Much like the British invasion in the 1960s world of rock’n’roll, South Korea is creating its own global invasion of sorts. But K-Pop is something of an anomaly. The explosion of Korean pop groups selling out arenas across the world with fans singing along to lyrics they don’t understand is a phenomena one almost can’t explain. From Los Angeles to Saudi Arabia, they are sweeping the globe, and RIIZE is just the latest installment determined for world takeover.
Having debuted as a band just a few months ago in September 2023 with their album, Get a Guitar, their, for lack of a better word, immediate rise to the top, has been nothing short of spectacular. Their fan base has quickly grown in the Middle East, and doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
Esquire: How did you first dream of becoming a K-pop group and artist?
SUNGCHAN: As I grew up watching SHINee and EXO, I became interested in K-POP for the first time. As I learned singing and dancing as a trainee, I gradually developed my dream of becoming an artist.
ANTON: I think my passion for music started from a young age, but my interest in the idea of becoming a singer myself began around the time K-POP became more mainstream. I would see people around my area knowing who Korean celebrities were, and was fascinated by the growing popularity of Korean culture as a whole worldwide. The idea that I also can have a large impact on many diverse people through music was something that I realized I wanted to do.
Esquire: You’ve already become global ambassadors for iconic fashion brands, but what do the RIIZE members wear on a daily basis?
WONBIN: All of us are paying a lot of attention to bags and outerwear. While I used to enjoy wearing multiple earrings in the past, these days, I find it neater and appealing to have just one earring on each ear.
ANTON: All our members in general are all interested in fashion, but in different styles. I for one have recently been interested in accessories, especially rings.
Esquire: When working on this album, was there anything that reflected the different opinions of each member? And tell us about your new song LOVE 119?
SHOTARO: I’m thrilled to share that Wonbin and I collaborated on creating the choreography for the chorus part of Love 119. I loved it. We had worked together on choreography before our debut, and this collaboration brought back those memories after a long time. Considering the song’s theme of ‘first love’ and the main sound, we aimed to create choreography that many people could follow. While brainstorming in the practice room with Wonbin, we came up with dance moves like the ‘1-1-9’ gesture, that you see in the video. Just like our song Memories, this song has a bright vibe, making it a fun dance for us and the members.