ENHYPEN on BORDER : CARNIVAL's Meaning, Adjusting to Fame, and Their Favorite Disney Characters

·9 min read
Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab
Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab

Back in November, the boys of K-pop's ENHYPEN set off on the biggest journey of their lives during the height of the coronavirus pandemic: They debuted, releasing their first mini album, BORDER : DAY ONE, to much hype and acclaim. The boys won the coveted Rookie of the Year award at four Korean award shows. Now, the teens are throttling full speed ahead with their second mini album, BORDER : CARNIVAL, which came out on April 26.

In just the first week of the album's release, the boys made it onto four Billboard charts, with their lead single, “Drunk-Dazed,” notably getting the #3 slot on the World Digital Song Sales chart. The music video for that song has been viewed over 16.8 million times, in just one jaw-dropping show of their fans' (officially called ENGENE) passionate support. On Instagram, more than 3.7 million followers take in their every new post.

But make no mistake: JUNGWON, 17; HEESEUNG, 19; JAY, 19; JAKE, 18; SUNGHOON, 18; SUNOO, 17; and NI-KI, 15, tell ELLE.com that all the success they've achieved hasn't drastically changed who they are. It's just the beginning, as HEESEUNG put it: “I always aim to be a better version of myself every day,” he says. “The same applies to ENHYPEN. We can’t say that our achievements as rookies are significant as we’re just at the start of our journey, but we can guarantee that you can look forward to more from us.”

BORDER : CARNIVAL touches on deep themes, from figuring out who you really are when a digital spotlight is put on you (“Mixed Up”) to navigating the roller-coaster adventures of love (“FEVER”) and newfound fame (“Drunk-Dazed”). Here, the boys take ELLE.com through their new work, reflect on how their first year as a group has—and hasn't—changed them, and talk about their favorite things, from their most beloved emojis to top Disney characters.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab
Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab

How has your success of your first mini album changed the way you see yourselves and the dreams you have for ENHYPEN?

JUNGWON: My goal up until BORDER : DAY ONE was “Don’t make mistakes on stage.” But after gaining confidence after witnessing the love and support of our fans, my goal and mindset has changed to “Enjoy the moment on stage.”

HEESEUNG: I always aim to be a better version of myself every day. The same applies to ENHYPEN. We can’t say that our achievements as rookies are significant as we’re just at the start of our journey, but we can guarantee that you can look forward to more from us.

JAY: There haven't been any significant changes. I think there is still a lot of room for improvement. I want to do my best to achieve more as a member of ENHYPEN.

JAKE: I don’t think there has been a huge change. As I guess expectations of our fans towards us have gotten higher, I would like to show them our growth through even better performances. My dream in the music industry is to continuously bring happiness to our audience.

SUNGHOON: My desire to improve as an artist has remained the same. But, I think the support of ENGENEs enabled me to be more confident. My dream is to give as much positive energy to our fans as possible through our singing and dancing.

SUNOO: Because I believe I still have a long way to go as ENHYPEN’s SUNOO, I think I look at myself with the determination to improve and never settle. I want to keep growing as a member of ENHYPEN and be recognized by even more people.

NI-KI: There was a lot that I learned and experienced for the first time after our debut, and I think that allowed my personality to become more active and extroverted. My desire to perfect our stages and share our music and performances to a wider audience has also gotten greater.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab
Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab

Take ELLE through BORDER : CARNIVAL track-by-track. What is each song’s meaning? What's the overall message you want fans to take from this album as a whole?

ENHYPEN: “Intro: The Invitation”: “Intro : The Invitation” opens the door to our new world with a colorful psychedelic sound. ENHYPEN albums are known for its intros, and this intro really sucks in the listener as well. Welcome to our Carnival!

“Drunk-Dazed”: Our lead single “Drunk-Dazed” is a pop rock track with a rocking sound which perfectly embodies the theme of this album by capturing the magnificence and energy of a carnival. We express our honest emotions about the new world we experienced after our debut, and the catchy “daze, daze, daze” part in the chorus, which best reflects our feeling of being disoriented in a new world, will definitely get stuck in your head.

“FEVER”: Three of our seven members chose “FEVER” as their favorite B-side track. The groovy pop/R&B feel of the melody instantly makes you want to vibe to it. The message behind the song is meaningful as well. You can feel the earnestness and passion of waiting for someone to recognize you.

“Not For Sale”: “Not For Sale” is a track that translates the Gen-Z belief that everything has a cost. It captures the change in emotions of a boy, who once believed that something must be given in order to receive something in return, having to confront those beliefs at the appearance of someone he wants to give his everything to. We really like the easy sound of the track and we feel like it connects us to the people in our generation.

“Mixed Up”: There are quite a few rock-inspired tracks in this album, and “Mixed Up” is one of them. It sings of a boy who is all of a sudden dropped at the center of attention in a digital world. The hip hop, rock sound gives off a refreshing feel that echoes in the heart.

