A good full minute passes by as the girls of Red Velvet mull over their answers. That minute might as well have been an eternity in the fast-paced and hectic world of K-pop idols.
The members of K-pop girl group – Irene, Seulgi, Wendy and Yeri (Joy couldn’t make it due to her drama filming schedule) – had just been asked a particularly tough question at the press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
The question, which in true South Korean celebrity interview tradition had been vetted by the group’s management, was: looking back at Red Velvet’s training days until now, are there any life lessons or advice that the members wished they knew earlier?
Irene, the leader and “visual” of the group, shuffles the microphone nervously in her dainty hands. Seulgi – who had been the most proactive one in fielding questions from the press until now – furrows her brows trying to think of a response.
Meanwhile, Yeri, the maknae (youngest member) of the group, glances over at her older team mates with a sheepish smile. Finally, Wendy – the only member who is fluent in English – breaks the awkward silence.
“Everything that my parents have said to me, I guess. That’s probably the life lessons and advice that I wished I knew earlier,” the 23-year-old diplomatically offers.
“Now that I’m here as a singer, I realised I should have listened to them more as I was growing up,” she adds. It’s an inoffensive answer, albeit a really sweet one that melds well with the group’s image of sugar, spice and everything nice.
But in hindsight, that query is probably a little premature, considering how it’s only been a little over two years since Red Velvet made its debut with the song Happiness.
One thing that isn’t untimely, though, is the commercial success that the group has been enjoying back in South Korea and across the region. The studio releases by Red Velvet – from electropop-based debut full-length The Red to the more experimental sounds of sophomore mini album The Velvet – have been well-received in terms of album sales as well as music show appearances.
More recently, Red Velvet’s fourth mini album Rookie topped the Gaon Album Chart (South Korea’s national chart that ranks the best-selling albums) and Billboard’s World Albums Chart.
That success is testament to the many years of arduous vocal and dance training the members went through before debuting in a girl group. Those early years were the less glamorous side that fans don’t see, the girls reckon, adding that it’s about pushing through a bad day sometimes.
“The members give each other the energy that we all need to go on. We listen to each other’s problems and console one another by listening to good music,” 23-year-old Seulgi says.
Irene thinks it’s the thought of performing on a stage in the presence of fans that pushes all the members to train hard.
“We don’t know when we are going to debut, but we are always looking forward to the day when we do,” the 26-year-old offers.
If anything, the girls can’t see themselves doing anything else other than singing and dancing. Well, everyone except maybe 18-year-old Yeri.
“Growing up, I had lots of dreams and ambitions. One of them was actually to be a firefighter. Who knows, maybe if I wasn’t doing this, I could be putting out some fires in South Korea,” she skittishly says.
Now that the girls are full-fledged performers, there’s probably no better entertainment agency than the one they’re signed with. For the uninitiated, Red Velvet was formed by SM Entertainment, one of the largest entertainment companies in South Korea.
Part of the agency’s roster includes other iconic K-pop acts such as Girls’ Generation, Super Junior, f(x) and Exo. Since they are in the presence of icons, what are some word of advice the girls have received from their established seniors?
“Many of our seniors always remind us to act as a team and stay together as a team through all the highs and lows,” Seulgi reveals, adding that it’s advice that they keep close to heart.
On their success so far, Yeri says the members are very grateful and are all looking forward to more opportunities to show their artistry.
“We just like being on a stage and performing songs in an energetic way. That energy is something that we hope our listeners will be able to take away from our music,” Seulgi concludes.