By Rosa Gulliver of TINYGMUSIC| 5th September 2023
NINE.i, a 10-member boy group under FirstOne Entertainment, made its debut on March 30, 2022, with the release of their first mini album, “NEW WORLD.” The group caught our attention with the title track, ”Parallel Universe.”
They soon made a comeback on November 8, 2022, with their 2nd mini album titled “I (Part.1),” which conveyed a message of youth, their message, and a noticeable difference in their charms compared with their first album.
After nine months, NINE.i are back on the K-Pop scene with “NEW MIND,” the group’s 3rd mini album.
Not only have NINE.i showed great vocals, synchronisation, and charisma, NINE.i take their talents a step further, with members Vahn, Joo Hyoung, and Eden taking an active role in creating the new album, writing lyrics, composing, and arranging.
To celebrate the release of “NEW MIND” earlier this month, KPOPWORLD had the honour to sit down with the boys, where we discussed the creation of “NEW MIND,” their involvement in it, and much more. Continue reading to learn more about NINE.i.
As with all artists I interview, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time during your hectic schedule to let me interview you. For those readers who have not yet discovered you or your work, can each member introduce themselves?
Jewon Hello. This is NINE.i leader Jewon! I am the soft-voiced vocalist on the team.
Eden Hello. This is NINE.i Eden, who is in charge of the fairest skin on the team, I am in charge of the vocals and the eldest Hyung.
Minjun Hello. I amMinjun, who is in charge of power vocals in NINE.i.
Vahn Hello. I am Vahn,the colour and producer of NINE.i.
Vari Hello. I'm the pink-haired guy who is in charge of connectors and vocals in NINE.i! I’m Vari.
Seowon Hello. I am Seowon, the vitamin of NINE.i.
Taehun Hello. I am Taehun, a powerful dancer and performance leader in NINE.i.
Joo Hyoung Hello. I am Joo Hyoung, the energiser of NINE.i!
Jiho Hello. This is Jiho, the cutie maknae of NINE.i.
Winnie is currently on hiatus due to injury.
First of all, congratulations on your comeback! Can you tell us a little more about your new song, “Turn it off” from your new album “NEW MIND”?
Joo Hyoung: The title song, “Turn it off,” contains the meaning of living with a pure mindset while turning off many thoughts in your head.
Vahn: It's a refreshing song about putting down the negative things that fill your head for a while and turning them off. If you listen to the chorus part once, you will keep humming it, so please listen to it a lot.
It's been nine months since your last comeback with your 2nd Mini Album: “I (Part.1)." How did you find the preparations for this comeback?
Taehun: First of all, I want to say thank you to our fans, i.ENIN, who have been waiting for this comeback for the first time in nine months! Nine months is a really, really long time, and since you loved and waited for that long time, I wanted to repay you with a great comeback that lives up to that love and expectations.
Joo Hyoung: i.ENIN, who waited for me as it was a comeback after a long time. I genuinely appreciate and love you beyond words. As much as we prepared really hard, we want to imprint the name Nine.i even for those who see us for the first time.
Jiho: I'm nervous because it's a comeback after a long time, but because I prepared and practiced harder, it was a comeback that I am looking forward to.
You guys are very involved in producing your own songs. In that sense, what were the challenges of working on this new album?
Vahn: I prepared for this album for a long time. I prepared hard regardless of the place and time, and I hope you listen to it. I learned a lot while working with various producers, including the famous composer “Sweetune.” Also, it was fun because I was able to believe in myself and grow. I had a hard time, but I think all the experiences I've accumulated will have a good effect.
For this album, it was clear that I wanted many people to sing along to our songs. So I think the most difficult task was to write simple lyrics and melodies that were not childish.
What are you most looking forward to showing fans in this comeback?
Jewon: I thought a lot about how it would be nice to show an improved image compared to the previous album. I wanted to show my fans a new side of us and surprise them.
