In a shift from their signature style, K-pop sensation A.C.E took on a mellow vibe in their latest project, My Girl : “My Choice, marking their sixth mini-album. The seven-track EP, which was released on February 22, served as the group’s triumphant return after a two-and-a-half year hiatus due to the members’ military enlistment. 

A.C.E embraced a softer, pop sound intertwined with heartfelt ballads, departing from their previous hip-hop-infused tracks such as “SAVAGE” and “Under Cover.” Throughout the album, A.C.E explore themes of love and self-discovery that resonate with listeners. 

Rapper WOW shared about the group’s new trajectory: “All of us share a deep love for music, which has allowed us to maintain our unique style. This passion for music also emboldened us to explore new styles and genres, as finding value in pushing our boundaries and remaining versatile. We are committed to continuing this journey of exploration and embracing new genres in the future.”

During a roundtable interview, EnVi had the opportunity to speak with the boy group. The members —  Lee Donghun, Park Junhee, WOW, Kim Byeongkwan, and Kang Yuchan — welcomed everyone on the Zoom call with unwavering smiles. A.C.E dove deep into the album, the unique experience of filming the title track’s music video with fans, and their growth as a group. 

My Girl : “My Choice”

In their title track “My Girl,” A.C.E narrate their journey in discovering themselves and finding meaning in their existence, while expressing their devotion to a loved one. This lively disco-pop anthem thrives on its infectious beat and smooth vocals. 

The members played significant roles in the album’s composition, with Junhee, Donghun, and WOW each earning writing credits throughout. Donghun, the group’s main vocalist, co-wrote “My Girl.”

“This album involved more member participation in the production process, giving us a deeper understanding of its creation,” Donghun revealed. “With increased experience, each member gained confidence in their singing and developed unique opinions. This boosted our ability to comprehend and convey emotions in our songs more efficiently, resulting in a higher-quality outcome.”

He also mentioned that for this recording process, the members took on a unique approach where they each pre-recorded a guided version of the song and then combined them into one. Donghun continued, “We aimed to showcase A.C.E’s vocal skills, so we paid meticulous attention to details during the recording. This method significantly enhanced the album’s quality.”

Main dancer and rapper WOW co-wrote the track “Facetime,” a song where the boys express their innermost feelings about a girl they’re trying to Facetime with.

“For the track ‘Facetime,’ WOW composed the song so we were calling him the producer, a nickname that he really liked,” shared main dancer and rapper Byeongkwan. “During the recording of the guided version, he would joke around saying that his version was the original — that he got the ‘original sound.’ It was very funny.”

Donghun playfully shared that he usually chooses “Facetime” as his favorite song, but since the producer, WOW, didn’t give him a lot of lines, his favorite is now “My Girl.” He added, “From the moment I heard it, I believed it had the potential to make it to the Billboard charts, which got me really excited. It’s quite unfortunate that this didn’t come to pass.”

His teammates also expressed the same aspiration of achieving a Billboard listing. Byeongkwan expressed confidence that “My Girl” will rise in popularity when the group embarks on their  upcoming tour.

“We’re counting on all of your support to get ‘My Girl’ listed on Billboards,” vocalist Junhee emphasized. 

The album also features English versions of B-sides “Angel” and “Effortless,” as well as the title track. Byeongkwan explained, “We recorded the English version before the Korean version, so when we later recorded the Korean version, we aimed to maintain the same vibe as in the English recording. Each member provided feedback on pronunciation while one member was in the recording booth, and we all listened and offered input. I believe this collaborative effort is evident in the final result.”

Yuchan, main vocalist and maknae (youngest member), was unable to participate in the album due to fulfilling his military enlistment during the time of production. Byeongkwan lamented, “It was unfortunate not to have Yuchan with us during the process.”

On the new song’s performance and pre-recording process, he added, “Our past performances were intense and left us sweating a lot. But with this comeback, I didn’t even sweat that much after we pre-recorded two or three times. It felt as if the sense of achievement was not as strong as before. Rather, I sweated while trying the challenges of other groups.”

A Touching Collaboration: A.C.E and Choice

A.C.E took on the persona of office workers in this comeback, offering fans a glimpse behind the scenes through their Petflix series on YouTube. Transforming into employees at a media content creating company who aim to book A.C.E to film a dance video, the members enlisted their dedicated fanbase, affectionately called Choice, to join them as dancers in the “My Girl” music video after an intensive three-day rehearsal period.

