ONF 온앤오프

27 December 2021

Photography Sinae Kim (김신애)
Fashion Min Jun Kim, Da Eun Lim & Dong Gyu Lee at The Higher
Interview Amy-Jo Breach
Grooming Do Youl Park
Make-Up Sora Lee & Jin Ju Son

Peering over a balcony from the first floor of a private house in Seoul, six young idols gaze into the lens of our camera. The boys make up ONF, a K-pop group that has been making sturdy waves beyond their home borders.

With K-pop reaching the hearts of a global audience, we wanted to delve into the world of these stars, and ONF (온앤오프) is the beginning of this journey. And we're very excited. While their dynamic stage presence is evident, in this exclusive visual series, you'll find Hyojin (효진), E-Tion (이션), J-Us (제이어스), Wyatt (와이엇), MK (엠케이) and U (유) in relaxed and candid moments. Playing with clean lines and sophisticated shadows, ONF put on a gentle show for photographer Sinae Kim (김신애) as she follows their movements and camaraderie through these quiet frames. Min Jun Kim, Da Eun Lim & Dong Gyu Lee style the boys while they shift from room to room, finding refuge in the comforting calmness.

With military enlistment on the horizon for five of the six boys, ONF are making their time together count. Enjoying good food, performing their very first solo concert and releasing their sixth mini album Goosebumps are just a few items on the checklist before their hiatus. Officially released on 3rd December, Goosebumps offers five electrifying tracks to highlight ONF’s global view including the title song accompanied by a captivating cyberpunk CG music video to suit the track’s alternative punk vibes. With characters struggling to overcome time and space, Goosebumps confronts nightmares and a past they’re perilously trying to escape. Enter ONF’s expanded universe as they share the dynamics of the ON team and OFF team, what their training taught them, and the precious presence of their fanbase ‘FUSE’ (퓨즈).

ONF’s sixth mini album Goosebumps and their action-packed music video is out now. It might just send shivers down your spine or give you goosebumps…

안녕하세요 ONF! Singers, rappers and dancers – you guys do it all, and we’re delighted to have you. Could you each describe another member of ONF and your favourite things about them?
Hyojin: E-Tion is our vocalist. He has a very nice tone to his voice and has remarkable skills in performance and rap. His voice suits the R&B style of music especially well. He always makes other members laugh with his sense of humour and pleasant charm.
J-Us: Wyatt is the main rapper of ONF. He has a very attractive deep voice and he’s a great singer. His broad shoulders and his charisma add intensity to his charm. But underneath, he likes to act cute and he’s a social butterfly brightening up those around him.
E-Tion: Our youngest member U is in the OFF team and is our main dancer. He is the youngest but he’s the most mature and looks after everyone. He leads the team practice with J-Us. U is the most reliable member along with J-Us when it comes to dancing.
Wyatt: MK is the vocalist of ON team and does sub-vocals. He has a really unique voice and his sound is exceptionally rare. He displays his remarkable musical talent through composition and he’s always confident.
MK: J-Us is the leader of the OFF team and an all-rounder who aces in singing and performance. He is a strong leader and is very responsible. He’s friendly and always entertains the people he’s with.
U: Hyojin is the main vocalist and leader of the ON team, and he takes good care of our members and leads them well. In addition, he has a baby face that is not like the eldest brother. He has a powerful voice and hits high notes so effortlessly. He is also a great dancer. He can pull off attractive performances on stage with his gaze and facial expressions.

What makes you happy?
Wyatt: Laughing makes me happy. In good or bad times, spending time with the other members while playing around and talking with them makes me laugh and feel heart-warming comfort. That is happiness for me.
MK: Making music is my biggest source of happiness. I feel proud when our music comes out as a result. Seeing that I’m making progress motivates me and drives me to keep going which makes me happy.

