In Conversation with IN2IT, a South Korean Idol Group
Can an idol group become independent artists after leaving their management company? They surely can, as IN2IT are living proof of that. Founded through a survival show, Boys24, the group officially debuted in October 2017 with the song Amazing which quickly brought them recognition among not only Korean but also international fans. Consisting of six members: Ji-ahn, Yeontae, In-ho, Isaac, Hyun-uk and In-pyo, the group has been promoting independently since January of this year. It might have been hard for them to do so due to the pandemic, nevertheless, IN2IT haven’t given up on making music and keeping in touch with their fans.
In May, IN2IT took part in a project called Be the Future, along with Dreamcatcher and AleXa, to promote ‘how to stay safe’ during these difficult times. With its uplifting lyrics and colourful music video, Be the Future was announced as a finalist in four categories in the 2020 Shorty Awards – awards that honour the best of social media and digital, the previous winners include Michelle Obama, DJ Khaled, Taylor Swift and Malala. In addition, the group managed to organise a fan meeting offline as well as online, with the offline gathering being arranged according to the government’s guidelines. Although with many restrictions implemented, the fan meeting turned out to be successful – fans not only watched the group sing their biggest hits, but were able to interact with them via live chat.
Recently, together with AleXa, IN2IT participated in AMA [Ask Me Anything] for VIDCON on Discord in the US, where they could interact with their fans and answered questions in real time. Although not able to travel around the world to promote their music, the group has taken advantage of social media to stay connected with their fans – one can stay in touch with the group via Instagram, Facebook, as well as their Twitter account; all managed by IN2IT themselves.
We spoke to IN2IT not long ago about what it means to be an independent idol group and the challenges that come with it. The group also discussed their journey of becoming singers, life and what the future holds for them as IN2IT.
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
First of all, let’s talk about how it all started. Do you remember the first moment when you felt that music was your future?
JI-AHN: I’ve loved singing by myself ever since I was a kid and sang on stage in front of lots of students in middle school. I was thrilled to sing in front of people and to see them getting into the groove to the sound of my voice. That’s when I started dreaming of becoming a singer when I grew up.
YEONTAE: I didn’t start off with a clear dream in mind, but I felt comforted when I sang songs and listened to music. That’s when I felt I wanted to become a singer that could empathise with people through music, so I left for Seoul right away to get ready.
IN-HO: I saw a Korean musical singer singing online and I decided I wanted to become a singer. He had so much energy and presence when he was acting and singing on stage and I thought I wanted to have that kind of energy.
ISAAC: At first, I didn’t know that music would be my future until I got into K-pop. I realised that I liked K-pop songs and I loved all of the music around the world. Music healed me a lot when I was tired and helpless. So, I told myself that I wanted to make more music to help those people who needed it in the future.
HYUN-UK: I loved singing and dancing ever since I was in middle school. My older brother was majoring in music, so I think he had a lot of influence on me. Once, I went to a noraebang (karaoke room) with my friends and I had so much fun. I loved it. And I wanted to do that in front of more people. My parents and my brother were against it, but I never let go of music while I also studied hard. It was because I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity when it came knocking.
IN-PYO: I knew my dream was to become a singer in my first year of elementary school. I loved going to a noraebang with my parents and naturally I loved to sing. I got exposed to a lot of songs when I was a kid and I loved singing in front of people and being on stage. This led to me winning prizes in various contests. When I got into middle school, I started getting interested in dancing. I didn’t have the right circumstances to take up dancing, but I worked up to it little by little. I started off dancing alone and then created a dance group and started gathering members, which led to other opportunities. I entered lots of competitions and won prizes, which cemented my dream of becoming a singer. Then, I got the chance to be in an audition where I passed and officially became a trainee. I’ve always been sure this is my dream.
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
Looking at your career so far, you have done a lot and a lot has happened. You started your careers after the show Boys24 ended, and later became a six-member group before going independent in January 2020. Many have thought this would be the end of IN2IT, however, you were determined and ready to push forward like never before. And to prove it, you took part in a project called Be the Future, along with Dreamcatcher and AleXa. Could you tell us more about it? What was the creative process like behind the song?
