Red Velvet Reflect on Their Groundbreaking U.S. Tour (INTERVIEW)
In 2019, Red Velvet, SM Entertainment's leading girl group, became one of the first mainstream female acts to take on a full-length tour in the U.S. and reaching multiple major cities. (The last time this happened was in 2016!)
Red Velvet's Redmare in the USA wasn't just the first K-pop cross-country tour America has had in a while, but rather a symbolic moment for K-pop's increasingly global reach. Considering the jam-packed venues nationwide, the deafening fan chants and, even before the tour, frantic scramble to score tickets, the tour was also clear evidence that girl groups are just as popular and just as in demand as boy bands.
Not to mention the popularity of the music itself: Since their 2014 debut, the quartet turned quintet has delivered countless chart-topping singles, with tracks like "Happiness," "Dumb Dumb," "Russian Roulette," "Red Flavor," "Peek-a-boo," "Really Bad Boy" and fan favorite "Bad Boy" perfectly capturing the sweet and edgy duality in Red Velvet's branding.
Celebrating the last stop of their tour in the U.S. on Feb. 17 in Newark, NJ, PopCrush sat down with members Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy and Yeri backstage to talk about touring, their future in music and, of course, Shake Shack.
You’re the first female K-pop act to tour North America since 2016. How does it feel?
Joy: Starting with us, you know, a girl group touring in America, I'm really proud to be a part of this movement where K-pop is getting famous all over the world, and not just in the States. I just want to work hard until the end and finish it off well.
One of the most memorable moments of 2018 was when you surprised 19,000 people at KCON New York with the English version of "Bad Boy." Were there any moments or performances on this tour that were memorable for you?
Yeri: Wow, really!?
Seulgi: Fans have been really enjoying “Bad Boy,” “Peek-a-boo” and the English version of “RBB (Really Bad Boy)”. This is the first time we’re singing the English version of "RBB" and whenever I see fans dancing along and really enjoying it, I get a lot of energy and strength from that.
As you’re a group that is known to fluidly transition between concepts, from Red (sweet and cute) to Velvet (dark and mature), which of your concepts personally resonate with you and why?
Joy: Personally, I really enjoyed “Bad Boy” and “Peek-a-Boo” because they’re mature and kind of sexy and attractive. I would like to show a more mature and alluring side.
SM Station has produced some of the best collaborations we’ve seen in K-pop within the last year with "Written in the Stars" and "Wow Thing." If you could produce your own girl group, who would your group be and what genre would you tackle?
Wendy: I can’t really think of who, but it would be really nice if we had an a capella or an R&B song to perform. Similar to Destiny’s Child, kind of? I want to try that.
Joy: Do you know Baek Yerin? I really like her so I’d love to collaborate with her. More than just doing a girl group, I want go into deep indie music. And to just focus on the music itself.
During your tour, were there any songs that were on rotation that you always listened to?
Wendy: I've been listening to ... Umi's “Remember Me.” It’s not really famous yet but I’m pretty sure she’s going to be famous soon. It’s a really nice song.
Seulgi: I’m really into Ariana Grande’s new album and all of the songs.
Irene: I'm also listening to Ariana Grande, too.
Joy: Lennon Stella’s “La Di Da!"
Yeri: There's a song called "8 Letters" by Why Don’t We, I think. The acoustic version is so good!
As you’re one of the leading acts who helped globalize K-pop, what is Red Velvet’s biggest charm?
Seulgi: Our authenticity. We are really easygoing and you can see that we’re close with each other and get along real well. We don’t glam up or play up our normal personalities and invent images for ourselves. We just be ourselves.
Now that the tour is only the beginning of 2019 for you, what’s next?
Irene: We’re still on tour so we’ve only focused on this tour and not really on what’s next, but there’s definitely a lot of great things coming!
Can we expect a new season of Level Up Project?
Seulgi: If the opportunity presents itself, we’d would love to do another season and create more great memories together!
Where would you guys like to go?
Joy: We’d like to shoot a season here in America!
Which takes me to the last question: In-N-Out or Shake Shack?
Yeri: I like Shake Shack! But I love both!
Wendy: Then I'll go with Shake Shack, too!
Seulgi and Joy: Shake Shack.
Irene: I like the fries and milkshake from Shake Shack.
Red Velvet together: Shake Shack!
(Writer's Note: An earlier version of the piece stated the group to be the first mainstream female act to tour major U.S. states in 2019. However, Oh My Girl is the first female girl group to tour the U.S. in 2019.)