Anyone who's attended SXSW knows it's a marathon of a music festival with the Austin, TX experience boasting shows all over town requiring attendees to rock out til ungodly hours and do it all over the next day. For attendees at the 2018 Korea Spotlight showcase, the wait was more than worth it thanks to KARD's closing set. While the co-ed quartet of B.M, Somin, J.Seph and Jiwoo didn't hit the stage til 1:00 a.m., the crowd was more than ready for the group to run through viral hits like "You in Me," "Oh NaNa" and "Hola Hola" as the members got more turnt up the later the show went, loosening up by cracking jokes with the audience and getting as close as the stage would allow.
Ahead of the headlining performance, KARD sat down with Fuse to discuss their SXSW experience, their unique relationship with fans, what's coming in 2018 and more.
FUSE: How's your SXSW been?
Jiwoo: It feels like it's been a long time since we've been to the U.S., so it's great to be back and we're having a lot of fun and looking forward to tonight's show. We're super nervous since we're performing with a lot of really talented senior artists and so we have this feeling that we really need to do our best when we go up. Of course, we do our best work wherever we go out, but it's much more nerve-racking than normal.
J.Seph: So our time slot is one of the headliner time slots, we feel like we're almost undeserving of that time slot, and it's such an honor to be given that spot.
B.M: And I feel like it's super cool that SXSW isn't only K-pop stages. I don't know how many stages—it's like hundreds of stages, I think—this whole thing is an event in this area and, I don't know, just to be a part of that, I think it's huge for music culture.
Earlier in SXSW, B.M you made a special appearance at a panel about the K-pop industry. During the audience Q&A, a woman said how she met you guys in Korea and that you were so friendly and warm to her." Can you talk about the experiences you create with fans?
Jiwoo: It's not like we put on a mask or if it's a fan then we're super nice to them or we treat people differently, we try to just approach people as a person. And we are super thankful that she had such a good experience with us, but we try to just treat people the way they should be treated.
J.Seph: Because the fans give us a lot of love, we feel that it's more of a personal relationship. Of course, when we respond to that fan, there's a lot more feeling into it because it's not just a stranger. It's someone that does love them, supports them, and knows them on a better basis. And so there is a slight difference, you know?
“The fans could be anywhere, but they took the time and sometimes a big amount of money to come see us. I think it's a responsibility to have a good time.”
She added that she had a great experience with you guys, but that wasn't the case with all the artists she met. Why do you think it might be tough for K-pop artists to connect with international fans?
B.M: Man, that's a tricky one. I mean, one, language barrier. Not all members can speak fluent English. Aside from being on the other side of the world, only being able to see the artist through a monitor most times, going back to how you were saying she saw something different, I think for us...it kind of happened really fast, how we went on tours and got a good amount of attention in really fast time. We felt like, "Do we really deserve it?" Like we were saying earlier. They could be somewhere else, they could be at another artist's event, they could be anywhere else, but they took the time, and, sometimes, a big amount of money to come see us. I think it's almost like a responsibility to make sure they have a good time.
Somin: And there's also that other issue that we're not able to see international fans as often. So when we do tour, when we do go overseas, we do try to be much more affectionate, not that we need to try harder, but we are more affectionate and try to give much more because we don't have that opportunity to see them as often.
Somin, we've seen articles and on social media that you and HyunA have been hanging out. She performed at SXSW in 2014. Did she give you any advice?
Somin: Originally on V Live I had stated that I liked HyunA, and HyunA's people actually knew her people. HyunA asked her people to go see if she could get my number, she called me and we had a meal together. I actually spoke to her before this and HyunA told me "Have a good show." She said that when we go up the reaction's gonna be really good so just to have a good time.
The You & Me album came out in November as your first official comeback. Looking back on it, how do you feel about the release?
Somin: It was a comeback where we felt like we had to show their different side, show more of ourselves, and we put a lot of time and effort into that. We're not 100 percent sure about what the exact feedback was from their fans, but we were super happy with what we released.
After that release, B.M, you recorded a special Part II of KARD's "Livin Good" track. What inspired that?
B.M: I think just the whole year in general was such a crazy year for not only me but all members. That was just the turning point in all of our lives, and I don't know, just Part I wasn't enough for me, I had to make Part II and show appreciation.
You guys also show a lot of appreciation and love on your social media accounts and it's so fun to watch.
J.Seph: On Instagram there's a lot of comments where we don't understand the language and times when we get curious about some of their fans and so we go and investigate their fans' Instagram. We go in and like...you know when you go into one person's Instagram and then look at other people's...there's certain like...
Translator to J.Seph: That's called stalking in English. [She and J.Seph Laugh]
What else do we need to know for KARD in 2018?
B.M: There's a lot of stuff in the works right now. Personally, I feel like we're gonna really show people a different KARD, but when I say different I mean, it's gonna be a lot of creating going on this year. 2018 is gonna be a lot of creating, and a lot of our input that's gonna be into it as well. We're doing a lot, it's just we're trying to like really put our creativity in the works for this year. And we don't know exactly what's gonna come out of it, but hopefully we're all working for it to be a good year. Better than 2017.