When you’re named on Billboard‘s “21 Under 21: Music’s Next Generation” list for three consecutive years (2018-2020), you know you’re doing something right.
Three years later, NCT DREAM have continued to build on their early hype with the release of ISTJ – The 3rd Album, a thoughtful and ambitious act of levelling up by the K-pop sensations.
With a sound traversing K-pop, hip hop, R&B, and electropop, and lyrics exploring the importance of getting to know everyone openly and honestly (the title comes from one of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality types), ISTJ has become the group’s biggest-selling album just a few weeks after its release.
After recently concluding a mammoth world tour, visiting North America, Europe, and South America, NCT DREAM have a new country in their sights. “We want to share our music and communicate with all the NCTzens and K-pop lovers in Australia!” JENO told Rolling Stone AU/NZ.
Ahead of the physical release of ISTJ in Australia on Friday, August 18th, we caught up with the seven group members to discuss their connection with their global fanbase, songwriting process, commercial success, world tour highlights, and much more.
NCT DREAM’s ISTJ – The 3rd Album is out now digitally.
Rolling Stone AU/NZ: What different themes did you want to explore on ISTJ?
JENO: We wanted to show our group’s musical growth and express MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) in a more fun way through the title track.
MARK: We were aiming to bring up the MBTI concept to all of our fans and listeners. The MBTI trend in Korea was massive and it felt like it would be exciting to have that trend stretch out towards the world too. ISTJ talks about the differences in personalities yet being exceptionally drawn to love regardless of opposing MBTIs.
How important is it to get to know a person properly instead of relying on a personality type test like Myers-Briggs?
JAEMIN: What’s much more important and precious than MBTI is to take time to get to know people, make memories together, and get to know their true feelings.
RENJUN: I believe that getting to know a person takes time. Just as we realise and discover new aspects of one’s self through various experiences, in order to understand others’ personality, you should take your time and approach slowly.
Did you all co-write on this album? How did the songwriting process go?
HAECHAN: All of our members participated in writing the lyrics for “Like We Just Met”. While we were communicating with one another during our co-writing process, I felt like there’s still more to develop and improve, but I’m proud that beautiful lyrics came out as a result.
CHENLE: Yes, all of us participated in the songwriting process of “Like We Just Met”. It was meaningful to write lyrics with all seven members without a lyricist for the first time, and I was able to learn a lot throughout the process.
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It hasn’t been that long since the album was released and ISTJ is already smashing commercial records. How does this make you all feel?
HAECHAN: We’re very grateful. I want us to never forget that we were able to achieve such great results thanks to the support from our fans. We’ll work harder to repay everyone’s support and love with gratitude.
JENO: I’m very thankful and happy that our records have grown, but am foremost grateful to our NCTzens who always support us.
CHENLE: Thank you so much for all the love! All of our members in NCT DREAM are ambitious people, so we’ll continue to work harder and do our best to share even better songs.
JISUNG: It feels great and I really want to thank our fans. We want to spread NCT DREAM’s positive influence to more people, and would like to aspire and reach even higher goals to do so!
Did you enjoy your world tour?
RENJUN: I’ve always dreamt of travelling the world, and thanks to our world tour, I was able to make my dream come true. It was such a memorable and enjoyable experience to meet our fans from all over the world.
CHENLE: It’s hard to choose only one since all the shows had its own distinct charms. But if I’d have to choose, it would be the LA show. I wasn’t feeling the best on the day of the LA show, but was proud of myself for giving my best until the end. I believe I was able to do so thanks to all our fans’ enthusiastic support and cheer.
What’s been the highlight of touring the world tour so far?
JAEMIN: I have grateful memories for each and every country we have visited, as our NCTzens from all around the world sang along to every song of ours together and responded well despite it being our first visit.
JISUNG: It was truly amazing and heartwarming to see fans from numerous countries liking and supporting us. Simply witnessing the fans cheering gave us immense strength and allowed us to happily perform.
How exciting is it to interact with fans in places like Europe and the US?
HAECHAN: I missed our fans so much and was able to enjoy our time together as much as I missed them. I was really thankful to the fans who waited for us for a long time. See you all more often!
MARK: It truly is electrifying. We just completed our first world tour, and it was an unforgettable experience for all of us. We really are more determined to interact with our global fans much more. We’re very thankful for their long-distance support.
NCT DREAM have so many fans in Australia – when will we see you touring Down Under?!
JAEMIN: I believe it won’t take that long for it to happen. Since we are always eager to meet our fans, we’re always ready to go meet them no matter how far or how long it may take.
JENO: I think it’d be great to perform in Australia for our DREAM SHOW 3. We want to share our music and communicate with all the NCTzens and K-pop lovers in Australia!
What’s the plan for the rest of 2023?
RENJUN: Let’s work hard on our remaining activities and show even more of what we can!
MARK: 2023 feels like it’s already coming to an end right now. We’re focusing on our ‘2023 NCT CONCERT – NCT NATION: To the World’ and the NCT full album! For NCT DREAM, we are already planning our next projects and music for 2024. Our plans are only getting bigger.
JISUNG: I want to do well for what’s left in 2023 and also prepare well for 2024!