Photo: KQ Entertainment
Exclusive: ATEEZ Are Here To Win The Hearts Of K-Pop Fans
Meet the K-pop boy band making waves only months after debuting
In October 2018, ATEEZ, a new boy band determined to become a group fans could believe in, stepped onto the K-pop scene with their singles "Pirate King" and "Treasure" from their Treasure Ep.1: All To Zero EP.
As K-pop continues to expand in the U.S. with the popularity of BTS and BLACKPINK, thanks in part to the Hallyu, or "Korean wave," that has globalized the genre, ATEEZ have captured the curiosity of U.S. media. MTV said they were "poised to break big in 2019," and Billboard was quick to point out their chart success as their debut album landed on the World Charts, peaking at No.12.
Although the octet, made up of members Seonghwa, Yunho, Yeosang, San, Mingi, Wooyoung, Jongho, and Hongjoong, are new on the block, the charts back up their potential for mass success. Their second EP, Treasure EP 2 featuring the single "Say My Name," peaked at No. 5 on the Wolrd Albums and went to No. 7 on the Heatseekers Albums chart, which Billboard noted doesn't typically list many K-pop acts. Meanwhile, MTV reports that "Say My Name" saw "upwards of 1.4 million" views on YouTube in two days.
But rather than focus too much on where they stand compared to veterans K-pop groups, whom they refer to as their seniors, the young band (the oldest member is 21) is humble about being new to the game, even if they've already had a taste of success in the U.S.
"We’re still rookies who lack a lot to even consider competing against other artists," Seonghwa says. "But the reality is that we still have to grow amongst the competition, so we’re earnestly practicing and researching. We’re also strengthening our teamwork by talking amongst ourselves more."
The group looks up to the international Korean acts that paved the way for them and want to follow in their footsteps. For now, ATEEZ are working hard to show fans who they are through group expression, which U.S. followers will get to see live soon when their sold-out tour kicks off in Los Angeles on March 15, a feat within itself this early in their career.
So, how did ATEEZ end up touring the U.S. so soon? Well, turns out it was their fans, also known as "ATINY," made the tour happen through an online service called MyMusicTaste, which brings fans together to request their favorite artists' concerts, according to MyMusicTaste Head of Marketing and User Communication Sarah Shim.
And the band isn't stopping after their trip to the States; next up, they're embarking on a European tour. Still, despite their seeming ubiquity, not much is known about the driven young band. Chatting with the Recording Academy over email, ATEEZ told us about who they are, who they count as musical influences, what they think about K-pop groups before them, what's next for them, and more.
What's the story behind your name?
Seonghwa: There’s no specific story behind our name, but I can share the meaning of ATEEZ with you; ATEEZ stands for "A TEENager Z." It means we’re a team that can demonstrate the collective charms and styles of this generation’s teenagers. The name, "ATEEZ," was also created in the hopes that we would become a team that could get many people passionate about.
What are your musical influences?
Hongjoong: When I was young, I was greatly influenced by Michael Jackson. I still believe I’m being inspired by him even to this day. Other than musical influences, I’ve recently picked up redesigning old clothes as a hobby. Through this, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different creative elements so I’ve been getting inspiration from that as well. I also get inspired from fan letters we receive from our ATINY. In many ways, I think I’ve been getting inspiration from everything I see and experience in life.
Mingi: I think I get musically influenced whenever an artist I really like comes out with new music. If that artist took new challenges and incorporated unique elements in their work, I’ll focus on that and try to study it. I also get a lot of musical inspiration from dramas or animations.
Describe each member in one word:
Hongjoong on Seonghwa: Seonghwa is a "mom." Moms are people who firmly and steadily lead families, right? Within our team, Seonghwa warmly embraces our members. He also readily tackles difficult tasks or chores other people don’t want to do. That’s why we call him the “Mom of ATEEZ.”
Seonghwa on Yunho: Yunho is a "beagle" because he’s always overflowing with energy and has the ability to put people around him in a good mood, just like beagles do. I think the word “beagle” and everything it encompasses really matches Yunho.
Yunho on Yeosang: Yeosang is the embodiment of the word: "pure."
Yeosang on San: San is "HALA HALA." I naturally think of the phrase "HALA HALA" when I think of San because I’ve been finding San’s HALA HALA performances especially charming these days.
San on Mingi: Doberman... I think Mingi really looks like those sturdy and trustworthy Doberman dogs.
Mingi on Wooyoung: Full-of-charms. Wooyoung is really charming and he’s really good at expressing it.
Wooyoung on Jongho: Strength. Jongho is the strongest out of ATEEZ so whenever I think of Jongho, I think of the word "strength." Jongho = strength.
Jongho on Hongjoong: Brain. I feel like Hongjoong-hyung is the brains of our team. He’s good at speaking but more than anything, he’s very logical and great at explaining things. No matter what happens, we feel confident because we have Hongjoong-hyung as our reliable brain.
