They are the first boy group YG showcased in 9 years—a younger BIGBANG. The new group WINNER kicked off their musical journey with much attention and pressure even before their debut. As the viewers personally chose them on the survival program, expectations grew high, and the fact that they belong to the same agency as BIGBANG and 2NE1 aroused much attention. The fellow artists like BIGBANG, 2NE1, EPIK HIGH and AKDONG MUSICIAN take up a great portion of significance in the Korean music market, and thus it was only natural for the expectations to grow for WINNER.
In the afternoon of August 17, we met with WINNER who just finished their TV debut on SBS’s Inkigayo. They found true joy on stage. They looked nothing like rookies, and each had pleasant energy. The members who finally realized their dreams were simply shining.
“When I was a trainee, coming to see Inkiayo was like an educational field trip. I was really nervous at first, but the fans helped us relax and I was able to enjoy it.” (NAM TAE HYUN)
“It feels different. I was part of a different group in the past, so I was familiar with the system. I saw some familiar faces in the waiting room. It feels different to start over as WINNER, and I feel proud. I really enjoyed it.” (SONG MIN HO)
“I was a solo last year and was worried to be part of WINNER. I was nervous about making mistakes as well. But as we were all hungry to do this, we really enjoyed being on stage. We blew away all the worries. I was lonely being a solo, and it’s great to be with the members of WINNER.” (KANG SEUNG YOON)
And WINNER’s debut was utterly surprising. They not only unleashed their full musical potential by writing and composing all the songs including the double titles “EMPTY” and “COLOR RING” in the debut album “2014 S/S,” but they also knocked down all charts and even lined up charts with several songs. That is hard even for top singers. Their unprecedented popularity as new artists proves how long they had been preparing for this. It was the sweetest fruit borne after much patience.
“It was really unexpected. We thought just being part of the charts would be a great reward, because we are new. But when we looked at the charts, the outcome was completely unexpected. Of course we are grateful. I ‘print screened’ the charts and sent it to my family. I thank the fans deeply. It motivates us to work harder.” (KANG SEUNG YOON)
“Apparently, even our boss YANG HYUN SUK didn’t expect this. He was thrilled and proud that it went well. I feel great.”
Since their debut was confirmed last year on the survival program “WIN,” the fans had been waiting for them. WINNER spent every day preparing to meet the public as pro artists. Apart from working on the album, they also performed at BIGBANG’s Japan tour and 2NE1’s World tour to get more experience. It was tough when the debut was postponed, but in that span of time, their talents became more solidified by these experiences.
“While working on the album, we performed almost every weekend for BIGBANG’s dome tour and 2NE1’s World Tour. We were inspired performing overseas, and that experience helped us grow. It really helped us in many ways by experiencing something new and different.” (LEE SEUNG HOON)
And now they finally stepped into the music world. They said they were happy just to “release an album that is full of self-written and composed songs.” They wrote 30 to 40 songs, rewrote them and fixed them. The album is a treasure for them. The album that carries WINNER’s sentiment was a huge hit in the public. The popularity crosses borders. They topped 5 iTunes around the world in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia. Their power, acknowledged even before their debut, was once again shown.
“I personally think that the album carries our color well because we made it together. We didn’t really think about what’s ‘in,’ but we based the production on our experience. We each pulled out the deep emotions we had in ourselves.” (NAM TAE HYUN)
“Many began to like us when we made a debut, but the fans who were with us since ‘WIN’ had to wait for a very long time, too. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the fans. I think the fans who had been watching us since ‘WIN’ would think that we grew a lot since then.” (SONG MIN HO)
They can fully enjoy their successful debut now, but they had to bear the pressure of the reputation other YG artists had set. The expectations from the fans added on to the weight, but it only made the five members stronger.
“We were actually really worried. We were the fist boy group in 9 years, and it scared us. It would be bad if we didn’t do well.” (KIM JIN WOO)
“Many walked the journey with us and put in their time for us. Fans also waited for long. Some already knew who we were. That’s why the pressure was greater.” (SONG MIN HO)
“BIGBANG, 2NE1, PSY, EPIK HIGH, AKMU and LEE HI… They raised the bar. And as a latecomer, we didn’t want to put a dent in their reputation. There was great pressure on us. But it helped us grow. It made us stronger.” (KANG SEUNG YOON)
They jumped the hoop, and they feel light now. They are determined to make “people who listen to the songs WINNER,” and expectations for them just ballooned.
“Because we made the album, we feel great when we personally get feedback on our album. It’s not something fake—it feels great to get that feeling of being touched in person.” (SONG MIN HO)
“It’s great to see people liking the entire album instead of just the title tracks, but I hope they can see the color of WINNER in the album. I hope this can be the solid basis for our future, for us to become real WINNER.” (LEE SEUNG HOON)
Credits : YG Life