SEVENTEEN Speaks! K-Pop’s Hottest Act Talks Touring, ‘FML,’ Inspirations And Their Beloved CARATs

SEVENTEEN, one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world, took the time to answer some of Pollstar‘s questions. (Courtesy PLEDIS Entertainment)

In the sports world, there’s a phrase fans and even broadcasters use suggesting it’s best not to interfere with someone when they’re on such a prolonged spell of success. You “let them cook,” meaning you give them the space to operate and do what they do best, and that’s essentially what’s happening here. Pollstar not only managed to get SEVENTEEN to agree to an interview but quotes from each band member. SEVENTEEN is a global phenomenon with their most recent album, FML, becoming the most pre-ordered album in K-pop history. More than 4.64 million copies were ordered in advance, and it set the record for first-day and first-week sales with nearly four million and more than 4.55 million copies sold, respectively. So, when the members of the hottest K-pop group in the world surprise you with thoughtful responses to your questions, you let them cook and talk about touring in North America and their beloved CARATs, a name given to SEVENTEEN’s dedicated and ever-growing fanbase.

See Pollstar‘s Cover Story: SEVENTEEN On Top Of The World With FML

Pollstar: You had a successful tour in 2022 that included shows in some of the most popular arenas. Is there a venue you visited that stood out in your mind during your tour in North America, and if so, which one and why? What can you tell me about interacting with your fanbase here?

JEONGHAN: All of the venues and all of the shows felt special. The experience is always much more fulfilling than it is draining, seeing all of our CARATs enjoy our show with such passion and a sense of belonging. We took away so much energy from the shows last year ourselves.

DK: Each of the shows left a distinct mark, which is one of the factors that makes tours so fun. The level of passion that filled the venues was truly remarkable. Just as an anecdote though, I had a lot of fun in Toronto performing in my Toronto Blue Jays jersey at Scotiabank Arena, and also taking walks around the arena with the jersey on. It made me feel like I was really blending into our audience there!

WONWOO: Hosting a show means coming to share a single experience with everyone there in the concert venue, alongside the spectrum of emotions that follow being at a concert. The feelings are palpable and raw, hitting us like instances of joy and sadness as sheer as something a child would feel. These experiences turn into shared memories, and once they’re all stacked together, I think we’ll remember these memories as our youth.

SEVENTEEN has presented a wide range of widely popular shows over the years, including fan meets, tours and online concerts. What are some of the key factors you consider in working on your shows?

Buy Pollstar’s issue featuring SEVENTEEN.

S.COUPS: People from all walks of life come to our shows, dedicating their time and effort to see us perform. So, our eyes are set on providing at least a few hours of pure happiness to our fans, CARATs. From the starting point and through the entire process, we get in the shoes of the audience, thinking about the songs, the performances and the interactions they would enjoy most.

JOSHUA: We kick things off from deciding on the theme of the concert and fan meets, thinking about what message we want to send out during these events because we want to create an unforgettable memory for our fans and the audience. Most importantly though, we just want to make sure they have a good time.

JUN: We are always conscious of the love CARATs send our way and it lies at the core of every decision we make. So, a key factor we consider is reciprocating that love and making sure our fans feel the way we do through the performances we deliver. We want to make sure that they feel like we are all there together as a part of the team creating this experience of a live show.

Having watched clips of your performances online, I am amazed at the choreography and production that goes into live shows and music videos, as well as the chemistry you all have. Tell me about the amount of work it takes to nail those details down, and what performances have you witnessed in your lives that stayed with you and possibly served as inspiration?

SEUNGKWAN: The 13 of us have practiced days and nights together over the past 10 years, so we know how to stay focused in the time we spend rehearsing for a performance. We also have a well-established understanding of how to best work together.

I don’t think I can single out a performance I’ve seen! There were so many that served as a source of hope and inspiration from all the artists that lived on stage starting long before we did.

HOSHI: The amount of work and time required always changes depending on many factors including the scale of the choreography, but I think as a standard, it takes about two weeks to nail down all the details.

Personally, I’ve been thinking a lot about shows by Bruno Mars and SHINee. I’ve often talked about their influence already, but they’re artists I’ve always looked up to for the incredible amount of energy they exude on stage, all the while being on point with their musicianship and maintaining their characters as artists.

It’s amazing to see how more people are discovering your music and on the Billboard charts with FML. In your opinion, what is it about that album that connected with a wider audience to become your most successful one yet? What does it say about SEVENTEEN, and what do you hope fans take away from the album lyrically and musically?

DINO: We were overjoyed to see our listeners resonate with the music and be affected by our music in each of their own ways. We hope the songs brought along moments of wanting to get up and dance, of feeling empowered, or feeling a little less alone.
I think the fact that many of the songs touched upon the feelings we feel day to day served as a basis to a wider audience connecting with the album, and the powerful performances that accompany the music helped. FML made another mark in the history for SEVENTEEN, and it holds a special place in our hearts with so many of our own feelings imbued in the album.

WOOZI: To myself and our members, I think the album FML was sort of an opening statement to announcing a greater beginning for SEVENTEEN. Getting to where we are now wasn’t easy, but the album conveys our confidence and resolution in going even further forward with our fans, CARATs. I think this sense of determination is what a lot of our listeners needed and could relate to in continuing on with the journey ahead.

MINGYU: FML was another step of growth. In retrospect, I am particularly happy that we had the chance to add another layer of meaning to the commonly used expression of “FML” for our listeners, especially one that turns around a downbeat mindset to an optimistic one. It’ll be an album to remember.

When it comes to the production of your music that includes a variety of genres (from electronic to rap to pop), how has that process evolved leading up to FML, and who and/or what has inspired you musically? What other genres would you like to explore in your music that you haven’t tapped into just yet?

VERNON: When I started getting more involved in SEVENTEEN’s music production, I thought there would be a specific, established approach to making music, but it turned out to not necessarily be so.

Our members and I talk a lot with our lead producers WOOZI and BUMZU, as well as my friends, about the latest music drops and learn a lot from them. My parents also played a lot of their favorite music (mostly rock) when I was younger. The people I’m closest to are my major inspirations.

THE 8: We put in the extra effort to be even more transparently SEVENTEEN with this album. We’ve always been open and shared every step of the way with our fans and listeners so far. I think our efforts to truly open up increasingly strengthened the connection we have with our listeners over time, leading up to this moment.

For the type of music we’d like to explore going forward, I think the choice of genre will follow where our hearts are and what we want to say at that point in time.

And finally, you have accomplished so much and cemented yourselves as one of the biggest acts to come out of South Korea. What’s next for you guys? What other goals would you like to achieve?

S.COUPS: Since we’ve just released more of SEVENTEEN’s music, it only makes sense that we put these songs on many more stages and we’ll always continue expanding the number of stages we’ve performed on.

We have concerts coming up in Seoul in July, and then in Japan. We’ve come full circle back to Seoul, a year after we set off to be on the road for our “Be the Sun” tour last year following the pandemic. It’s going to be another exciting ride!