Glass talks to K-pop girl group RED VELVET as they look forward to entering a new era with their new album, The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday, and their excitement for their fans to hear their evolution.
After nearly nine years storming the industry, Red Velvet have become an enigmatic force of nature. A genre-busting group that fuses R&B, ballads, funk, and more with contemporary K-Pop – members IRENE, SEULGI, WENDY, JOY and YERI are fully fledged chameleons.
In their years at the forefront, the band have curated a discography that is as experimental as it is dynamic, something that has been furthered this year. It was early 2022 when their agency, SM Entertainment, confirmed Red Velvet would be returning prominently with brand new material, an announcement that was met with pure ecstasy from the band’s fanbase, the ReVeluv.
A month later their album Bloom was released to the world, a milestone marking their first official studio album entirely in Japanese. Met with widespread acclaim, their complete transition from K-Pop to J-Pop broadened their horizons as fascinating artists committed to evolution.
But they weren’t quite done there. An album and an EP later and we’re thrust into a whole new era, following the release of their latest project and second instalment of the The ReVe Festival 2022 series, The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday, which dropped in November.
Now, closing what has surely been a memorable year, we caught up with the band to discuss how life has been since their latest album’s much anticipated release, what is next to come in their ever-expanding careers, and whether one of their projects comes out on top as an all-time favourite.
Photographer: Jiyong Yoon
You’ve certainly had a busy year with three different album releases, if you had to summarise 2022 in a few words, what would they be?
IRENE: We were a little sad about not being able to see ReVeluv as often as we expected. I hope we make up for it and meet ReVeluv with more opportunities and content!
Huge congratulations on the release of your latest album, tell me what was the inspiration behind it?
WENDY: The cover is the visualisation of us enjoying a party while baking a strange cake that gives superpowers we wish to have. We introduce our character ReVe, and show ourselves enjoying the freedom of being able to go wherever we want. The cover expressed the journey of ReVe taking us to the imaginative world.
On the other hand, in the music video, we proudly walk into a party that we weren’t invited to and show the process of completing quests by fighting with gatekeeping mobs and characters. We wanted to maximize the visual images, so we incorporated 2D animations and different elements.
What was the process of creating Birthday like?
SEULGI: We sampled George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for the title track. Birthday is a pop dance track that harmoniously combines trap-based rhythm with a cool synth sound. We wanted to bring out the thrilling energy of the song, so we tried to record it more freely, and we think our members’ unique vocals really enhance the song. We think it came out exactly how we wanted it to be! For the visuals, as the title of the track, we tried our best to bring out the Birthday theme with loose and comfy looks, so we hope you love it!
SEULGI. Photographer: Jiyong Yoon
How is this a departure from your previous work?
SEULGI: If we showed a more elegant side of us with Feel My Rhythm, Birthday is more classic, yet kitschy and mischievous. We wanted to show almost very opposite sides of us, and I think that would be the biggest difference. I had so much fun preparing for this album and I hope everyone enjoys the song and our looks as much as I do!
What are you looking forward to most now it has been released to the world?
WENDY:We are looking forward to hearing about what ReVeluv likes the most about our new album. We are ready to be with ReVeluv who have been waiting for us and this comeback. Like the lyrics from our title track Birthday, we want to make your days feel like your birthday!
WENDY. Photographer: Jiyong Yoon
After being together for nearly nine years you have seen some major shifts in the music industry, in your own words how would you say your visual and musical style has changed?
JOY: I think we tried different styles in music and in our visuals in our early-debut days to figure out what works best for all of us, and now I think we have found the style that suits us and the genre that we like. We try to be more creative and make some changes within that style. It sometimes is a little challenging because we always want to surprise our fans and listeners but it’s very rewarding to see their reactions when we come back with new albums.
YERI. Photographer: Jiyong Yoon
Your ever-growing body of work is very impressive. I wonder if there is a favourite project, and if so, for what reason?
