“Have you had breakfast?” a bright-eyed Hoyoung asks as the conversation winds down. “That’s a very important question in VERIVERY.”
The seven members of VERIVERY – Dongheon, Hoyoung, Minchan, Gyehyeon, Yeonho, Youngseung, and Kangmin – huddle together in front of the camera. They’re clad in red and black leather outfits, presumably in-between performances. The past couple of weeks have brought a whirlwind of activities for them. Since the release of their sixth EP Series ‘O’ [Round 2: Hole] – which continues their lore by thrusting the members into a twisted and stomach-turning “death-game” – the group has been on an unstoppable momentum, as is characteristic of them.
But first, breakfast – which eventually segues into a conversation about lunch (pizza, for those interested), because that is equally important.
Since bursting onto the scene with “Ring Ring Ring” two years ago, VERIVERY have come to embody some of the most exciting and fastest growth trajectories in K-pop.
From teeny-bopper romance anthems to confronting their inner demons, from summery-pop to dark, gritty, powerful bass-rhythms and EDM-inspired tracks – a comparison between the old and the new presents an image of an act coming into their own, playing with their boundaries and expanding the horizons of their beliefs, slowly growing into shoes more mature and true to their vision.
Nowhere is this more evident than on their latest EP Series ‘O’ [Round 2: Hole], helmed by the lead track “Trigger”, which sees the members coming face to face with their alter-egos, who have less than pure intentions. As the members try to find safer pastures navigating through old ruins, they realise that the only way forward is together.
Speaking to Rolling Stone Australia from South Korea, VERIVERY dive into their new album, growth, their group dynamics, and the future.
RS: “Trigger” and the second album in Series ‘O’ carries forward what happened in “Get Away”, where the members are shown trying to escape a very dangerous, confusing ‘death’ game. What was it like shooting this intense concept?
Hoyoung: First of all, we’re all really bright and energetic. We always have a smile on our faces, so being able to act like we had to run away from all the difficulties and stuff… [that was the] most difficult part was to act. Our facial expressions, those acting scenes, [they] were quite difficult.
RS: There is a lot of running involved, yes. I watched the VE:HIND logs.
Hoyoung: Oh yeah, we ran for… so long. (laughs)
Dongheon: It’s too hard!
RS: In “Get Away”, your alter-egos were constantly watching you through screens. In ‘Trigger’, they have now revealed themselves and are creating more trouble for you. What’s the significance of this revelation in the scheme of this album series?
Yeonho: [On] “Get Away”, we all went through darkness, but for this one, we are all fighting the darkness to get out together, and to get away from it. [But] we wish that people can see this in a more general way than mixing both [“Get Away” and “Trigger”] together.
RS: I thought the concept of ‘facing countless images’ inside of you is more important for young people, who are constantly growing. You need to know all sides of yourself to grow – would you agree that this concept represents the inner battle that goes on inside us?
Gyehyeon: Yes, because I think it’s normal for everyone to bottle up the darkness inside themselves. [So] through this album, if people can relate to that, that would be great.
RS: In “Trigger”, you talk about the ‘me’ that you see in the mirror – if you could tell this ‘me’ something in real life, what would you say?
Dongheon: Maybe… “Oh! You’re so handsome!” (laughs) “You’re so cute!” That was a joke, but if I did have a chance to talk with my ‘other’ side, the darker side of myself, I would ask him “What made you so hard on yourself?”
Gyehyeon: I would just say “You’re the best.” I want to level up my self-confidence.
Kangmin: I would just say: “Who are you?”
RS: We also have a special song on this album, “Prom”, which Yeonho, Gyehyeon, Dongheon, and Yongseung worked on. What was the inspiration behind it?
Dongheon: This song was all about right now, you know, the pandemic era. Everybody is struggling, so we wanted to give fans and listeners hope and energy that would sort of tell them: “Hang in there”.
RS: While working on “Prom”, what were some things that you found out about yourself as artists?
Yongseung: I think, there were many parts where we thought we lacked. So, we thought that have to grow more as musicians.
RS: I heard that you were inspired by the American Horror Story-style of storytelling for “Prom”. What other inspirations did you have?
Hoyoung: I think we actually started the horror concept from “Thunder”. The biggest program we got the idea from [for the track] was actually Stranger Things. If you watch the music video for “Thunder”, you can see how we related the scenes and motions to Stranger Things.
RS: How did your team dynamic evolve while making “Prom”?
Yeonho: Each member has a different taste in music. We actually didn’t know that at first – working on the song together, we realised we all have different tastes. So, listening to each member’s playlist actually evolved the way we see music.
Hoyoung: Also, we have a lot of different opinions going around among ourselves. We do argue a little to choose the best song, or line, or melody, so going through those difficulties, we do gain a lot of respect for each other and we do become more bonded.
RS: How do you guys solve those disagreements? How do you reach a conclusion?
Hoyoung: Usually we vote for the best (laughs). Sometimes, the leader [Dongheon] chooses the best one. He even asks people who don’t compose songs – like Kangmin or me – and we take votes [according to that.]
RS: I like how it’s not just ‘rock, paper, scissors’.
Hoyoung: Democracy! (laughs)
RS: What kind of challenges did you face while making this album?
Gyehyeon: Working on the “Trigger” choreography, we actually had to put our masks on, so it was really hard to do those dynamic moves while wearing a mask.
RS: What inspires you all to pursue music and performance?
Hoyoung: It definitely is our fans. Our families as well, and I look up to my members. Having not had many chances to see our fans makes us want to work harder to show them more songs and more performances. That’s where I get my inspirations.
Dongheon: I recently watched BTS‘ “Dynamite” and “Permission to Dance”. For me, the message of hope that they delivered to the world through – the kind of positive energy and hope that K-pop sends to the world inspires me.
RS: Is there any particular memory from your trainee days – with or without the members – that really had an impact on you as idols?
Hoyoung: I have one – as trainees, most companies have a monthly test that we [take] in front of all the people from the company. It was our first performance with the seven of us in front of our CEO and other people, and they said that we looked like a team. I think that sentence helped us be more of a team and practice harder. It made me want to become an idol as fast as possible.