[YOUR PLAYLIST] Ciipher has a Clue on how to crack the code to fame

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[YOUR PLAYLIST] Ciipher has a Clue on how to crack the code to fame

If you were to make your life into a movie, what song would be playing in each scene? Everyone has a story, and the same is true for K-pop stars. In “Your Playlist,” K-pop artists share what the soundtrack would be for different moments in their life with the Korea JoongAng Daily. 
Boy band Ciipher, which was put together and produced by Rain, one of the best-known figures in K-pop, debuted in March 2021 with seven members — leader Hyunbin, Tan, Hwi, Keita, Tag, Dohwan and Won. The band recently dropped its third EP “The Code” on May 11, with lead track “Fame.” With its powerful dance performance, the band received the K-pop Star Award at the 2021 Korea Culture Entertainment Awards.
Having been put together and produced by Rain means that Ciipher has not only received top-notch training, but also that it has some very big shoes to fill. And indeed, that’s what the band aims to do with their latest dance track “Fame.”
 Boy band Ciipher poses for photos after an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily to share the songs that define the band’s best, most difficult and most exciting moments. [JEON TAE-GYU]

Boy band Ciipher poses for photos after an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily to share the songs that define the band’s best, most difficult and most exciting moments. [JEON TAE-GYU]

“The song is about our ambition to chase fame,” Tag said. “And we promise to show you results greater than you imagined.”
The music video for “Fame” surpassed 10 million views within five days of release, an impressive feat for a rookie band.
"The Code" features "Fame" as the lead track. [RAINCOMPANY]

"The Code" features "Fame" as the lead track. [RAINCOMPANY]

Having debuted during the Covid-19 pandemic, the newest EP carried a bigger meaning to them as they were able to perform in front of a large audience for the first time.
“This is our first time performing in front of a live audience, connecting with fans,” said Hyunbin. “It’s really new and fun for us. We get so much happiness from our activities.”
The band sat down with the Korea JoongAng Daily to share more details about the songs that define the band's best, most difficult and most exciting moments.
Dreaming K-pop

The songs that made the band’s members dream of becoming K-pop stars are exciting enough to make anyone want to dance: PSY’s “Entertainer” and Big Bang’s “Fantastic Baby.”
“A lot of our members first started dreaming of becoming K-pop stars by watching Big Bang,” Hyunbin said. “Since all our multi-talented members can write music and lyrics, we also think we’re a ‘fantastic’ group that can show our own musical color. And like the lyrics of ‘Entertainer,’ we want to be someone who shines and makes people happy — entertainers that can give energy to others.”
Big Bang was in fact so impactful that it was the very reason Japanese member Keita decided to come to Korea.
“My mom loved K-pop, especially Big Bang,” said Keita, who comes from Osaka, Japan. “Once, I was at a Big Bang concert, and ‘Fantastic Baby’ was a song that I knew. When they started performing that number, I got this sensation: ‘Wow, I want to be cool like them.’”
Concept image for Ciipher's second EP "Blind" (2021) [RAIN COMPANY]

Concept image for Ciipher's second EP "Blind" (2021) [RAIN COMPANY]

For some, though, K-pop stardom wasn’t quite what they first thought of.
“I had always wanted to be a celebrity; I just didn't know what kind of celebrity,” said Tag, a Korean who grew up in Thailand.
“Although I loved singing, I lived abroad and didn’t have many opportunities to come across K-pop agencies or anything. So I signed up for a Korean song and dance academy in Thailand, not necessarily to become an idol, but to learn singing and dancing and also because it came with opportunities to audition.”

Taeyeon's first EP "I" (2015) [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

Taeyeon's first EP "I" (2015) [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

One song that helped him become more sure of his dream was Taeyeon’s “I.”
“She played a big role in making me want to become an idol and come back to Korea for my dreams.”

Tag wasn’t the only member mesmerized by Taeyeon’s “I.” For Hyunbin, it was her soft vocals and heartful words that guided him when he felt lost in his life.
“The lyrics told me that I may not be realizing my own worth, which is how I was feeling about myself,” Hyunbin said.
“I lacked self-esteem and confidence, often worrying ‘What if I don’t make it?’ But the song made me think that maybe I could be important to someone. After debuting and receiving support from a lot of people, I realized that I can also be loved. The love from fans built up my self-esteem.”


