From the first few moments of their new dark horse pop song “RUN,” the four young women of the up-and-coming K-pop group H1-KEY (@h1key_official) confidently assert that soon enough they’ll be on your radar – and after countless repeat listens of the summertime bop, we can confirm the hype is very real. Mirroring the profound power of four women in music (BLACKPINK, aespa, or 2NE1) H1-KEY similarly offers listeners a well-rounded selection of members who each pull their own weight, but with a charismatic approach that diverges from the intensity of their aforementioned peers.
Despite several promising attributes from the group thus far, it’s a recent Y2K pop-nostalgia sprint (via “RUN” ) that particularly assists the group’s introduction into mainstream recognition, with over 13 million views in under a month so far. Having surpassed the combined number of views and streams for their first concept-based single “Athletic Girl,” there’s plenty of traction behind the group to sets them up for a reliable future beyond the scope of RUN. With every move being a critical part of their potential for greatness – a distinctive sense of humility and an inclination to give back makes this memorable girl group even more imperative to the future of the industry (examples here, and here).
Now that H1-KEY has officially (and effectively) put themselves on the map, we were thrilled to talk to the four young women of the group as our new Vanity Teen Magazine digital cover stars!
The recent release of your first maxi single album RUN kind of acts as a potential re-introduction for H1-KEY, and what an amazing star it’s been! What kind of ambitions did you have for RUN when you found out there was more room for creativity with songs?
SEOI: We tried to show the bright side of H1-KEY through this song. The previous song ‘Athletic Girl’ was about introducing our group identity. But this song is more focused on showing you more of our charms.
RIINA: Since we’re making a comeback with a bright song after a long time, I tried to convey energy and an overall good feeling to the people who are going to listen to the song!
HWISEO: We prepared this song so that you’d think of this song whenever you think of summer!
YEL: Through the RUN album, we wanted to show you the cool and bright energy that’s a bit different from what we have shown you through our debut.
Your title track caught my attention from the first beat, and from what I’ve been seeing, there are plenty of other listeners who share that sentiment. What would you each personally say is a strong selling point, or unique feature to this particular song?
SEOI: In my opinion, the whistle sound and rough guitar sound are the strong selling points. It can remind the listeners of the cool summer vibe and freshen their moods.
RIINA: I think it’s a great summer song that you can enjoy while jogging in the morning.
HWISEO: I believe the best thing about this song is that it shows the strengths of each member’s voice as it connects from one to another! Although it’s really hot this summer, I feel like this song makes you feel like there’s a cool breeze.
YEL: The best thing about the RUN album is that you can feel the refreshing and teenage vibes that only we can offer. And I think a lot of people like this song because it’s refreshing and cool, which makes it perfect for summer.
The stunning music video for “RUN” was filmed in Los Angeles and had some really aesthetically pleasing locations to work with! What was that filming experience like since you were able to soak in a brand new environment?
SEOI: It felt so refreshing and new. It was my first time filming outside and abroad, so it was so exciting and felt amazing. Also, it was my first time visiting LA, so I just keep saying ‘WOW’ everywhere we went.
RIINA: I had butterflies in my stomach. It was our first time visiting LA. We all filmed outside, and the sunlight was extraordinary. So strong and hot but not sticky, so it wasn’t unpleasant at all. It felt good to film freely in the sun.
HWISEO: I was so happy because it felt like we were going on our first trip abroad together. The music video looks like a travel vlog, so it’s always going to be a beautiful memory for me.
YEL: It’s our first time shooting in LA, the US, and I’m really pleased because I think our work turned out great, with perfect weather, the mood, the sceneries that you can only find in LA, our singing, and dancing.
What was the most memorable thing you each managed to do while you were here with some of your free time?
SEOI: Everything was so memorable for me! The view in LA, Cheetos, and the people in restaurants and streets! They were all so memorable. It felt like a dream.
RIINA: I think… the most memorable moment was when all four of us sat in the pool at the pink motel and sang excitedly as the sun was slowly setting. At that moment, everything was perfect… the weather, sunset, emotions, atmosphere, our outfits, and everything!
HWISEO: Running around with Olive, the puppy that we filmed the music video with, on our last day and having a basketball competition with the members while we were waiting on set became great memories for me.
YEL: Whenever I have some time for myself, I spend time watching dramas or entertainment shows.
“RUN” has given your new career even greater potential with over 13 million views so far and very promising mainstream traction building! What do you hope that your growing fandom is able to take away from this chapter of H1-KEY’s story?
