In the world of music, popular Korean pop group A.C.E’s journey has been quite intriguing. A.C.E, short for Adventure Calling Emotions, consists of 5 members – JUN, DONGHUN, WOW, BYEONGKWAN and CHAN. Assembling these artists was quite interesting. They were well-known and top trainees in different companies before Beat Interactive brought them together as they made their way to the industry in 2017 with ‘Cactus’.
Like all K-pop groups, A.C.E has a dedicated fanbase ‘Choice’ and the group adorably talks about them. Last year, while the world began to shift amid the pandemic, A.C.E had begun to promote in empty spaces without the audience due to strict COVID-19 protocols. The artists do miss interacting with fans in real time but their online interactions continue to grow stronger with live broadcasts, social media messages, etc. Around that time, their comeback album ‘HZJM: The Butterfly Phantasy’ concept photos had begun to go viral on social media. This saw the growth in their fandom and more took a keen interest in the group. The album combined elements of traditional Asian and Korean culture with modern-day music and fashion trends. It became A.C.E’s highest-charting and best-selling release to date, earning critical praise while topping several year-end charts in 2020.
Growing in the industry with compelling discography, viral busking moments, and taking songs to another level with their covers while continuing to portray a stronger side with their music, the quintet maintains the reputation of risk-takers and rising stars in the industry.
At the beginning of 2021, A.C.E collaborated with Steve Aoki for ‘Fav Boyz’ (Steve Aoki’s Gold Star Remix), a remix of ‘Goblin (Favorite Boys)’ single. With one version featuring Nigerian-American rapper Thutmose and another featuring an English section by A.C.E, ‘Fav Boyz’ broke into Billboard’s Dance/Electronic charts making A.C.E just the fourth K-pop group ever to do so.
Now, the quintet is about to complete four years on May 23 and has released a new collaboration ‘Down’ on April 16 with EDM duo Grey, sans WOW who is currently on hiatus to due health reasons and is recovering! A few weeks before the release of ‘Down’, A.C.E spoke to Bollywood Hungama reflecting on what life has been for them amid the COVID-19, making music, their last year’s album, recalling what debut days were like and what can we expect from their comeback. They also did a fun video segment with us and you can check it out at the end of the interview.
How have you been doing, A.C.E? What is working like in the new normal amid the pandemic though the situation is still different in South Korea compared to other parts of the world?
JUN: Like everyone else, all five members are adjusting to the current situation. However, we still hope the situation doesn’t last for a long time and we should not give up on hopes. I hope we can meet our fans, CHOICE as soon as possible.
Any hobbies you picked up or went back to amid the quarantine period which you couldn’t have done previously due to your busy schedules?
DONGHUN: We were relieved that it came out negative on the COVID-19 test because we would’ve caused damages to so many people that work with us. Self-quarantine for two weeks was a unique experience. We never experienced being locked up for such a long time in our lives. The bright side is that I could have a relaxing time. Also, I enjoyed writing songs that I couldn’t so far due to busy schedules.
You guys are so close to completing four years as a group. Titled as the risk-takers and rising stars in the industry, it must be surreal to witness this kind of growth in your career and love from CHOICE. Am I right?
WOW: First of all, we were able to challenge this career because of Choice’s love. We are grateful that we could continue to grow for the last four years. We still have a long way to go, and we have a lot to achieve ahead. On behalf of A.C.E, I’d like to thank everyone who makes us dream of tomorrow.
Your last EP ‘HJZM: The Butterfly Phantasy’ was pretty intriguing as the concept photos followed by the powerful ‘Favorite Boys’ music video went viral on social media. It must be pretty amazing to receive positive feedback from the audience for all the hard work that went into the making. What was the process like?
CHAN: When the concept of the album was decided, we had time to research and study traditional Korean stories, fashion, and cultures. The coolest process was to transform the traditional elements into the modern world. One of the examples was the underwater photoshoot with hanbok, the Korean traditional clothes on. I was so happy when the fans and the public gave us good feedback. It was a great feeling that they acknowledge our efforts. This motivates us to make the next album better.
This comeback brought a lot of new attention to your comeback. How the storytelling did begin for this specific album?
BYEONGKWAN: It’s meaningful because it’s an album that contains a worldview/universe. Above all, the five members show their respective worldviews. We left hints through the five goblins. Korean goblin is a legendary creature from Korean mythology and folklore. The Korean goblins are friendly and love to be friends with people. We could project the goblins on ourselves. As you can see, each member talks about his identity. If you listen to our next album, you’ll find a story that continues. Please look forward to it.
Are there any specific songs you most connected with or it represents you?
JUN: I will pick ‘Stand By You’ from the album. The meaning of the lyrics touched me a lot. I think many people will be comforted when they listen to this song. A lot of fans said they were comforted with this song. That’s why I’m more attached to this song.
