It’s been less than a month since Kep1er made their debut on Jan. 3, but the rookie K-pop girl group has already made a big impact thanks to their introductory mini-album, FIRST IMPACT.
Comprised of nine members — Yujin, Mashiro, Xiaoting, Chaehyun, Dayeon, Hikaru, Bahiyyih, Youngeun and Yeseo — the finalists of MNet’s survival competition show Girls Planet 999 signed on as a project group under WAKEONE and Swing Entertainment in 2021.
Determined to be K-pop’s leading global girl group — the group has one Chinese member, two Japanese members and six Korean members — Kep1er trained under K-pop girl group icons Sunmi and Tiffany Young, as well as other industry professionals.
With FIRST IMPACT, the group broke the record for highest first-day sales of a debut album by a girl group in Korean Hanteo music chart history.
The six-track project features three original tracks (“See the Light,” “WA DA DA,” “MVSK”) plus three revivals of songs from Girls Planet (“Shine,” “Another Dream,” “O.O.O (Over&Over&Over)”). Sonically, the mini-album explores EDM, house music and a hint of bubblegum pop.
Lead single “WA DA DA” also made Kep1er the fastest rookie girl group to achieve two music show wins in the history of K-pop. The song itself has also dominated TikTok with many celebrities and fans, a.k.a. Keplians, taking part in the “WA DA DA” challenge.
Below, the members of Kep1er tell PopCrush more about themselves, their experience at Girls Planet 999 and what they hope to accomplish now that they’ve debuted.
So much has already happened since your debut. How does it feel?
Mashiro: I’m happy that Kep1er has finally made our debut, which was our dream goal for a long time. I feel like this is just the beginning and I will do my best to return all the love and support we got from our fans.
What’s been your favorite thing so far since debuting?
Xiaoting: I was excited for what kind of group Kep1er would become … I enjoyed the process of preparing and practicing for our debut performances especially. I was really happy to show the stage we had prepared for our fans.
Can you talk about your debut single?
Chaehyun: Our debut song “WA DA DA” is an exciting, house-based song that shows the energetic and lovely charm of Kep1er. The lyrics of the song show our aspirations to be the best girl group of the next generation, and at the same time express our determination to run to our fans with great music and performances.
Which is better: “WA DA DA” or your b-side “MVSK”?
Xiaoting: My favorite is “MVSK”!
Girls Planet 999 masters Tiffany Young and Sunmi took part in the “WA DA DA” challenge. Who else would you like to see participate?
Yeseo: I came across a video where Seungkwan from Seventeen said that our “WA DA DA” song was his go-to song nowadays. So if there would be an opportunity to meet him, I’d like to do [the] “WA DA DA” challenge together with him.
Dayeon: For me, I want to do the “WA DA DA” TikTok challenge with trainees and participants from Girls Planet 999.
Did the Girls Planet masters, or even the show, give you any tips or advice?
Chaehyun: I remember being touched and crying so much after masters Tiffany and Sunmi told me the importance of stage. And when they encouraged me by saying “You’re really good!” when I had low self-esteem and low self-confidence
Yujin: For me, the special memories that I have from participating in the program [were] that I was able to meet trainees and participants from different national groups and we got to prepare for the same stages with the same goal no matter which country you came from. So it was a very meaningful experience overall.
Since you mentioned different trainees that you’ve met, what was your favorite performance you’ve done on Girls Planet 999?
Xiaoting: For me, my favorite performance was “Snake.” The song was also a song I really liked. I think the performance was with a concept I could best express myself.
Hikaru: My favorite performance was “Shine” because I had to compete with other participants since it was a competition show. But Shine was our final performance where we came together and performed as one, forgetting about all the competition and whatsoever.
You’ve taken on so many genres, concepts and challenges. What kind of concepts or genres do you eventually want to try with Kep1er?
Dayeon: Personally, I want to try out [a] pure or elegant kind of concept but I am open to new explorations. So our goal is to show fans a variety of concepts.
Yujin: I personally want to try out concepts like “I Got a Boy” by Girls Generation. I believe the song is very energetic and it relates to our daily lives since we have a lot of energy as well.