JI-AHN: Being a part of Be the Future as the first big project we did after we became independent was a truly meaningful and grateful event for me. We were lucky to have Millenasia ask us to be a part of this project and we thought it was such an important cause that we said yes right away. We chose the song first and then took part in writing the lyrics and then recorded it with Dreamcatcher and AleXa. All the staff wore masks the whole time we were working on the music video and everyone had their temperature taken when they arrived on the set and sanitised everything. I think the more we got into the shooting, the more aware we became of the issue.
YEONTAE: I’ve always wanted to make music for a good cause so I was very grateful for this opportunity. I hope us being a part of this project contributed in some way to more people becoming aware of the issue and the rules. I also participated in writing the lyrics and it was a new experience for me because it was the first time I did it. The guys and I put our minds together and started writing and I remember thinking about how we could make it more like K-Pop and make it memorable. The other guys helped me a lot. Without them, I think it would have been too hard to come up with the lyrics. Be the Future was unlike the music videos that we shot before. It felt great to work on something that could have a positive influence on a lot of people. I hope that you’ll listen carefully to the messages in Be the Future and not just simply enjoy it.
ISAAC: The six of us wrote our own lyrics and we worked with a lyricist. Unfortunately, most of my lyrics didn’t make it into the final song, but I was very proud to be a part of something so significant. We were working with a tight schedule, so we had to coordinate everyone’s time which wasn’t easy.
HYUN-UK: I was thrilled when I first found out that we would be a part of a project that could potentially help a lot of people. Once the project was confirmed, we received a lot of demos and Be the Future stuck out. We wanted to put the message into the lyrics for the tune and could see a steady stream of scenes that could be used for the music video. So, we chose this tune and spent a lot of time thinking about how we could make it more useful and beneficial to a lot of people. The group members worked on the lyrics and we pooled our ideas and worked things out with ZANYBROS who would do the music video.
IN-PYO: It was an honour to be a part of this project. It was a wonderful opportunity for us as we had just become independent and I felt it was very timely in relation to how we are working to defeat COVID-19. So, we felt more passionate about the song and we worked especially hard because it was the first time we were working with other artists. Also, I was hoping that many people would get strength from this project. While we were working on this, I think we really put our minds together. I think we came up with a good, creative song because our ideas came together.
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
How was the collaboration with Dreamcatcher and AleXa?
JI-AHN: When we heard we’d be working with Dreamcatcher and AleXa on Be the Future, we were so grateful and very happy. We were enjoying listening to their music and were impressed with their stage performances even before this project, so it was a great opportunity to be able to work with such artists. We had great expectations about learning from artists who are so different from us and thought we would have a positive effect on each other, but what we learned from them and the experience surpassed our expectations. And we really enjoyed shooting the music video because they created a very comfortable atmosphere.
YEONTAE: It was a little awkward at first because we had never worked with other artists on something. But I could see the merits and charm of each of them that were quite different from us and they did their part for the music video in a way that made it a great learning experience for us. It was wonderful to see the synergy that came out from working with Dreamcatcher and AleXa.
IN-HO: I was both very nervous and excited because it was the first time collaborating with another artist. Despite my anxiety, AleXa and Dreamcatcher were so cheerful and so friendly and made it so easy for us to work with them and focus on making the Be the Future music video, so we really enjoyed it.
ISAAC: It was a lot of fun working with other artists, especially for a good cause. And it was interesting to see how they acted out the various scenes we had in the video. The energy on set was amazing because there were so many of us working together. We were pretty tired toward the end, but we kept each other going and enjoyed it right up to the last minute.
HYUN-UK: It took a really long time to shoot the Be the Future music video. We could see that the crew were gradually getting tired and I was getting sleepy and tired toward the end, but Dreamcatcher and AleXa were amazing because they never let it show that they were tired. Watching them inspired me to pull my energy level up and we were able to finish it without any problems.
IN-PYO: This was IN2IT’s first collaboration with Dreamcatcher and AleXa. It was great to work with so many artists and I was so excited to do it. I learned a lot from what was happening on set and it made me grow. The endless energy they showed even though we were filming for such a long time made it possible for us to keep going until the end, too.
Music Video © IN2IT
You also recorded a music video for Be the Future, what are your feelings about the video itself?
JI-AHN: I was impressed with it because it contained hopeful energy, a serious message, and safety precautions for COVID-19 all in just 4 minutes. I liked that the music video expressed our message of hope that we can all overcome this together.
