Back in my day, being a K-pop fan wasn’t something that I could be open about. For the most part, not many are aware that the genre even exists. Then, there’s the stigma. But fast forward to today, and it’s not so unusual to meet a fellow fan or to even know a K-pop song. Much less, to even become a fan. With the power being a fan holds, K-pop fans definitely shape the way groups are received. Whether it’s streaming numbers, album sales, fan-voted awards, activism, and how K-pop groups are seen by the public and industry peers. The power of K-pop fans is undeniable.
But one K-pop group that’s taking it up a notch is tripleS. The group leave it to their fans (WAVs) to decide who’s debuting. The idea may seem totally out of this world especially those who know how cutthroat training can be. But it’s happening. And even better, it’s working. After all, it’s already tripleS’ fifth sub-unit, EVOLution entering the scene. With a system that’s being embraced by fans, it can be surprising to know that tripleS only entered the scene in February this year. With a whopping 24 members in total, only 16 have been unveiled to the public. So, there’s far more to be excited about.
But right from the get-go, tripleS has been already doing something fresh compared to the traditional K-pop system. Sure, fans vote on survival reality shows to decide who’s going to make it but here, even members who already debuted in existing sub-units can still join newer sub-units. Throw in the decision to choose the concepts too. EVOLution is the newest sub-unit to debut using fan votes. Perhaps a fitting name for a revolutionary idea. Accompanying their debut is the mini-album, “⟡(Mujuk)” with members YooYeon, Mayu, NaKyoung, Katone, ChaeYeon, JiWoo, SooMin, and Yeonji.
To shed light on their journey so far, Lifestyle Asia chats with the group to discuss their unique system, the power of their fans, and the release of their mini-album.
tripleS’ sub-unit EVOLution discusses venturing beyond traditional K-pop
tripleS has so many sub-units. What makes EVOLution different from the rest?
YooYeon: EVOLution expresses its messages in a more intense way than other units that have debuted so far. We are focusing on enhancing the fierceness of the performance while also emphasising our strengths. In the choreography and expressions of EVOLution, you’ll be able to feel a more powerful presence.
The formation of the sub-unit is very intriguing, as it was through fans’ votes. What’s the reason behind this decision?
ChaeYeon: When we first encountered this system, it felt a bit unfamiliar and intriguing for us as well. However, as we participate in the unit that the fans assigned to us, it seems that the synergy within tripleS is most powerful when the WAVs, who passionately support us closely, make that decision.
JiWoo: Since we are a team with a lot of members, I think it’s a unique way to do this. It’s also a new challenge for us to try this system. Through this, we can showcase performances that are not limited to a specific concept and demonstrate our ability to handle a variety of musical styles. Our goal is to create fresh chemistry each time, through different combinations. So, that’s why we continue to maintain this system.
Why do you think it matters that you put the formation of a sub-unit through the hands and preferences of fans?
Kotone: Thanks to our fans, the WAVs, we can engage in activities like this and have the opportunity to experience many things. So, I think it’s the right decision to listen to the opinions of our fans. If I were a fan, I would find the system of deciding units quite fascinating. It’ll likely spark my interest. That’s why I think it’s important for tripleS fans to participate, contribute, and create together. This collaborative aspect sets us apart from other idol groups and makes it unique.
tripleS is pushing the boundaries of what a traditional K-pop group is. How do you feel to be a part of that?
SooMin: Venturing beyond traditional K-pop and embracing new challenges is truly exciting. I’m also thrilled and looking forward to the various concepts, units, and ever-changing combinations that members will create in the future. The most significant aspect is the system where fans actively participate, shaping the idol group through their choices. This allows us the opportunity to explore diverse concepts, making it even more thrilling.
Mayu: With a larger number of members compared to other groups, we can create various units, each contributing different colours and styles. This allows us to showcase a diverse range of unit activities! The system adds freshness and excitement to the entire process. Being part of a group where fans contribute directly is an honour, and it enables us to constantly challenge ourselves with varying concepts. We are able to showcase new sides of us!
tripleS’ EVOLution breaks down the journey of releasing their mini-album, “⟡(Mujuk)”
For the album title, you made a point to add a diamond as a symbol. Tell us more about that creative decision.
