“Where have flowers bloomed but never trembled?” Like the line from Korean poet Do Jong-hwan’s poem “Flowers That Bloom When Shaken,” we all sprout flowers when we are shaken. With a desire to “sing about the anxiety that young people [their] age feel,” GOT7 expressed that trembling feeling through the music that they made for their mini album, 7 for 7. Every member of the group was involved with writing and composing all of the songs on the album; as a result, the songs on 7 for 7 are quite distinct from the music that the group has released before. This time around, the group focused on creating lyrical melodies and realistic lyrics rather than flashy sounds and fast beats. As I listened to their new music, which highlighted their thoughts and voices more than ever before, my expectations for the group grew – expectations of GOT7 blossoming into more in the near future.
10. It’s been four years already since your debut. What’s changed for the group?
JB: We can now express our thoughts through our music. We were also more actively involved on this album than we have been previously. The way we approach music has naturally become deeper and more sincere.
10. When you are planning to make an album, isn’t there a process of getting all of the members to come into agreement about the album?
Jinyoung: Before we start working on a new album, the members and the staff from our management agency come together for a meeting. During the meeting, instead of deciding on the genre for the songs, we try to come up with keywords to focus on. In the case of 7 for 7, we decided to focus on the word “anxiety.” Each of us wrote songs by thinking of lyrics and musical genres that would fit that keyword.
10. Why anxiety?
Jinyoung: This might be an obvious answer, but we wanted to sing about the anxiety that young people our age feel. Of course, we didn’t want to limit ourselves to just the feeling of anxiety itself. We also have a song that has a message of working to overcome anxiety, and we wanted to put each individual’s personal feelings of anxiety and the thoughts behind them into the music.
JB: The tone and mood of the songs are as different as each person’s thoughts. That’s why we decided on the album track order ourselves. If you listen, in contrast to the lighthearted mood of the first song, the album feels progressively darker as it moves towards the final track.
10. What do you get anxiety about?
JB: About work and what kinds of results we’ll get. I also get anxious over my contemplations of what I should do to create more depth in my music.
Yugyeom: We also think a lot about our capabilities and growth.
10. The number seven is emphasized in the name of your album, 7 for 7. Is there a particular reason for that?
JB: It took seven months after our previous album for the seven of us to get back together – that’s what the number seven signifies. We wanted to show everyone that the seven of us have a close bond and that we are unified.
BamBam: Before the album came out, we had some time off from the group. Some members decided to take a break and rest, and other members worked on other projects or activities. Once the break for the group was over, we met up with each other in the practice studio. After not getting to see the other members’ faces for nearly two weeks, I was so happy to see them again. We wanted to convey a vibe to our fans that’s uniquely ours. It’s something that we emphasized in our music video for “You Are.”
10. With most idol groups, once they’re in the business for a few years, they focus more on individual projects. What are GOT7’s plans?
JB: We haven’t talked to each other specifically yet about what individual projects we’re going to pursue. Over the past seven months, some of the members worked individually and some performed as sub-units. We know that made our fans uneasy because it made them think we would start focusing on individual projects. That’s why we put an emphasis on our group as a whole for this album. We hope it reduces our fans’ anxieties and makes them feel a sense of security.
10. Jackson made his solo debut in China. After that, when he announced that he would be halting his participation in GOT7’s promotional activities in Japan, there were even rumors that he was going to leave the group.
Jackson: There are some people who like my solo work, and some who don’t. I can’t be concerned with everyone’s different reactions. I just want to work hard as Jackson from GOT7. I like that I can show “Jackson the musician” to everyone through my solo work. (In Korea) I’ve been on a lot of entertainment programs, and I think there are pros and cons to that. On the one hand, people think I’m lighthearted and funny, but then they also have a tendency to not take me very seriously. After I released my solo album, I heard a lot of people say, “I didn’t think Jackson would do music.” The Jackson that’s shown on entertainment programs is just one side of myself. In the future, I want to keep performing my own music.
10. When I listen to this album, I’m reminded of the Verse 2 album that JJ Project released last July. JB: It could be looked at as an extension of JJ Project. It’s true that this album has been influenced by Verse 2.
10. What did the other members think of JJ Project?
Yugyeom: It was great to see. I went to see their comeback showcase, and their performance was amazing. More than anything else, I was proud of the fact that the songs that they had written themselves were included on the album.
Youngjae: I hear JJ Project’s songs playing everywhere I go.
BamBam: I went to a shopping mall over the Chuseok holidays, and their songs were being played repeatedly. I was so proud that I bragged about it in GOT7’s group chat room. (laughs)
Mark: I feel like we’ve been getting a positive response from our fans for this album with the full group because JB and Jinyoung did such a good job with JJ Project beforehand.
Jackson: JJ Project is GOT7’s parent group. We’re always thankful to them for paving a smooth path for us.
10. Is there someone in your group that you would like to perform in a sub-unit with?
JB: (Looking at Yugyeom) Yugyeom, who do you want to collaborate with?
Yugyeom: Everyone’s great. Jinyoung and I could put something together that feels dandy. Youngjae is a pretty good dancer in his own right, so we could do a dance song together. (laughs) I could do R&B with JB; and since Mark, Jackson, and BamBam is our rap line, I could make a whole new kind of music with them. I think it would be fun to work with BamBam because we’re the same age! (everyone laughs)
Youngjae: When I work with JB, I’m comfortable regardless of what we do. (Jinyoung: Aren’t you comfortable with me?) I’m comfortable with everyone. (laughs) JB and I also like similar music, so I think we could create good synergy together.
Mark: We do unit performances in our concerts sometimes. Each member has a different concept that’s compatible with them. If I had to choose, maybe I would say Jinyoung or JB? I feel like we could create a performance that would be my style.
BamBam: In one of our past concerts, Jackson, Yugyeom, and I performed as a hip-hop unit. That was cool, too. I usually have to dance a lot, so there are times when I want to stand on stage and either sing or rap. If I were to do that, I would like to collaborate with JB.
Jackson: I want to show off the skills of GOT7’s rap line. It would be fun to form a rap unit with Mark, BamBam, and myself – the group’s foreign members.
10. It feels like 7 for 7 has solidified GOT7’s identity.
JB: In the past, people would say that our team had too many different colors; they would say that it was a weakness. Now, it’s something that has become a distinguishing characteristic for us. I want to continue experimenting with a variety of styles like we’re doing now.
Jinyoung: We’re a multinational group. That’s one of our major strengths. After all, it isn’t easy for people from different countries to come together to form a team. Despite that, we enhance each other’s styles, and those different styles come together to create another style altogether. That spirit and atmosphere of freedom that we have is our strength.
Translated by Jennifer Earwood