me, they know...
"OK, you make people cry," KUN commented while the others said, "Uh, spicy," making Hendery laugh. "So you can make people cry?" They asked him. The chemistry is undeniable.
YANGYANG and HENDERY: It's because when they reach what's deep inside, they get emotional (they laughed)
XIAOJUN: And I think the best thing that can describe me is a song from us. It's called Good Life. As the lyrics say, "I want to know what it's like". I want to know what everything is like, and I cherish things. Also, I'm a very helpful person, I don't think about not doing something too much. I'm more of a "No problem. I'll do tha, and I'll do that, I do everything" kind of person.
TEN: I have to say... I'm still thinking... I want to go with... OK. I would say a rose. Even though it's pretty, you have to be careful because you might get stung by the thorn. And yes, because it's beautiful.
WayV reactions are immediate. TEN couldn't contain his laughing while HENDERY commented, "Oh you are bad".
YANGYANG: For me... it's hard. I would say... pizza. Do you know why? Because on a pizza, you can add any flavor you want. So, if I'm a plain pizza, adding some flavor to me becomes your personal style. And the same goes for me: I could be any style you want.
HENDERY: You're kind of adaptable.
YANGYANG: Yeah, I'm so mutable.
Looking ahead, what should we expect from you in the future, and can we hope to see you in Italy soon?
YANGYANG: We actually have lots of plans coming up. We look forward to meeting our fans with more concerts and tours.