Rookie K-Pop Group LUMINOUS talk about their first comeback “All eyes down (advance)”
K-pop quartet LUMINOUS shine bright — wear sunglasses if you need to.
Youngbin (23) is the leader, lead vocalist, and a dancer. He was a contestant on the popular reality survival competition show Produce X 101 . Suil (22) is a rapper, dancer, and sub-vocal in the group. Steven (22) is Korean but hails from Sydney, Australia. He’s a rapper and sub-vocal, and like Youngbin, he was a contestant on Produce X 101 . Woobin (21) is the main vocalist and “maknae” (youngest) of the group.
During our nearly 40-minute talk, the guys seemed genuinely close, they laughed, interrupted each other and fit on a single couch. Actions speak louder than words though, or an interview with a journalist. LUMINOUS was once known by a different name and they were meant to debut under a different company. While the details aren’t clear, whatever happened, they left and stayed together to end up at WIP Company, run by Kim Sung-eun who has been a vocal coach for acts like BTS and TWICE.
Finally, after their years as trainees, reality show stints, a few company changes, and a case of COVID-19, they debuted with their first EP YOUTH and the lead single “RUN” in September 2021.
They’re back now with their new project Between Light and Darkness (Self n Ego) which, as the title suggests, echoes Jungian concepts of persona, self, and ego through confusion, loneliness, and anxiety, to represent youth struggling with some of the big questions in life.
With help from a lovely translator, The Concordian sat down with LUMINOUS to talk about their comeback, debut, and hopes for the future.
TC: I read that originally you were going to debut in 2019 and you, of course, debuted in 2021. There was a two-year period, what was that time like for you guys?
Woobin: So although we were supposed to debut in 2019, because it got pushed back we were disappointed and wondered ‘When are we going to debut?’ When we finally did debut it was almost like a relief. It was like turning over a new leaf so that was really exciting.
TC: How did you all originally become trainees? Did you audition? Were you scouted?
Youngbin: I auditioned.
Suil: I received a DM asking me to come in.
Woobin: I went to an arts school so I was doing a lot of auditions so I got contacted by the previous company. The current one, I met with the CEO.
Steven: I first got casted on Facebook. They just DMed me like, “Oh, we’re in Australia, we’re nearby, do you want to try to audition?” So I thought it was a scam [at] first. So I was like “Okay yes, let’s meet up here,” and then I was scared so I brought all my friends to be with me in case I got kidnapped [laughs] but yes, I realized it was actually real. So I took the audition, I somehow passed and then later on… connections with the company right now and the CEO.
TC: Does anyone remember what song they auditioned with?
Steven: This company I don’t think I did an actual audition or anything, but then my previous company I think I sent a Taylor Swift song [everyone laughs]. I didn’t know how to sing or anything so “I like this music, I’m just gonna sing it,” and yes, I sang it spoken. I don’t know what the song was, it was Taylor Swift… “Star Struck”? “Star…” I’m not sure, I forgot.
TC: It might have been “Starlight”?
Suil: Tom Odell.
Youngbin: Maroon 5.
TC: And who are your biggest musical or performance role models?
Youngbin: Baekhyun (of EXO). He’s so bright, can always capture the stage, and he’s cool. I really respect him.
Steven: For me singing wise it’s IU “sunbaenim” (Korean honorific for someone older or with more seniority in school or the workplace). And then for rap, Eminem got me started rapping. And then I think I got more interested in rapping with Logic and Joyner Lucas, and Tory Lanez.
Woobin: Kang Seung-Yoon (of Winner) has great melodies and songs that are really my style.
Suil: I don’t have a specific role model, I respect so many artists and I look at what they’re good at, kinda digest that, and try to put it in my own music and style.
TC: As a group, what do you hope to do with your music?
Suil: As artists, we’d really like to bring comfort and good vibes to everyone who listens. If you’re in a bad mood or you want to cheer up we hope you listen to LUMINOUS. But at the same time, the members want to have fun, this isn’t just a job but something we really enjoy.
TC: This is your first comeback, congratulations by the way! It’s been a few months since your debut now, how have you guys changed and grown since then?
Youngbin: We’ve become a little more mature and our… aura has become cooler.
TC: The new EP is called Between Darkness and Life (Self n Ego). What’s the concept?
Suil: In the album, we’re looking at the fake self versus who you really are. And LUMINOUS fighting through going through those motions to really figure out “Who am I?”
TC: I read that “Joker” inspired the performance, how does he fit the concept?
Steven: We kind of tried to get that beastly vibe from the Joker. Like a werewolf kind of vibe. So that’s what we tried to put into our choreo. And then for our concept, I think the Joker has two sides, and he’s just struggling to be himself.
TC: The first song on the EP is “MATRYOSHKA.” Steven, you co-wrote that song, do you want to talk about it a little?
Steven: It was one of the songs that I wrote quickly because I was short in time so I couldn’t really, you know, spend time on it and be like, “Oh, I think this will be better and then try to improve these parts.” It went by really quickly.
TC: What’s your favourite song on the EP?
Steven: Mine is “Want it more?” When I hear that song it just gets me motivated, it makes me wanna work harder for the things I want.
Woobin: I like “MATRYOSHKA.” I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, I feel a bit more hip when I listen to it. One of the fans said it would be a good song for a bride to walk down the aisle at a wedding [collective laughter].
Suil: I really enjoy “Trouble.” When we were recording I thought it was so great it could be a title track if we didn’t have “All eyes down (advance).”
Youngbin: “Scintillation” really brings an innocent unique feel to the EP.
TC: As individual artists and as a group, what are your goals for the rest of the year?
Steven: For me as a group and personally I think my goal is to stay healthy, not get hurt. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. If we’re sick or hurt we can’t make music.
Youngbin: I hope everyone listens to LUMINOUS and looks to us for healing. And like Steven said I hope all the members and staff stay safe and healthy.
Suil: As LUMINOUS since we’ve received more of the fans’ love, we hope we can become deserving of all the love the fans give us and really show our best side as artists. Personally, I’d like to participate in writing one of our songs.
Woobin: We’d love to have a world tour, perform in front of everybody, if we can do it we’d love to. My personal goal is to be the best.
TC: To finish off, do you have a message for your fans?
Youngbin: Thank you so much for all your love and support, we’ll work towards becoming a better LUMINOUS.
Editorial Note: Youngbin, Suil, and Woobin’s answers have been translated from Korean to English with help from a translator. Editorial liberties were taken not to change what they said but to account for translation. Unfortunately certain details and nuances have likely been lost in translation. Global PR & Marketing by MJTONZ.