ONEUS have proven they are a set of wildcards with their seventh mini-album TRICKSTER, released on May 17. RAVN, SEOHO, LEEDO, KEONHEE, HWANWOONG, and XION tackled a variety of genres with their latest EP. From pop-rock to trap-influenced tracks, ONEUS continues to explore different types of music while maintaining a unique style that can only be associated with the sextet. In an exclusive email interview with EnVi, ONEUS walked us through the creative process behind TRICKSTER and what they hope their future cards may hold.
The Upper Hand
Life’s like a card game, but ONEUS have the upper hand as they keep on a solid poker face with their opening track, “Intro: Who Got The Joker?.” The clever opening track is the first of several songs from TRICKSTER in which RAVN and LEEDO contributed to the songwriting process. Cool and collected guitar strumming turns into intense guitar chords once the chorus hits. With powerful vocals and a boldly confident attitude, the rock-influenced track sets the mood for TRICKSTER.
Bring It On!
ONEUS is a mesmerizing and fierce force with their title track, “Bring it on.” With scenes paying homage to noir and neo-noir films, the music video plays out as a miniature film with the message that endings are not always set in stone.
When asked about the inspiration behind the music video, XION stated, “This [music video] was shot with a focus on the power to change negative endings into positive ones.” He even points out RAVN’s scene in which he has a run-in with a poisoned apple. Despite the fatal encounter, RAVN bounces back after collapsing to take a selfie––adding a lighthearted tone to the story.
ONEUS released an English version of the song on their latest mini-album as well. Both versions of “Bring it on” make lyrical references to the group’s previous tracks, especially “No diggity” and “TO BE OR NOT TO BE.”
KEONHEE explained how their discography is linked together, “It can be seen that it is connected with keywords such as ‘choice,’ ‘will,’ and ‘fate.’ We are also continuing the flow of the message that we can change our tragic fate in a positive way…”
But the lyrics are not the only part of “Bring it on” that looks back on ONEUS’s previous work. HWANWOONG contributed to the creation of the title track’s choreography and told EnVi about the inspiration behind the fiery dance.
“Actually, I tried to work with inspiration from the choreography of ‘No diggity,’ but I ended up getting stuck. So, I made new choreography for the chorus part,” said HWANWOONG. He went on to explain that he also pulled inspiration from a sample draft of the “Bring it on” choreography created by a choreographer from 1MILLION Dance Studio. HWANWOONG continued, “It turns out these two-choreography mixed and matched very well, so I combined the two to complete the first part of the chorus.”
With energetic choreography, reminiscent lyrics, and a film-like music video, “Bring it on” is well-deserving of being TRICKSTER’s title track.
ONEUS continue to prove that they are each multifaceted artists throughout their work. From creating their own choreography to participating in the songwriting and composition of their tracks, the members continue to leave their personal touch on their projects. Both RAVN and LEEDO shared their favorite parts of their experience working on the songs with EnVi.
“Skydivin’” is the third song on the mini-album and also happens to be composed and written by LEEDO, with RAVN also credited as a songwriter. The pop-rock track is about cutting loose from everyday burdens and finding joy in life again. With the lyrics, “Throw away the obvious drama / My future is a flower garden,” ONEUS continues to perpetuate the idea that you can change your future at any time.
Sonically, “Skydivin’” is a breath of fresh air that lets listeners feel weightless, which is exactly the kind of sound LEEDO was going for. He told EnVi, “I wanted to make a song suitable for summer, and I wanted to listen while driving. I wanted to write a song where you can feel the freedom that is not tied to anything.”
EnVi also asked the members which song they would like to perform for their fans, TOMOON, and HWANWOONG chose “Skydivin’.” He enthusiastically responded, “I think this is the song that best expresses the word ‘youth’ we are feeling right now, so I want to perform this song to my fans!” The group has recently performed the track live on Korean music shows and their positive energy radiated throughout the set. It is clear that “Skydivin’” is a feel-good song for both ONEUS and TOMOON, and will likely become a fan favorite.
RAVN also got a chance to participate in the composition of the fourth track off TRICKSTER, “Firebomb.” With subtle tempo increases, breathy whispers, and raspy vocals, “Firebomb” is an incredibly catchy tune that compares catching feelings for someone to being ignited by them. The hot track serves as proof that RAVN has grown greatly as a musician, and will continue to do so with his future work.
RAVN’s time working on TRICKSTER has allowed him to grow and challenge himself. He told EnVi, “I think I discovered a new side of myself… The high-pitched vocal parts, the expressions in the performance that came out with more immersion and concentration, and the new lyrics and rapping I tried. It was a time to discover a very diverse and more mature self.” Beyond his personal growth, RAVN also hopes to be able to showcase more of ONEUS’s performance skills in the future. This upwards growth shines a bright light on the group’s future as they continue to evolve all together as musicians and performers.
