For its fifth and most successful showcase to date, K-Pop Night Out hit the famous SXSW festival with headliners Red Velvet closing out the show to a frenetic crowd at 2 a.m. Before their late-night set, the "Rookie" ladies relaxed backstage at The Belmont in Austin, laughing with one another and giving off the appearance of a very confident and secure girl group.
Fuse spoke to Irene, Seulgi, Joy and Yeri (via translator) along with English-speaking member Wendy for a chat that explored their musical evolution, recent projects and what you can expect coming up next.
It's been awhile since we've seen you in America, but you're back for SXSW in Austin. You're going to Mexico City for KCON Mexico tomorrow. Are you doing more overseas activities this year?
Irene: We're planning on doing a lot of fan meetings overseas. The countries are secrets, but we hope to visit all around the world.
How do you feel playing SXSW. It's very different than other festivals like KCON.
Wendy: It's our first time getting involved in this kind of festival and we're honored to be here today. It's one of the big festivals in the world and we're really honored to be performing with other artists to represent K-pop. We're really, really honored and thankful.
Do you feel additional pressure since there's so many different kinds of people here?
Wendy: Not really. If it was a much bigger stage, it would be. But it's really close to the audience so I think we can really enjoy the stage and have fun.
You recently came back with "Rookie." How would you describe it?
Wendy: Since "Russian Roulette," we decided not to divide it "Red" and "Velvet." If you listen to our album, there are lots of genres in the songs. Also in the Rookie album, you can hear a lot of genres and songs. You can see that we have both red and velvet in the songs.
How have you changed since last time we saw you in America when you were promoting "Ice Cream Cake"?
Seulgi: Compared to our previous song [promotions], we're a lot more relaxed so we can enjoy ourselves onstage a lot more. Album-wise as well, there are a lot more genres which means there's a lot more for fans to enjoy. We've become a little older, we're a little more relaxed, matured a bit, but when we're all together we're still loud and that hasn't changed.
Wendy: Also, I personally think, the more albums that we put out, I think the color of Red Velvet comes out stronger; all because of our fans. We get lots of love. and because of that, our color gets stronger. I don't really know how to explain this, but their support influences us.
On the Rookie album, my favorite song other than the single is "Body Talk." I that it really stood out for being a very mature-sounding song.
Seulgi: It's my favorite too. In that song we showed that we're capable of doing mature songs as well. We're not just focusing on one feel.
“Musically, I think we can be leaders in K-pop.”
There's a lot of talk in K-pop about the "new generation" of girl groups, but I felt like Red Velvet was the first one to come out to kind of lead the way.
Joy: Thank you so much. We never thought of ourselves as being leaders of this new generation, but since we are trying out so many genres and trying different things, musically I think we can be leaders. We're close with other girl groups that are around our age.
You had a very cool opportunity to sing on Ricky Martin's "Vente Pa' Ca" song, Wendy. Did you get to speak with him about it?
Wendy: I actually didn't get a chance to talk with him, but I did get the chance to record a song with him. I was really honored and really surprised. I actaully asked for more parts! [Laughs] I asked and they said, "Well, you can try." And I did and thankfully they put more parts for me in the song.
What's next that we should be looking out for? New album? Solo projects?
Yeri: I want a steak in Texas! [Laughs] We don't have specific plans for a group album yet, but we're going to be working individually. In April is when we'll start holding fan meetings. Everyone should look for Joy in her new drama.
Joy: I play the character of a naive girl in my drama The Liar and His Lover. She's a bright, funny girl. I connect with her.
Wendy: We will be back as soon as possible and we are going to try our best to see more of our overseas fans. We hope to see you soon. Love you all.
Fans can look forward to a new Red Velvet song titled "Would U" coming to SM Station featuring members Irene, Seulgi, Wendy and Yeri soon.