One of the most unique aspects of Kep1er is that there’s a leader and vice leader, led by Yujin and Mashiro, respectively. What’s the difference there?
Yujin: Mashiro and I try to help each other in taking care of the rest of the Kep1er members as there are many members in the group. We make sure we’re not missing out on anything on the way as we take care of our members.
For the rest of the members, is there someone who’s more playful or strict between the two?
Dayeon: Both of them are not strict and they’re both very caring, and they’re both cute. But I’ll say that Yujin has more aegyo!
Are there any specific habits that you picked up from one another that you just can’t leave?
Hikaru: Rather than picking up from other members, I am the one who spreads my habits to others. It all started from my mistakes in speaking Korean language since my Korean is not perfect. I happen to make up new vocabulary but end up proudly using them nowadays. For example, the word “Gomajang”: “Goma” means like thanks in Korean and “jang” means you in Japanese. It’s kind of our slang in the group right now.
What kind of pressure do you feel at the moment as Kep1er, the “Global Girl Group”?
Youngeun: I think I’d be lying to say there is no pressure at all. I also have the burden on my shoulders. I could see myself trying to take more responsibilities and work even harder. I think that I’m very lucky to have the chance to receive such spotlight.
Now that you’ve made your debut, won first place and are incredibly booked and busy, what more do you want to do?
Xiaoting: I am very much looking forward to our concerts in the future where I can perform especially for fans. When the COVID pandemic settles down a little, I really wanna meet fans from all over the world.
Where do you want to go for a tour?
Bahiyyih: I want to go LA.
Not New York!?
Bahiyyih: New York first, then LA!
Yujin: The States as well, like Bahiyyih.
Chaehyun: I want to go all over the world but the first pick would be Tokyo, Japan.
Xiaoting: I want to go to the States.
Dayeon: We recently had a lot of video call fan signs and we got to meet fans all over the world, especially from the Philippines and Malaysia. So those are the countries we also want to go and do a tour.
Hikaru: Similar with Dayeon, recently through video call fan sign events, there are a lot of international fans who are supporting us. And especially I realized there are a lot of fans in Indonesia and Malaysia so I guess those are the countries we want to go tour.
Yeseo: I’d also love to visit Southeast Asia and other continents. But I want to go to Japan for the first tour because it’s the closest country to Korea.
Mashiro: I want to go to Japan because it’s my home country and I’d also want to go to China because it’s Xiaoting’s home country.
Youngeun: I want to go to Paris for the tour because it’s a country I really want to visit. But if it’s not for work or for the concert, I still just want to go to Paris just with the Kep1er members just for the trouble and for good food and sightseeing.
Yeseo and Yujin, you’ve done your fair share of acting in the past. Does anyone else want to try acting or other projects?
Yujin: I have a strong interest in acting as well. So if I do get the opportunity I would love to do acting as well.
Bahiyyih: If there would be an opportunity, I would like to be a model for fashion.
Because your mini-album is called FIRST IMPACT, what kind of lasting impact do you want to have as Kep1er and as individuals?
Mashiro: I want to become a team who can give energy and happiness through our stage performances.
Hikaru: We want to become a group loved by many people all around the world. I really wish Kep1er could become irreplaceable and one and only artist. Personally, I want to develop my skills and become the one and only Hikaru.
Youngeun: Similar with Hikaru, I feel like we want to be a girl group loved by many people all over the world. And I feel like every member of Kep1er has their own charms so I really hope there will be opportunities in the future to show off each member’s charms and their dancing skills.
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Anything on your mind? TMIs?
Chaehyun: During our break time earlier, Dayeon was biting her fingertips and didn’t realize it, so she was very surprised and said, “Oh my gosh! I shouldn’t do this! I forgot!” It was cute.
Youngeun: In the morning I was doing my hair and makeup at the salon, but I was very tired so I was sleeping throughout the whole process. As we were moving on with our schedules, I was walking [and] I bumped into the glass door because I was sleepwalking. So I ended up leaving foundation on the glass door and it was very embarrassing.
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