From Hongdae busking origins, five-piece K-Pop group A.C.E have been causing K-Pop waves since their debut in 2017.

A.C.E continue to explore, experiment, and develop their own artistic vision, exhibited throughout their releases including ‘UNDER COVER’ and ‘SAVAGE’. Here, the team challenge themselves to go beyond expectations; genre-bending sounds that accompany striking concepts and adventurous visuals, masterfully marrying tradition with modernity.

In their most recent album, HJZM : The Butterfly Phantasy, A.C.E take this further, looking deeply within themselves as they share their thoughts about the truth of who they are. Here, they combine their unique style with traditional Korean elements, creating something altogether bold and deeply personal.

We caught up with our Favourite Boys, where they spoke about their creative process, their influences, and their views on success.

Congratulations on the release of your brand new EP, The Butterfly Phantasy! You have spoken previously about how the album is a deeply honest exploration of your own thoughts about who you are, collectively and individually. When creating this album, what did this creative exploration look like? Was it an interesting process, or was it challenging to be so introspective? What did you learn about yourselves in this process?

Chan: Thank you! We are very excited to be back with our new EP and meet our fans. We tried to portray a lot of traditional Korean styles in the EP. You can see in the music video that we experimented with a lot of colors and traditional materials. While making the EP, we got to learn about the beauty of our traditional styles more. 

For those who listen to The Butterfly Phantasy, what is one message you would want them to take away from the album? How important is it that fans understand this message?

Jun: Whatever the situation, stay true to yourself and believe in yourself.  Everyone, especially these days, goes through hard times and face difficult situations big and small. It is easy to give up and be depressed, but we just hope that even in those difficult times, we can be ourselves and believe in ourselves that we can overcome bad times and find our way to happiness. The only person who can save us from hard times is ourselves. We hope our music can be a way to be free and bring joy. 

The concepts for this album are highly visual, too: you gained a lot of attention after the release of your concept photos in the lead-up to the albums’ release. These photos are all very vibrant, and most of them feature references to Korean culture and history. In what ways do these visuals contribute and complement the themes in your album?

Donghun: We tried a lot of new styles in our hair, makeup, and our wardrobe. We wore traditional Korean clothes, Hanbok, and our hairstyles are also in traditional Korean style as well as the furniture and props in the music video. For the concept photos, it was exciting to be underwater. Also, in our choreography, you can see some motions that portray Korean traditional wrestling, ssileum. We love how the visual of the EP turned out. We hope our fans enjoy it.  

What other concepts or genres would you like to try in the future?

WOW: We love experimenting with new sounds. It would be cool to perform with a band someday just blasting instruments and sounds. We are just open to all genres. 

What have been some of the proudest or most memorable moments for A.C.E?

KimByeonkwan: I guess it’s the first time for anything really has that impact on you. Our first concert, the first award we received, our first fan event. I can still remember the feeling I had like it was yesterday. 

Who influences and inspires you? Why?

Donghun: For me, our members and fans inspire me the most. Interacting with our fans help us create songs and express our music. 

What is success to each of you? Has this changed since your debut? 

WOW: Success can have different meanings. For us being able to perform and make music is the definition of success. And I believe we have grown ourselves with fans, which’s the most significant success for us. We love dancing and singing with our fans and feel lucky that we have our fans with us. 

Of course, 2020 has been a challenging year across the globe. As musicians and performers, how have you dealt with restrictions when it comes to performing and touring? When you’re going through difficult times, what gives you the strength and motivation to push forward?

Jun: We try our best to interact with our fans online. We feel that a lot will change because of the current situation that everyone is going through, but we remain hopeful and optimistic that we will get through these challenging times, and we can meet our fans soon. So let’s all be safe and stay positive. 

What can we expect from A.C.E in the future? What are your plans and goals for the rest of 2020, going into 2021? 

Chan: We plan to make more music for our fans and want to try new genres and have fun making them. We hope the situation will ease up and we can meet our fans soon!

Do you have a message for your fans?

KimByeonkwan: We are finally back with a new EP. It’s full of new music that you can enjoy. Even with the current situation, we are trying our best to interact with you through online platforms, so please stay safe and positive. We miss you CHOICE! We pray to meet you soon! We love you.

Make sure to listen to The Butterfly Phantasy on Spotify.