Changing The Game
The last two tracks from TRICKSTER showcase just how ONEUS take fate into their own hands. With “Fragile,” the group slows things down with a romantic, lo-fi-influenced confession. What begins as a tale of lovers who struggle with being polar opposites with lyrics, “Like fire and ice / Different, you and I,” ends with a sweet compromise for the couple with, “My heart is enough to embrace you / It’s okay, now you don’t need to worry.”
Meanwhile, “Mr. Wolf” takes a clever spin on the children’s game “What’s the time, Mr. Wolf?” with a shift in power as the group proves their dominance with the song. ONEUS come out on top by the end of the song stating, “I’m the alpha wolf,” and showing their power. This outcome emphasizes how the group takes control over their future and will always bounce back no matter the hardships.
Throughout TRICKSTER, ONEUS explored a wide range of genres and pushed themselves to grow with this mini-album. A great example is the group’s main vocalist, SEOHO, who was praised by TOMOON for his impressive rapping skills in “Bring it on.” When EnVi shared the love from TOMOON with SEOHO, he gratefully replied, “Thank you so much for your support and love. If there’s a chance in the future, I want to do it again.”
TRICKSTER also allowed ONEUS to build upon the message they wanted to convey to fans with their music. XION told EnVi, “The album contains the meaning of the ‘main character’ and the ‘main character’ who deserves a happy ending.” This optimistic mindset about controlling your destiny and changing endings resonated deeply with the other members as well.
EnVi asked if there was any message ONEUS hoped TOMOON would receive when listening to TRICKSTER. KEONHEE explained, “Courage and confidence! We all deserve to turn the end upside down, but we lack [the] courage to do so. Through this album, I want to give the fans courage.” His heartwarming response encapsulates exactly the kind of positive change that ONEUS displays with each track on TRICKSTER.
Raise The Stakes
While ONEUS raised the stakes by taking a chance with the exploration of new styles and sounds, it turns out that the move played out in their favor. TRICKSTER was received well by TOMOON, and on June 9 officially sold one million copies in both South Korea and Japan combined.
This steady growth and exploration as artists seem to be a part of ONEUS’s future plans as they continue to challenge themselves by trying new themes. The group told EnVi what kind of concepts and sounds they would like to pursue as they continue forward with their career.
SEOHO: I want to try an emotional band song like ONEWE.
LEEDO: I want to try a sexy concept.
KEONHEE: I also want to try a sexy concept.
HWANWOONG: I want to try Hip-hop genre.
XION: I want to try an OST. It’s a genre that ONEUS hasn’t tried yet, and I like dramas and movies a lot, so it would be nice for us to try it.
The possibilities are endless with ONEUS, as they are dedicated to developing as artists, as well as keeping TOMOON on their toes.
ONEUS and TOMOON
If one thing is for sure, it is the undeniably strong love that ONEUS has for TOMOON. The group is adamant about thanking their fans for their dedication, and the love is mutual as TOMOON always make sure to support ONEUS when they can. Recently, ONEUS wrapped up their Blood Moon tour after traveling to the U.S. and Japan. EnVi asked the members their favorite part about touring, and this is what they had to say:
At the end of the day, it is clear that ONEUS are extremely grateful for the love and support they receive from TOMOON. With the liveliness that accompanies TRICKSTER, the group’s excitement for the tracks, and TOMOON’s reactions, ONEUS’s next tour will surely leave TOMOON in awe of their energy.
Starting a New Game
All games must come to an end, but ONEUS reminds listeners that they are in control of their own endings. The album’s message even makes its way into the package design, modeled after poker cards to subtly reinforce the lesson.
HWANWOONG told EnVi, “…There is a hidden meaning to it. If you combine the two main albums with your individual album this time, you get a very good hand called ‘Straight Flush!’ At this time, the role of the Joker card becomes a being that can play the role of making this hand the best hand or a hand that is nothing. I got the idea from this and put the meaning of we are all like jokers who can turn hardship and adversity into opportunity. So, I refined the message a bit more and arrived at the meaning of, ‘We are all protagonists who can reverse this ending.’”
TRICKSTER is full of clever remarks and opportunities to change the game of life’s outcome. ONEUS have demonstrated an immense growth in creativity and a newfound level of maturity as they stepped up to the table with their seventh mini-album. With an upper hand, ONEUS know exactly how they would like to play their cards in the future. Whatever game life throws them into next, it is guaranteed that ONEUS will always come out on top due to their hard work and passion for the art they create.
Want more? Check out our interview with YOUNITE here.