YEONTAE: ZANYBOROS did an amazing job of making the music video and I really love it. I think it was a bit weird to watch ourselves with other artists in a music video because we’re so used to seeing only us. Having other artists, too, made the music video so much richer and I like it a lot. They were so good at expressing diverse emotions and it brought out more from us, too.
IN-HO: I feel that the Be the Future music video was able to convey a hopeful, clear message to us all as we live in isolation or quarantine for months or lead completely different lives from before because of COVID-19. The parts where we talk about safety precautions could have become a bit too serious, but we held several meetings with the crew to come up with ways to make them easier to understand and remember. So, we added more in terms of actions and performance, which I think made the music video leave a lasting impression on many people and helped them remember what to do, which is the main message of the video.
ISAAC: We felt it was such an important message that needed to be told and we wanted to do it in a way that would lift people’s spirits, so I tried to express that in the parts that I was in. It’s very rewarding to read comments from a lot of people who said they felt so much better after listening to the song and watching the Be the Future music video.
HYUN-UK: We had multiple meetings to discuss what scenes to put in the music video to find ways to make it more helpful, informative and interesting. On set, we were constantly thinking that ‘this is so much more than simply a cool-looking video’. I hope this video will help many people in some way.
IN-PYO: We wanted the music video to help people and give them strength. We wanted it to be of some comfort to all those who are so tired because of COVID-19 and that they would gain strength from the song and the video. I hope it can evoke feelings of excitement of the good times they had before.
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
What’s the hardest thing about being in a group? As there are six of you, you must all have quite different personalities. How do you work as a team?
JI-AHN: I don’t think there are any difficulties being a team. If I HAD to pick, I would say maybe the guys playing pranks on each other? Everyone’s quite mature so there isn’t much that I have to check for them, but I do feel that as the oldest, I should kind of take them under my wing.
YEONTAE: I’d be lying if I said there were NO difficulties at all. But because everyone is so considerate, we always support each other whenever anyone makes a mistake, so we’ve been able to solve problems quite easily. All six of us grew up in different backgrounds, but we are heading the same way and dreaming the same dream, which made it a bit easier to work together well. We don’t disregard anyone’s opinion even if it’s not what the majority wants. We listen to all 6 opinions and follow the best one. When that’s difficult to do, we take some time to think about it individually before reaching a final decision. I think everyone has their individual role. When we were living in a dorm, for example, we didn’t really assign certain roles to anyone like who should be in charge of washing dishes or cleaning or mopping. We were more like volunteering ‘I’ll do this’.
IN-HO: I think it’s the same with any group. Just like everyone has to row in sync in order for a boat to move forward, we are always conscious of how our actions or mistakes could affect each other, which makes each of us more responsible. Also, we think it’s important to show the diverse colours that only our group can show because we have such different individual personalities that can appeal to many people in various ways. The important thing is to harness all these personalities under the name IN2IT, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of doing that as a team by being considerate and understanding of each other. When we have to decide on something, we have numerous meetings to collect everyone’s ideas and then try to reach the best possible conclusion through discussions by respecting everyone’s views and focusing on how we can bring them all together. Our goal is always to find a way to get the best result.
ISAAC: The hardest thing about being in a group is communication, because everyone has different personalities, thoughts and ideas. So, it’s very hard to reach a conclusion that satisfies everyone. But how we solve this problem is we listen to everyone’s ideas one by one and we go with the conclusion that has the most votes.
HYUN-UK: Our group, especially, consists of members who have very different personalities. Because of this, there are times when we don’t agree on something or don’t understand each other. But we all have big hearts and are very considerate. That’s for sure. I think that’s why it was possible for us to stay together as a group. We talk it out extensively and respect and understand each other’s positions whenever we have a problem, so we’ve never really had any problems resolving differences.
IN-PYO: It’s true that it’s difficult for 6 people to be together. We all have different personalities and backgrounds, so it takes time to work things out. We also have conflict because we want to do things better. I’m used to being a part of a group, but sometimes it’s not easy to voice your opinions or state your grievances. Despite all that, it’s possible for us to be together as IN2IT because we have a dream. We are there for each other when we get tired and it’s comforting to have each other during hard times. I’m grateful to have good people around me that share my dream and the journey to achieving that dream.
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
Looking at your current life, to what extent do you think your surroundings have shaped you, creatively speaking, and in what way?