ONF - On and Off - is made up of two sub-units: ON Team and OFF Team. Hyojin, E-Tion, and MK, you guys are members of the ON Team while J-Us, Wyatt, and U are members of the OFF Team. For those unfamiliar with this structure, can you explain how it works?
E-Tion: ON team is a powerhouse in vocals and the OFF team in performance. It also signifies contrasting charms of being powerful ON stage and friendly and unique personalities OFF stage. As ON and OFF are combined into ONF, the group shows various charms.
U: The ON team has strong vocals and the OFF team has strong performance, but we all want to do well in both vocal and performance and we are all capable. So, any member is qualified to be in either team.

What impact does having two teams have on the group as a whole?
Hyojin: The best thing about having two teams is that we can complement each other. As we all have different capabilities, it allows our strengths and personalities to stand out and complement the areas we lack in each other. As a result, our teamwork and the colours unique to ONF show well.
Wyatt: Our colour clearly shows without distinction into units, but our characteristics have become clearer. Our identity is not defined by just one colour but by our infinite potential and ability in music. The variety itself is the identity of ONF.

You guys trained for many years to become the talented idols you are today. Can you share the process and how this felt for you coming together to form ONF?
J-Us: The most important aspect in the course of training is teamwork. We’ve come to understand each other by talking a lot as we practiced together for many years. Thus, we could build strong teamwork and so we were able to grow our skills through training.
MK: The long trainee years we spent together made us who we are today. Going through many ups and downs with one dream in our mind made us stronger and I believe that we will continue to grow by relying on each other with trust.

Your brand-new mini-album ‘Goosebumps’ was released on 3rd December and gives fans a diverse showcase of the musical spectrum with a “sensational global view”. What are the main themes of this five-track album?
E-Tion: The title song Goosebumps is a song full of goosebumps and fresh charm, as the title suggests. It is a dance song that combines the intensity that only K-pop can play based on alternative punk. Not only does each member's unique voice colour stand out, but it also contains ONF's expanded music world which is always seeking novelty with a narrative that deviates from the grammar of existing pop music.

The second track, Whistle, is about a character who turned into a cat and the only way he can lift the curse and come back to his human body is to listen to the sound of his ex-lover’s whistle. It’s a medium-tempo, tale-like song with the story told through the lyrics.

The third track, Fat and Sugar, is a funky, hip-hop genre and talks about how from time to time we like things that people say are bad. “I like bad things fat and sugar” repeats throughout the lyrics leaving a strong impression.

U: The 4th track, Alarm, is a continuation of the narrative from the track If We Dream from our debut album ON/OFF. It’s a ballad painted with a beautiful chorus harmony of our soft voice tones.

Show Must Go On is the last track of the album and shows our aspiration to keep on singing in our universe that will continue to expand. It’s the opening song for our next chapter.

What are your favourite songs from Goosebumps?
Hyojin: My favourite song is Alarm. It shows more of our vocal skills and various charms. I think the part where the members sing altogether blend in perfect harmony. I feel proud and confident whenever I listen to it.
E-Tion: For me, it’s Fat and Sugar. I like the hip-hop genre and this song speaks out underneath. When we’re on a diet during promotion, the song gives us the pleasure to think about what we want to eat after we finish all our activities.
MK: Show Must Go On is my favourite. It made me think a lot while working on the song and reminded me of FUSE. Our sincerity and determination reflected in the song make the song more affectionate.
U: I like Whistle which is the second track in the album. The rhythm pouring out in the chorus was impressive and the lyrics depicting the relationship between the cat and human were fun and sad. When I heard the lyrics, “Rescue me trapped in the mask”, it got me so curious about the story behind the lyrics.

How do you hope fans will feel when they listen to Goosebumps and watch the music video?
J-Us: Goosebumps has a different mood from our previous music and it was a new challenge in terms of vocals. I hope you will notice our vocal changes and enjoy listening.
Wyatt: Like the title Goosebumps, I hope they will get goosebumps watching the music video. I also hope they will be delighted seeing the various charms we tried to appeal to. Please look forward to ONF’s expanded universe and enjoy the music video.