BYEONGKWAN: ‘Clover’ This is a fan song from the 4th EP. It’s like a love letter to our fans. I have a lot of affection for this song.
A.C.E members are actual aces when it comes to hardcore choreographies if I may say so. How much time does it take to learn a new dance routine?
WOW: Thank you. Being hardcore dancers takes lots of effort to maintain physical strength and teamwork with members. Because we have great chemistry within the members, one day is enough to learn new choreography. However, to deliver perfection to fans, I think there is no end to satisfaction for us.
Your music covers are often most talked about and have often gone viral (BLACKPINK’s ‘How You Like That‘, TWICE’s ‘What Is Love’, BTS’ ‘Dope‘, ‘DNA’ & ‘Fake Love’). Presenting a new rendition must be a whole lot of fun process, right?
DONGHUN: We were surprised that the covers went viral. We all love singing and enjoy singing songs by other artists. I always get excited about how the fans will like our cover songs. The preparation process is always fun, but all five members have to agree when it comes to selecting songs to cover. Recently, I’ve uploaded some covers on SoundCloud. You should check it out.
You guys recently collaborated with Steve Aoki. How did that come about? Did you share any notes with him or any conversation went down when the remix was being done?
BYEONGKWAN: All of this was connected by fans. We were doing Q&A on Twitter, and I mentioned that we wanted to collaborate with Steve Aoki because he’s on my top list of legendary artists. Choice, the fans tagged Steve Aoki on that tweet later. The next thing you know, ‘FAV BOYZ’ Steve Aoki’s Gold Star Remix! Unfortunately, we couldn’t meet and work on it in person due to the Corona situation. We shared ideas and feedback for the remix, such as re-recording the rap verses. It was amazing to witness Steve transforming ‘Favorite Boys’ to ‘Fav Boyz’. We could not believe that the song took 12th place in the US Billboard Dance/Electronic Digital Song Sales chart and 4th on the world digital song sale chart. It was such an honor to work with Steve Aoki. Last but not least, I believe that all the results of this collaboration project gave back to Choice for what they brought in in the first place.
Now that situation is a little different, you must miss busking a lot since it gave a great platform to connect with people in real-time?
CHAN: I miss busking a lot. When we were preparing our debut, we started busking in the streets of Seoul. Our hearts and sincerity are in the busking. We can’t forget that we learned how to communicate with fans closely and share energy through busking. It’s a shame that we can’t go out busking at this moment. I hope things get better soon.
11. Since you will soon complete 4 years, do you remember the shoot of your first concept photos and music video? Take us down memory lane.
DONGHUN: ‘Cactus‘ I’ll never forget that moment. I was a rookie that is new to everything. However, I remember that I was always excited and pure. Whenever I recall that time, I remember my very first passion, and it motivates me again.
JUN: I admit that everything was awkward for us. For example, during the photo shoot, I didn’t know what pose I have to make. So I copied how the other members do, but they were newbies too (Laughs). For our first music video ‘Cactus’, we started shooting around 3 pm and finished at 8 am the next day. We probably danced for 10 hours straight from 10 pm to 8 am. In the end, I remember that we were all out of energy, but so happy that we finished our first music video.
There are so many who dream to become artists one day and prepping for the same. What advice would you like to give that you learned over the years from your careers?
BYEONGKWAN: Be patient. Trust yourself and just focus on what you have to do. Believe in yourself until you make it.
You guys continued to connect with your fans during the peak of the pandemic in 2020. With each year, the bond between A.C.E and CHOICE is becoming stronger than ever! It must be nice to know so many look forward to everything you do with music and otherwise.
WOW: Before my debut, my goal was to be an artist who can make fans look forward to the artist’s music. I’m thankful that we have our fans, ‘Choice’ who love all of our albums and look forward to the next album. Choice always inspires us through social media, especially in the pandemic situation. They truly motivate us to be better artists and to make good music. We hope Choice says it’s worth waiting for.
Is A.C.E working on the comeback? If so, what can we expect this time?
CHAN: We know fans are waiting and we love to take the pressure to give fans the best album possible. We are going to show a different and better side of A.C.E in the next album. Along with the new concept and look of a group, we’d like to convey emotions and messages through the new songs. Also, we hope to show fans songs with each member’s color more this year.
I was wondering if the situation permits someday, would A.C.E want to visit or tour India? Also, do you have a message for ‘Choice’?
JUN: Because of Covid-19, it became a dream to go to a place where there are fans who want to meet us and want us to perform. If we have a chance, we hope to visit India and do both performances and sightseeing. It would be a dream to meet the fans in India someday. It’s never enough to say ‘stay safe and healthy!’. We love you, India Choice!
ALSO READ: A.C.E falls head over heels in love in easy-breezy song ‘Down’ in collaboration with EDM duo Grey, watch video
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