When dreams come true

For K-pop trainees, it’s often the case that their initial debut plan becomes canceled for any number of reasons. So when Ciipher's debut really started to play out to be true, all the members could think was, “Is this real?”
“I couldn’t really think about anything,” Keita said. “I didn’t even think ‘finally!’ or feel a sense of accomplishment. It just felt like, ‘what’ and it didn't really register as real. I think that was because I had too many emotions to process.”
The day of the debut showcase when it all came true arguably resonated even deeper with 27-year-old member Tan. The oldest member of the group, he spent over 11 years as a trainee, experiencing disappointments from multiple cancelations.
Ciipher performs during its debut showcase in March 2021. [RAIN COMPANY]

Ciipher performs during its debut showcase in March 2021. [RAIN COMPANY]

He competed on Mnet and Starship Entertainment’s survival show “No.Mercy” (2014-15) while he was a trainee under the agency. The show’s finalists went on to form boy band Monsta X, but Tan had to wait several more years for his dream debut that elusively slipped away on several more occasions. During the wait, the singer even completed his mandatory military service, becoming a rare case of a K-pop idol who completed their service before debuting.
That’s why he would often listen to singer Dvwn’s “Last” — because he always gave his best, as if it was his last chance.
“Since I spent such a long time as a trainee, there were many occasions when we had recorded all the songs and filmed everything, but the debut was canceled last minute,” Tan said.
“Deep inside, I was still doubting it all even after the debut showcase. It wasn’t until I stood on many stages after that and saw the fans cheering for me that I realized that this is real and I’m doing it for the fans.”
Ups and downs  
The road to K-pop stardom and even afterward is not always glamorous — in fact, it’s often far from it. The hardest, of course, is the rigorous training and uncertainty of waiting for possibly years.
Ciipher performs "Blind" in 2021. [RAINCOMPANY]

Ciipher performs "Blind" in 2021. [RAINCOMPANY]

Keita says his go-to song during a slump was Zico’s “Human.”
“I listen to it whenever I’m going through a rough time or wonder ‘Am I going the right way? Will I succeed?’” he said. “My greatest slump was when I wasn’t able to make it onto an audition show’s final debut lineup. I wasn’t doing much afterward, and at that point, I had been a trainee for five years. I questioned, ‘Will I be able to debut even if I try longer?’ But I also thought that since I had come this far, I would regret it if I gave up.”
Dohwan recommended members listen to “Road” by g.o.d, which kept him going throughout his trainee days, for a similar reason. Rather than a cheery song, it’s the song's calm and realistic, down-to-earth sense that comforted him.
g.o.d's fourth EP "Chapter 4" (2001) [SIDUSHQ]

g.o.d's fourth EP "Chapter 4" (2001) [SIDUSHQ]

“I started training in eighth grade, so I couldn’t hang out with my peers and make memories with them,” he said. “I was too busy practicing or competing on audition shows. It felt like every day was the same. ‘Road’ is about asking myself if I’m on the right path. I imagine myself as the song’s narrator when I’m in a slump and remind myself, ‘I’m still walking.’”
“When I feel like I’ve reached my limit, I listen to Lee Hi’s ‘Breathe,’” said Won, who initially debuted in 2019 as a member of boy band 1THE9, formed through the MBC audition show “Under Nineteen” (2018-19).
The project group concluded its activities in August 2020, and Won challenged himself to a new beginning as a member of Ciipher the following year.
“I feel like when I’m going through a hard time, my body automatically goes to listen to that song. Then I feel like I can lean on the song. From beginning to end, the lyrics are so relatable, and it gives me strength.”

Have you got a Clue?

For Ciipher, its fan club Clue is both the answer to their ordeals and “The Best Present” — the name of the love serenade by the group's teacher Rain.
“Just like the title of the song, they’re the best gift to us,” Tag said. “The song goes ‘I always want to be beside you’ as a lifelong companion. That’s the message Ji-hoon [Rain’s real name] wanted to convey through his song as well.”

