The HYBE and SOURCE MUSIC K-pop group LE SSERAFIM (@le_sserafim) has dedicated the past year to breaking records and executing effortless perfection while unleashing some of the most unrivaled music that the industry has ever seen. And with each step that the five-member group takes, LE SSERAFIM’s innately fearless nature is inevitably going to assist them in reaching astonishing new heights.
From the very beginning of their highly anticipated and well-documented formation, the visionary girl group (comprised of KIM CHAEWON, SAKURA, HUH YUNJIN, KAZUHA, and HONG EUNCHAE) channeled top-tier, impassioned creativity into the hypnotic introductory single appropriately labeled “FEARLESS” – where the polished genre-hybrid production secured LE SSERAFIM a highly-coveted position as the most daring act in today’s modern K-pop terrain. While the group’s initial irresistible b-sides have since contributed to their riveting artistic persona from the bewitching charm of “Blue Flame” to the biting mid-tempo magic of “Sour Grapes”, LE SSERAFIM’s natural ability to generate a distinguished title track quickly led to the revolutionary follow-up single “ANTIFRAGILE” with unapologetic vitality that would expedite their acquisition of global acclaim.
After maximizing their first year together, the five-member force is now adding to their thriving discography through an engrossing full-length album (including rerecorded versions of several hit tracks) resulting in the birth of a brand new masterful era known as UNFORGIVEN. Built with an immersive Western influence and a commanding mainstream beat in mind, their first studio album as a whole offers LE SSERAFIM their best conceptual project to date. Spearheaded by its title track “UNFORGIVEN (feat. Nile Rodgers)” the release would organically earn them multiple music show wins, inch them closer to a billion cumulative views on their official YouTube channel, and the rarity of garnering more than 800 million combined streams on Spotify alone – making the relatively new group a massive industry asset in record time.
Having designed some of our favorite releases in pop music and earned a spot as one of the best artists of 2022, we’re officially celebrating the unstoppable authenticity of LE SSERAFIM as our new Vanity Teen digital cover group in order to discuss the objective behind their first studio album and the creation of an extraordinary legacy.
You just released your first studio album, which tells an inspiring and engaging story that’s uniquely tailored to LE SSERAFIM. What were some of your biggest shared ambitions for the group coming into this overarching era?
KIM CHAEWON: This album holds a special place in our hearts as it marks our first studio album. We had many discussions about exploring new territories and pushing our creative boundaries to showcase different sides of ourselves. Also, we prepared this album in hopes that both our listeners and [our fans] FEARNOT will find inspiration and courage throughout witnessing our artistic journey as LE SSERAFIM.
SAKURA: We had conversations about preparing stages that would truly demonstrate the vibrant energy we possess. We wanted to deliver performances that would authentically reflect our energy to the audience.
HUH YUNJIN: We wanted to make a song that everyone could relate to. It’s our goal to talk about things people may be feeling but are maybe too afraid to voice so that we can all become the most unapologetic versions of ourselves. We also wanted everyone to just want to get up and dance with us too [laughs].
KAZUHA: The message we wanted to convey this time was ‘Alone, we may meander, but together, we will venture.’ Throughout this album, we poured in tremendous efforts to ensure that those who see and hear our performance feel compelled to join hands with us and move forward together.
HONG EUNCHAE: Behind our first album is our aspiration to forge ahead in the direction we believe is right, without worrying about the rules set by the world. We wanted to encourage everyone to break free from the predetermined rules and pursue their own path without hesitation.
“UNFORGIVEN” is another exemplary track from LE SSERAFIM and even further establishes that you’re a legendary group! Now that you’ve had plenty of time to unpack every intricate detail about the track — what do you believe is its most magnetic quality that resonates with you personally?
KIM CHAEWON: The overall message that “UNFORGIVEN” portrays is what we resonate with the most both personally and as a group. There’s always a point in time where people will try to judge or beat down on someone for the actions and choices they make. UNFORGIVEN is an album that says ‘I know and I will do what’s best for me, more than anyone, and no one can tell me otherwise.’ Personally, I want this mindset to be what we, LE SSERAFIM, always keep in mind as we move forward. Whenever there are these moments, we want this track to be our anthem to remind ourselves who we are and to do what’s right for us.
There are so many people, myself included, who appreciate that all of your music incorporates real themes like the desire to overcome adversity, or finding the courage to forge your own path. With that in mind, what’s one song on the album that feels the truest to LE SSERAFIM’s current mindset?
KIM CHAEWON: “Burn the Bridge” – the lyrics most transparently represent our true selves as they are directly inspired by our own words, diary entries, and letters we have written in the past.
SAKURA: I’ll also go with “Burn the Bridge.” The song includes the words we have actually said before, and it very well captures the sentiment of embarking on a journey together.
