It’s hard to make an impact in a crowded industry, but it’s even harder in K-pop, where you’re surrounded by so many heavyweights. Boy band ONF – pronounced “on and off” – have been steadily growing in popularity since launching their career in 2017, and have seen a lot of love for their first LP, ONF: My Name. Released on February 25, the 10-track album is fronted by the addictive and funky hyper-pop single Beautiful Beautiful, which was released through a futuristic music video that showcases the band’s vibrant, energetic style. The six-member group are split into two teams – vocal team On and performance-driven Off – and the two terms have another meaning, According to rapper Wyatt: “‘On’ [refers to] how we are on stage, and how powerful we are; ‘Off’ refers to our bond and friendship.” Following its release, the band spoke with the Post about their new album, their music and more. How are you feeling now that you’ve released your first album? Wyatt: ONF: My Name is a reflection of all the work that we’ve done. We worked hard for four years, but we haven’t really become popular. We’re ready to show our music and everything, our talent, to the world. So we’ve been thinking about that with the release of this album – how to show who we are. April’s label to take legal action over Lee Hyun-joo’s abuse allegations Why did you decide to go with Beautiful Beautiful as the lead single? J-Us: It shows our energy as ONF. The melody and lyrics are really catchy, and they send a hopeful message to people that we dream and we’re alive, so we hope people can get energy from listening to it. U: We decided to emphasise the use of our voices as if they were instruments, like with the “rum pum pum” and the a cappella parts you hear throughout the song. BTS member J-Hope releases new track Blue Side, delighting K-pop fans The word “art” is repeatedly sung throughout the song. What does art mean to you, personally? Wyatt: “Art” is a way to enjoy your life and to enjoy what you’re working on. If you enjoy what you’re doing, people will see that and get a positive vibe. I think “art” offers a way to enjoy it. J-Us: We’re all living our lives as individuals and art is something individuals create from their own imaginations and thoughts. It represents every person’s different personality. Art cannot be defined in one word. But it’s the freedom of people’s thoughts and imagination. U: I believe beauty comes from possibility and our own efforts. The results are important, but the process of running along the way to achieve the goal is beautiful, and that beauty is “art”. K-pop bullying scandal: why is it blowing up now? How has your creative process changed over the years? MK: I think there has been huge growth, personally. Since our debut, I’ve participated more and more in songwriting and producing. I’m an active participant now, so I feel more like I’ve grown as an artist. Hyojin: Our music style has really changed. In the process of developing as artists through practice and training, our vocal capacity has also improved, and we have a distinct style that we put into our songs and performances. The song My Name Is is a really playful tune that introduces each member to listeners in a fun way. Whose introductions do the members like the most? Wyatt: I think J-Us did a good job because, you know, who is he? He said that he doesn’t like cucumber and he’s not a very fun guy. He said it himself. It’s really hard to say that! [J-Us laughs] So I think he has the best lyrics. J-Us: I think E-Tion’s introduction is the best because it was a catchy melody with memorable lyrics. Wyatt: E-Tion is ONF’s third leader [He says he’s a “fashion leader”; J-Us is the “Off” team’s leader and Hyojin leads the “On” team]. Speaking of your personalities, I’m curious: if you were a drink at a coffee shop, what would you be and why? E-tion: I’d be a green tea latte because it’s my favourite drink, but not many people love it as much as I do. I’d love to let people know how great green tea latte is, and become a green tea latte myself. J-Us: My favourite drink is Americano, so I’d like to be that. It’s the favourite of so many people, without any syrup or extra flavour, so I’d be happy being an Americano because it satisfies many people. Basic is beautiful. U: I’d like to be an iced vanilla latte. Because when people drink that, their mood changes because of the sweetness. So I want to make other people’s days great by being an iced vanilla latte. MK: I believe I’m a pistachio latte because it has a mysterious colour that’s hard to define, and as a person I’m hard to define because I have so many strong points and merits. Hyojin: I’m a lemon tea with a lot of syrup. It may sound like the syrup and tea don’t match, but I think they’re harmonious. I think I have many different sides and charming points, so I think that would define me. Wyatt: I’m a lemon lime soda because it gives people a poppy feeling in their mouths. It doesn’t just give a flavour but a unique feeling, and I want to be refreshing as well. What are the first songs you remember listening to as children? MK: Road by g.o.d. When I listened to that song, I decided to be a singer, so that memory stands out to me. Hyojin: TVXQ!’s Hug. At the time, my sister was a fan and we bought an MP3 player so we could listen to that song. K-pop fans cancel their Spotify memberships after favourite songs disappear E-tion: The first pop song I remember listening to was Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean when I was around eight or nine. My mother played this song in the car, and I can picture the moment listening to it with her. Wyatt: The first song I remember, which I recall actually introducing me to the world of music, was Pachelbel’s Canon . J-Us: Honestly, the first thing I thought of was Mary Had a Little Lamb, because when I was a young kid I didn’t really pay attention to music. U: When I first came to Korea, the song Some [by Soyou and Junggigo] was popular and listening to that song reminds me of when I arrived here to pursue my career from Japan. What do you hope the future brings ONF? J-Us: In five years, in 10 years, I want more and more people to know about us and our songs. I think it’s possible because based on the data, it looks like more people are listening to our songs now compared to our previous album. MK: I want to put the health of our members first as a goal as we continue in our careers. Hyojin: Now we are an idol group showing off our music and performances. In the future, I want people to see us as multifaceted entertainers, actors, etc. Just to be successful and recognised in whatever career path we choose in the future. I hope we continue to thrive. Musically, I hope more people listen to our music globally.