“I was initially concerned because we needed to teach the choreography to our fans, and they had to fully learn it within a week for the shoot,” expressed leader Junhee, while other members nodded along. “Despite the tight timeline, our fans dedicated themselves to practicing the choreography with utmost effort. I was pleasantly surprised by their commitment and it was heartwarming to see the love they have for A.C.E. It was truly a touching moment for us.”

Byeongkwan remarked that this was entirely new for the group but they always enjoy spending time with fans, whether at fan signing events or concerts. He continued, “Teaching our fans the choreography of our title track up close and filming the music video together was an incredible honor and a cherished memory.” Yuchan nodded along and gave a double thumbs up despite not being able to participate in the music video. 

This collaborative effort not only solidified the bond between A.C.E and their devoted Choice, but left a lasting mark on the ever-evolving K-pop scene. 

“I’m deeply grateful for the positive feedback we’ve received. Our goal wasn’t to pioneer something new or set a trend; rather, we aimed to make this music video meaningful as it marked our comeback after a long hiatus, and we wanted to create lasting memories for our fans. The response has been incredibly gratifying, with our fans expressing immense enjoyment and considering it a memorable gift. I’m simply thankful for all of this,” Junhee shared. 

A.C.E is an acronym for “Adventure Calling Emotions,” signifying the group’s desire to evoke emotions that inspire people to embark on adventures and pursue their dreams.

“I hope our fans see us as proof that with determination and effort, one can achieve their goals in life. We have started from the bottom and we had a goal to succeed which has brought us where we are now,” Junhee stated. “I want our fans to feel inspired and believe in their own abilities, knowing that they too can accomplish great things with faith and determination.”

Byeongkwan added, “We also think that, as time goes by, we are growing together with our fans. We think that is the most important part of our journey.”

From Break to Breakthroughs

During their two-year hiatus for mandatory military service, the members underwent notable personal and collective growth. 

Junhee expressed newfound appreciation for the value of small moments and camaraderie among the members. He added, “I was so happy to be back together, and I’m incredibly grateful that we can perform together again.”

Reflecting on their journey since debut, Donghun emphasized the evolution of teamwork. He said, “Mutual respect and care have become our guiding principles for maintaining close relationships. With time and maturity, these values have become ingrained in our teamwork, which have brought a harmonious dynamic among us.”

Byeongkwan revealed that going into the recording booth used to be nerve-wrecking for him as he was worried about showcasing everything he prepared in a limited time. He noted, “Coming back from the military service, I’ve noticed a more relaxed approach to recording, which reflects positively in the final outcome. It’s a noticeable change I’ve experienced.”

Junhee also addressed the obstacles posed by the rise of TikTok challenge culture, a trend that demands constant collaboration and learning of dance routines from other groups. During A.C.E’s early debut stages, such a culture wasn’t prevalent. However, now artists are seen filming challenge videos with other idols in waiting areas at music shows, leaving the members little time for rest after performances or rehearsals. Despite the difficulties, A.C.E remain committed to meeting fan expectations and embracing new trends.

What’s Next for A.C.E?

Fans can anticipate catching A.C.E on their upcoming “JAPAN 1st LIVE TOUR” in Japan, kicking off next week, followed by the “[REWIND US]US tour featuring 14 dates throughout the summer. 

The members expressed their excitement about exploring these cities and reuniting with fans face-to-face. Yuchan, who will be joining the group on tour, said, “While I look forward to discovering new cuisines and cultures, it’s the distinctive energy of a new city that truly excites me.”

Donghun added, “When we tour a new city, our time is mostly spent at the show venue. So we remember the city by the energy from our fans and the ambiance of the venue. I’m looking forward to creating wonderful memories with our fans during this tour as well.”

Choice can also expect a surprise from the band, as Byeongkwan hinted, “We also have something special from Yuchan, which we cannot share the details about, but you will be able to see for yourselves very soon. Next month, maybe, we might be able to release our new album so please look forward to that as well.”

Regarding their teased new album, Byeongkwan revealed, “We’re aiming for a more intense and sexier vibe than ‘Under Cover’ or ‘SAVAGE.’ It feels like it’ll be the best one yet. I might be revealing too much about our next album, but please look forward to hearing it! I can guarantee you all!”

Poster photo courtesy of Beat Interactive.

Be sure to listen to My Girl : “My Choice” on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube. To stay up to date with A.C.E, fans can follow the group on Instagram, X, TikTok, Facebook, and their official website.

Interested in more artist interviews? Check out EnVi’s exclusive interview with Catch the Young, here!