Amid the rapidly rising popularity of South Korean music, film and streaming series, there seems to be an avid appreciation and interest in South Korean entertainment (known as K-dramas and K-pop), which encompasses an expanding array of music artists that creates music within genres such as pop, EDM, rap, rock, punk, emo, hip-hop, and R&B.
Rising in this global K-pop music renaissance is the South Korean group ONEUS (pronounced ONE US), who debuted January 2019 with their first mini-album LIGHT US. After the immediate success of the lead song “Valkyrie”, which nabbed the number 15 spot on the Billboard digital sales chart,ONEUS was welcomed as a new contender in the K-pop music realm.
2019 was just the beginning for ONEUS, as they quickly released two more mini-albums in 2019 (RAISE US and FLY WITH US), followed by a six city tour in the U.S., and continued their hot-streak in 2020 and 2021 with the release of their first studio album (DEVIL) and 3 more mini-albums (LIVED, BINARY, and BLOOD MOON). With strong sales and songs continuing to rank on the U.S. Billboard charts, ONEUS has continued to gain popularity in the K-pop and global music industry. ONEUS was also chosen as one of Billboard’s K-pop Artists to Watch in 2020 and one of Tidal’s K-pop Artists to Watch for 2022.
2022 Was A Big Year For ONEUS
2022 proved to be a monumental year for ONEUS as they embarked on a 13-city tour through the United States and released two mini-albums(TRICKSTER and MALUS), which propelled ONEUS past one million album sales, and secured the #1 and #2 spots on South Korea’s sales charts. Breakout singles “LUNA” from their BLOOD MOON album, as well as the single “Bring It On” from their TRICKSTER album and the single “Same Scent” from their MALUS album, have ensured that ONEUS not only earned spots on the global music charts, but that they trended in social media charts across the globe building traction and momentum for their music and interest in their performances.
With timely and savvy social media engagement, ONEUS cultivated a global audience that steadfastly supports and enthusiastically celebrates each album release and tour and concert announcements. The five members of ONEUS (Keonhee, Leedo, Seoho, Hwanwoong, Xion) work tirelessly with their devoted fanbase, known as TO MOON, to create a curated and immersive music experience that engages just as much as it thrills. [The fan name TO MOON is based on the ONEUS song “Zig Zag” lyric: “Just like the earth and the moon, I revolve around you” — meaning the fans will always revolve around ONEUS, as well as share a mutual love and appreciation “to the moon and back”.]
One good example of ONEUS’ specially curated content is the fun homage to the 2022 film “Top Gun: Maverick”, where they performed choreography to Kenny Loggins’ song “Danger Zone”, One Republic’s song “I Ain’t Worried” and Otherwise’s song “Soldiers”. There is also a charming behind-the-scenes making of this video (seen below) offers glimpse into the cool and professional dynamics of the ONEUS members as well.
The Reach for Us World Tour
2023 is poised to be a landmark year for ONEUS as they are currently touring 10 cities in the U.S. before heading through South America to continue their 2023 REACH FOR US world tour:
January 12th – New York City (Apollo Theater)
January 14th – Washington D.C. (The Theater at MGM National Harbor)
January 16th – Atlanta, GA (Coca-Cola Roxy)
January 18th – Orlando, FL (House of Blues)
January 21st – Madison, WI (The Orpheum Theater)
January 24th – St. Louis, MO (The Factory at the District of St. Louis)
January 27th – Fort Worth, TX (Will Rogers Auditorium)
January 29th – Houston, TX (713 Music Hall)
February 2nd – Phoenix, AZ (Marquee Theatre)
February 4th – Los Angeles, CA (Pasadena Civic Auditorium)
February 7th – Puerto Rico (Coca-Cola Music Hall)
February 10th – Mexico City (Pepsi Center WTC)
February 12th – Santiago de Chile (Teatro Coliseo)
February 15th – Sao Paulo (Audio Club)
For ONEUS, their musical career has only just begun, and in an exclusive interview, the members talked about some of the things that they have appreciated about where they are as musicians now, as well as reflecting on where they started, and some of the cool things have gotten to do in this past year while touring. Check out our interview with ONEUS below.
Our Exclusive ONEUS Interview
What initially made you want to be a singer/dancer/idol?
Seoho: I actually had stage fright! I started going to auditions and it slowly went away. That’s when I realized this is what I wanted to do.