The Goosebumps mini-album follows the release of your first full-length album ONF: MY NAME, the repackaged album CITY OF ONF, and the summer pop-up album POPPING earlier this year. Your hit title track Beautiful Beautiful from ONF: MY NAME became your first track to enter the Gaon Digital Chart Top 10 and POPPING became your first physical release to sell over 100,000 copies. How do you feel about those achievements?
Hyojin: I'm very grateful that many people seem to love our music. In the future, I want to show better songs and performances that convey our charm and energy to many people.
Wyatt: I’d like to thank our FUSE. We couldn't have accomplished all those things and come this far if it wasn’t for the support from FUSE. Also, our perseverance and aspiration to sing of hope to people in the world and perform had led to those achievements.

The music industry in Korea has exploded and is now receiving a global audience. The production budgets for music videos always seem impressive and result in some great music videos. What is your favourite music video you’ve been able to create and why?
E-Tion: Beautiful Beautiful - among our music videos, it is a music video with a lot of CG and I liked the scenes reminiscent of superhero movies such as Avengers. Also, I like it the most because it seems to be a music video that shows the worldview of ONF well.
U: I like Complete which is the title of our 2nd mini-album. It was our first time filming a music video abroad. We went to LA and I remember being fascinated by the beautiful landscape and enjoying it while filming there. Many people worked hard with us for the music video and when it finally came out, I felt like all the hard work had paid off.

Most of you - Hyojin, J-Us, E-Tion, Wyatt, and MK – are set to serve your military enlistment together this month to minimise your hiatus length by doing your military service at the same time. Do you have any fun activities in mind you want to do before you leave?
J-Us: We wanted to spend as much time as possible together with our fans. We’re so happy that we finally get to do our very first upcoming solo concert which has been our biggest dream since our debut. I look forward to having a special time with my members and FUSE that will leave us a good memory.
MK: I just want to do ordinary things like enjoying good food together before the enlistment. I want to enjoy our time like how we normally do and have the genuine talks we missed out on while we were busy with our promotion.

You have a very loyal group of fans who will miss you during your hiatus. You call your fans ‘FUSE’, is there a reason or a story behind this nickname?
Hyojin: Our fandom name is a combination of ONF and MUSE. FUSE was made meaning that they’re the only ones to complete ONF.
MK: FUSE is an essential and precious presence in our life. Even before the nickname was confirmed, we couldn’t wait to name our fans so we used to make our own nickname and call it by ourselves.

Especially in the last couple of years, as the world was in lockdown during the pandemic, Korean music and dramas have exploded in terms of reaching a global audience. What does it feel like for you guys to be part of such an explosion of reach and being enjoyed by an international audience?
E-Tion: I feel proud of Korean culture receiving love from all around. I feel more responsible for being part of the phenomenon and it gives me the motivation to work hard in various activities that I do.
U: I feel grateful for the love we’re receiving from around the world and it makes me think that I need to work harder on our music and ourselves to give everyone strength during difficult times.

We understand the road to stardom is hard work and being in the public eye can add some pressures. How do you look after your mental health while you’re busy recording songs and performing shows?
J-Us: I try not to keep things bottled up inside and try to think positive. For positive mind control, I try to find time to refresh by doing the exercises that I like or eating good food. Having personal time drives me to work harder.
Wyatt: Whenever I feel the pressure, I look at FUSE being delighted by our music and performances. Knowing that they support us and they're encouraged by us also gives us great strength.

What do you enjoy doing on your days off?
E-Tion: I go around alone and take pictures with my film camera and get them developed. It’s different from taking pictures with your smartphone. I enjoy going to cafés to read. I like going out to experience different things rather than resting at home.
Wyatt: Usually I work on composing songs. I try different things I haven’t had the time for and I enjoy and feel proud seeing my skills improve. At other times, I play games with my brother and clear my mind.
MK: I make music or play computer games. Making music is related to work but it’s a way of taking a break for me. Composing is difficult, but I feel greater joy throughout the process.

Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?
Hyojin: Hopefully, 10 years later, I will continue doing activities with ONF and giving positive energy to people and meeting with FUSE from all around the world having a great time on a world tour.
J-Us: I believe that we will continue to make music as ONF even after 10 years. I hope we can be with our fans making great music and memories together even after 10 or 20 years.
U: We will be having a great time with FUSE. I wish to become a long-running artist as a member of ONF with our music.

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