It’s only been a few months since the fiery debut of the K-pop boyband xikers (@xikers_official), and in that short period of time, the rookie concoction has convinced the world that they have the chemistry of a professional group that’s been performing together for a long time. But when a new visionary collective is pioneered by the company responsible for the popular fourth-generation group ATEEZ, longevity is essentially in your DNA anyways.
Upon conception, the KQ Entertainment group was first designed as an homage to a vast universe beyond our comprehension, with the name derived from coordinates (x) and travelers (hikers), yet when fused, their title establishes them as “boys who travel through time and space in pursuit of coordinates.” So with that ambitious specification at its nucleus, the group’s natural brotherhood and connectivity have become an even more satisfying component of xikers’ already progressive concept.
With their first release (an EP titled HOUSE OF TRICKY : Doorbell Ringing) xikers high-energy rookie sound set out to make their new group’s presence known – consisting of six significant tracks (and a seventh with a short intro), with enough individuality to make each song a title-track contender. Though, their first single “TRICKY HOUSE” became a recognizable launch pad for the 10-member group, due to a series of enterprising production choices and an assertive beat, generating more than 27 million views to date and giving xikers the most viewed rookie video of 2023 so far. Shortly after, the group recognized listeners’ positive reaction to their gritty track “Rockstar,” creating another prominent moment with the ability to fortify their durable debut.
This time around on their first comeback mini-album, HOUSE OF TRICKY : HOW TO PLAY, the youthful K-pop group aims to delve further into their hip-hop/rock spirit, first previewed on their rap-heavy pre-release “Koong.” However, with the official mini-album release, it becomes instantly recognizable that each track holds a specific purpose in this new era, including “Skater,” a future stadium banger, “Run” an endeavor rooted in alt-pop tenacity, and “HOMEBOY,” yet another crowd-pleasing anthem with various genres compiled into one five-star track. On the other hand, “DO or DIE” enlists their passion for a carefree, rock/alt flair, and lots of unfiltered fun for its members – while “Sunny Side,” becomes xikers perfect concluding track as their interpretation of a classic R&B summer jam. With that much ambition and potential to unpack, what’s not to love?
Now that the group’s first comeback era is officially here, we took the time to speak with the nine active members of the 10-member group (get well soon JUNGHOON) about their fifth-gen sound, influences, and everything we need to know about this not-so-rookie K-pop force.
It’s very important to acknowledge that you’ve been dubbed as one of the first fifth-gen K-pop groups after your exciting debut just a few months ago! What would you say differentiates xikers and makes you special from an artistic standpoint?
MINJAE: We’re a group that really loves the stage, so we’re extremely thankful that people have recognized just how much fun we have during performances. I think something that makes xikers special is our explosive energy on stage!
I’ve enjoyed your group concept which was partially designed to connect the group’s roster through time and space! So now that you know each other even better – what are a few qualities that make your group’s bond feel like an act of cosmic fate?
JUNMIN: I think one of the reasons why we were able to get to know each other better and really bond, is that there isn’t much of an age difference among us. We were able to talk to each other as friends and share our thoughts and ideas clearly with one another. I think it’s also important to note that whenever there’s a chance, the ten of us often gather for ‘tea time’ together to talk, and it’s probably one of the reasons why we’re able to maintain such a strong sense of teamwork.
When you look at all of the exceptional music that’s come out this year, your debut EP, HOUSE OF TRICKY : Doorbell Ringing, definitely stands out as one of the strongest bodies of work so far! Looking back at that first release, what do you each feel particularly proud of accomplishing?
SUMIN: I’d say a memorable moment that I felt very proud of was when our first mini album went up on a music site. I also want to mention our experience at an event in Madrid, Spain because I felt so appreciative and happy seeing the fans join in to sing and enjoy our music and performances.
“TRICKY HOUSE” doesn’t feel like your typical debut track because you have such a robust and comfortable presence that most would expect to see in long-running groups. How long did it take you to perfect your sense of identity before your launch, and was there a specific moment that you knew xikers was ready to debut?
SEEUN: I felt that we were getting better and better as we practiced. Rather than a specific moment, it really felt like we had become a group when our teamwork and energy together aligned.
“XIKEY” deserves its moment because it’s just the ultimate hype song – and shout out to MINJAE for changing the way I hear the name “xikers” with that opener! Considering how adaptive that track is compared to some of your other work, what would you say was the most demanding component of your absolute fire b-side?
YECHAN: That it’s a performance that always needs 100% of your utmost confidence!
Moving onto your new album, what would you say felt like a thematic driving force behind the first xikers’ comeback era?
JINSIK: Above all, I really think Road𝓨’s love and support were the driving force. It’s all thanks to Road𝓨’s support that we were able to work really hard while preparing for our comeback, and we were able to make a successful comeback.
How did preparations for this album compare to House of Tricky: Doorbell Ringing? Did it challenge any of your initial expectations?
YUJUN: There were a lot of things that I experienced and learned from our debut and our first mini-album release, so with that as the basis, I felt a lot less nervous and had a lot of fun while preparing for the second mini-album.
Now that you’ve had a chance to immerse yourselves in different genres, what style feels like a comfort zone and what’s a genre that you’d each like to experience growth in?
HYUNWOO: From our first mini album to the recently released second mini album, all our songs have their own charm to them. I’d really like to continue trying various genres without putting a limit or specific genre to us.
How does your title track accurately represent this brand-new era of xikers?
MINJAE: “DO or DIE” is a track that is overflowing with fun and refreshing energy that only xikers can show, packaged in a powerful performance. “HOMEBOY” on the other hand, is a fantasy-like track with essences of cool, refreshing, and comforting vibes that have never been shown before.
In closing, what are qualities from other experienced groups that you hope to embody in your long-term career together?
HUNTER: One quality that we are trying really hard to embody in our group is teamwork. I believe that teamwork and chemistry are some of the most admirable and important factors we see in many of our senior groups. No matter how hard things may be, whatever the circumstances, as long as we have good teamwork and mutual respect for each other, we will always be able to go through any problems.