Among all the acts performing at the star-studded KCON 2017 New York presented by Toyota this year, NCT 127 was arguably coming in as the most dynamic. Not only was the group making their East Coast debut at the festival, but they were hot off the release of new single "Cherry Bomb" that earned the Seoul-based boy band their biggest chart hit at home, first win on Korea's popular music chart program shows and secured an impressive showing on the U.S. Billboard charts.
"We really want to thank the fans first and foremost for the overwhelming support and love," NCT 127 leader Taeyong tells Fuse backstage at KCON where he and his members sit courteously, but are undeniwarm to everyone that comes in the room. "With this good beginning, we want to keep making better performances and better music. We really look forward to our future as group."
NCT 127's immediate future not only included one of the standout stages from KCON, but also the first-ever appearance by a K-pop group in an Apple store when the ninesome took over the iconic brand's Williamsburg store the following morning for a performance and interview. The previous week, Apple Music named NCT 127 their Best New Artist of the Week also making them the first K-pop group to earn the title. "It's an honor, it really is," the Vancouver-born Mark, who acts as a lively spokesperson for the group, says of the major co-sign. "We could only just be thankful and just hope that more opportunities will come for us. We just believe that more hard work will lead us to more opportunities, so, 'work work work.'"
Looking further, NCT 127 will return to America in August for KCON's Los Angeles date, all hinting that the group may be prioritizing the U.S. in their promotion plans/blueprint for world dominance. "I don't think we have a particular plan right now, but because we have the opportunity to perform at the Apple store and at KCON, we're going to," Chicago-bred member Johnny explains. "If there happens to be another opportunity, we'll be right back!"
Despite the overall NCT concept potentially being a tough one for Western audiences to grasp—there are several iterations of different NCT groups where the members and sounds constantly shifting with NCT 127 adding two new members just this year—the guys themselves speak excitedly about keeping things so fresh.
“We really look forward to our future as group.”-NCT's Taeyong
"I would say I was really looking forward to NCT, with its different colors and different qualities," Seoul native Jaehyun shares. "I was really looking forward to trying out different concepts and whatnot."
While the group's sound and style may be ever-evolving as singles like the different genres and moods "Cherry Bomb," "Limitless" and "Fire Truck" all explore, when Taeil mentions that the group collectively love their Cherry Bomb album cut "Summer 127" all the members perk up and excitedly nod in agreement. "I feel like that song is going to be 'NCT…but in the summer!'" Johnny says with his signature, cheery smile, adding that despite their love for the song there aren't plans for an accompanying music video.
Along with the ambitious concept, the fact that the NCT members are becoming increasingly more involved with their music is also making them stand out in the K-pop scene with members Mark and Taeyong contributing lyrics to five different songs on the Cherry Bomb EP. Mark opens up about their creative process saying, "Taeyong and I both have different styles. Especially with this album, more than contribute, we actually kind of fed off from the other members and their ideas motivated mine and makes it all into one piece." Yuta shares that the group is eager to work on new material and potentially have more members contribute in the process, "We're focusing on 'Cherry Bomb' right now and putting on great performances. After that, we'll start working on new music for our fans."
And if the packed Apple store on Sunday morning or the fan-bought billboard lighting up Times Square that weekend to celebrate Taeyong's upcoming birthday are any indication, the NCT guys are on their way to not only proving how they can be a success, but that even the most unique K-pop acts can make inroads in America with hard determination and impressive performances making it all the more exciting what other barriers the band break when they release that new music.
Listen to Fuse's K-pop podcast K-Stop review NCT 127's "Cherry Bomb" and talk KCON below: