A new K-pop boy group has been launched by a major Korean company – but it’s not one of the K-pop powerhouses you might think of.
Trendz, pronounced “trend zee,” debuted Jan. 5 with their debut EP “Blue Set Chapter1. Tracks.”
The boy band was created by Korean online shopping mall Interpark – its subsidiary and management agency Interpark Music Plus to be exact. It is the new ambition of the trading giant to dive into the idol industry and create a successful K-pop group using its vast network of subsidiaries.
Consisting of members Havit, Leon, Yoonwoo, Hankook, ra.L, Eunil, and Yechan, the group began to catch on with K-pop fans since last summer as the tentative group name Inter Boys. They captured attention on YouTube with videos of dance covers of already well-known K-pop numbers. Now officially on the K-pop scene after releasing their debut song “TNT (Truth & Trust),” the group sat down with Korea JoongAng Daily on January 27 for an interview.
“Our group name Trendz contains our strong ambition that we seven, of the generation Z [born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s]will encompass and lead the trends,” Havit said.
The oldest member, Havit, was born in 1999 while the youngest, Yechan, 16, was born in 2005.
“Idols created by Interpark” is the modifier that follows the boy group, a phrase that raises eyebrows and incites curiosity among Koreans who know Interpark as an online shopping mall in their daily lives. When they started their online business as Inter Boys, local fans were intrigued to learn that the company had branched out into producing K-pop acts. With their music and talent, Trendz proves that boy bands don’t have to come from the typical entertainment companies.
“Honestly, with the title that we are the ‘first idol boy group launched by a major company’ [which is mainly known for businesses outside of entertainment], we felt some pressure,” Eunil said. “We would be lying if we said we didn’t. The pressure was a factor that made us prepare harder [for our debut].”
Even before his official debut last month, Trendz had built a worldwide fanbase during his Inter Boys days thanks to his high-quality dance cover videos on YouTube. The first was a cover of “Back Door” (2020) by boy band Stray Kids, a number with a powerful beat and dynamic choreography to match.
Trendz said they picked the songs to cover based on the sides of the members they wanted to show.
“The aspect we focus on the most is performance, since we were Inter Boys and also now as Trendz,” Leon said. “We want to be recognized as having a strong competitive advantage when it comes to performance, so we wanted to show more of that performative aspect. [in our dance covers].”
“We were able to express our opinions on the songs we wanted to cover,” Yechan said. “We loved covering songs from BTS and Stray Kids, but I think the members’ favorite covers were probably ‘Make A Wish’  by NCT U or ‘Tiger Inside’ . These are the numbers in which we could fully show our charms in the performance aspects. We mainly chose powerful songs, but we also featured sparkling songs like BTS’s “Butter”.  to show our fresh and lively side.
The majority of the comments under their YouTube content and the music video for her debut song “TNT (Truth & Trust)”, which garnered millions of views, are in foreign languages, especially Spanish. Yoonwoo added that they see many international fans when they meet online. and live broadcasts.
“We are surprised every time we upload content, because every time we get a lot of positive comments and feedback from overseas fans,” Yoonwoo said. “These comments make us see that overseas fans are really sending us a lot of support and make us determined to keep working hard.”
Members say the fact that Trendz is an all-Korean group could be a factor. Trendz is a so called tojong or “indigenous” idol group, which have become increasingly difficult to find in K-pop’s current trend of multinational groups including at least one or more non-Korean members.
“If we were to tell the secret to attracting overseas fans, well first of all, all seven of us are Koreans. I think it makes international fans feel the Korean charm and attracts them to us,” Yoonwoo continued. On top of that, it’s because each of us has different charms,” he laughed.
“Since we are made up of ‘native’ Korean members, we all study foreign languages like English,” Hankook said. “In Havit’s case, he particularly focuses on his Japanese. It’s a way we try to communicate better [with global fans].”
The boy group’s debut track “TNT (Truth & Trust)”, which marks the beginning of Trendz’ storytelling, has an ambiguous title.
“Our main track has two meanings – short for Truth and Trust, as well as TNT for Explosive,” Hankook said. “It’s a dance floor with a mix of electronic and hip-hop sounds. It contains Trendz’s worldview on the pursuit of freedom. We say we will struggle through darkness and mist to achieve freedom by dropping a bombshell, so to speak.
“Our worldview is about experiencing adversity and overcoming it, which I think a lot of people have had similar experiences,” said ra.L. “We’ve had moments like that too, so we wanted to incorporate our view of the world into our albums. It’s going to be fun to guess how our story unfolds as it unfolds bit by bit.
“Although we are all quite young and haven’t gone through extreme hardships in life, we all had to spend long periods as trainees,” Eunil said. “There were times when things weren’t going well and exhausting times during training. […] Each time, we, the members, supported each other and helped each other out of our crises, taking care of our mental state. That’s how we finally achieved our dream of debuting, and we’re here now.
Youngest member Yechan has been a trainee for almost four years since he was in eighth grade. Oldest member Havit first rose to fame in the idol scene as a contestant on JTBC audition show “Mix Nine” (2017-18), but he had to wait a few years. more for his dream debut.
“I was an intern the longest, for exactly 5.75 years,” laughed Havit. “So many things happened. But at the end of the day, I can be here like this now because the members were there for me.
Members Hankook, Eunil, Yechan and ra. L also participated in writing the lyrics for “Trauma” and “□ (Be My Love)”, tracks from their debut EP.
“We had the chance to participate in writing the lyrics,” Eunil said. “The four of us spent sleepless nights writing lyrics. We made an effort to incorporate elements of our worldview into each of the tracks on the EP. We’ve gone the extra mile to have our main track “TNT” convey how the story of our worldview will unfold. We probably got too ambitious, but we also wanted the lyrics to tell that story in chronological order. We really put in a lot of care and effort as this is our first main track.
For another track “Villain,” Jinjin from boy group Astro helped with songwriting, lyric writing, and musical arrangement.
“When we first listened to the demo version of ‘Villian’ together, we didn’t know it was a song composed by Jinjin,” Yoonwoo said. “But when we first heard it, we all said [staff] we really want to do this song, because it was so addictive. After that, a staff member from our agency told us that Jinjin wrote this song, much to our surprise. […] Jinjin offered to visit our practice studio, so we were able to meet him in person before the recording session. We talked a lot and received a lot of advice from him. It has become a good memory for us.
The choreography of “Villain” is just as powerful as the dancing from the band’s lead track and past cover videos. Trendz took it up a notch with intense choreographic sequences involving bandaging that see the members dancing while connected to each other.
“The song ‘Villain’ expresses a determination that we are ready to become the villain if it protects those who are precious to us,” said ra.L. “We, together with our choreographer, thought about how we could look meaner and came up with using bandages as stage props. The bandages distinguish it from the choreography of our other tracks like “TNT” or “Trauma”.
“We want to continue pursuing the hip-hop sound of our debut EP,” Leon said. “And above all, we want to continue with concepts that lead the trend, because after all, we are Trendz.”
BY HALEY YANG [[email protected]]