In their electrifying debut single "Break All The Rules," the nine members of Cravity boldly claim, "I’ll be what I want to be / I paint my future as I see." It's a confident declaration for a group so new — a whole week old — in a competitive industry like K-pop where futures and success aren't always guaranteed. And yet, coming from these voracious rookies, it sounds more like a promise than an empty platitude. Even their album title is, in part, a command — Hideout: Remember Who We Are.
Of course, hailing from a company like Starship Entertainment, home to superstars Monsta X, affords them a sense of confidence that's equal parts intimidating and invigorating for the young artists. Those complex emotions are expressed throughout the release's seven tracks — from the rebellious spirit urging them to let go of expectation on "Break All The Rules" and "Blackout," to the vulnerability on softer B-sides "Stay" and "Star." In many ways, the album is a dramatic expression of the push-and-pull of youth. The members, ranging in ages from 16 to 21, can relate to these constantly changing feelings; one minute they're all bravado and wild instinct on the "Top of the Chain," and the next they're in need of a guiding light through the darkness of adolescence.
"We want to be a Hideout for our fans, to give them comfort and happiness," dancer Hyeongjun tells MTV News amidst a hectic promotional schedule. "It’s a message to let the world know about Cravity, to remember us, so each song contains our strong ambition," vocalist Wonjin adds. That ambition is even reflected in their name, a portmanteau of the words "creativity" and "gravity" and a reference to the "center of gravity" they find when they're together.
They're fresh from their debut showcase on April 14 — streamed online in light of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has put concerts and events on indefinite hold — and it still feels surreal to members Serim, Allen, Jungmo, Woobin, Wonjin, Minhee, Hyeongjun, Taeyoung, and Seongmin. After all, just a few weeks ago they were still trainees pulling all-nighters in practice rooms. So, how did they celebrate the big milestone? With cake and a spread of their favorite foods, of course.
"After the showcase, all the staff members prepared a cake for us, and we all celebrated together," leader and rapper Serim says. "We were truly thankful, some of us even cried because we were just too happy," Hyeongjun adds.
Below, the members of Cravity tell MTV News how they really feel about their debut, where they get their confidence from, the lessons they learned from their time as trainees (including the advice that Monsta X's Joohoney gave them), and reveal just how many rules they've broken in real life.
MTV News: Congrats on your debut! Does the reality of debuting match the expectations you had in your heads?
Serim: I imagined performing in front of our fans, so I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't do it due to the situations going on worldwide. But I still imagine and dream about the performance in front of our fans.
Wonjin: I don't think I have ever imagined I would make my debut with such great interest and love from a lot of people. It made me promise myself to do my best for the debut, and I became more thankful to our fans who gave us support and love.
Taeyoung: It was unbelievable! I think it was filled with more excitement and happiness than I ever imagined.
MTV News: You all worked really hard as trainees to achieve your dreams of debuting. What's the biggest lesson you learned as a trainee?
Seongmin: I learned to always live with gratitude.
Jungmo: Don't give up, try hard, and trust yourself with persistence.
Allen: I learned that if you don’t give up on your dream, you can achieve it. Sometimes I wanted to give up on it, but I think I was able to make my dream come true by only looking forward and putting all my efforts in it.
MTV News: What's each of your favorite songs on your debut album, Hideout: Remember Who We Are, and why?
Serim: It is a song called "낯섦" [English title "Stay"] because I usually enjoy listening to the songs that are emotional — the ones that are great for the dawn.
Allen: My favorite song is "Top of the Chain." It is the first track of our debut album, and I think it perfectly fits our grandeur appearance. Whenever I listen to this track, I get a strong sense of confidence.
Jungmo: My favorite song is "별" [English title "Star"]. The stars in the lyrics represent our fans and the members being a guiding light, so it is very emotionally touching.
Hyeongjun: My favorite is "Star," too. I like the fact that it is metaphoric in terms that it contains the message that Cravity wants to deliver to the fans — they are guiding us.
Woobin: I like our title song "Break all the Rules." It is a song that shows our unique, colorful sounds. For myself, I think it is also the song that expresses Cravity the most.
Wonjin: For me, it's "Cloud 9." When I listen to this track, not only do I feel good, but it also gives me energy and excitement. I think it is easy to listen to.
Minhee: It's a song called “Jumper." Other songs are good too, but when I listen to this track or when I’m performing it on the stage, I enjoy it the most.
Taeyoung: I really like "Blackout." I think it would be cool to imagine us performing this song on stage. It has a lot of energy.
Seongmin: "Break all the Rules" is my favorite. It's a catchy song with an addictive melody that circles around my ears repeatedly.
