TOMORROW X TOGETHER
Photo Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment
TOMORROW X TOGETHER On How Their New 'minisode1 : Blue Hour' EP Marks The Beginning Of A New Era
If there's any music act that can capture the multifaceted nature of youth, it's TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT). From the minds of Big Hit Entertainment, the parent company behind the international breakout success of BTS, TXT emerged last year as the first group to debut under the company since 2013. With such large shoes to fill, TXT have refreshingly forged a path distinctly their own, finding a unique voice along the way.
The five-piece K-pop group, composed of members SOOBIN, YEONJUN, BEOMGYU, TAEHYUN and HUENINGKAI, has since emerged as one of the biggest and most promising acts in K-pop—all in less than two years. They've won several accolades in Korea and abroad, topped the iTunes World Albums chart in 50 regions, received nominations for Best K-Pop act at the 2019 and 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, featured on the July 2020 cover of Teen Vogue and clutched the Radio Disney 2020 Song of the Summer title for their single, "Can't You See Me?"
TXT debuted last year with The Dream Chapter series: The Dream Chapter: STAR, their debut EP, in March 2019; The Dream Chapter: Magic, their debut album, in October 2019; and the concluding The Dream Chapter: Eternity EP this past May.
Their new five-track EP, minisode1 : Blue Hour, released today (Oct. 26), is the beginning of a new era for the group. A fitting next chapter, the EP dips into various genres new to TXT, including disco, dancehall, nu gaze, future R&B and pop-rock, while telling a story about boys who are forced to stand at the brink of the real world during the blue hour.
Throughout Blue Hour, a sort of pitstop on their next journey, TXT expertly address the conflicts of reality and reflect on the current need for a pause in real life. The EP's title track, "Blue Hour," follows the footsteps of BTS' chart-topping disco hit, "Dynamite," colored with TXT's unique spin. The EP also includes the COVID-19 themed "We Lost The Summer," which has the creative touch of Charli XCX. The TXT boys also wrote lyrics for some of the songs on the EP, including "Ghosting" and "Wishlist," proving their artistic growth and telling an authentic story for teens facing the pandemic. The EP's last song, "Way Home," is a future R&B track showcasing the vocal ability of the group while emphasizing a need for companionship.
GRAMMY.com caught up with TOMORROW X TOGETHER to discuss their new minisode1 : Blue Hour EP, how they created meaningful art despite the pandemic and what it means to them to be one of the leading K-pop acts of the next generation.
You guys are a youth-oriented group. As Gen Z artists, how do you aim to connect with audiences in a meaningful way?
HUENINGKAI: We've always actively tried to incorporate the thoughts and emotions that youth have into our music and lyrics. For example, our track "We Lost The Summer," from our newest EP, is about the loss of our daily and routine lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Way Home" is about a boy's walk back home after school; the path feels off and even a little lonely in comparison to before, but he believes that as long as we remember one another, we will always be together no matter what. "Wishlist" is also quite relatable. It's about trying to figure out what gift to give to someone—someone very special. It can be a struggle if they don't let you know what it is they want. In such ways, we try to include a wide range of emotions and topics that are relevant for youths today, and we also try to stay connected with our fans by communicating these messages.
Blue Hour is the beginning of a new era now that you've closed off The Dream Chapter series, presenting the opportunity for new storylines and themes. What will stay consistent about TXT and what will change? What can we expect from this new era with Blue Hour?
SOOBIN: minisode1 : Blue Hour is our pitstop as we prepare to move onto our next series. It's about the feeling of unfamiliarity that can sometimes hit us all when our relationships with our friends undergo a change. What we've really tried to do through this EP was to deliver a story that only we can tell. It's our take on the experiences of unforeseen circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have tried to tell it through our own sound and fresh energy.