JI-AHN: Recently, I’ve been spending a lot more time at home and am disconnected from various things. I really miss my friends and my fans. The extra time that I have has given me an opportunity to work on my skills and to better express my ideas in the music that we’ll be making and performing when COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past. My past experience of being in regular school and having a ‘normal’ life to adulthood and then the special experience of becoming a K-pop idol later in life makes me appreciate opportunities and that is reflected in how I approach my work.
YEONTAE: My family is the biggest influence in my life. When I was a student, I didn’t really know what I wanted in life, so studying was my priority. I think it was possible for me to have the freedom I have after I became an adult because my family supported me and trusted me. When I was younger, I used to go to my mom’s hair salon and my dad’s store a lot. I was very active, so a lot of people who didn’t know me that were in my mom’s hair salon would ask who my mom was and that they saw potential in me and thought I was lucky to have good people around me. My mom said she heard that a lot. Looking back, I think I was incredibly lucky to have met IN2U and the members of IN2IT and friends that believe in me. Most of all, I think it’s my greatest blessing to have a wonderful family that loves me so much.
IN-HO: First and foremost, it’s my family. When I first told them that my dream was to become a singer, no one was against it and supported my dream. My parents have always supported me and my two siblings in pursuing artistic activities because they wanted us to broaden our scope and that has become the best encouragement for me to continue to grow as I live my life. Second are my friends from school who loved to sing and dance. I was actually shy about singing and dancing in front of other people, but they helped me to gain confidence and that made me get more interested in singing and dancing. Third is Boys24; Boys24 enabled me to take one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming a singer for the first time and I learned so much through the Boys24 broadcast and performances. Boys24 will always be a precious, happy experience and is still a driving force for me to keep going.
ISAAC: After I debuted as a K-pop artist, I changed a lot. Being in this business teaches you discipline. Before that, I was a person who wasn’t always on time, so I learnt to manage my time better. Because I’m surrounded by talented and creative people, it makes me want to become successful, too.
HYUN-UK: I’ve always tried to learn from the people around me. First my family, then my friends, and then the people I met while I was doing Boys24. I feel that there is always something to learn from everybody. I draw inspiration from my group and the talented people I see who are at the top of their game. I get inspired by people who chase after their dreams and the process of becoming IN2IT opened my eyes and mind to possibilities I didn’t dare dream of before. Now that I have more time because COVID-19 is preventing us from being more active, I’m taking lessons to improve my craft so that I can contribute more to the music and lyrics we’ll be making in the future.
IN-PYO: I think your environment is very important. I meet a lot of people. That helps me broaden my mind and think more deeply.
Music Video © IN2IT
You have been part of the K-pop world since 2017, however, looking at the Korean music industry right now, where do you aspire to fit in? Do you want to play strictly K-Pop or would you like to make music of a different genre someday?
JI-AHN: We’ve been a K-pop group for 3 years. Since we’re still far away from reaching our goal, we’ll keep moving forward towards it. We won’t be limiting ourselves to only K-pop and want to show various sides in various genres as a group. Personally, I love hip hop, R&B and pop, so I do covers of songs by international artists as well as Korean artists and would love to collaborate with them.
YEONTAE: Right now, I want to focus on developing my personal capability as part of IN2IT and then later be in a musical or make my own kind of music. I consider the lyrics and the mood of a song important when I listen to music, so I’d like to make music that people can identify with. Music that can be simply enjoyed is also great, but my personal wish is to have people listen to my songs and feel that they are understood and are comforted. One of the songs I listened to recently that I really like is Older than I Am by Lennon Stella. I love the mood of the song and would like to make great music like that.
ISAAC: Music is a universal language that connects people and making music is very rewarding because it can move or even heal people. So, I would like to try different music genres in the future. I also want to write songs about some of my experiences as an outsider trying to fit in because I think everyone feels like an outsider sometimes. And I want to make songs in several languages so that could resonate with even more people.
HYUN-UK: As a Korean, I’m very proud of K-Pop. But now, there are so many K-pop artists who are producing very similar types of music, so I believe we need to take on new, bolder challenges to stand out and grab people’s attention.
IN-PYO: I believe K-pop has truly amazing merit and so much potential to show diverse sides. I love K-pop and will continue to work hard to deliver music with great significance to more people.
You have recorded many songs already, you released a few singles, an EP and you also appeared on the Her Private Life OST soundtrack and Jeong Yeon-tae recorded a song for Revolutionary Love. Do you have a personal favourite?