HUH YUNJIN: “UNFORGIVEN (feat. Nile Rodgers)” – ‘Let me tell you ’bout LE SSERAFIM,’ we don’t care what you think of us. We may be a villain in your eyes, but I’d rather be a villain in your game than a loser in mine.
KAZUHA: As the part of the song that invites listeners to ‘Come to that faraway land with me’ suggests, I think the title track “UNFORGIVEN (feat. Nile Rodgers)” best embodies the message we want to convey to all our listeners with this album.
HONG EUNCHAE: “FEARNOT (Between you, me and the lamppost)”. This song sings of my honest feelings of not feeling strong, even though we sing words like ‘I’ll become stronger’ and ‘I don’t need forgiveness.’ I resonate the most with this song.
Even though LE SSERAFIM is already known for crafty tracks laced with confidence like “ANTIFRAGILE” or “Eve, Psyche & The Bluebeard’s wife”, there’s also plenty of versatility via warmer pop creations like “Flash Forward”. Now that you’ve been able to cover so many genres and ideas, what have been some of the most prominent emotions or feelings that you find yourselves drawing inspiration from?
KAZUHA: I definitely am inspired by everything we do as a team. We are with each other 24/7, and I am always grateful it is these four members that I get to spend my time and share dreams with. We are all very different yet we shared the goal of wanting LE SSERAFIM to be our very best selves. Because we know we have each other’s backs, we were able to cover a lot of genres depending on how we felt at different times.
SAKURA: To add on, as LE SSERAFIM and as individuals, we will always put these emotions we feel on the way into different musical forms to share with the world.
I love that you have a healthy blend of genre influences in your discography — which is another compelling aspect of the group’s identity! Out of all the concepts you’ve taken on so far, which style of music ended up being the most enjoyable to pursue?
KIM CHAEWON: Exploring the Latin pop genre for the first time felt new and unfamiliar at the same time, making it the most intriguing and enjoyable experience for me.
SAKURA: I would choose “Fire in the Belly,” our Latin pop track on this album. It was quite challenging at first, but after listening to the final version, I found it incredibly fun and exciting.
HUH YUNJIN: LATIN/AFRO POP!
KAZUHA: When I first heard the guide track for “Fire in the Belly,” it was a style of music that we have never tried before, so I remember thinking ‘Are we really doing this?!’ But I actually had the most fun when recording the song, so it became my favorite song on the album.
HONG EUNCHAE: Personally, both “ANTIFRAGILE” and “Fire in the Belly” of the Latin pop genre were unfamiliar to me at first, but they turned out to be the most fun. I would love to continue exploring and pursuing this style of music in the future.
LE SSERAFIM has been named the fastest girl group in K-pop to enter the Top 10 on Billboard 200 within just a year after debuting, and you’ve even achieved another rare milestone by selling over a million copies of UNFORGIVEN domestically on its first day of release! What was your reaction to some of these recent, and massive achievements?
SAKURA: All of us were overjoyed and this is an understatement to how we felt. We always are hoping to be remembered as the one and only group that always took on new challenges. To visually see in numbers and records how much support and love we have received within a year since our debut is always overwhelming. It definitely left us with a greater sense of responsibility to work even harder.
Individually, you’re naturally talented performers — but within one year as LE SSERAFIM, you’ve quickly proven to be next-gen trailblazers. When thinking about the future of the group and the long journey ahead of you, what’s something that you’d like to be synonymous with the legacy of LE SSERAFIM?
KIM CHAEWON: I hope that people will remember LE SSERAFIM as a team with a strong and resilient mind who positively influenced and inspired many people.
SAKURA: I want LE SSERAFIM to be remembered as a symbol of youth. Passionate, fiery… yet beautiful and clear-minded.
HUH YUNJIN: ‘They helped pave their own road for others to walk — to accept and be the best version of themselves.’
KAZUHA: I hope people remember us as a team that truly loved what they do, finding joy in music and performance while moving past any difficulties on their way with hard work.
HONG EUNCHAE: ‘The path LE SSERAFIM has taken is one that nobody else can follow.’
In closing, congratulations on the phenomenal success that’s organically come from all of your hard work! Now you’ve come this far together, what’s one invaluable lesson you’ve learned along the way?
KIM CHAEWON: ‘Remember that even the most difficult things can be taken in stride once time passes by.’
SAKURA: ‘Never forget to be thankful; nothing should be taken for granted.’
HUH YUNJIN: ‘Everything happens for a reason. Be the person you needed when you were in need.’
KAZUHA: ‘Let’s make the most of every moment and find joy in the present!’
HONG EUNCHAE: Throughout this journey, I think what I’ve come to realize is that ‘there is no right answer.’ Even though we strive to find the correct answers, I learned that doing things in a way that aligns with my own values ends up being the right answer.