Vari: I think the part I paid the most attention to in this album was that I wanted to show more growth in terms of skills and visuals compared to the previous album.
What do you hope people take away from your new single “Turn It Off”?
Vahn: It's a song about talking about hope and strength when you're tired of the world and full of negative thoughts. I hope you gain strength after listening to this song.
Seowon: I hope you enjoy the choreography created by ‘Choi Young-joon’, a famous K-Pop choreographer who was also a judge on “Boys Planet.” The NINE.i “Turn it off” challenge is really cute and has a lot of interesting points. Please pay attention to the performance.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories with us? Did anything funny or memorable happen while you were recording the new song and MV?
Taehun: During the filming of the “Turn it off’ music video, there is a lyric in Jiho’s part that says, ‘Turn off the mind of a monkey being chased by a tiger’. All the staff and members who were there at that time laughed so loudly that we had fun filming it too.
Jiho: I also remember the time when I filmed my part! It was a shoot to express the lyrics, but it was the shoot where I expressed the monkey, so it was the most memorable. The staff laughed, and the atmosphere on set was really good.
Can each member share their favourite song from the new album with the fans?
Jewon: I like “Hurt.” The beat that touches your heart is charming, so please listen to it!
Eden: “Highschool Love.” It's a very meaningful song because it's the first time I've been in charge of the first verse part while working on the third album.
Minjun: “Turn it off” and “Highschool Love.” It's the track that got my heart racing from the moment I heard the demo file, and I love the vibe of the song.
Vahn: The first song I made on this album is “Power up.” The melody is well made, and the lyrics are well written, so it's a song I cherish.
Vari: I like “Highschool Love”! It's a song with an atmosphere that I like, and there are a lot of sing-along sections in this song, and I'm moved to tears when I hear that part.
Seowon: My favourite tracks from this 3rd album are “Turn it off” and “Power up.” It's an exciting and refreshing song, so you can enjoy it easily.
Taehun: Among the songs on this album, I like “Power up” the most!! When I listen to it, it's exciting, refreshing, and cool, and I think it contains all three of my favourite things!!
Joo Hyoung: I want to choose the 5th track, “Hurt.” I think it contains a side of us that we haven’t shown yet.
Jiho: “Turn it off” and “ONE” are my favourite tracks. The moment I heard it, it touched my heart.
Going back to your concept photos for “NEW MIND,” each one is an array of vibrant colours. Do any of the colours have any reflection on your personality?
Vahn: It’s blue. It's a colour that looks cold, but blue things are warmer than you think.
Vari: I think the colour that best represents me is pink! It's because I dyed my hair pink this time, with many pink points in the outfit!
Seowon: White, because white goes well with any colour. I also think it can go well with any concept and any situation.
Taehun: I think it must be blue! The reason is that it's my favourite colour, and I think it's cool. Haha
Joo Hyoung: Red, like my hair colour. I would like to say that it is a strong image that I can express.
Jiho: My colour is light blue. Because it is my favourite colour.
Did you experience any memorable moments while creating your album “NEW MIND” that you can share with us?
Joo Hyoung: “Turn it off” is a song with a high range, and I remember practicing hard. From the debut song until now, it seems that the title song is getting higher and higher. I'm proud that I did it anyway.
Eden: When I first heard the demo of the title song, “Turn it off,” I remember being surprised by how high the range was. The song “Young Boy” from the previous album was also very high, but I was surprised that a song with a higher level came.
Is there something that you've learned from your debut and your first comeback that you were able to apply to this comeback with “NEW MIND”?
Vahn: As I was working on the album, I thought that I should make good songs that fans want to keep listening to and move my fans. On this album, I hoped that many people would listen to and sing along to our songs, and I also hoped that the fans would feel that the message of the album was growing.
Jiho: Through our debut and comeback, I felt that more and more fans knew and loved us. In this comeback, I thought I should show my fans our growth and always make them look forward to it.
