At 11:00 p.m. Korean time on August 24, K-pop group cignature logged on to our scheduled Zoom meeting. Despite the time and the fact that they had just finished a different schedule, CHAESOL, JEEWON, SELINE, CHLOE, SEMI, and DOHEE were all energetic, smiling consistently throughout the call. Originally a septet, one member, BELLE, was not present due to her participation in SBS’ idol survival program Universe Ticket. Ahead of their comeback, cignature chatted with EnVi for an exclusive conversation about their new music, summertime, and their career thus far.

cignature group photo for US in the summer. They are wearing white shirts and black skirts.
Image courtesy of J9 Entertainment.

Smooth Sailing

“Crystal ball,” “cignature’s road,” and “letter” are three phrases CHAESOL, SELINE, and SEMI, respectively, would use to describe their latest musical venture, US in the Summer. The group’s fourth mini album features four tracks that tap into pop, electronic, and ballad to capture the fleeting feelings of summer as it comes to an end.

“Just like ‘Smooth Sailing,”’ our title track, we want our journey to be smooth in the future,” SELINE said, earning a round of enthusiastic nods from the rest of the girls. The other words, “crystal ball” and “letter,” reflect the nature of the comeback. In US in the Summer, cignature present a pure and sincere side to themselves in a sincere message to their audience.

Smooth Sailing,” the group’s new title track, delivers upbeat percussion that evokes bright and positive feelings in the listener. cignature’s members dive into summer in the music video, which resembles Nobuhiro Yamashita’s 2005 film Linda Linda Linda with its school uniforms, swimming pool and stage sets, and unapologetically youthful theme.

It’s fitting, then, that the music video was filmed over the course of four days entirely in Japan, making it cignature’s first time traveling abroad for a comeback shoot. “We got to eat delicious meat while we were working hard, and in the short breaks we had fun and enjoyed our time to the max while we were staying there,” SELINE reminisced. At the mention of meat, CHAESOL, CHLOE, SEMI, and DOHEE chime in with immediate sounds of approval, making JEEWON crack a smile. 

“We’ve always said that our chemistry is our signature, but I would like to say that it upgraded, and you can see that through our performance and music video as well,” CHLOE added, smiling at her play on the group’s name.

cignature in the Summer

US in the Summer marks the release of cignature’s first full-blown summer comeback. As CHAESOL and JEEWON put it, with an array of content captured outdoors and a mix of energetic and mellow tracks, the group successfully presents the feelings of both bright summer days and refreshing summer nights. “I think even though it’s coming a little bit later in the summer, it’s really suitable for the summer season itself as a kind of wrap-up,” CHAESOL said.

To match the mini album’s tentatively nostalgic sound, cignature sported a series of outfits with elements of throwback fashion for their comeback content. DOHEE’s favorite was the set of cohesive white top-denim shorts looks, because “the members came out really lovely [in the photos], and it really brought out the best of cignature.” Meanwhile, CHLOE pointed out fans’ positive reactions to the schoolgirl uniforms, characterized by simple plaid skirts that fit in with the music video’s school set. “It reminds you of first love and brings out our usefulness,” she described.  

Popular recent trends, both visual and auditory, also shine in the group’s latest materials. Notably, because they noticed a recent liking for an ‘easy-listening’ and ‘chill’ style of pop, the group maintained an emphasis on it throughout their mini-album production. “When we were working on this album and deciding on and recording this title track, we wanted to have an ‘easy-listening’ track and add our own bubbliness on top of it,” JEEWON elaborated. Then, turning to this era’s makeup and styling, cignature pointed to the heavy blusher and freckles used to reflect the sunkissed, youthful look associated with US in the Summer’s girl-in-love concept.

cignature’s excitement about the summer season shines through in their positive expressions in the “Smooth Sailing” music video and their stage performances. Though the present sextet primarily spent their summer this year diligently preparing for US in the Summer, they share a love for swimming in the summertime. When given the chance, they enjoy swimming anywhere from the beach to an outdoor pool, or even brooks — as SEMI shared she’s done with her family since she was young — to make the most of their summer.

Road From Debut

In the more than three years since cignature’s 2020 debut with “Nun Nu Nan Na,” the group has explored various genres as they developed their unique sound. With a discography that spans from bubblegum pop to emotional ballads, cignature continually showcase their versatility.

Amongst their past releases, two concepts stand out for members CHAESOL and SEMI. CHAESOL’s favorite concept so far has been “Boyfriend” from the group’s second mini album. In contrast to the group’s explosive debut track, “Boyfriend” has a slow tempo and a simple, percussion-biased instrumental. “I think that song showed a new side of cignature that not many people expected from us,” CHAESOL said. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the high-energy, upbeat song “I’m Okay,” which was SEMI’s pick because of its tempo and choreography. “I hope we get the chance to try a rock concept or genre for a future comeback,” she shared.

Building their musical identity has taken both time and effort. As a result, the members of cignature are more comfortable than ever when performing. Whereas their earlier days were dictated by a tense need to execute each performance flawlessly, they now feel less intimidated by the possibility of messing up. “The goal is still to give a perfect performance every time,” SELINE explained. “But now it feels like there is a little more room to make mistakes and handle them without overthinking.”

Not unexpectedly, the girls dedicate a substantial amount of energy towards preparing tirelessly for each performance. CHAESOL accredits their ability to demonstrate confidence on stage towards the many hours of hard work that goes into each schedule. For SEMI, all it takes to get hyped up for a performance is cignature’s group cheer, which they do right before getting on any stage. “Whenever I make eye contact with my members or our fans, it instantly gives me confidence — those moments make me a lot happier when performing,” JEEWON chimed, rounding out the group’s pre-, during, and post-performance sources of confidence.

For signfan 

cignature’s first summer comeback, US in the Summer, is a touching four-track narrative about a young girl’s experience with love. It’s a youthful, bubbly new side of cignature that brings the summer to a pleasant end. Its “good energy” and “positive vibes” — as CHAESOL put it — are a welcome surprise as seasons begin to change. Additionally, as SEMI shared, the mini-album stands as cignature’s way of expressing their gratitude for their fans, signfan. “We want to repay all the love and support we’ve been getting from SIGN, so we want to share the good energy as our way of thanking our fans. I hope you all enjoy our comeback!”

US in the Summer and its lead single, “Smooth Sailing,” are available for streaming on all platforms. To keep up with cignature’s current comeback and future promotional activities, you can follow their official social media profiles. 

cignature profile card. Members: Chaesol, Jeewon, Seline, Chloe, Belle, Semi, and Dohee. Debut: February 3, 2020. Company: J9 Entertainment. Fandom name: Signfan. EnVi song rec: "smooth sailing".
Graphics courtesy of Rebeca Gomes.

If you want to see more exclusive content with your favorite K-pop groups, take a look at EnVi’s backstage interview with KARD or cover story with CIX!