Is there any U.S. artists with whom you'd like to collaborate?
Hongjoong: Post Malone.
Seonghwa: Justin Bieber.
Yunho: Maroon 5.
Yeosang: The Chainsmokers.
San: Shawn Mendes.
Mingi: MAX, Offset, Drake, Joey Bada$$.
Wooyoung: Shawn Mendes.
Jongho: Bruno Mars.
For Americans who are less familiar with the K-pop movement, how would you distinguish yourselves from other acts, like BTS or BLACKPINK?
Hongjoong: Rather than saying how different we are from our KPOP seniors, I’d rather talk about ATEEZ’s current goals and what we consider important when performing.
ATEEZ’s current goal is to follow in the footsteps of our KPOP seniors. What we consider the most important when performing is, "expression." As we have done up to now and will continue to do so in the future, we want to be able to better convey and express our energy directly to our fans.
You officially formed last year, and competition in the music industry can be fierce. Do you ever experience a sense of competition, and if so, what do you do to combat against it?
Seonghwa: We’re still rookies who lack a lot to even consider competing against other artists. But the reality is that we still have to grow amongst the competition, so we’re earnestly practicing and researching. We’re also strengthening our teamwork by talking amongst ourselves more.
K-pop has really exploded the last few years in the U.S. Does this get you more excited for your U.S. tour?
Hongjoong: Ever since I was really young, I watched videos of our senior artists performing abroad and in the States. Whenever I saw videos like that, I always thought to myself that I would like to stand on those stages as well. I truly believe the reason we, ATEEZ, were able to meet many international ATINYs so quickly after debuting was largely due to the previous hard work of our KPOP seniors. I'm looking forward to our upcoming tour because I feel like I can fulfill my childhood dreams of standing on those international stages through it.
Jongho: We're able to go on this tour thanks to the road our industry seniors paved for us and due to their hard work. Because they paved the road for K-Pop as a genre, and by virtue—us—K-Pop has been garnering a lot of attention from the world. We were able to attract international ATINYs' interest. We're diligently preparing for our tour in order to follow our seniors' footsteps. To be quite honest, I’m pretty nervous but excited at the same time. ATINY! Please look forward to our stages.
What is the inspiration behind "Say My Name"?
Hongjoong: "Say My Name" was a song we were preparing long before we worked on our previous single, "Pirate King," so we had a high level of understanding and anticipation for it. When we write our lyrics, we incorporate many elements to help us more strongly convey our aspirations and ambitions to the listener. We had hidden spellings in the lyrics of “Say My Name," so when read vertically they came together to spell A.T.E.E.Z. We worked on this song with the goal of solidifying ATEEZ’s name and presence.
Eweossa dureugo jigyeobwa (Wrap around me and watch over me)
Ireum ttak ne geulja yeogida (These four letters, it’s right here)
Ti nage namgyeonwa (Leave it behind so it’s noticeable)
Zoom in here, Cause I’m the Captain
When the bolded letters are read out loud, they sound like E.I.T.Z (ATEEZ)
What can fans expect on the tour?
Hongjoong: This might be the first time many of our overseas fans will see us perform live. I think when you see our stages in person, it’ll be a whole nother experience from watching us online or through a medium—you’ll be able to witness a much more powerful and engaging performance live.
Seonghwa: If you watch our performances in person, you’ll be able to more vividly experience and feel ATEEZ’s energy.
Yunho: You won’t be able to escape our charms after seeing ATEEZ live.
Yeosang: Yeosang’s charms, of course.
San: I think international fans didn’t have many opportunities to see us live yet. When you see us singing and dancing in person, I don’t think you’ll be able to escape ATEEZ.
Mingi: Our performance. You’ll be able to directly feel our energy. We’re practicing really hard so please look forward to it!
Wooyoung: The various charms of our eight members, and our performances. All eight of us have very different charms and strengths. Through this tour, I’d like to show all our colors to our international ATINYs.
Jongho: We've prepared a lot of things to show you. Please look forward to them!
When can we expect a full-length album? What's next for you?
Hongjoong: It wouldn’t be much fun if I revealed when our full-length album might be released, right? I’ll just say that our album is part of a much bigger picture and story that is continuously being built! I think that’s all I can tell you for now…
We're thinking of this upcoming tour as a starting point and are planning to keep working hard in order to be acknowledged not just in Korea, but abroad as well. We’re also diligently preparing right now in order to meet and be closer to our fans, so you’ll be able to see us more often in 2019. Everyone: Please look forward to it, and please love us a lot!
Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More
The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'
In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.
"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.
Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.
"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."
Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American.
"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it
Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.
McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award.
The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.
"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."
With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.
Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour
El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances
Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.
El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.
"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.
Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork.
Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist.
Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.