BEOMGYU: You'll be able to see how much we've changed and grown as TOMORROW X TOGETHER by taking a look at the EP as a whole, but our choreography in particular. Our choreography used to be group-centric the majority of the time, but our newest performance actually includes solo dance sections for each member. We also had chances to work with dancers this time round, so it's all very new, refreshing and different. This EP dives into many genres and shows new and different sides of ourselves. I hope our fans, MOA, will like it!
The members actively wrote lyrics on this release, which was created during the pandemic. What were your thoughts and hopes while creating this album under such unique circumstances? How was your process different?
HUENINGKAI: We tried to reflect the sentiments of the current times in this album. Our goal was to make music that was relevant and relatable for many. For example, "We Lost The Summer" is about teenagers who are experiencing a completely changed world due to the pandemic. Everyone has lost the old norms of their lives, and as we were wondering how we could represent such a circumstance, our producer, Bang Si-Hyuk, was actually the one who came up with the idea from "Arcade" by Han's Band, a song that pictures Korea's financial crisis in the late 90s from a young [person's] perspective.
YEONJUN: We've been participating with the album's creatives by writing lyrics from the beginning of this EP's cycle. Not every idea was adopted, but the process allowed us to key in more ideas and lyrics for the accompanying tracks. We all put in a lot of effort; I worked on the pop-rock track, "Wishlist," with HUENINGKAI and TAEHYUN.
TAEHYUN: I worked on "Wishlist" and also "Ghosting" with SOOBIN. The lyrics for "Ghosting" reflect the disoriented emotional state of a boy who has been detached and cut off from the world. I think that the experience of working on this track has made me feel more hunger for future song- and lyric-writing opportunities.
I noticed the lead single, "Blue Hour," is a disco-oriented track, and your labelmates BTS also released a successful disco-themed song, "Dynamite." What is the attraction to disco for TXT? Why do you think it is a fitting soundtrack for right now?
SOOBIN: Disco/retro is a universal trend right now, not just in music but in culture as a whole. The disco we interpreted through "Blue Hour" is very boyish and also refreshing, which makes it perfect for this album. We also think it'll be very easy to enjoy and relate to for a lot of people. 2020 is a different year for everyone. We think it's a time for bright and energetic music, and "Blue Hour" is hopefully the dose of joy and vigor we all need.
The EP features five songs that include diverse genres such as dancehall, future R&B and pop-rock. Do you each have a favorite song on the EP? Which songs are you most excited to perform?
YEONJUN: "We Lost The Summer"!
SOOBIN: I would have to say our lead single, "Blue Hour."
BEOMGYU: My favorite is "Ghosting," but I am especially excited to perform "Blue Hour" because we get to utilize props and costumes, and we'll be working with many dancers.
TAEHYUN: We've worked on "Blue Hour" for a long time, so I am very attached to it. I can't wait!
HUENINGKAI: I've never tried disco before, so my choice is "Blue Hour." I am super excited to perform this song in particular because there are so many standout dance moves.
What genres are you interested in trying in the future?
YEONJUN: I'd like to work on more future R&B as well as rap and hip-hop.
SOOBIN: I want to try a cappella.
BEOMGYU: I think it'd be amazing to do some acoustic tracks.
TAEHYUN: I would say soul.
HUENINGKAI: Piano rock! I think it would be really cool to play the piano at a concert someday.
The visual elements of your music have always stood out, and this time we're seeing bright colors and homestyle photoshoots. What is the inspiration behind the styling for this comeback?
BEOMGYU: The goal for the visual aspects of this album was to reflect the development of the online space as our hub of communication and togetherness while physically being home. It's become much more natural now to meet people and spend time with one another online; it's a change in our culture and the definition of the "space" we share with our friends. The visual elements are intended to represent the happiness and joy that we can still feel when connected with one another through online and virtual spaces. The bright and vivid colors represent our personal spaces.
What do you hope fans gain from listening to this new album?
YEONJUN: Through our album, we wish to share with our fans hope and positive energy.
SOOBIN: Nothing but joy and happiness.