Rain's digital single "The Best Present" (2017) [RAINCOMPANY]

Rain's digital single "The Best Present" (2017) [RAINCOMPANY]

Another song that the band picked as symbolic of its love for the fans is IU’s “Celebrity.”
“IU’s ‘Celebrity’ sends people a message of hope and says that each and every one of them is also a celebrity,” Hyunbin said. “Clue tells us that we shine and make them happy. To us, Clue shines too. We can’t exist without Clue, and we’re happy thanks to them. We want them to know how precious and charming they are, too.”
The future ahead  
BTS's third repackaged full-length album "Love Yourself 結 'Answer'" (2018) [BIGHIT MUSIC]

BTS's third repackaged full-length album "Love Yourself 結 'Answer'" (2018) [BIGHIT MUSIC]

The band is more determined now than ever. And at the essence of their identity is the idea that BTS sang about in its 2018 hit “Idol.”
“Even before the lyrics, it’s titled ‘Idol,’ which is our core identity,” Hyunbin said. "We’ve always said that we wish someday that we wouldn't require any explanation, with just the name Ciipher being enough. We hope that one day, when people think of the word ‘idol,’ they of think of us."
And of course, the band’s latest track “Fame” is at the heart of it all.
“It’s about our challenge to gain fame and popularity,” Hyunbin said. “It conveys our ambition to do exactly that, but also our vigor as rookies and our aspiration to keep trying hard. The song encapsulates our identity.”
Having released an album for the first time in eight months, the band hopes that “The Code” will be a gift to the fans that can bring them closer together.
“We hope that we can spend a long time, perhaps forever, with our Clue,” Tan said. “We want to be a Ciipher that makes music for its Clue.”
Ciipher's Playlist
01. Ciipher – Fame  
02. PSY – Entertainer  
03. Big Bang – Fantastic Baby
04. Taeyeon – I
05. BOL4 – To My Youth
06. Lee Seung-gi – Because We're Friends
07. Exo – Growl
08. Big Bang – Bad Boy
09. Rain – Gang  
10. MeloMance – Gift
11. WJSN – As You Wish
12. Lee Hi – Breathe
13. g.o.d – Road
14. Zico – Human
15. Sunwoojunga – Run With Me
16. Kim Feel - Someday, The Boy
17. Dvwn - Last
18. Rain – Hip Song
19. Bibi – So What?
20. Rain – The Best Present
21. IU – Celebrity
22. BTS – Idol
Celeb Confirmed: Get to know Ciipher

TAN (Choi Seok Won)
Date of birth: Aug. 25, 1996  
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Changwon, South Gyeongsang
Debut: March 2021 as a member of boy band Ciipher
HWI (Kim Byeong Geun)
Date of birth: Feb. 4, 1999
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Goyang, Gyeonggi
Debut: March 2021 as a member of boy band Ciipher
HYUNBIN (Moon Hyun Bin)
Date of birth: Feb. 26, 2000
Zodiac sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Seoul
Debut: March 2021 as a member of boy band Ciipher
of Ciipher [RAINCOMPANY]

of Ciipher [RAINCOMPANY]

KEITA (Terazono Keita)
Date of birth: July 4, 2001
Zodiac sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan
Debut: March 2021 as a member of boy band Ciipher
TAG (Yeom Tae Gyun)
Date of birth: Sept. 30, 2002  
Zodiac sign: Libra
Birthplace: Seongdong District, Seoul
Debut: March 2021 as a member of boy band Ciipher
DOHWAN (Kil Do Hwan)
Date of birth: Aug. 26, 2003
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yongin, Gyeonggi
Debut: March 2021 as a member of boy band Ciipher

WON (Park Sung Won)
Date of birth: Dec. 18, 2003
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Incheon
Debut: March 2021 as a member of boy band Ciipher, April 2019 as a member of boy band 1THE9

This information was confirmed by RAINCOMPANY on June 3, 2022. 

BY HALEY YANG [yang.hyunjoo@joongang.co.kr],BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]
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