“Outro: The Wormhole”: “Outro : The Wormhole'' is the conclusion to our magnificent carnival and transports the listener to a completely different dimension. It’s an ambient track with sounds of nature carefully intermixed with the backing of a synthesizer, which closes the curtains on our ‘BORDER’ series and hints at ENHYPEN’s next journey. We hope you look forward to what we will bring next!

With BORDER : CARNIVAL, we wanted to express what we feel, here and now, through our music. We’ve included music that can help the listener understand who we are, as well as relate to us at a personal level, so we hope this album acts as a link between our audience and us.

What lesson about friendship have you learned from each other during this first year as a debuted group?

JUNGWON: You need to speak up.

HEESEUNG: Embrace the team.

JAY: Don’t have prejudice.

JAKE: Put the team before myself.

SUNGHOON: Try to exude a positive energy.

SUNOO: Be considerate of others since they are being considerate without showing it.

NI-KI: The members were doing their best to look out for me even when I didn’t notice.

You’ve already explored a lot of genres musically. What has been your favorite ENHYPEN song so far? Are there any genres you’d like to try in the future?

JUNGWON: My favorite so far is “FEVER.” I’d like to take on genres besides pop rock or pop/hip hop and branch out to R&B as well as others outside of my comfort zone.

HEESEUNG: As a lover of R&B, I like “Not For Sale” the most. I’d like to showcase a wider spectrum of music to our fans moving forward.

JAY: I like “Mixed Up” the most. I would like to try contemporary R&B or acoustic music in the future.

JAKE: My favorite is “FEVER.” I want to challenge myself with rap or hip hop, which I listen to regularly.

SUNGHOON: I liked “Drunk-Dazed” and “Intro : The Invitation.” I’d like for us to work on other genres, maybe a hip hop-based track in the future if we get the chance.

SUNOO: “Not For Sale” is my favorite. I’d like to try my hand at a variety of genres and find what suits me best.

NI-KI: I like “FEVER” the most, so I’d like to challenge myself with more R&B tracks.

BORDER : CARNIVAL explores your time adjusting to life as a debuted group and your thoughts on fame and its costs. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about fame? And what is one piece of advice you’d give your past self pre-debut that you know now?

JUNGWON: I’m not sure whether we are really famous or not yet. But I realized that many people can laugh and cry at my passing remarks. Therefore, I want to give positive energy to others with what I say and do.

HEESEUNG: I’ve kept saying this to myself since even before our debut. “Do what you want to do.”

JAY: No matter the hardship, move forward without losing sight of who you are.

JAKE: The effort that you make today will be returned by the love of our fans.

SUNGHOON: “Think of ENGENEs’ support to gain energy and recharge.”

SUNOO: It was surprising to realize that popularity is being acknowledged by the public. What I’d like to say to my pre-debut self is “You’re stronger than you think, so never give up.”

NI-KI: Rather than being surprised by our popularity, I felt thankful to all the fans who cheered us on. I want to continue to show our great performances to a wider audience.

The world is really starting to open up again this year. What can you tease about what’s next for ENHYPEN and what fans can expect when you eventually are able to perform live for them?

ENHYPEN: The thought of performing in person for our global fans once this situation is over gets us excited just by thinking about it. Performances are a must-see for ENHYPEN, so we’re sure we’ll be giving our all on that stage!

Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab
Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab

Just for fun, help our ELLE readers get to know you more with these rapid-fire questions.

Favorite emoji

  • JUNGWON: ❣️


  • JAY: 😎

  • JAKE: 👍


  • SUNOO: 😚

  • NI-KI: 🤔

Go-to karaoke song

  • JUNGWON: “Cold Water” - Justin Bieber

  • HEESEUNG: Nothing in particular

  • JAY: Nothing in particular

  • JAKE: Recent hits

  • SUNGHOON: “Boyfriend (Acoustic)” - Justin Bieber

  • SUNOO: Recent hits

  • NI-KI: Ballad

Favorite Disney character

  • JUNGWON: Olaf

  • HEESEUNG: Baymax

  • JAY: Stitch

  • JAKE: Bolt

  • SUNGHOON: Lightning McQueen

  • SUNOO: Elsa

  • NI-KI: Tarzan

Favorite superhero

  • JUNGWON: Scarlet Witch

  • HEESEUNG: Dr. Strange

  • JAY: Black Panther

  • JAKE: Thor

  • SUNGHOON: Iron Man

  • SUNOO: Captain America

  • NI-KI: Spider-Man

The three words you’d use to describe your personality

  • JUNGWON: Passionate, positive, absorptive

  • HEESEUNG: One-of-a-kind, sticks to the facts, resolute

  • JAY: Chill, weird, persistent

  • JAKE: Positive, friendly, passionate

  • SUNGHOON: Cool, vigilant, honest

  • SUNOO: Pure, innocent, cold

  • NI-KI: Chic, energetic, passionate

Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab
Photo credit: Courtesy of Belift Lab

You can stream BORDER : CARNIVAL on Spotify here and on YouTube here.

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