Trendz talks debut, fans and an unlikely founder
A new K-pop boy band has been launched by a major Korean corporation — but it’s not one of the K-pop powerhouses you may be thinking of.
Trendz, pronounced "trend zee," debuted on Jan. 5 with its first EP “Blue Set Chapter1. Tracks.”
The boy band was created by Korea’s online shopping mall Interpark — its subsidiary and management agency Interpark Music Plus to be exact. It’s the commerce giant’s newest ambition to delve into the idol industry and create a successful K-pop group by utilizing its vast network of subsidiaries.
Consisting of members Havit, Leon, Yoonwoo, Hankook, ra.L, Eunil and Yechan, the band started making themselves familiar to K-pop fans since last summer under the tentative group name Inter Boys. They caught attention on YouTube with dance cover videos of already well-known K-pop numbers. Now officially in the K-pop scene after releasing its debut song “TNT (Truth&Trust),” the band sat down with the Korea JoongAng Daily on Jan. 27 for an interview.
“Our group name Trendz contains our strong ambition that the seven of us, from Generation Z [born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s], will encompass and lead trends,” said Havit.
The oldest member Havit was born in 1999 while the youngest, 16-year-old Yechan, was born in 2005.
“Idols created by Interpark” is the modifier that follows the boy band around, which is a phrase that raises eyebrows and incites curiosity among Koreans who are familiar with Interpark as an online shopping mall in their everyday lives. When they first started their online activities under the name Inter Boys, local fans were intrigued to learn that the company had stepped into producing K-pop acts. With their music and talent, Trendz is proving that boy bands don’t have to come from the typical entertainment firms.
“Honestly, with the title that we’re the ‘first idol boy band launched by a large corporation' [which is mainly known for businesses outside of entertainment], we did feel some pressure,” said Eunil. “We would be lying if we said we didn’t. The pressure was a factor that made us prepare harder [for our debut].”
Even before its official debut last month, Trendz had been building a fan base around the world during its Inter Boys days thanks to its high-quality dance cover videos on YouTube. The first one was a cover of boy band Stray Kids’ “Back Door” (2020), a number with a powerful beat and dynamic choreography to match.
Trendz said it selected which songs to cover based on which sides of the members it wanted to flaunt.
“The aspect that we focus on the most is performance, ever since we were Inter Boys and also now as Trendz,” Leon said. “We want to become acknowledged as having a strong competitive edge in performance, so we wanted to show more of that performative aspect [in our dance covers].”
“We got to express our opinions on which songs we wanted to cover,” Yechan said. “We loved covering songs by BTS and Stray Kids, but I think the members’ favorite covers were probably ‘Make A Wish’  by NCT U or ‘Tiger Inside’ . Those were the numbers in which we could fully show our charms in the performance aspects. We mainly chose powerful songs, but we also presented bubbly songs like BTS’s 'Butter'  to show the fresh, lively side of us.”
The majority of the comments under their YouTube content and music video for its debut song “TNT (Truth&Trust)," which garnered some million views, are in foreign languages, especially Spanish. Yoonwoo added that they see many international fans during their online fan meets and livestreams.
“We’re surprised every time we upload content, because each time we get a lot of comments and positive reactions from foreign fans,” said Yoonwoo. “Those comments make us see that foreign fans are really sending us a lot of support and make us determined to keep on working hard.”
Members say the fact that Trendz is an all-Korean group might be a factor. Trendz is a so-called tojong or “native” idol group, which have become increasingly harder to come by in today’s K-pop trend of multinational groups including at least one or several non-Korean members.
“If we had to say the secret to garnering foreign fans, well first, all seven of us are Korean. I think that makes international fans feel the Korean charm from us and draws them to us,” Yoonwoo continued. “On top of that, it’s because each of us have various charms,” he laughed.
“Since we consist of ‘native’ Korean members, we’re all studying foreign languages like English,” said Hankook. “In Havit’s case, he’s especially focusing on his Japanese. That’s one way we're trying to better communicate [with global fans].”
The boy band’s debut track “TNT (Truth&Trust)," which signals the beginning of Trendz’s storytelling, has an ambiguous title.
“Our lead track has two meanings — the abbreviation for truth and trust, as well as TNT the explosive,” Hankook said. “It’s a dance track with a mix of electronic and hip-hop sounds. It contains Trendz’s world view of chasing after freedom. We’re saying that we’re going to strive through the darkness and haze to reach freedom by dropping a bombshell, so to speak.”
“Our world view is about experiencing adversity and overcoming it, which I think many people have similar experiences with,” said ra.L. “We also had times like that, so we wanted to incorporate our world view into our albums. It’s going to be fun to guess how our story unfolds as it’s revealed little by little.”
“Although we’re all quite young and haven’t been through extreme adversities in life, we all had to spend quite long periods of time as trainees,” said Eunil. “There were times when things didn’t go smoothly and exhausting moments during practice [...] Each time, us members had each other’s backs and helped each other out of our slumps, taking care of how we were mentally. That’s how we eventually achieved our dream of debuting, and we’re here now.”
The youngest member Yechan was a trainee for almost four years since he was in the eighth grade. The oldest member Havit first became known in the idol scene as a contestant on the JTBC audition show “Mix Nine” (2017-18), but he had to wait a few more years for his dream debut.
“I was a trainee for the longest time, for exactly 5.75 years,” Havit laughed. “So many things have happened. But at the end of the day, I’m able to be here like this now because the members were there for me.”
Members Hankook, Eunil, Yechan and ra. L also took part in writing the lyrics of “Trauma” and “□ (Be My Love),” tracks on their debut EP.
“We were gratefully given an opportunity to participate in writing the lyrics,” Eunil said. “The four of us pulled all-nighters to write lyrics. We tried hard to incorporate elements of our world view into each of the EP’s tracks. We put in extra effort for our lead track 'TNT' to convey how the story of our world view will proceed to flow. We probably got too ambitious, but we also wanted the lyrics to tell that story in a chronological order. We really put in care and effort since it’s our first lead track ever.”
For another track “Villain,” Jinjin of boy band Astro helped with the songwriting, lyric-writing and music arrangement.
“When we first listened to the demo version of ‘Villian’ together, we didn’t know it was a song composed by Jinjin,” said Yoonwoo. “But when we first heard it, we all told [staff] we really want to do this song, since it was so addictive. After that, a staff member at our agency told us that Jinjin wrote this song, to our surprise [...] Jinjin offered to visit our practice studio, so we got to meet him in person before the recording session. We chatted a lot and received a lot of advice from him. It became a good memory for us.”
The choreography of “Villain” is just as powerful as the dance from the band's lead track and past cover videos. Trendz stepped it up a notch with intense choreography sequences involving bandages which see members dance while connected to each other.
“The song ‘Villain’ expresses a determination that we’re willing to become the villain if it protects the ones precious to us,” said ra.L. “We, along with our choreographer, thought about how we can look more villainous and came up with using bandages as stage props. The bandages set it apart from the choreography for our other tracks like ‘TNT’ or ‘Trauma.’”
“We want to continue pursuing the hip-hop sound that out debut EP has,” Leon said. “And most of all, we want to keep going on with concepts that lead the trend, because after all, we’re Trendz.”
BY HALEY YANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]