Amid the hectic chaos of KCON's premier convention in Los Angeles, the four N.Flying members overflowed with excitement. For the first time, the brilliant pop rockers were performing in the US after a debut year in South Korea. Although it was the first time they appeared, they ended up attending the opening night of the second night of the main KCON LA show, along with members of Stray Kids, and later sparked the crowd with an exciting Queen medley along with their own songs.
The latest in a line of pop bands from the South Korean company FNC Entertainment – which integrated the K-pop boy band paradigm with FTISLAND in the mid-00s and subsequently succeeded with CNBLUE – N.Flying is together since 2013, when they released their first single, "Basket," an English alternative rock track, in Japan, but have recounted their formal debut since the release of their first Korean single, "Awesome", in 2015. Throughout their career, they varied momentum and several lineup changes that led them to be the current four-member team, but 2019 was undoubtedly the year Rooftop, originally launched in January, became a hit and topped the charts at Korea in march. Most recently, they released their fifth Korean EP, Spring Memories, in April and Brotherhood, which was their first LP and their first Japanese album in May. His sixth Korean EP, Yaho, is due to arrive on Monday (October 15).
While backstage at the KCON convention room, members sat down with Billboard to discuss their career and recent rise. Check out the questions and answers below.
How do you feel about performing in the US for the first time?
Jaehyun: We really like it.
Seunghyub: There are a lot more fans than we thought. The fact that there are so many fans waiting for us and here to support us makes us very happy. We are excited to be able to meet you tonight as a group and look forward to coming back and introducing ourselves in the future. We knew there would be fans, but we had no idea there would be so many.
How do you think 2019 is treating N.Flying?
Hweseung: We were able to try so many different things this year and there were unexpected events. It was very exciting for us.
Seunghyub: We continue to advance our career now toward our goal.
What is your goal?
Jaehyun: Our goal is to be on top of the world. (Laughs)
How does it feel to have started this year with "Rooftop"?
Seunghyub: Our feelings are unimaginable, it was so unexpected. At first we could not believe what was happening. But the longer this went on, we felt it was our responsibility to respond to love.
When did you first know that "Rooftop" was gaining popularity?
Hun: When we went to restaurants we went to or walked down the street, or went to convenience stores whenever our music came out… There are times when we usually listen to our music in public. But hearing it as many times as we heard with "Rooftop" was really amazing for us. We feel we have received so much love from the public.
Why do you think this song received so much love from the audience and resonated so much with the listeners?
Seunghyub: It's a laid back listening and when you listen to it, it's a song you can feel the lyrics to. Maybe it's because, for the Korean people, it's what the general public is feeling right now.
Over the years, you have faced several lineup changes (lead singer and younger member Hweseung joined the band in 2017, and 2018 saw the departure of former bassist Kwon Kwang-jin). How has the group dynamic changed, if any, due to these changes, and how do you feel about it now?
Seunghyub: For us, the way we feel about the group and our dynamics has never changed, has always been the same. It's always about what we can do as N.Flying to release great music, what we can do to grow as a group, and what we can do to repay our fans with all the love we have. Therefore, our dynamic has not changed, it has always remained constant for us.
If you had to describe the essence of N.Flying in a word or sentence, what would it be?
Seunghyub: (Our fandom) N.fia. N.Flying is N.Fafia, and N.Fafia is N.Flying.
The K-pop industry is almost entirely dominated by dance groups, but you are a band. What does it feel like to be operating in this scene as a band, where pop bands are much less common?
Hun: I've really grown up always admiring bands since I was young. I trusted that although dance-based artists are very talented and very cool, I trusted that bands would be able to convey a different feeling. So I trusted that feeling and we are doing what we are doing at our own pace.
Who were some of your favorite bands when they grew up?
Hun: My models are Guns N 'Roses and Creed.
You debuted in Japan, where many K-pop bands found success before releasing Korean music. What do you think makes the Korean market less receptive to K-pop bands than the Japanese, and how do you see the state of the band scene in South Korea today?
Seunghyub: We debuted in Japan first because we wanted to learn about Japan's various band cultures. I don't think there is so much difference in Japan and Korea from the scenes of the band.
Jaehyun: I don't think there is much difference between bands, idol bands or dance groups, it's just that the way we give happiness in the form of music is different. But in the end, whether our presence is large or small or if our scenes are large or small, our goal is still the same.
What comes next for N.Flying? What do you want to experience in the future, musical or generally?
Seunghyub: There is really a lot.
Hun: To be honest, we want to do everything. There is so much we want to do. N. The flight is not a group that has a specific color. We have a very broad spectrum. In the future, we hope to be able to experiment with various music styles.
What do you expect from the rest of 2019?
Seunghyub: From L.A., we want to be able to go around the world to get to know our whole Nafia around the world and give them good performances and just make good music.
N.Flying is scheduled to release their album Yaho on October 15. Watch a teaser performance of the next single from the album "Good Bam" below.