Last month, the K-pop group Cravity released their first full-length album, Part 1 [The Awakening: Written in the Stars]. In many ways, it was an introduction to new audiences, as well as a catch-up with old fans: “What’s good?” raps Cravity’s leader Serim at the very beginning of “Gas Pedal,” their electric and bass-heavy lead track.
It’s a fitting way to open this impressive new era for the nine-member boy band. Part of the generation of K-pop idols born in the pandemic (the group debuted in April 2020), Cravity has only known an exclusively digital career, releasing three EPs since their entrance into the industry. Yet even without live performances or in-person opportunities to flex their choreography, the group has still carved out a space for themselves: They were the first rookie group to debut on Billboard’s K-pop Hot 100, and they scored several awards and recognitions in the pan-Asian music market, quickly garnering the title of “Super Rookies.” Members Serim, Allen, Jungmo, Woobin, Wonjin, Minhee, Hyeongjun, Taeyoung, and Seongmin have a lot to prove, and they told BuzzFeed’s K-pop newsletter Daebak Weekly this album is meant to be proof of that ambition. “It expresses our relentless drive for more, as we ‘climb towards the peak following the stars,’” said Allen, their Los Angeles–bred rapper.
There certainly is a lot of aspiration, but also pressure, for young rookie groups, and Part 1 [The Awakening: Written in the Stars] is a reflection of the members’ state of mind. The group boasts over 1 million followers on Instagram, despite being just over a year old. Upcoming bands have started to try to make a name for themselves even before the group is announced — something the Cravity members successfully did as top competitors on popular Korean show Produce X 101 (thus ensuring that Cravity had a healthy throng of fans before the group even debuted). And that competitive edge is prevalent throughout the album. Tracks like “New Horizons” and “Veni Vidi Vici” are indicative of Cravity’s hunger, adding their perspectives and skill to hip-hop-infused tracks that fall in line with K-pop’s current tendencies for edgy, aggressive beats.
“I always want to show the audience our progress [is] better than before,” said their youngest member, 18-year-old Seongmin.
Daebak Weekly: This is your first full-length album. What was the process of making this project like?
Jungmo: This album, we included the members’ creative ideas a lot. Jooyoung, our senior musician, helped us in the process of music making — we wanted to show even stronger performances.
Wonjin: Thankfully, we were able to put in more time into this new album than we did for our previous mini albums so we could polish our work even more!
DW: How has your first year as a group been?
Taeyoung: It was so hard not to lose our passion. Since there was no audience, we couldn’t get the immediate on-site response from the fans. So we had to rely on each other.
Hyeongjun: We tell each other that we should cheer each other up and toughen up even more in times like these.
Woobin: Frankly, it was hard because I know the importance of the audience and our fans. But I also see it as an opportunity to gain hope for the future.
Jungmo: I learned that the pandemic has changed everything, the way we live our lives, so I think it’s going to be hard to live like we did before COVID-19.
Minhee: When I finally got to perform in front of fans, I realized the power of the presence of the audience. It was truly powerful.
DW: As some of the best and brightest upcoming artists, you represent the image of youth to a lot of people. What has that meant to you so far?
Allen: Since making music and performing on stage has become ordinary for us, I honestly can’t relate to my peers who may be studying in college or searching for full-time jobs. However, I’m still able to relate to the uncertainty and uneasiness of concern for the future since we’re still young and in our prime.
Serim: I’m extremely grateful that I get to represent the image of youth [and] the younger generation through music. I will continue to do my best going forward!
DW: Tell us about making your lead single music video, “Gas Pedal.”
Hyeongjun: Kihyun from Monsta X (Cravity’s labelmate seniors) visited the set of the music video. It really encouraged us all so much!Taeyoung
: We had a freestyle dance scene, so every member danced with many dancers and it was really fun!
DW: Is there a type of song you want to try in the future?
Minhee: I’d love to try a “sweet” concept to make our fans’ hearts flutter!
Jungmo: I want to try something sentimental when we have a chance, it’d be great.
DW: What has been the most meaningful part of making this album for you?
Seongmin: When we were practicing our performance, we all concentrated and moved quickly and felt like we were united. It was such a nice feeling!
Woobin: I also felt like we grew our companionship through our intense practice sessions preparing for this album.
DW: What does K-pop mean to you?Allen
: To me, K-pop is like a giant melting pot consisting of a wide spectrum spanning from genres of music to the style of clothing and dance. It’s also inclusive in a way how it brings together and appreciates — not appropriates — many different cultures and people from all kinds of backgrounds. As a non-Korean member of my group, I feel comfortable and grateful to be in this kind of environment and I think fans of K-pop in general feel the same way as I do thereby furthering the support that K-pop is truly a global phenomenon.