YERI: I can’t pick a favourite because I love every single project we have done so far! But I’m particularly excited about this new album. The tracks are amazing, and I think we can show a new side of Red Velvet to ReVeluv.
You have not been able to perform in front of your fans for a while due to COVID-19. Are you missing interacting with your fans in concert?
IRENE: Of course! I miss interacting with ReVeluv so much. I can’t wait to feel their love, support, and their energy at our live performances. I’m always receiving so much positive energy from our ReVeluv and I hope everyone around the world stays safe and well until we meet again in person!
IRENE. Photographer: Jiyong Yoon
You performed in the UK for the first time this summer, headlining MIK Festival in London. How did it feel to be able to perform for fans in the UK?
SEULGI: We went up to the stage a little nervous since it had been a while seeing our fans, but we were able to enjoy the stage and the festival because they welcomed us with a big round of applause. I would like to once again thank our London ReVeluv, who were at the festival cheering for us and enjoying our performance.
With visuals being a big part of Red Velvet, how do you approach filming your music videos?
JOY: We try to come up with a storyline that both, directly and indirectly, expresses the track and think about the visual and styling that suits the storyline the best. For instance, we introduce a new character ReVe who invites us to the imaginative world. I think that character represents our storyline and works as one of the indirect elements that presents the excitement to viewers and our fans.
JOY. Photographer: Jiyong Yoon
What did you enjoy most while shooting the music video for Birthday?
YERI: We were shooting at a hotel for a few scenes for the music video, and I remember ordering food and having so much fun on set with members. It was one of those times when we made jokes and laughed about random things!
So lastly, now you’re in the midst of a brand new era, what can you tell us about what is to come next on the Red Velvet agenda?
WENDY: I think every comeback is a new start for Red Velvet. We come back with a new genre, a new concept, and a new state of mind. We hope to always make our fans happy with a brand-new side of us! We will try to meet our fans with more opportunities and show different sides of us, so please look forward to it! Thank you always for all the love and support!
By Ben Sanderson
Photographer: Jiyong Yoon
Stylist: Ju-Yeon Oh
Visual Director: Wook Kim
Visual Planning: Seul-Bi Kwak and Jeong-Eun Lee
Make up: Kyoung-Mee Shin and A-Ryeom Jeon using SOONSOO
Hair: Seo-Ha Yoon using SOONSOO
Talent communication: Even Yu and Guoran Yu at APEX COMMUNICATIONS
Look 1: From left to right: SEULGI: Top R13B, Shorts POLO RALPH LAUREN, Shoes MARQUES’ALMEIDA, YERI: Top 2000 ARCHIVES, Skirt 604SERVICE, Shoes DR. MARTENS, Hosiery STYLIST’S OWN, IRENE: Top HOMMEGIRLS, Jacket BALENCIAGA, Trousers 13DE MARZO, Shoes CONVERSE, WENDY: Top I’M SORRY BY PETRA COLLINS, Trousers WIDOW at DOLLS KILL, Shoes STYLIST’S OWN, JOY: Jacket BALENCIAGA, Top DIESEL, Dress CRANK, Shoes STYLIST’S OWN
Look 2: SEULGI Top DIESEL, Skirt CURRENT MOOD at DOLLS KILL, Hat DOLLS KILL, Shoes WIDOW at DOLLS KILL
Look 3: WENDY Top and skirt DIESEL, Earrings CUSTOM at BEFOUND
Look 4: YERI Top COLLINA STRADA, Skirt 1017 ALYX 9SM, Gloves BALENCIAGA, Hat GENERATION KISS at DOLLS KILL, Choker CUSTOM 29 at BEFOUND, Rings STYLIST’S OWN
Look 5: IRENE Top PAOLINA RUSSO, Skirt GENERATION KISS at DOLLS KILL, Keychain CUSTOM at BEFOUN, All jewellery STYLIST’S OWN
Look 6: JOY Dress DIESEL, Arm cuff CUSTOM at BEFOUND