Hello Asia editor Johnny Au chats to brand new co-ed K-Pop group K.A.R.D. Formed by K-Pop agency DSP Media, K.A.R.D has bucked all trends by being one of a handful of successful co-ed groups in the industry. Band members B.M, J. Seph, Somin and Jiwoo speaks to us about why K.A.R.D stands out in the K-Pop industry, their three pre-debut singles “Oh Nana, “Don’t Recall” and “Rumor” and what they are looking forward to in their upcoming WILD KARD 2017 The First Tour in America.
Hello K.A.RD! How is life as a co-ed (mixed sex) idol group? What makes K.A.R.D stand out in the K-Pop world?
J. Seph: In any case, seeing as we’re a co-ed group, there are more ways for us to collaborate than a regular boy or girl idol group. Our fresh and unfamiliar reggae groove choreography is probably our biggest weapon~.
Somin: We’re really like a family, and because we have two older brothers it’s very reassuring. We work hard in each and every area, and we excel to the extent we put in our efforts, so I think because of that our individual strengths and advantages are distinctive.
Jiwoo: We’re still a fresh group! More than anything, the point which makes us stand out is that we can show more harmony as a group.
B.M: For starters, It’s really uncommon to see a co-ed kpop group and I think the reason is because most entertainment companies in the industry don’t like seeing interaction between male and female artists, but being a co-ed group, we HAVE to interact and I think that’s something unique and new for fans.
Can you tell us what K.A.R.D stands for?
J. Seph: King card, Ace card, Joker card, Hidden card. The harmonious feeling the character that each letter represents melds together to create the group ‘K.A.R.D’.
Somin: K is King, A is Ace, R is black joker and colour joker, and D is the hidden card. That’s how we’re structured.
Jiwoo: Each letter of our group name has a meaning. ‘K’ is the king card’, ‘A’ is the ace, ‘R’ refers to the black joker and colour joker, and ‘D’ is the ‘hidden card’.
B.M: Each letter of our group name represents a member. K represents King kard (B.M). A represents Ace kard (J.Seph). R represents 2 Joker kards, black and color (Somin and Jiwoo) and D represents a hidden card which we have every project or album that we release. The hidden kard can be anything from an artist feature, DJ, dance video, or even an event!
K.A.R.D has released three pre-debut singles so far. Can you tell us about the songs “Oh NaNa” and “Don’t Recall”?
J. Seph: ‘Oh NaNa’ is a unique and sophisticated love serenade about a man and woman who have fallen in love. ‘Don’t Recall’ is an extension of this, and it’s a song which contains the contrasting feelings of a man and a woman just ahead of their separation.
Somin: ‘Oh NaNa’ is a love serenade, and ‘Don’t Recall’ is the story of a man and a woman who don’t see eye to eye. The genre of both songs is based on the dancehall groove beat, and you can follow along and sing it comfortably anytime and anywhere – they are songs where you can sense the unique voice that only K.A.R.D has.
Jiwoo: The two songs are connected by the stories they tell. ‘Oh NaNa’ is a bright song about the love between a man and woman, but when they start dating there will be times where they argue, fight, and break up, right? ‘Don’t Recall’ is a song that paints the conflict between them.
B.M: Oh NaNa is a song about a boy and girl super in love assuring each other they got each other’s backs and that they’ll never let each other go. Don’t Recall, being the opposite, was a story about a break up. It’s actually the sequel to Oh NaNa. After the honeymoon phase comes the fights and break ups and that’s what Don’t Recall was about.
Talk to me about your new single “Rumor”? What is it about and how is it different from your two previous singles?
J. Seph: It’s a song that is connected through the same story as the two songs we were speaking about before, ‘Oh NaNa’ and ‘Don’t Recall’. It’s a song which expresses the desire to reunite mixed with feelings of hesitation, caused by the rumours one side’s heard about their ex after the breakup.
Somin: We prepared this song really carefully and with all our effort. I feel like both the melody line and beat are quite unique. I think people will like it a lot.
Jiwoo: Actually, including ‘Rumor’, the stories of the three songs are all connected. When you break up, you hear the news of how your ex is doing from the people around you, right? Because the three stories are connected, I think that listening to the songs whilst imagining that connection would be fun.
B.M: You can expect a very chill vibe from Rumor, it’s a song you can listen to while relaxing by the pool or at the beach under a palm tree. Also, J.Seph sang in it and did an awesome job so you can expect some nice vocals from him as well.
Can you tell me what you were doing before you were chosen to be in K.A.R.D? What are your performance backgrounds?
J. Seph: I was a student, and ever since I was young I had a vague dream of being a singer. Even though I couldn’t muster up my courage and hesitated a lot, in the spirit of not being fearful of change, I started the work of being a singer.
Somin: We’ve had activities in Japan and also a Korean debut.
Jiwoo: I experienced the trainee life for a long time.
B.M: A) Before KARD, I mostly worked on my korean raps. Being that I’m from the US and not knowing too much Korean, I had to work hard on improving my speaking, accent, and vocabulary in order to improve lyrically. I’m a very hip hop-based guy so you can see me grooving a lot on stage.
You are will be touring the U.S shortly in a three-city tour. What are your thoughts on touring internationally? What are you looking forward to the most in the U.S.?