JI-AHN: Personally, I like Amazing and Paradise from our first album. Amazing was our debut title song and it has bright energy with a tropical sound and is a personal favourite. Paradise feels like a pop ballad and I remember getting very emotional to see the spectacular sights of nature when we were shooting the music video. The feelings I had then went really well with this song so I like it a lot.
YEONTAE: Personally, I think I like Amazing and Snapshot the best. I was surprised to see that the refreshing music of Amazing sounded so good and I thought the choreography was really well done. In the case of Snapshot, I like it because it’s similar to the kind of music I want to make. I’m really into the mood and concept of songs like EXO’s Obsession, so I liked Snapshot the most.
IN-HO: I like Paradise the most which is on our debut album, Carpe Diem. That album expresses our aspirations as we set off on another beginning following the long journey that we took on Boys24 to debuting as IN2IT. We went to Kazakhstan to shoot the music video, which was a new place for me to visit, so I had some difficulty trying to adjust, but the time I spent with the other guys made the experience much more memorable. All those memories come flooding back every time I listen to this song.
ISAAC: I love 2U the most because this is the first song that we made for our fans and the lyrics were written by Hyun-uk. I listen to it sometimes when I feel down and it calms my mind.
HYUN-UK: I would say 2U which is on our Snapshot album. Our songs have diverse concepts and styles, so it’s actually difficult to pick a favourite. But this song was the first one where I wrote some lyrics and it’s especially precious to me personally because it contains the sincere feelings that IN2IT has for our fans.
IN-PYO: I like Geronimo the most. I feel a kind of thrill all over when I listen to this song. I love songs that make me feel that. Would you like to listen to it with me?
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
The role of an artist is always subject to change. What’s your view on the tasks of artists today, and how do you try to meet these goals in your work?
JI-AHN: Observing many artists has given me so much inspiration and my values have also changed over time. I would say I just sang the songs before, but I kept researching and developing things so that now I can dance and write lyrics. I’m working on finding ways to shine more on stage and am learning to compose music and learning a foreign language so that I can communicate better with more people around the world.
YEONTAE: I want to deliver my ideas and inspiration through art as well as music. I’m not very good now, but I would love to be able to use what I created for our album cover or my personal album cover. I believe it’s important for art to be seen, heard, and felt as well as listened to, so I want to express my art in various ways in addition to having my voice heard on stage. I would also like to do work as a webtoon artist sometime.
IN-HO: A high level of exposure is part of our occupation and we can influence a lot of people, so I think it’s important to be aware of our surroundings and be sensitive to change. Artists now can reach so many people through social networks and we need to be very conscious of everything that we do. Every action could have a profound effect on someone’s life or possibly bring positive change, as you can see from what K-pop fans have been doing to honour their stars. I try to be more mature and honest when I’m working, like doing a lot of research myself or reviewing what I’ll be doing so that I fully understand what needs to be conveyed.
HYUN-UK: I believe the role of an artist is to bring people enjoyment and empathy, so I’m studying English to be able to bring that to more people around the world and I’m also practicing writing lyrics in English. I’m also working out to stay fit and practicing dancing every day so that I can give a more powerful and entertaining performance on stage while at the same time continuing to communicate with our fans.
IN-PYO: I think artists have a lot of things to be mindful of. Things like ‘How will I look?’ or ‘How can I be better?’ I have always worked hard to keep showing an improved version of myself every time and hope that it is an inspiration to those who are watching. And I will continue to work at it so that we can bring you an album that we put a lot of effort and sincerity into.
Looking at your career so far, what have been some of your main compositional and production challenges so far?
JI-AHN: We usually worked with a professional choreographer to come up with the choreography and sometimes came up with our own when we have a special show. Recently, we worked on the lyrics for Be the Future. I’m very interested in producing, so I’m currently studying composition and writing lyrics. I would really like to come out with songs that I wrote myself in the not so distant future.
YEONTAE: I think our greatest concerns were ‘How can we do it better?’, ‘Will our fans empathise?’, and ‘What are our true colours?’. And I think there will be challengers for us from now on. But I’m sure learning how to write songs and lyrics, which I’ve been doing for a while, will help me in other artistic endeavours later, so I look forward to meeting our fans with something even better very soon. All the members of the group have great potential, so I believe we’ll be able to come up with our own choreography and music before long.
