By Jeff Benjamin
While no one will deny that the mainstream embrace of the K-pop scene and its artists is a huge pop-music positive, the pressure to stand out is also higher than ever for today's acts. For quickly-rising boy band SF9 that means putting in extra work to go outside their comfort zone and discover new ways to connect with fans around the world.
Premiering exclusively on MTV News, watch the new video for the English version of SF9's latest single "Enough." The assertive attitude and the staccato-quick delivery of the original version all stay intact as the guys deliver new lyrics to dive even deeper into the song's dark story of love and lust. While SF9 share that it was difficult to not only perform but also record a video for the English track — particularly for rappers Young Bin, Hwi Young, and Cha Ni — the potential to connect with their "global fanbase," known affectionately as Fantasy, made it all the worth it.
From the Latin-pop sounds of past SF9 singles like "O Sole Mio" to covering classic Korean anthems and, now, embracing English for this new release, SF9 say each move speaks to the larger message they're putting forth with an internationally-focused vision for their music. Read on to find out more about their feelings on how music is a language in and of itself, their continual growth as a team, and a few spoilers about what fans can expect from their upcoming U.S. tour.
MTV News: "Enough" is the first time SF9 has recorded in English. Tell us about that experience.
In Seong: Overall, we think it was a positive experience. My part was actually so fast, it was so hard to put all the lyrics in that rhythm. For me, recording the English version was tougher than the Korean version. But what you may not know is that the original "Enough" demo was written in English so when we put our own English lyrics back into the song, I think it really sounded like a pop song. A really natural fit.
The Korean version of SF9's latest comeback single "Enough"
MTV News: In the past, SF9 has had obvious concepts and sounds — like "O Sole Mio" or "Mamma Mia" boasting a Latin vibe. In your own words, what does "Enough" signify, no matter what language?
Ro Woon: It's a message about loving myself, but maybe a sexier style of that? Maybe…
In Seong: …loving the sexy side of yourself!
MTV News: You actually filmed the English-language video at the live-concert showcase where you introduced your new K-pop album. I imagine that was a really busy day. What was that like?
In Seong: It really confused most of us. Just minutes before filming that, we were practicing the Korean version. Then it was like, "OK guys, we're filming the English version!" [Laughs] My brain was so messed up and stuck on the Korean lyrics. It was hard, but when we saw the actual performance video I thought it turned out well, so I'm pretty satisfied.
MTV News: How are you feeling about the reaction the song has gotten so far?
In Seong: When we go to the music shows and have our outside activities [in Korea], we always feel that [our fandom] Fantasy is growing up. All the fan chants [to support us during performances] are growing and we're really happy about that. Or when we go to film television shows, even the staff are giving us really great feedback. They'll saying things like, "We actually really like the dance" and a lot of people are talking about the song and performance. Actually, I'd say our members are in the best state, the best condition, we've ever been in these days. We're really enjoying these promotions.
MTV News: You're coming back to America soon for your Unlimited tour in April. What's going to be different from this tour versus the last time you visited?
Ro Woon: There's going to be a lot more performances because our last time visiting was actually technically a fan meeting tour. This time it will be a full concert tour. So, this time we'll have unique stages and more songs to perform. We definitely want fans to look forward to it.
In Seong: Basically, more songs, new songs, more stages… More sexy? More handsome? [Laughs]
Young Bin: And we actually made and choreographed the different performances and stages ourselves. And maybe some English songs…
In Seong: Without giving away too many spoilers, maybe some famous covers?
MTV News: A cover performance that actually really moved me was your rendition of the 1988 Olympics theme the year it was held in South Korea. With performances like these and the different genres you're trying, what's your larger message?
Ro Woon: We truly believe music is one, music makes one, and it really is universal.
In Seong: Music is a language and any performance we do, we wanted to say that music really does make us one.
MTV News: There are nine members in SF9 which some may think can be difficult to navigate as a full team. Can you share a bit more about how you work together?
Cha Ni: It's an ongoing process. We're still finding ourselves, we're still growing. It's an ongoing thing and something I'm personally thinking about all the time. It's a never-ending task.
Ro Woon: And the moment we stop considering and thinking about those aspects, our careers as artist will stop growing.