We Asked ENHYPEN All About Their Debut And "Border: Day One"

    "I want ENHYPEN to become a group that can connect people to people and worlds to worlds through our music," Sunghoon told BuzzFeed News.

    All eyes were on ENHYPEN on Monday. The group was preparing to release their first EP, Border: Day One, marking what was undeniably one of K-pop's most highly anticipated debuts of the year.

    The group's seven members were ultimately chosen on Sept. 18 following 12 weeks of competition on survival show I-Land, created as part of a joint venture between CJ E&M and Big Hit Entertainment. Over the course of three months, contestants received guidance from some of the most influential people in the Korean music industry — Big Hit founder Bang Si-hyuk, singer Rain, rapper Zico, choreographer Son Sung-deuk, and producers DOOBU, Pdogg, and Wonderkid, among others — and advice from members of globally acclaimed groups BTS and SEVENTEEN. According to Belift, the final episode of I-Land was seen by 43 million viewers and voters in 181 countries and regions worldwide.

    It's safe to say, then, that all those millions of fans — known as ENGENE — have been counting down the days until ENHYPEN's debut. The members themselves are just as excited. "I know many have been waiting for us," the group's youngest, Ni-ki, tells BuzzFeed News. "So we're super excited to finally show our performance."

    "It's both nerve-racking and exciting," adds 17-year-old former figure skater Sunghoon. "It feels like I'm on a roller coaster ride."

    Over email, I spoke with Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo, and Ni-ki about the lead up to their first-ever EP, their hopes for their debut, and how they've grown as a team since their days on I-Land...

    ENHYPEN's debut is one of the most highly anticipated of the year following the success of I-Land. How does it feel to know you already have so many fans around the world looking forward to hearing your music?

    Jake: We're thankful that we got so much love and support before even debuting. As much as our fans are anticipating, we want to bring good music and performances for them. And that is our source of motivation when we practice for the stage.

    You all went through huge growth as individuals and as a team during your time on I-Land. How has that growth continued since the show ended? What does each of you feel is your biggest strength as a group?

    Jungwon: What we learned during the program came in really handy in perfecting our teamwork. Our team's biggest strength would probably be music and performance based on our own stories. Our debut album and lead single "Given-Taken" captures our reality of having formed a team after selection on I-Land. Although we're uncertain about if our debut was given or if we have taken this chance on our own, we express our determination to overcome these emotions.

    Heeseung: We learned a lot and made efforts to find what makes us unique during the program, but after we were selected as the debut members, I think there was a lot of growth as a team. Our biggest strength is that diversity amongst ourselves makes us solid as a team.

    Jay: I think our passion for music and the stage is our greatest strength. We learned how to present ourselves as artists on I-Land. We're still lacking, but continuing to learn to improve ourselves in that aspect.

    Jake: I was able to grow not only in my abilities, but also mentally during I-Land. I think I grew the most though during the debut preparation process after the show. I think our team's greatest strength is our chemistry. We make sure to communicate and respect one another.

    Sunghoon: I utilised a lot of what I learned during the program while preparing for our debut. I think I've become more comfortable on the stage and eager for growth while thinking about our fans. I think our greatest strength is our perfectly synchronised choreography and performance.

    Sunoo: I've been working hard to improve my dance and vocal skills even after the show. Repetition has played a huge part in my improvement. Our greatest strength is that we know each other's individual strengths and know how to highlight them for one another.

    Ni-ki: Compared to when we first began, I think we improved a lot! We filled each other's shortcomings and grew together during all this debut preparation. As for our group's forte, I think it’s the diverse charms and unique traits each of us has.

    Jungwon, you were recently revealed as ENHYPEN's leader. How did the team come to that decision, and what has the experience been like for you so far?

    Jungwon: Heeseung and I were the finalists for the leader spot. But Heeseung said that he felt he could contribute more to the group as a member and the eldest one, and he'd rather have me as the leader. The opinion was considered and finally accepted. So in the end, I was chosen as the leader.

    It hasn't been long since I've taken up this role, but thanks to the members who are supportive and Heeseung's help, I think I've been doing a good job.

    Jay, you were named as the member who cooked for others the most during I-Land, but how has it been now you’re living together as a seven? Has each of you taken on roles like that within the dorm?

    Jay: I still am the "unofficial" chef of our team. Also, I'm in charge of style, I would say.