HYUN-UK: Working on 2U, which is the first song I wrote lyrics to for our fans, was my first great challenge. I put a lot of heart into writing the lyrics because it was especially for our fans, so it was a memorable experience and it boosted my desire to create music and lyrics that could move people and inspire them.
IN-PYO: I think the greatest challenge for me was to try and show as many sides to IN2IT as I could. I’ve always worked to show a new side of myself and will continue to work on developing and introducing more aspects of myself as an artist.
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
Usually, it is considered that it is the job of the artist to win over an audience. But listening is also an active rather than a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener (your fans) in the musical communication process?
JI-AHN: Our job is to give good music to many people. All our fans have to do is just listen to it and enjoy it. That’s all.
YEONTAE: I think our fans help to shape us almost as much as ourselves. I consider IN2IT a great big project whose colours are being defined by not only IN2IT but also IN2U and the people who work with us. Having our fans come to see us perform is such an important thing and they give us energy not only on stage but also after we leave it. The energy we feel is so different when we have IN2U or an audience watching us and when we don’t have anyone there. In that sense, IN2U is what drives me to transcend myself. I’m confident that having IN2U support us will help us find our true colours faster.
IN-HO: When we perform, we capture the attention of the audience and lead them, but we can’t force them to do that if they are not willing. How they respond as listeners reflects how much we practiced to put on a show that can entertain them, so I hope they will continue to enjoy our performances and feed that energy back to us.
ISAAC: Listening is a crucial part of music. Musicians create music and lyrics to be heard and understood by an audience. It’s a form of communication that goes both ways. If the audience is moved, it’s very rewarding to an artist because it means we achieved our goal. I think of it more as sharing my feelings with the audience rather than trying to win them over. Sometimes, I think I get just as much out of performing before an audience as they get out of watching me perform.
HYUN-UK: We all visit our fan café often. We share our daily lives, as do our fans, and we often communicate through music. Music is an expression of who you are as an artist and it’s meant to be heard, so having fans listen to our music and understand what we are trying to express is a vital part of our work. I also think putting on a great performance changes in direct proportion to how much effort an artist has put in. Times change and trends come and go, but the essence of an artist never changes. Working hard at it and putting in the hours will produce great music and great performances, and the audience will respond accordingly.
IN-PYO: I think fans are the pillars that support an artist and are also a great partner. They are not just listeners. You could say they are an active participant in how we make music. Knowing that someone wants to hear what we have to say has been a big reason for how we got this far and I expect there are many more things that we will do together. I would like to see our relationship continue for a long time as we take each step together. I am always grateful to our fans and their support.
Music Video © Courtesy of Millenasia
Is there music you like, which never fails to make you feel good? Who really inspires you as singers? And who motivates you to work hard and stay on track?
JI-AHN: I really like Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish. I love music that’s chill and trendy and makes me want to dance, so I listen to a lot of pop and hip hop. I can sense that Justin Bieber’s performance on stage and his music are uniquely his own. He’s very good at making trendy music and his music feels so free, which makes me feel good and gives me inspiration to learn a lot. Billie Eilish has an unrivalled stage presence and her voice has the ability to reach deep inside your heart, so some of her songs comfort me and I’m able to connect with them. This makes me realise that she is a true artist in every sense of the word. Watching these two artists motivates me and I continue to learn from them, so I would love to get the chance to work with them some day.
YEONTAE: Junsu (of TVXQ) has given me inspiration and motivated me until now. He’s the one that made me want to become a singer and I think he’s also the one who kept me on track toward a bigger stage. So, I always watch videos of him late at night. I always watch YouTube before I go to bed and when I start watching his videos, YouTube’s algorithm keeps me up until 5 or 6am. Lol. Recently, Park Hyo-sin and IU have been giving me a lot of inspiration. Seeing how they continue to develop and release albums with lyrics from daily life and music that consoles you is truly inspiring.
IN-HO: Original scores from movies and musical numbers make me feel good. They are different from K-pop and pop, but those kinds of songs make me see images of how the stage should be and I imagine myself on that stage like The Greatest Showman. All singers give me inspiration as a singer. I can’t pinpoint who. It’s an honour for me personally to be able to see many singers on stage and they serve as textbooks for me that guide me to be more serious about music. People who dream and go after their dream inspire me. I think everyone in the world is precious and they are just like me, so people I meet, people I see on TV, and people I come across in various ways all motivate me.