Leedo: When I was younger, I also watched other people sing and dance on stage. It looked really cool and I realized that I wanted to do that, too.
Keonhee: Music was always a comfort for me. I wanted to be the person who could share that love and comfort with others.
Hwanwoong: I’ve wanted to become a singer since I was 6. My friends first realized I could do this when I got 1st place in the talent show for dancing in middle school. There was no stopping me after that.
Xion: I remember watching artists perform and make people emotional. Happy, sad, excited, no matter what, they were singing along. I wanted to be able to elicit those emotions in people, too.
Looking back to ONEUS’ 2019 debut, what was the first big goal that you hoped to achieve?
Seoho: We wanted to be on all the music programs/shows.
Leedo: To perform on stage for us.
Keonhee: I wanted to put on the best show possible for our fans.
Hwanwoong: To win on a music program.
Xion: I also wanted to be 1st on a music program. I don’t really care about the ratings, but I wanted to repay our fans.
How did it feel once you accomplished that goal?
Hwanwoong: I was really proud of our team. We put in the work and we did what we needed to do. It made me want to work harder and keep going and keep making our fans proud.
What other significant achievements are you most proud of since the band’s debut?
Keonhee: The fact that the fans are by our side. It’s the most precious thing — that’s what I’m most proud of. I love performing on stage, at award shows, and charting, but the fans are the most important.
What is a current new goal that you have, as a band, that you hope to achieve in the future?
Xion: There have been so many great things recently, but also some not so great things. I want to be able to overcome it all to become a stronger and more energetic ONEUS.
ONEUS has had a strong year with increasing album sales for BLOOD MOON, TRICKSTER and MALUS albums as well as last year’s BLOOD MOON tour and this year’s current REACH FOR US tour. What key moment and achievement stood out for you in 2022?
Leedo: When we won an award in front of TO MOON.
Your albums are known to have distinct themes. How would you describe the themes for BLOOD MOON, TRICKSTER and MALUS? Where do those themes come from?
Keonhee: BLOOD MOON is really personal. It’s about that one person you love the most but it just doesn’t work. TRICKSTER is the alien. It is like a Joker card — being able to hide in plain sight and then pop up and change the game. MALUS is more about us and how we express ourselves, specifically our dangerous side.
Are those themes personal to the band, to the members, or just a cool topic that you want to express through your music?
Hwanwoong: Every theme we have shared means something personal to us, both individually and as a band. We get stronger by listening to the music we create together.
Which song that you have released is a song that each of you hold close to your heart? What does that song mean to you?
Seoho: “Red Thread” and “LUNA”. I love how we all sound on it.
Leedo: “Valkyrie”. This song made ONEUS who we are today
Keonhee: “A Song Written Easily” means a lot to me. I’ve always wanted to be a performer who helped people deal with and process their emotions. I remember we were performing it and during my solo, a fan was incredibly emotional. She later told us that her father had recently passed away and the song helped her through it. I’m incredibly blessed and I will never forget being able to comfort a fan like this
Hwanwoong: “LIT” probably. My vocals weren’t always great, so to improve, I would always sing the chorus. This song helped me achieve my dream.
Xion: “Intro: Time” from our second mini album. I opened the door to the song for the first time and our fans loved it. It really helped build my confidence.
What is the one element that you think defines who ONEUS is as music artists?
Seoho: It is difficult to choose just one element, but I think it is our perseverance, for sure.
Leedo: Happiness. We make happy memories with TO MOON and allow them to create their own memories with our music. We also make happy memories together on stage.
Keonhee: Each member has their own charms, we each have a distinct color and voice. Our biggest strength is bringing our individuality together and becoming ONEUS. We are a team that compliments each other.
Xion: ONEUS is ONEUS. We exist because of the members and who we are as people.
Hwanwoong: I think it’s the freedom in musical genre, concept, and position. Being able to show off all of our personalities allows us to thrive.
You have released a lot of albums over the past few years. What is pushing you and motivating you to work at such a pace?
Keonhee: Passion. I want to be the best that I can be. I want to protect ONEUS and everything we create. Everything we do is for the fans — to thank them for sticking with us. We want to keep putting on the best shows and performing the best we can.
Hwanwoong: We always want to move forward. The K-pop market keeps moving and expanding and we don’t want to be left behind.