MTV News: Your debut single "Break All The Rules" is really bold and sends a powerful, nonconformist message with lyrics like "I’ll be what I want to be / I paint my future as I see." Are you this confident in real life?
Serim: I'm not the person that is always confident about myself, but being a member of Cravity made me stronger. I have a lot more confidence now.
Allen: Yes, I wouldn't have dreamed of becoming an artist if I didn't have confidence.
Jungmo: I always want to be a confident person and myself and our members are all working hard on it. As a member of Cravity, I feel much more confident. I am happy and proud of myself.
Woobin: There are times when my confidence diminishes, but I think that those are the times when I grow the most. I can improve from those moments.
Wonjin: I did not have much confidence in myself. So, I always agonized a lot about my future and had experienced harsh times alone. However, I was able to withstand and overcome all of those worries with [my] members, who were always beside me to listen to what I’m saying. And also, our fans who have sent us a lot of cheering messages made me become more confident.
Minhee: I think my confidence is a bit lower than the bold, powerful lyrics of our title track. But I am trying my best to have the same level of confidence when I’m on the stage. I think I can gain more confidence by being with my members.
Hyeongjun: As our title song contains our strong and bold ambition towards society, I think I am a newly debuted rookie filled with enough confidence. But when I'm with the members who support and give me energy, it makes my confidence go up.
Taeyoung: All of our members are quite confident, but I think among the members, I am most confident.
Seongmin: I usually try to believe in myself, and this belief makes my confidence grow. But I think I was able to become a member of Cravity because I worked very hard and did not give up on it. Now, I feel that I’m the one who can and will achieve the goal if I have one.
MTV News: When did you know you wanted to be a performer? Was there a certain moment or artist that inspired you?
Serim: When I was young, I was so happy to dance in front of people while I was in a dance club. So, I tried to be a celebrity.
Allen: When I was in my first year of middle school, I did a dance cover of SHINee's "Lucifer." Being on a stage was very exciting for me and I enjoyed performing in front of others. From then, I dreamed about being a K-pop idol and wanted to be like SHINee one day in the future.
Jungmo: My role model and artist who inspired me is V from BTS. I am learning by watching V's facial expressions and performance. He made me dream of becoming a singer.
Woobin: When I saw the performance of TVXQ's song, “MIROTIC," I knew that I wanted to be a person who sings and dances on stage.
Wonjin: I started out as a child actor, and at first it was interesting and fun, but that feeling did not last long. Then I started dancing, and I wanted to feel how I felt when I was on stage in a small show, so I developed my dream as a singer.
Minhee: It was Monsta X. When I first joined the company, I was amazed by their performances. They made me want to work harder.
Hyeongjun: I felt impressed when I saw EXO's "Growl" performance, and I had a clear dream of becoming a celebrity since I was in ninth grade.
Taeyoung: I became interested in dancing after I did a talent show when I was in elementary school. But I didn't dream of becoming a singer until I was street-casted for the first time. [Ed. note: In the Korean entertainment industry, it's common for casting agents to scout popular locations and recruit young talent for their companies.] That's when it started to become real for me.
Seongmin: The idea of dancing and singing on the stage was always impressive to me, but my dream of becoming an entertainer grew little by little. I saw a music show by chance and the excitement of it made me want to be a performer.
MTV News: You guys seem to have great chemistry as a group. Are there general interests that you share, or ways that you've bonded as a team?
Seongmin: After the daily schedule, we get together and talk, and we talk a lot. We have time to monitor each other, encourage each other, and fix each other's inconveniences, and I think we can get along well without fighting because of these opportunities. We can all talk to each other because we have faith in each other.
Jungmo: We try our best and care about each other a lot.
Wonjin: We all like jokes. When we are together, we joke around, laugh, and talk, and I think we have become a team with good chemistry.
MTV News: Joohoney from Monsta X produced the high-energy track "Jumper." What was that experience like? What did you learn from working with an established artist like Joohoney?
Serim: He taught us a lot of ways to perform with energy onstage. He took the time to teach us even though he was busy, and he helped us a lot by letting us know about how to make gestures and key points. I think our team's performance was more complete thanks to him telling us about his actual experience.
Minhee: I still have a long way to go, but I was able to learn each and every sense of singing and performing from him. There are so many things I want to learn and ask, so I hope I get another chance to meet him.
Wonjin: It was great to learn and feel the unique energy that he has. We were able to finish our debut stage well because he taught us a lot of things that we couldn't know without actually experiencing it.
MTV News: Joohoney said he worked really hard to showcase each of your strengths as artists. So I'm wondering: How would you each describe your strengths?
Serim: I think my strength is that I have my own style. While preparing for this performance, I tried to express the charm that I can show by researching and thinking of various gestures. My goal is to let many people know my own style.