ISAAC: I really love Paul Kim’s songs because his voice and his music comfort me. Sometimes, I feel like he’s wrapping me up in a warm blanket on a chilly day and sometimes his songs amplify the emotions I am feeling and bring them to the surface. TVXQ inspired me to become a K-pop singer and Jackson Wang from Got7 motivates me as an artist, especially because he had a similar experience to me. He reminds me that I don’t need to tell people how hardworking I am; I just need to show them with my results. Many people work so hard for their goals, but it’s incredibly hard to work hard at something for a long time without giving up because you don’t know if you will succeed or not.
HYUN-UK: I listen to Post Malone’s Goodbyes a lot these days. I like it so much that I’ve done a cover of the choreography and created my own for the song. I’m inspired by so many singers, but currently I’m most inspired by ASTRO. We have the same number of members and each one of them have very distinct personalities and they really care about their fans, so I’ve been keeping up with their album activities and their social network accounts and have been learning a lot from them. I think IN2U motivates us and keeps us on track. They are always there for us and continue to root for us and worry about us, so we are constantly reminded every day that we need to work hard at it. They’re the best and we really appreciate them.
IN-PYO: There are numerous artists of whom Beyonce is the one that I admire the most. Listening to her songs makes me feel good and want to move. Her music is outstanding. And she is such a cool person who spends a lot of time doing good. There are so many things to learn from her and she makes me want to be an artist like her.
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
When you are not working, what do you do to get away from it all and relax?
JI-AHN: I watch Netflix and the Discovery Channel and listen to music. When I’m not working, I like to look for things that can clear my head. I enjoy watching a wide range of movies and drama series on Netflix and am really enjoying Queer Eye. It just makes me feel good! I also enjoy watching Marooned on the Discovery Channel because I’m very interested in surviving in the wild and this program makes me appreciate the wonder of nature.
YEONTAE: It might seem strange to some people, but I like to get on a bus or train and go without a destination in mind. I go where I feel like going on the spot. When the landscape that I expected appears before my eyes, it calms my soul. When I was a bit younger, I would drive without turning on the GPS and just took off to where my heart led me.
IN-HO: I spend time focusing only on myself. I do things I hadn’t had time to do before or contact friends and spend a good time with them. When I’m not working, I spend most of my time at home and try to do that as much as possible.
ISAAC: I like to be in nature. I like to see the view of beaches and the green of trees. I love traveling with my family to places I haven’t been to before, especially beaches that are not tourist spots. Listening to the sound of waves and eating fresh fruit is very soothing for me.
HYUN-UK: I would go home to Suwon City where I’m from. I would eat what my mom cooked, play basketball with my older brother and talk with my dad and sleep in my own bed. These simple, ordinary things are a great way for me to recuperate.
IN-PYO: I try to do lots of different things when I’m on a break. I work out, spend some leisure time, and meet people. And sleeping is the greatest healing activity for me. When I lay my head on a comfortable pillow and get a good night’s sleep, that determines my condition for the next day. I think getting good sleep is the best gift I can give myself.
What are your current plans for the future? Have you ever thought of recording a full-length album?
JI-AHN: We’ve been talking a lot and had several brainstorming sessions about how we will produce our next album. We really want to release a regular album and present people with great music and performances. We’re also making various plans to do different activities for our audience.
YEONTAE: I would love to release a regular album soon but personally I would like our future music videos to tell a story and become like a novel and I want to see that come out after we have told a story of our own. We would like to look even better than before and reach out of IN2IT with music that our fans can identify more with.
ISAAC: Yes, of course. I would love to release an album where we each sing songs in different genres. My current plans for my future are to make more music and try more things that I haven’t done so much before like acting, composing songs, learning more languages, etc.
HYUN-UK: We are working hard for our next album while we wait for COVID-19 to die down. I believe that you have to be prepared at all times because you never know when a good opportunity will come knocking. I would like to show a greater, more interesting and newer aspect of ourselves through a new album.
IN-PYO: My future plans are to continue to play great songs. I want to keep training and working to make cool music for our comeback with a new album, so keep looking out for us.
Photo © Courtesy of IN2IT
Is there a message you would like to send to the UK audience and your fans around the world?
