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EPEX: A high-profile rookie band ready to make a splash

In the highly competitive K-pop scene, it’s hard for rookies to rise above the crowd and make a splash.

Despite the global lockdown during the ongoing pandemic era, EPEX is off to a good start.

Hailed as a super-rookie band, the eight-piece group under C9 Entertainment released its first EP, “Bipolar Pt. 1: Prelude of Anxiety,” June 8 and achieved the highest first-week sales for a debut album among newcomers this year: a total of 33,353 copies sold on the Hanteo chart.

EPEX (C9 Entertainment)
EPEX (C9 Entertainment)
With its name meaning “the gathering of eight youths reaches eight different apexes,” EPEX consists of Keum, Wish, Mu, A-Min, Baek Seung, Ayden, Yewang and Jeff. Except for the eldest member, Wish, all the bandmates are teenagers who’ve been juggling training and school for years.

“When I was a trainee, I couldn’t picture myself as an idol, couldn’t imagine it honestly. Each day was full of uncertainty. Mu and I used to go home together after practice, worrying about whether we would be able to make our debut or not. And I’m really glad that we’ve made it this far together,” said Wish during a recent interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul.

Looking back on his pre-debut days, Mu chimed in and said, “After we’ve finally made our debut after all those doubts and worries, I wanted to go further. It’s as if we’ve entered a different dimension. It was eye-opening.”

As teenagers, the bandmates have a naturally endearing and effervescent energy. But their music offers something different, something special that attracts fans. Anchored in the hip-hop genre, “Bipolar Pt. 1: Prelude of Anxiety” deals with the worries of the younger generation, such as angst about falling prey to society’s expectations. Although the band identifies itself as a dance group, the five-track EP spans various genres such as electro-trap, Latin and R&B. Opener “Go Big” expresses the band’s desire to reach the apex, while lead track “Lock Down” and “Cyanide” touch upon the negative effects of social media and the way rumors become “facts.” “No Questions” and “Sling Shot” bring the generational theme to a higher level, questioning the narrator’s life path and the line between freedom and suppression.

The musicians shared that they’d drawn on their own experiences and thoughts in the creative process, making the songs more relatable. They’d had long conversations with the lyricists when making the album, they explained, wanting to convey the millennial-oriented message.

“All five songs reflect our own stories, an outcome of our actual daily conversations and contemplations. The song I relate to most is ‘No Questions,’ which encourages youth to go their own way rather than following what our elders tell us to do. I once told our lyricist that I wanted to follow my own dream without caring what others thought of me,” said Baek Seung.

Wish, whose favorite track from the album is also “No Question,” added that the song’s message was one that had inspired him throughout his teenage years.

As the band’s name suggests, EPEX is brimming with ambition. At the same time, the musicians are putting in an equal effort to foster tight relationships within the group. They said they enjoyed discussing various issues, and that talking helped them understand each other despite their different backgrounds and personalities.

Keum said he’d recently been contemplating EPEX’s career path both musically and in terms of concepts. Surprisingly, the young musicians all have different musical tastes. Keum said he’d been listening to Jung Seung-hwan’s “The Snowman” recently, while Yewang is a ballad lover.

“It’s funny that we are a dance group, but when I’m all by myself, I crave ballads,” he said.

A-Min said his favorite track was IU’s “Secret Garden,” and Ayden expressed his passion for hip-hop. The rookies also went on to talk about the history of K-pop, sharing the monumental moments they would like to relive.

“We are more than thankful for giving us such love. Our next goal is to win first place on music programs and return with new music that can capture listeners’ ears and hearts. Please look forward to our next step,” said Wish.

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)
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