During comebacks, as an idol, you must have very little free time. How do you usually relax and de-stress after a long day?
Seowon: I do calligraphy. Calligraphy is to express my feelings through writing. When I do calligraphy, I focus only on writing, and miscellaneous thoughts and worries disappear for a while.
NINE.i have many talents. What sets NINE.i apart from other rookie K-Pop groups?
Eden: The first is that there are members who can participate in writing lyrics, composing, and arranging. The second is that it is a multi-person group, so I think we will be able to show a lot of colourful and fresh compositions. Third, we have a unique worldview. Our group keywords are culture, IT, and humanities, and I think a concept that combines three keywords is uncommon.
For new fans of NINE.i, is there a song from your discography you recommend they listen to first?
Taehun: The song I want to hear the most is “Power up”!! I hope fans gain strength after listening to this song, and I think fans will love it as much as do. So I want to brag about it!!!
Can you all provide one word to describe your music?
Vahn: ‘NINE.i –pop.’ I want to create a new genre of music called ‘NINE.i-pop’ with the unique colour of the NINE.i
You are working so hard! How do you prevent burnout and fatigue or try to reduce your stress?
Vahn: I'm going on a trip alone. When I put everything down for a while and go with the flow, my new passion and heart grow again.
Seowon: I also like ‘going on a trip.’ Travelling gives me new stimuli and new goals and motivations, so I go on a small trip when I feel stressed or frustrated.
The members come from a variety of musical backgrounds; some of you started in music through a competition, contemporary dance, or just through the influences of those around you. What place or role does art or music play in your life?
Minjun: When I was in the 3rd grade of elementary school, I dreamed of becoming a singer after watching the performances of the second-generation senior idols. However, I faced opposition from my family and majored in modern dance. I started my group trainee activities only after I finished my college entrance exam. However, what I learned from contemporary dance helped me a lot when I was creating dance lines. For example, there is a special effect of the sensibility of dance and K-Pop that is helpful to art and music.
Eden: I was a student who liked to dance and sing, but after I went to the Department of Creative Writing at University, dancing and singing became my hobbies. But at some point, I thought, ‘I want to make this my career,’ and found myself immersed in dancing and singing. It felt like I had found my ‘real dream.’ I immediately took a leave of absence and worked hard to become a trainee. After going through over 100 auditions and two companies, I made my debut like this. Music is my ‘real dream’ in life and what makes me the happiest.
Do any of NINE.i members have any hobbies?
Eden: Seowon has a great hobby in interior design. It's Won's hobby that I got to know while he was roommates with me, and I could often see him searching for interiors on his cell phone.
Jiho: These days, my hobby is to lie down and read webtoons. I want to recommend interesting works to fans later.
Who do you look up to most in the music industry?
Vahn: My musical role model is Justin Bieber. I haven't met him yet, but I think I'll cry when I do.
You recently performed at KCON Japan in May and the Dream Concert in April this year. How does it feel to perform on a big stage?
Jewon: I was so thankful that they knew and loved NINE.i when we stood on the big stage. It seems I have built up a lot of practical stage experience.
Jiho: I went to Japan for the first time and performed, and the fans all enjoyed our performance, so I had a lot of fun. I really appreciate the fans, and I want to meet them again during our forthcoming Japan tour.
Any plans on doing something this year? Is there something we can look forward to from NINE.i for the rest of the year? Perhaps a fan meet or tour that your fans have been waiting for?
Seowon: There is a schedule for a Japanese fan concert tour from August to September. I have good memories with Japanese fans from the last concert, so I am excited about our upcoming Japanese tour. Our goal is to meet and perform with more fans from all over the world.
Before we end this interview, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Seowon: i.ENIN, Let’s always love each other and keep making lots of pretty memories. Thank you always, and I love you fans.
Special thanks to NINE.i and FirstOne Entertainment for giving us the opportunity for this exclusive interview.
All photos and video credits go to FirstOne Entertainment.
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