MANILA — Five months ago, STAYC made a buzzworthy entry into the K-pop scene as the first act to debut under High Up Entertainment, founded by hitmakers Black Eyed Pilseung.
The group’s arrival did not disappoint as the producing duo gifted STAYC — comprised of Sumin, Sieun, Isa, Seeun, Yoon, and J — with “So Bad,” an earworm that blends the drum & bass and synthwave genres, and showcases the members’ diverse vocal tones.
“When I debuted, I thought, ‘This is how it feels to debut.’ I was so glad that I could debut with my members and I want to last a long time with my members,” the group’s leader Sumin, who was a trainee for almost 6 years, said in a recent interview with ABS-CBN News.
The group distinguished itself from other K-pop acts with its signature sound called “teen fresh,” which Sumin described as an “expression of teenagers’ cool and refreshing atmosphere.”
“We wanted to give healing and positive energy to many people with our young energy, so we made a teen fresh genre,” said Sumin, who at 20 is also the oldest among the members.
STAYC returned with its “teen fresh” sound last April 8 through “STAYDOM,” a 4-track single album.
Sieun explained that the album’s title is a portmanteau of the group’s name and the word “freedom.”
“As ‘freedom’ is included in the title of the album, we focused on wanting the listeners to feel free through our album,” she said.
The title track, “ASAP,” expresses one’s desire for their “ideal type” to appear as soon as possible, Sieun said.
The music video for “ASAP” amassed 20 million views on YouTube in just nine days after its release, twice the number of views that the music video for “So Bad” got in its first 10 days, according to High Up Entertainment.
Compared to the hyperactive “So Bad,” “ASAP” is more laid-back, but still possesses a quality of replayability. It’s got a memorable hook, which hinges on a catchy repetition of the title set to a twinkly, ringtone-like sound.
Yoon said the members consider it a privilege to be under Black Eyed Pilseung, which has produced hits for top K-pop acts such as Sistar (“Touch My Body”), Apink (“Eung Eung” and “Dumhdurum”), and Twice (“TT” and “Fancy”).
“I always think it’s an honor that Black Eyed Pilseung wrote and composed all our songs. Black Eyed Pilseung saw us and wrote these songs so we can communicate well and we’re very happy that we always get the perfect song for us,” she said.
Isa said the group’s goals for their first comeback are to get more people to listen to STAYC, win first place on a music show, and receive a rookie award.
— STAYC(스테이씨) (@STAYC_official) April 27, 2021
The girls ticked one off the list on Tuesday after STAYC was named best female rookie at the Brand Customer Loyalty Awards, which, according to K-pop news site Soompi, “recognizes the brands that have the most influence on popular culture and society, as determined through consumer research.”
STAYC’s fans, called “SWITHs,” took to Twitter to celebrate the milestone, with the hashtag #STAYC1stROTY landing on the social network’s list of top trending topics in the Philippines.
The group was also featured on “K-pop Evolution,” a YouTube Originals docu-series that chronicles the growth of the K-pop industry.
The seven-part series, which premiered last March, dedicated two episodes that followed the members’ trainee days, showing them spending long hours just to perfect dance routines and constantly worrying about whether or not they would debut.
Most of the members told ABS-CBN that they became K-pop idols because they had always been passionate about singing and dancing.
“I joined [High Up] through an audition and my family agreed when I said I would become an idol. I have liked dancing and singing since I was young so my mom said that I could do well and I just needed to work hard,” said Seeun.
“I also joined through an audition. At first, my parents really wanted me to study, but I think they changed their minds after seeing my passion,” said 16-year-old J, the group’s rapper and youngest member.
While Sieun also aspired to become a singer as a child, she first entered the entertainment industry through acting, appearing in TV dramas such as “Still 17” and “Mystic Pop-up Bar.” She even won best young actress at the 2018 SBS Drama Awards.
Sieun said she was open to accepting acting projects “whenever I have a chance but now I think STAYC is my first priority.”
Asked what concept or genre they would like to try in future releases, Sieun said, “I wanted to do summer songs or a cool concept with uniforms or suits.”
“I want to try a Christmas carol concept,” said J.
Video editing by Reya Buenaventura, ABS-CBN News
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