Xion: It’s the energy. From our fans to our members, we want to continue building this community.
Is there a music style or genre that you would still like to explore?
Seoho: Hip-hop, but I want to be able to show off my vocals, as well.
Leedo: I want to try for more of a band vibe. I want ONEUS to start mingling with other bands.
What inspires you in your professional life?
Seoho: It’s the passion for the work and pushing desire to keep going.
Leedo: The love and support for the fans.
Keonhee: None of this would be possible without the fans. I want to always be their strength and continue to make them proud.
Hwanwoong; My parents! I love making my parents proud (and showing them how cool I am!). I would love to take my family on a trip soon.
Xion: It’s each member in ONEUS. There are days when I think I don’t want to do anything, but they are always there to lift me up.
What do you see or experience that adds to your artistry and acts as muse that you incorporate into your songs and performances?
Hwanwoong: I like watching other artists’ performances, whether it be in person or videos online. I’ll use others as an example while building and creating our music and performances. I just love watching other people express themselves.
What visual elements are you most proud of that you have brought into your music and stage performances?
Keonhee: We use our time on stage to share and illustrate ONEUS’ story. Sometimes it seems impossible, but it’s incredibly thrilling.
How would you describe your music and performance style right now?
Hwanwoong: I think our music resonates and can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s not just generational. We sing about experiences that everyone can understand and sympathize with. The lyrics are catchy and fun, and each album has a distinguishable concept and color. We really do appeal to the masses. Our performances build off the album concepts, as well. It’s a full experience.
What makes you the most happy when creating, practicing, and performing your songs?
Seoho: When the fans are happy.
Leedo: I love knowing that there are people out there who enjoy our work and are looking forward to what’s next.
What advice would you give to the next generation of K-pop trainees or those thinking of a career in K-pop?
Leedo: “Trust yourself and the people in your life who believe in you. It won’t be easy and there will be a lot of roadblocks, but if you believe in yourself and your dream, you’ll get there. Don’t let pride get in your way.”
Keonhee: “It’s going to be most difficult at the beginning, but you have to keep pushing. The challenge is beautiful. Don’t be afraid of failure and find the courage in yourself to push forward.”
What is one thing that you wish someone had told you about being a K-pop artist that you did not know when you became a trainee?
Seoho: I can’t really think of anything in particular. I like a challenge and solving it by myself, even though I have a lot of people and advice in my corner.
Leedo: I would have loved to hear that I should believe in myself a little bit more. “Remember that there are many people who support you and be confident in yourself and your talent.”
Keonhee: “Take care of and believe in yourself a little more. You’ll learn as you go, though.”
Xion: I want to tell them not to be discouraged and to keep pushing in the direction they want. “There are only a few opportunities you get to take before they are gone — don’t be self-conscious. Stop worrying about others and do what will make you happy.”
Hwanwoong: I would not be where I am if I only listened to the people around me and did not trust my gut. “Prove what you want to do and do it.”
What do you consider to be the biggest compliment to get from your fans, the TO MOONs?
Seoho: : I think it is: “I’ll continue to support you!”
Leedo: “Thank you.”
Keonhee: Appreciating our music and us being on stage. Personally, I love hearing “you’re handsome and cool,” but the best thing is really seeing the fans enjoy the music.
Xion: “My hard days became a little lighter because of you.” I want to send good vibes and energy to TO MOON. If they share that they’ve gained even a little bit of strength from us, I will always be thankful. I promise to keep working for that.
Hwanwoong: “You’re the last idol in my life.”
What is the one thing you consider essential to keeping your passion for your music alive?
Leedo: Effort. I can share my passion and make TO MOON happy by always putting my best foot forward.
Hwanwoong: It’s essential to keep challenging myself. If I am not excited about what we are performing, it’s hard to make everyone else happy.
What is next for you? What should your fans look forward to?
Keonhee: I want to keep telling stories. I promise I’ll always work to tell something beautiful.
Xion: We are on our 1st world tour right now. We worked really hard for global TO MOON and we’re really excited to see them.
With tenacity, passion, unending creativity, ONEUS strives to reach higher and farther with their music and enjoy every day to the fullest with their faithful TO MOON fans. That desire to celebrate is inviting and creates a mutually satisfying experience for all those who come to be a part of the ONEUS musical journey.