    Your concept for Border: Day One is quite intense, and darker than fans may have expected. How have you found the experience of working with this concept? How does it reflect the music on Border: Day One?

    Sunoo: I meticulously practiced my facial expressions to highlight the album's unique dark concept. I sort of have a cold expression naturally, so I think I was able to pull it off. I think this album represents a new beginning for us.

    I'm sure you'll all have experienced new and exciting things in the process of preparing for your debut. What have been your favourite memories from making this album?

    Jungwon: We alternated between debut prepping and "ENHYPEN&Hi" reality show filming. The content we shot for the show was really fun and memorable.

    Heeseung: All the various shootings we did were fun. Before debut, we mainly put our focus on singing and dancing. But as we're getting ready for debut, we're doing reality shows and interviews which are really fun.

    Jay: The most memorable moment is when we filmed the music video. It was my first time acting! Also our first outdoor performance. It was something I've always looked at from afar, so it was memorable!

    Jake: Every experience down this journey to debut was new and fun. For me personally, the "Given-Taken" music video stuck with me the most. I was nervous and awkward because it was my first time shooting a music video. But luckily I had my members and staff who helped me out. Thanks to them it ended in success.

    Sunghoon: We went to Jeju Island for our album cover photo shoot. As it was the first time traveling by plane with the members, that was really fun. Also, the view of the island, and the dim dawn stood out to me.

    Sunoo: For this album we had many "first" shoots and extensive practices. The moment I remember the most is Jeju Island, where we shot our album photos. It was my first time visiting Jeju Island and the food was really good. The photoshoot locations were stunning, so I took a lot of pictures. The photos also turned out great so I'm satisfied.

    Ni-ki: We wanted to bring an awesome debut stage for our fans who have been supporting us. So we worked really hard on that. Hope they like it.

    Which song from Border: Day One is each member most excited to share with fans, and why?

    Jungwon: "10 Months." It has the most soothing and comforting mood out of the songs in the album and we had fun preparing for the performance.

    Heeseung: "10 Months." I think it's a healing song with its particular soothing feel and groovy sound.

    Jay: Our lead single "Given-Taken." I think this song best embodies our complex emotions right now — after being chosen by the global fans, and finally debuting.

    Jake: "Let Me In (20 CUBE)." All six songs in our new album have their charms, but I think the feel and choreography of "Let Me In (20 CUBE)" is most attractive.

    Sunghoon: "Given-Taken." As the lead single it delivers most effectively our emotions. I want our fans to feel the dark and powerful energy.

    Sunoo: "Let Me In (20 CUBE)." The song kept playing in my head after I first heard it because of its unique sound. It's very catchy and has a deeper meaning in the lyrics, so I recommend you listen to it!

    Ni-ki: "Let Me In (20 CUBE)." Listen to the uptempo rhythm!

    You'll be joining the stage at Big Hit Labels’ New Year’s Eve concert later this month, alongside some of the biggest names in music. How are you feeling about your performance?

    Heeseung: It's the first time we're performing along with our seniors so we're pretty nervous. But we will try to enjoy the stage with a sense of responsibility. We're working hard to show you our performance with confidence.

    And finally, just as your album title says, you are all without a doubt on the border of a huge new adventure. What is each member's biggest goal for the future of ENHYPEN?

    Jungwon: As ENHYPEN, I want to become an artist who can communicate and connect with everyone, as well as give happiness to fans through performances and glimpses of our everyday life.

    Heeseung: My goal is to be healthy and do music for a long time with ENHYPEN and ENGENE. Another goal would be to keep improving as a team!

    Jay: My first goal is for us to have a successful debut with an impressive performance, so that all ENGENES can be proud to say, "I’m an ENGENE!"

    Jake: The priority right now is to have a successful debut. The second goal would be the rookie of the year title. We've waited long and prepared really hard for this debut so we are hoping to get this once in a lifetime award. We will try our best to be the rookie of the year that can represent the year 2020.

    Sunghoon: I want ENHYPEN to become a group that can connect people to people and worlds to worlds through our music.

    Sunoo: My goal for ENHYPEN is to have a successful start with our debut and mark many records. My personal goal is to live happily every day promoting our music all over the world as a member of ENHYPEN!

    Ni-ki: I want to steadily set my goals higher after our successful debut.

    Border: Day One is available to buy and stream now.