JI-AHN: Hello!!! I’m so happy to be saying hi to our UK fans. I’ve actually never been to the UK, but I’m really interested in your beautiful country and am dying to visit. Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, Tower Bridge, and Seven Sisters are just a few of the places I would love to visit and feast my eyes on their magnitude and beauty. I would also like to hold a concert in the UK and have fun getting to know our UK fans. I’m keeping my fingers crossed until it happens. To our fans around the world!! We always miss you and want to see you. We can feel you rooting for us from far away. I would love to go on a world tour and spend time with you all. Stay healthy until the day when we can see you in person!!
YEONTAE: We’ve never been to the UK, but we have heard so much about it. I love football, so I learned quite a bit about the UK by watching football matches. My wish is to go wherever there is IN2U [official name of IN2IT’s fans] who love us. We love you, IN2U.
IN-HO: I hope that a cure will come out for COVID-19 and things change for the better so that we can repay our fans in Korea and abroad for waiting for us all this time with a fantastic performance.
ISAAC: I just want to say a HUGE Thank You for staying with us all this time. I really hope to see all of you guys in the UK one day because I have a lot of things I want to show you all. Please stay healthy and happy until we meet. And to all the IN2U all around the world, I love you guys so much and I’m very proud to have IN2U in my life. We will work even harder in the future to make you guys proud of us. Thank you.
HYUN-UK: To IN2U UK; we haven’t been to the UK yet, but we would love to go to do a concert and make some great memories with you. Please wait for us until that day and keep supporting us. To IN2U around the world; COVID-19 is still terrorizing the earth. I hope we can all join forces to defeat it. Once COVID-19 is gone, we promise to come and meet all our fans around the world. Thank you and love you!
IN-PYO: We want to see you so much. I hope order is restored in the world soon. We’re dying to meet our fans and have a great time, so it makes us sad that we can’t right now. Please just remember that if you follow the safety precautions and stay safe, we WILL meet someday.
We’d like to thank Roc Lee for her assistance with the interview and IN2IT who kindly took the time to answer our questions.
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Julia Litwinowicz
Translated by Roc Lee
*Many fans might have noticed that Isaac wasn’t at the group’s fan meeting. Isaac is staying with his family in Malaysia for the time being because COVID-19 is restricting IN2IT’s offline activities.
Music Video © IN2IT
We received many questions from IN2IT’s fans, but we have decided to choose just 2.
Instagram IG (@christellebrito) – What do you enjoy the most while singing?
JI-AHN: I actually enjoy communicating with our fans. I like to choose upbeat songs for my solo performances at our concerts or fan meetings so that I can jump around with the audience and have fun.
YEONTAE: I think the greatest merit of singing songs is that you can put yourself in the situation the lyrics are talking about. You can become the person in the lyrics for the 4 minutes the song is playing and that’s just simply amazing.
IN-HO: I like that my voice can be interpreted in so many different ways by the people listening to my songs. I think that’s the most enjoyable and interesting aspect of singing. And it’s the most meaningful when I can give someone strength through my songs.
ISAAC: I feel very happy when I sing; whether it’s on stage, in the bathroom, in my room or anywhere else. I just love it so much.
HYUN-UK: Becoming one with the music by letting myself follow the melody and rhythm of a song.
IN-PYO: The sound of IN2U cheering us on.
Instagram IG (@nila1990) – How do members stay focused when tired?
JI-AHN: Even when I have to practice when I’m already tired, I’ll try harder to focus to get it done because I like to make sure I’m absolutely ready to step onto the stage.
YEONTAE: When I’m tired, I think I focus more on visual things than just resting at home. Being in the great outdoors or deciding to go somewhere on a whim and enjoying my time there helps the fatigue go away. Or, sometimes, I do things I want to do. I think ‘Is it OK for me to do this’ or ‘Do I have time to do this?’ or ‘Can I do this?’ are some of the things I ask as I do something purely for the joy of it, and this is one way that gets rid of stress or exhaustion. Nothing beats doing what you enjoy to relieve stress!
IN-HO: Some of us take a power nap between takes and sometimes we take a few moments to be silent. But when we are filming, we raise our tension level and get more reactions, which makes us focus more.
ISAAC: We will rest for 5 minutes without focusing on anything. And then we will continue after 5 minutes. But in my case, I will play a random song and dance freely which helps me get focused again.
HYUN-UK: I imagine what it will be like after the thing is over.
IN-PYO: Think about IN2U and focus.
View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, arts and fashion, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, arts and fashion, worldwide.