The first idol group produced by rapper Zico, Boynextdoor debuted Tuesday with the single "Who!"
The six-piece band is the latest group from Hybe, the multilabel company that houses big-name artists the likes of BTS, Seventeen and NewJeans. Boynextdoor is the first group launched under Hybe's KOZ Entertainment label.
Boynextdoor, consisting of Sungho, Riwoo, Jaehyun, Taesan, Leehan and Woonhak, held a press conference Tuesday at Blue Square in Yongsan, central Seoul.
"It's overwhelming that the world is finally hearing our voice," Woonhak, the group's youngest, said. Sungho joined in, "I began training (to become a singer) at KOZ and feel overjoyed to debut here."
KOZ was established by Zico independently in 2018. In 2020, it was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment, which was rebranded into Hybe in 2021. KOZ is now among the labels housed under Hybe Labels, along with Big Hit Music, Pledis Entertainment, Ador, Source Music and Belift Lab.
The bandmates of Boynextdoor have been carefully put together and trained over the past four years by label chief Zico and his longtime music partner, producer Pop Time. Zico himself spent was in hip-hop idol group Block B in the 2010s.
The debut single album from Boynextdoor is "Who!" with "But I Like You," "One and Only" and "Serenade." While most albums, especially singles, are fronted by just one or two lead songs, all the tracks of "Who!" share the title.
Taesan explained, "A single story connects the three songs. We recommend you follow them in order when you listen."
"But I Like You" was the first song of the day performed.
Taesan, credited as a songwriter for the first song along with Jaehyun and Woonhak, said the song "well portrays the energy of Boynextdoor."
The three are also named in the credits for third track "Serenade."
"I thought the lyrics would play a decisive role for this one," Woonhak said about "Serenade." "I tried to meld in our ways of expression and emotions into the lyrics."
Zico took the helm for producing the second track, "One and Only," teaming up with Pop Time for its overall production.
The song draws attention to the rookie team's performance, as they dance boisterously to creative choreography that they also contributed in making. To literally demonstrate their band name, the group opens an actual door on the stage.
About "One and Only," Jaehyun said, "I thought the dance was everything for this song. Music is now not only heard, but seen these days. I expected many people would be able to follow the moves if we made video content for it."
The sextet also performed "One and Only" and "Serenade" for local press.
The bandmates defined their music as easy listening and natural. The six of them worked closely with Pop Time to imbue their true characteristics into the band's music and concept.
"We want our music to be easy listening, added with something fun," Jaehyun said. Taesan added, "We hope the public could sing along and empathize effortlessly to our music. When they look back on this period, we hope they could remember our songs."
The bandmates themselves played significant roles in the production. They even personally shot the choreography video, something usually done by professional dancers.
Boynextdoor's dances also put stress less on the "perfectly synced group dance" style that defines K-pop music, sharing the spotlight between them.
"The album in overall contains each of our opinions and preferences, and the same goes for the dance. We worked closely with the performance director in creating the choreography," Riwoo explained.
The three lead tracks also came with three music videos, all shot in Los Angeles.
Some of the group members shared personal stories about their debut.
"There was a time when I made music alone. KOZ reached out and said they wanted to hear my songs. Zico auditioned me himself, and based on what Zico had told me about being in a team and the possibilities I could have as a musician in it, I became confident that it was here I had to debut. I was assured that at KOZ, I'd be in good hands to do music," Jaehyun said.
Jaehyun, among the three eldest, stressed it was not just the advice Zico gave them that helped, but his overall manner in life.
"He acts before he says. We learned from his attitude toward music and how he leads people," Jaehyun said.
Woonhak said he was also deeply inspired by Zico. "We learn a lot from how he does music, how he records and other conduct in life. Watching him encourages me."
Closing Tuesday's event, the bandmates each shared their goals and aspirations.
"I hope our songs enter the annual chart. That would mean our music had swept the scene this year," Woonhak said. Riwoo added, "Our music has its fun in the visuals as well, so hopefully our videos could go trending on streaming platforms."
"All six of us share one goal, which is winning the rookie of the year award. We can only get it once," said Sungho.
Playing off the name of their song, Taesan said, "We want to become a 'one and only' group. We hope to be remembered as icons of youth by fans and the public."