One Year of WayV: The Chinese Pop Group on Fanboying, Shrek, and Their Vision for the Future


YangYang adds, “Lucas is saying that Xiaojun grew up singing ballads so his voice fits slow songs but if you add his voice to a hip-hop song, for example, it mixes well, even if it’s in a different style. It’s another level, a mixed culture.”

Ten offers another example, “WinWin does traditional Chinese dance so we’re like, why don’t we use that for the next album? It makes WayV unique. We can mix pop culture and traditional Chinese dance to create something new.” Ten suggests WinWin try to speak again in English, and everyone cheers in support as he clears his throat, “Chinese dance looks like ballet and Chinese Kung Fu,” WinWin declares, then nods to indicate he’s said his piece. “It’s over!” laughs YangYang, who seems eternally chipper. “But yeah, that style is a mix of different kinds of Chinese dance. And every time we watch WinWin, we think, ‘Ahhh, my god!’” “So beautiful!” Kun adds in English. Ten quips with a smirk, “At Chinese New Year they wear traditional red outfits and perform the dragon dance. If we use that, maybe WinWin can be the dragon.” Everyone laughs but WinWin, who is visibly not as thrilled with the idea.

Because of their upbringing and training, every member speaks at least two languages fluently (Korean and Mandarin) and most speak four. In a recent Instagram live, YangYang and Ten deliberated over what language to talk to each other in as if picking an item from a menu. The group mixes English, Korean and Mandarin when speaking to each other, but what languages do they each think in? Hendery’s hand zooms up in the air, “for me, Cantonese.” Ten thinks in Thai and English, WinWin in Mandarin, YangYang in Mandarin and English. Kun thinks in Korean in Korea and Mandarin when he’s in China. Lucas’s eyes almost pop out of his head as he exclaims in Korean, “I really don’t know!” before continuing in English, “sometimes,” and then switching to Mandarin, “I think in Mandarin, sometimes in Korean.” He scrunches his shoulders and flips his hands up in the air, like the shrug emoji as he admits, “I only think in Cantonese when I am angry.” WinWin explodes into laughter and YangYang attempts to translate but dissolves into giggles at which point Kun loses it, too. Does Lucas also speak in Cantonese when he’s angry? Ten nods rapidly, eyes wide, to confirm.

From the corner, Xiaojun speaks up, “I think a lot.” Lucas throws his head back with a wild laugh, delighted by this unprompted introspection. Ten explains that Xiaojun is “the moodmaker” of the group, a term commonly used in K-pop to describe “someone that becomes the main focus because they’re unique and fun to watch. With that kind of personality you catch people’s attention without knowing it and sometimes Xiaojun gets stressed because he’s like, ‘What happened? What did I do, why are they pointing at me?’” Xiaoun smiles from below an ashy platinum fringe.

“Bringing strength to people, that’s the thing I always want to do,” Xiaojun says, when asked about music. “When I write a song it’s always as a gift to others. Three years ago one of my friends was going through a hard time.” His dark brows are furrowed and the room is silent, “I wrote a song to bring her warmth and power.” He presses his palms together, as if praying, while he talks about finding strength in himself, “Other people can go out to coffee shops, but with our tight schedules, I can’t do that a lot, so I often try to sit alone with myself and be quiet when I’m in a noisy space. That allows me to process everything and take it all in. I usually read books about life, philosophy books.” Ten jumps in to add an outside perspective, “If you know Xiaojun, he’s a guy who believes in the concept that love is everything in the world, so you have to give him a lot of love…” Ten is cut off by Hendery who announces in Chinese, “He’s turning red now!” A blushing Xiaojun groans, “Ohhh my God!” and disappears under the table. “He’s shy” says Ten, as Xiaojun pops back up to share one more thought, “Through reading books I find peace, even in those noisy places.” Ten smiles at him and coos “cute!” in Korean.

Throughout the conversation, Kun has been sitting back in his chair, supervising and giving calm, barely audible directions to his members in Chinese. As Xiaojun combs through his thoughts, Kun suggests that Lucas try to “control [his] emotions” so Xiaojun can express himself without distraction. At another point, after a question is posed to the entire group, Kun reminds the members to “speak clearly” if they choose to answer. Kun is the oldest in addition to being the leader and has noted he does not like to be called the “mother of the group.” Nevertheless, he seems to serve as a parental voice of reason. “As a leader, I don’t do anything special,” he says humbly, “But I always work on being the glue of the group, to help us be more united. My role is to make us better.” When WayV recently won Best New Asian Artist at the 2019 Mnet Asian Music Awards, Kun was not so collected. “I was so nervous, you can see my hands were shaking,” he laughs.





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