Allen: I think one of my strengths is ability to speak in different languages and to communicate with fans from various countries.
Jungmo: I think it is the tone I have. I was happy to start the single with my voice.
Woobin: I want to say that my voice is also my strength. I have a large vocal range, so I have a variety of genres that I can show you. I think I will have many chances to sing good songs.
Wonjin: Like Jungmo, I think the tone of my voice is an advantage. It has a unique color that you can notice, like, "This is Wonjin's part!" But as a group, I think the facial expressions that we show on stage are one of our charms.
Minhee: I have a cool charm.
Hyeongjun: I want to tell you about the strength of Cravity. The strength we have is that we always have fun dancing, and we bring that excitement and energy out in our performance.
Taeyoung: I am versatile in many ways and have enough confidence to make use of my talent.
Seongmin: I think my clear, unique tone and various facial expressions are my strong points.
MTV News: What is something, other than performing and your fans, that makes you happy?
Serim: I am interested in fashion, so I look for fashion-related things.
Allen: I feel happiness when I eat delicious foods.
Jungmo: After a daily schedule, lying in bed and resting makes me happy.
Woobin: Cooking! I am interested in food and I like to eat, so I cook whenever I have time. I think it's killing two birds with one stone because cooking relieves stress and allows me to eat delicious food.
Wonjin: I think I am happiest when I am with the members. Each of us is unique, but we have a lot of fun together as nine. It feels like we are relieving stress. We sometimes play mafia games together, and that always makes me happy.
Minhee: I'm happy while playing games and watching movies alone.
Hyeongjun: These days, I'm reading the fans' messages on our official fancafe. I also look at the photos posted by the members, and that makes me happy.
Taeyoung: Exercising and dancing are two things I love to do. And I always enjoy playing games.
Seongmin: Watching movies or dramas while eating something delicious always makes me happy.
MTV News: Your debut album is titled Remember Who We Are, so what's your most memorable moment?
Serim: I remember having a day out with my mom when I was in middle school. I rarely came to Seoul at that age, but I remember going to Myeong-dong with my mom to play and eat delicious food. It's one of my favorite memories.
Jungmo: I lived in New Zealand for several years when I was young. I think because I went there when I was young, I remember being happy without any worries.
Wonjin: When we were trainees, I invited Hyeongjun and Minhee to my house. The next day was Hyeongjun's birthday, so I remember Minhee and I cooked some food for his birthday. We saw the recipe and made it. It was my first time preparing it, so it was awkward and sloppy, but I was proud that Hyeongjun enjoyed eating it.
Minhee: I still remember the first time I saw all the members. They're pretty memorable.
Hyeongjun: The moment of watching the music video of our debut song with the members right before our debut. It was so great because I knew all the hard work we put into it.
Taeyoung: I remember when I went home and told my parents the news that I was going to debut with the group. It's my happiest memory.
MTV News: In the spirit of your single "Break All The Rules," what are some rules you've broken?
Allen: There's a rule that nobody is allowed to eat in the vocal practice room. I have eaten a tiny energy bar very secretly.
Jungmo: We promised to go to bed at 2 o'clock [in the morning] in the dormitory, but we have reneged. I also promised my vocal teacher not to eat late night snacks for dinner, but I ate ramen and sausages.
Woobin: I am always late in the morning, so I feel sorry for the members.
Wonjin: One of the rules of our dorm is not to disturb anyone who is sleeping, but when I see the members sleeping they're so cute that I play pranks without even realizing it.
Hyeongjun: When I talk to the members, sometimes I speak informally.
Taeyoung: When I was in elementary school, I went up to the rooftop on the ladder behind the school building and played, and I remember the school removed the ladder afterwards.
Seongmin: It is a little childish, but I used to play pranks on Wonjin. I'd spray water [on him] and hide his cell phone.
MTV News: A lot of trainees work hard with one goal in mind: to debut. Now that you've debuted, what are some new goals you've each been setting for yourselves?
Serim: My first goal is to receive the Rookie of the Year award.
Allen: My goal is to introduce Cravity to many other people around the world. I hope to become a well-known, well-respected artist, and also hope that our music could give a lot of energy and happiness to the people who listen to it.
Jungmo: First of all, I cannot wait to meet our fans. I want to have a concert, a fan signing event, travel with the members and do a reality show… I want to [chart] on Billboard.
Woobin: We want to show many people our hard work, which we have been practicing a lot for and putting our effort into so far. I am curious about the public's reaction.
Hyeongjun: I want to let the world know the four letters ["크래비티"] of Cravity.
Taeyoung: Starting with meeting the members, my goal is to meet good people who will be with me for the rest of my life.