J Seph: My biggest anticipation about coming to America would be coming face to face with fans or the exchanges we’d have. I had the thought that I definitely wanted to go to America before I die, and the fact we’re going as part of a concert is so wonderful.
Somin: I’m looking forward to meeting our American fans the most.
Jiwoo: I think it’s a great honour that we’ve been called over by so many people and I’m really thankful. There’s a lot that we want to do but I don’t think we’ll be able to do them all…
B.M: While living in the states I never had too many opportunities to visit places outside of California, so being able to visit Canada and other states in the US is truly a blessing. Never would have thought KARD would be invited to the US this soon.
If K.A.R.D was a flavor what would it be? And why?
J Seph: Mint chocolate? The powerful and refreshing voices of the male rappers and the charming and sweet voices of the girls go well together and produce a mysterious taste! Haha.
Somin: Sweet and salty flavour. When eating something ‘sweet and salty’, you have something sweet, then salty, then sweet, then salty – if you keep alternating flavours as you eat, you don’t get tired of it. That’s why I chose sweet and salty.
Jiwoo: Hmm…that’s difficult. Nutella…? Nutella’s like a drug haha.
B.M: Tabasco sauce. Tabasco sauce is addicting and goes good with anything. KARD is also very addicting and is nice to listen to anywhere! If I wasn’t a member of KARD, I’d still vibe out to the music we put out.
What is one interesting thing about each member of K.A.R.D that fans should know about?
J Seph: B.M is big and dependable. Somin has vocal ability that gives you goose bumps whilst also being pretty. Jiwoo is cute and refreshing but is also sometimes a girl crush.
Somin: I think my vocals and chic charm which is as much as a black joker’s is my specialty.
Jiwoo: B.M, like the big brother, holds the weight and centres us all. He brings our moods up with his American reactions and leads our practise sessions. J.Seph is really mischievous. While he has his own convictions, he’s also very cheerful and makes both the older and younger members laugh a lot. Somin is very cute and loveable. I think she precisely suits the expression, ‘loveable’, haha. Watching her joking around with the oppas naturally brings a mother’s smile to your face…hahaha. I think I’m a person who starts smiling suspiciously when I see the three of them joking around hahaha.
B.M: Jiwoo is very American. She has a very American personality even though her English isn’t perfect. She has a very confident and DGAF vibe to her. Different from her looks, Somin is the cutest little fluffball. One of the most caring kindest girls I’ve ever seen. She really does a good job being thoughtful for the group. A very mom-like character for KARD. J.Seph – He can be shy on camera, but if you get to know him he’s one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet. There’s never a dull moment if you hang out with this guy. B.M – I’ll let my members explain!
What should fans of K.A.R.D expect in the WILD KARD concerts?
J Seph: It’d be great if the audience was curious about how K.A.R.D can reinterpret overseas pop artists’ songs in our own colours. If you come with that little bit of anticipation, you’ll be able to enjoy the concert a little more, don’t you think? There’s a lot of pressure when performing covers of famous songs, but we prepared a lot so please look upon us favourably!
Somin: It would be great if we could make happy memories together. It’s always a shame that we can’t meet our overseas fans, but by borrowing the concert stage we can spend a good time together with fans, right? I just want everyone to have heaps of fun together.
Jiwoo: Our chemistry? Hehe.
B.M: You can expect a lot of swag, hype, and a LOT of goofiness. Us KARD members can look real serious when we perform, but we’re really a bunch of goobers.
What’s a festival or venue in the world where you would love to perform? What concept would the performance be?
J Seph: For me personally, I want to perform at a football stadium filled to the brim with spectators. I watched Shakira’s ‘Lalala’ broadcast and I remember being so overwhelmed.
Somin: If it’s a good opportunity we’d like to perform in all venues~~ I want to hold something which feels like a party.
Jiwoo: More than naming any particular venue, firstly we’d like to perform in Korea! We’d be thankful anywhere it is. The next time I’d like to fill it to the brim with our songs.
B.M: I would like to perform in Jamaica because that’s where dancehall originated. We really wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t for dancehall and it’s important to know its roots.
What are your plans for 2017?
J Seph: An overseas tour is a given, and I want to meet overseas and domestic fans often once we start promoting in Korea.
Somin: I want 2017 to be a year in which we experience many different things. I think we’ll be holding activities in Korea.
Jiwoo: We’ll have our official debut this year!
B.M: Goals for 2017 would be a Rookie Award and to rest a little bit back in Cali with my family at the end of the year after a lot of events.
When is K.A.R.D coming to Australia? What would you like to do in Australia?
J Seph: My ties with Australia are deep. I visited both Sydney and Canberra when I was 20 and it made a deep impression on me. Time has passed and now I want to reopen those memories of back then together with my members. This is my very personal opinion (haha).
Somin: If we get a chance we’d like to come to Australia as soon as we can. I want to meet our Australian fans, and experience Australia’s famous foods and landmarks.
Jiwoo: If you ask for us we’ll come haha. I want to meet the animals! And I also want to see the Opera House.
B.M: Whenever we have the opportunity and the timing is right, we would love to perform in Australia. I want to visit the Sydney Opera House!
K.A.R.D will be touring the US in their WILD KARD 2017 in Chicago 5th May, Houston 7th May and Los Angeles 10th May. For ticketing information see SubKulture Entertainment.
Photos courtesy of DSP Media. Translations by Joanna Chen and Cassandra Monjo.