SEOI: I just hope that our new fans will remember “RUN” as a song that brought growth to H1-KEY.
RIINA: I’m so grateful for M1-KEY and everyone who has been supporting H1-KEY. I hope you will continue to keep an eye on us as we grow into more professional and amazing artists.
HWISEO: I want it to be remembered as the beginning of a new record that H1-KEY and M1-KEY are making!
YEL: It’d be great to share our journey of growing as H1-KEY with you guys.
I think it’s fair to say that some of the most prominent girl groups in K-pop have come from four members and together, the four of you bring something very fresh and fun to the table! Are there any artists that have inspired your collective sense of group identity, if any?
SEOI: Actually, our concept is so unique, so we try hard to create our own vibe and identity.
RIINA: We always watch videos of many singers and we are so proud of all of them. Since we came back with a bright song “RUN”, we wanted to become like STAYC because they have great energy and show great expressions on stage.
HWISEO: Personally, while working on this song, I thought a lot about SISTAR, they’re a group that always glows with healthy beauty and is super talented! I believe that our sporty charms filled with healthy beauty are delivered well through the song!
YEL: It’s BLACKPINK. I often thought that I wanted our group to be like them as I watched the four of them fill big stages with their energy.
There’s also your wonderful YouTube content that covers a lot of bases with everything from cooking to philanthropy. What are a few topics outside of music that might give people a greater understanding of each member of H1-KEY?
SEOI: I think interviews can show RIINA’s calm personality, and active content might show HWISEO’s powerful energy. In DIY content, it shows how delicate YEL is!
RIINA: I felt YEL’s sweet heart through the volunteer work video for abandoned dogs. I already knew that YEL was always warm to people and animals but now a lot of people will know it, too
HWISEO: SEOI looks calm, but in many contents, you will find out her unexpected playful, and somehow goofy charms. RIINA reads a lot, so she is attractive when she explains things well in our content. For me, I think my charming points are high-energy, clumsiness, and goofiness unlike on stage. The youngest member, YEL also has very high energy, and unlike the charisma on stage, she bounces and bumps around like a puppy.
YEL: RIINA has a lot of reactions and she’s very lovely. This shows well especially in the jacket behind-the-scenes video when she reacts to things. I think HWISEO’s smile and confidence are very attractive, and you can find out both in the Dance Part Change video. SEOI really takes care of me well, and you can check it out in the baking video!
Considering our fashion magazine roots, how would you each describe your own personal style when it comes to putting an ideal look together?
SEOI: I prefer casual but something that isn’t too simple. I always have to have a statement item or color though.
RIINA: I think my style is simple and a bit chic [laughs]. I think I like pretty basic styles, so if you look at the clothes I buy, they’re all, basic and modern. And I like super versatile items that can be styled into two different concepts, like casual or formal.
HWISEO: Personally, I always want a unique style. I like to style outfits according to how I’m feeling that day so that I can pull off both hip and soft vibes. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback saying that I look great in fancier styles, and I do like it as well!
YEL: The style that I think suits me the best… I’m sure you know this moment already since you’ve watched the music video, but there’s a scene where I wear everything in black with a pair of sunglasses. I think I look good in a style where there’s a mix of chic and teenage looks.
Now that you’re at the tail end of the RUN promotion, do you look forward to resting or jumping back into music? And in regards to music, has there been any discussion about what style or message comes next?
SEOI: I really look forward to jumping back into music, of course! But nothing’s really going on at the moment.
RIINA: Yeah, time flew by. After taking a short break, we are going to practice hard for the next album. We’ve been discussing things one by one.
HWISEO: The details haven’t been decided yet, but we plan on making a comeback after we decide on new music and concepts so that we can meet M1-KEY again!
YEL: We’re going to take a short break and then focus on our next album! I can’t wait to get our next album ready and come back to see M1-KEY again! The members and I have been having a lot of discussions on what style we want to show in the next album. We’ll work hard so that we’ll come back again in our best forms.
What can fans expect for the remainder of the first year from H1-KEY?
SEOI: Our fans look forward to, of course, our new album and many different kinds of promotions!
RIINA: I’ll try and take on more challenges and continue to work hard. So I hope you look forward to seeing H1-KEY grow in the future.
HWISEO: We plan on returning with a comeback and various promotion events so that we can show great things and share happiness with M1-KEY!
YEL: I hope you keep an eye on us and see how much we’ll grow and become even better artists! We’ll work hard so that we can become a team that you’ll look forwards to seeing a comeback from!
Watch H1-KEY’s music video for “RUN” included above!