We can only describe it as a surprising happening. The phenomenon that EXO recently showed was one that was unpredicted from a rookie who debuted just over one year ago. ‘Growl,’ which was released over a month ago is still in the top 5 on music charts and their first album <XOXO> and repackage album sales combined together surpassed way over 700 thousand albums. Debuting with ‘MAMA’ in April 2014, after having a hiatus of around one year, they passed ‘Wolf and Beauty’ and can now say they were a success by certainly stamping the name EXO with ‘Growl.’ And during the time of debut the 12 members that were split into EXO-K, Korean promotions team, and EXO-M, Chinese promotions team, have become one like their cheer, “WE ARE ONE” and showed a performance on the next level. In order to ask them how they were able to grow in such a fast time, <IZE> met EXO. EXO interviews that will be revealed throughout four days, the last is stories about EXO’s time, trainee period, and goals. With this sorry heart, let’s run by looking at Kai and D.O, Kris and Chanyeol’s sesame-like story.
When you guys have free time, what do you usually do in the dorm.
Chanyeol: I shared a room with Tao in the past, and this friend does one man minor roles for fun. He acts like talking like this and then moving over a bit and then talking like that, and then he changes into a different character saying, “Ah, where is this place?”
Xiumin: He doesn’t do that when he’s by himself. When the members are just still or look bored he jokes around. It’s a type of aegyo but, I wish he didn’t do that. The person watching is uncomfortable. (laughter)
Tao: Hahahaha. Hyung does it with me too! We do it in the dorm together all the time? If I go, “Xiumin, let’s do it together,” you go “Uh, okay.”
Xiumin: Then I was bored too.
Tao: There is a fun act that we do together. Let’s show them. (laughter)
Xiumin: What is there to show. It’s always just shooting the gun and dying from a gunshot.
I also heard that you split into EXO-M and EXO-K team to play basketball.
Xiumin: Overall, EXO-M members are friends that liked to exercise since young. As predicted, we played basketball a lot and like it so our stamina is a bit higher. Even if you look objectively, our positions are split perfectly. The tallest Kris is center and fast Luhan is kind of like a guard feel. He’s really good at doing 3-pointer shots. Because Tao is strong, he is the power forward and Lay is also a forward feeling but he’s a bit different than Tao. Because I’m not good at basketball, I am the ball boy. (laughter)
Sehun: I want to first clap for EXO-M’s basketball skills. Kris hyung has skills of an athlete and the rest of the members are all good too. EXO-K members all really can’t play. (laughter) Because the level difference is so bad, we try not to play basketball. The fact that we played a game was when we were trainees.
Whether it be long or short, you guys all had a trainee period but what influence did that time give to you.
Suho: When you go through the trainee period during your adolescence, you become more cautious and you tend to save your words. Because you have to compete with other friends and in order to achieve the dream of a singer, you end up living a working lifestyle kind of life. Not that I had another job but doesn’t social life always make one tense and give the burden of having to complete something. Because I endured that since young, I think there is a part of me where I’m a little careful in everything I do.
Baekhyun: On the other hand, if you have a long trainee period, your mental strength because really strong. Compared to people who had short trainee periods, I don’t think they go through slumps because of small things. Earlier this year, I went through a slight slump because of singing. It was because I didn’t know how I was supposed to sing. Because I already debuted and I have to show right away, I fell into worries on ‘what should I do.’ However, Suho hyung is not like that and is always maintains his composure. I think because his will power is strong, he can endure not going through slumps. Of course there are bad points too. Hyung’s personality is the complete opposite from me, because we’re stuck in formality, I want to break that.
How are your two personalities different.
Baekhyun: Hyung is the type that seeks practical rules and I am the type that seeks expediency. For example, if there was a math problem and someone taught me how to solve it, I always found an expedience. (laughter) I am the type that thinks a lot about ‘what do I have to do in order to find a faster way to solve this, what can I do to memorize this faster.’ Once when we were showering together, Suho hyung told me that because of me he became softer. I as predicted looked at hyung and thought, ‘a person can be that serious.’ Originally, I was a person that was like a feather that could soar through the sky but thanks to hyung I think I changed a bit.
How were the other members’ trainee periods.
Sehun: I was casted in sixth grade and officially started my trainee period in my second year of middle school. Because it was when I was really young, at first I was a bit confused and starting from my first year of high school I thought ‘I can’t do it like this.’ Because the other people’s dreams are solid and stuff. Starting from then I did dance practice a bit more.
Xiumin: I followed a friend to the audition and luckily passed and joined the company. At that time I was a high school third year preparing for the college entrance exam and because I wouldn’t be debuting right away but would have to go through a trainee period, I thought a lot. But because the only place to trust was the company, I think I just constantly faithfully practiced.
How do you think it’d feel if you suddenly went to an ordinary young man from this situation.
Kris: Because I dreamed of being a basketball player before, to be honest I can be a basketball player again. However if I had to spend my life as a normal person, I don’t think I’d be able to accept that. Most likely everyone will be like that. Because in a foreign country, 4-5 years ago I came to Korea and tried really hard while practicing. If I suddenly lost this job, I think I’d be sad and taken aback.
Sehun: If I were to be honest, I think because there is freedom, there are some good aspects. However, I don’t want to go back. (bashfully laughs) Because I am EXO.
You debuted and now because you officially started gaining popularity, you guys started to get busy. For a while now you guys will be living a life like this, what are the things that you think everyone should keep no matter how hard they are.
Lay: It’s something we do even now but, it’s to not forget to say “thank you” when someone does something for another.
Chen: Proper man of his word. Because even if we really grow older and quit the job as an idol, if we were to show that we’re proper men of our word, we can leave a good image for people.
Baekhyun: I want to make a promise amongst the members. Even if we have a lot of free time, to only go home, to only meet male friends, or to only exercise. To be honest, I don’t think it’s a time for us to be having fun yet. That is my thought but… till thirty five? I wish that no one forgot the ‘person that they wanted to be’ when we debuted because we were so lost in pleasure. I hope no one forgets their own goals. Because of one thing like that, I can’t see EXO falling apart.
Suho: For me, it’s to love EXO members. Not excluding a single person.
Baekhyun: Suho hyung will guide us all towards a good direction. Because he’s always a proper person.
Then what is EXO’s goal overall.
Lay: Right now, rather than a member individually being popular or showing, I think EXO being more known is more urgent. Our Suho, leader said this once, “Fifty million people in Korea recognizing EXO is our goal.” I think we still have a long way to go.
How many people do you think recognize EXO now.
Suho: I think for teens it is nine out of then and for twenties it is six out of ten. (laughter)
Lastly, if you were to define EXO with one word.
Kris: For me, EXO is a pizza. Each member is a pizza slice because all twelve members must be there for us to be one.
D.O: If only one is missing, then it is not perfect.