BEOMGYU: Above all, I want our fans to know that regardless of any distance that sets us apart, we are all connected heart-to-heart. I also hope that they'll be able to watch us and gain some energy.
TAEHYUN: It's about the times, so I hope they'll be able to listen to it and relate based on their own personal experiences. As for the title track, it's disco, so I hope they'll enjoy it.
HUENINGKAI: Everyone's going through a rough time, so I hope we can cheer up and uplift altogether. It's what I want most.
TOMORROW X TOGETHER | Photo Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment
As a leading fourth-gen K-pop group in a world that is increasingly paying more attention to the genre, how do you think you stand out from others in the industry?
YEONJUN: We're always working very hard to show our best in every aspect. I think that our forte is that we work with a diverse range of genres and try to put on a perfect performance for each and every one. We also aim to show progress as artists with every project.
Dreams and youthful elements are fitting for right now as everyone would rather be in a dreamlike state. You guys have consistently incorporated these elements into your music and message. Why do you find these themes important for your music?
YEONJUN: We are Gen Z artists, so we wanted to deal with emotions that our peers experience. "Dreams" and "youth" are key elements. Our Dream Chapter series dealt with stories of meeting friends for the first time, getting up to a bit of mischief together, as well as meeting conflicts with reality that tries to wedge apart our friendships. These stories are one continuous narrative of growth and change, which I hope has been and will continue to be relatable and comforting for fans and further audiences. It's what we strive for as artists: to grow and to be able to console and empathize.
TAEHYUN: We've always told our story in our albums. We've addressed concepts of dreams and youth in our albums because they're very important values and moments for anyone, including ourselves. We've told stories of being excited and making friends, dabbling together in a bit of teenage deviance and encountering a bit of discord within our friendships; thankfully, many people have let us know that they have had or were now undergoing similar situations. I think we've shown a lot of growth through our Dream Chapter series, and we really endeavor to grow further into artists who can provide understanding and consolation through music. Therefore, it was important for us to talk about the values that matter to us in our music. For us, that was dreams and youth.
How have you guys been coping with not being able to tour or promote like usual? What have you been doing to make life better?
BEOMGYU: We've been putting our all into rehearsals for this EP because we really want to deliver quality music and performances to our fans. We've also tried our best to consistently stay in touch with our fans through Weverse and Twitter.
TAEHYUN: We participated in various performance opportunities such as KCON. They were all very memorable moments.
You guys debuted in 2019 and have since experienced success both in Korea and abroad. How have you grown as a group since your debut and how has your dynamic changed? What has been the most surprising thing about your journey so far?
YEONJUN: I think I'm more relaxed and at ease on stage. I also like to think that I've matured a little in the way I think and carry myself.
SOOBIN: I can feel and recognize my own growth and can clearly see that our members are growing as well. It makes me proud.
BEOMGYU: I reckon the most surprising and amazing thing is that we have our fans, MOA: people who encourage and support us whenever, wherever.
TAEHYUN: The fact that we can share our music with and be loved by so many people in the world is something I'm still very thankful for and surprised at.
HUENINGKAI: Our lovely MOA have been so consistent with their love and support to us. I'm extremely grateful.
What are your goals, both personally and professionally, for the future?
YEONJUN: Personally, I'd like to be able to share a mixtape or single that I've created from start to back. Professionally, I can't wait until the day we'll be able to host our own concert.
SOOBIN: I want to be someone whom my fans will be able to love and appreciate. As a person, I want to mature into a good adult.
BEOMGYU: I want to keep putting in my best efforts as I do now. I want to become an artist who can be a source of strength for somebody.
TAEHYUN: No matter how long it takes, I want TOMORROW X TOGETHER to become a great team that can mark down its name in K-pop history. Personally, I want to stay healthy and happy.
HUENINGKAI: Like YEONJUN, I'm also really eager for our first solo concert. In the future, I want to be able to go on a world tour and meet our MOA all over the world face-to-face.