NaKyoung: We put in an effort to capture the mysterious yet powerful essence of the title track. We believe that it’s a song which can show strong performances so we worked on synchronising the dance moves among the members to make it visually impactful.
JiWoo: If you look at the lyrics of tripleS’ songs one by one, you’ll find a confident and self-assured identity. Looking at diamonds that frequently appear in “Invincible” reminded us of our group. So, that’s why we chose to visualise diamonds and make it the title track!
The title track, ‘Invincible’ explores how unbreakable the members are against all odds. In reality, how do you deal with challenges and obstacles?
YooYeon: I personally consider it a new challenge every time a new album is released. I think a lot about showcasing a more developed version than the previous album, which motivates me to push my limits. I dedicate myself to practising a lot on my own while asking questions to fellow members and seeking assistance to overcome challenges and continuously improve.
Among the eight tracks in the album, do you have one that’s special to you?
YeonJi: “Heavy Metal Wings” is a song that I love. It has a catchy melody and the lyrics provide comfort and empathy, so I have a lot of affection for the song!
For the members releasing an album for the first time, can you tell us more about the experience? Did you receive help from other members?
JiWoo: This album’s concept is significantly different from the previous concept of “+(KR)ystal Eyes,” making it unique and enjoyable. Initially, I felt sorry for not being able to participate well in practice due to other schedules. But thanks to the members who waited and helped me catch up during our practices, I was able to prepare well!
Mayu: Since I was new to everything, I was very nervous and there were a lot of things that didn’t go as well as my expectations. However, I think I was able to work hard since the members with more experience helped me each time. I really learned a lot from them!
For the members who are coming back with the album. What were you most excited about this time around?
YooYeon: I was most excited about the chance to showcase a choreographically dynamic and intense performance that we haven’t shown before.
tripleS’ EVOLution on how they maintain group harmony and what’s next
tripleS is known for having many members. Does having sub-units make it easier to showcase your talent and individual charms?
Kotone: Since there are so many members, I think there might be a limit to what we can all show no matter how attractive or talented each member is. So, through the sub-unit, WAVs can see each and every person in more detail, and we can better show what we truly want to present. Therefore, I think that this is a positive aspect that both the members and the WAVs think about sub-units.
That said, do you find it difficult to balance group harmony and individuality?
SooMin: Rather than feeling difficult about it, it seems like embracing each other’s unique personalities can showcase a broader spectrum of colours to the audience. This advantage allows for the presentation of the diversity of a new group with each collaboration.
tripleS’ sub-units LOVElution and EVOLution both highlight self-love and self-confidence. Beyond music, how do you practice these in your daily life?
JiWoo: I think I’m always trying not to lose myself. Including self-care and other little aspects of daily life, I’m trying to keep the mindset that I had when I first started everything.
Since you have the chance to try out different concepts each time, what kind of concept do you want to try next?
NaKyoung: Next time, I want to try a concept that is a little more hip, unique, and refined!
So far, only 16 of the 24 members have been revealed. What else should we look forward to?
YooYeon: Please look forward to the members, units, new concepts, and endless albums that will be revealed in the future! We will come to you with a unit with an even more interesting concept! Please look forward to it!
ChaeYeon: I believe that in the future, more unique and attractive members will be revealed like the members that have been revealed so far. Wouldn’t there be new chemistry and unit combinations with the new members? Please look forward to it. We will come back with more interesting unit member combinations and concepts!!
tripleS only “debuted” this year. What has been the most fulfilling moment so far?
JiWoo: I think I’m happiest when I meet my fans. On music shows, they shout out their support harder than anyone else, and at fan signing events, they make eye contact and say a lot of nice things. I’m always so proud and happy.
SooMin: I remember the day I performed in the Philippines the most!! It was the first time I felt the energy from international WAVs! I was really happy and I think it was an unforgettable moment. If I get the chance, I would like to perform on stage not only in the Philippines but also in other countries around the world!
Watch the music video for the title track of tripleS’ EVOLution ‘Invincible’.
All images credit: Modhaus