Armed with the sounds of punk-rock and metal, Dreamcatcher have been forging their own path in South Korea’s competitive music industry since their debut in 2017. The seven-member act, each representing a nightmare or fear as part of the group’s offbeat “horror” concept, have certainly made their mark, growing a sizable fanbase (called InSomnia) both domestically and internationally.
From South Korea’s Gaon Album Chart to Billboard’s Next Big Sound, Dreamcatcher have topped several charts in their career, proving that being an oddball isn’t always a bad thing. It’s been a long time coming for some of the girls; five of the group’s members – JiU, SuA, Siyeon, Yoohyeon and Dami – originally debuted back in 2014 as MINX. After their first two releases, the girl group went on a year-long hiatus before re-debuting with two new members – Handong and Gahyeon – and undergoing a complete revamp of their concept and sound.
Since the world was officially introduced to Dreamcatcher with their debut single ‘Chase Me’ over four years ago, the group have committed to pushing the boundaries of K-pop with their unique sound and worldview. Combining elements of pop-rock, EDM and metal, the seven-piece group have cultivated a reputation of being a genre-busting group.
In their latest mini-album ‘Summer Holiday’, Dreamcatcher have added the sounds of summery bubblegum music and ’80s-inspired city pop to the ever-growing list of genres they have conquered. Between their promotional activities for their explosive new title track ‘BEcause’, Dreamcatcher sat down with NME to chat about their new music, goals and ever-expanding international fanbase.
Hello Dreamcatcher! Congratulations on your comeback with ‘Summer Holiday’! It has been about half a year since you released ‘Dystopia: Road to Utopia’ at the beginning of this year. How does it feel to be back?
Dami: “It’s been awhile since we have gotten to meet our fans again, and we’re very excited about it. Since this release is a special album, we were also a little worried about showing a new side of us. But rather than worrying, we’re just going to have fun.”
The title track ‘BEcause’ is about the obsession to claim and win love, so while it is a love song, there are also some aspects of it that feel more true to Dreamcatcher’s concept. How were Dreamcatcher able to balance both the “love” and “horror” sides of this song?
JiU: “Typically when you talk about love, it’s usually a beautiful thing. But sorry, we’re Dreamcatcher, and normal love is not in the dictionary for us. So, when it comes to love, you could say that we think of it as an obsession of wanting to complete love, and it kind of transforms love into a scary thing.”
The third track in the album, ‘Airplane’, is so different from Dreamcatcher’s discography, and perfectly captures the ‘Summer Holiday’ vibe. Was the recording process for this song any different from usual?
Siyeon: “As you might have heard, ‘Airplane’ is a really bright song. So personally, I brought back my original singing style [from when we were still MINX], which has a much higher tone than what I usually use. In the song, if you listen closely, there’s a part where we shout ‘Airplane, yeah!’ and when we were recording this song, I think I recorded it eight different times, so it was a lot of fun recording this song.”
Dreamcatcher also tried their hand at city pop this time with ‘Alldaylong’, and it ended up suiting the group really well. Why did you choose to go with the retro sound? Can we expect more similar tracks in the future?
JiU: “I personally enjoy listening to city pop music, and I told the members that it would be nice if we could also have at least one city pop track. So, I suggested this, and we all agreed to go with it, and that’s how this song came about. In the future, I’d also really like to try new jack swing in our music.”
‘Summer Holiday’ covers a wide range of genres and might be Dreamcatcher’s most diverse release yet. Did you face any challenges when preparing for the album?
Handong: “When we were recording the songs, we tried to touch on a lot of different styles, vocals and expressions that would fit each song. Also, when it came to the choreography, we had a doll concept, and tried to use doll-like movements to incorporate more scary vibes into the choreography.”
Since the album caters to so many different tastes, what are some of the members’ personal favourite songs on ‘Summer Holiday’, and why?
Dami: “My favourite song is ‘Airplane’ because we can show a more free side of ourselves that we don’t normally show.”
SuA: “Recently, my favourite song has changed to ‘Whistle’. I like it because it has a certain vibe that reminds me of the sunset, so that is why it’s my favourite song.”
Gahyeon: “I like ‘Airplane’. That song really lifts my mood up and makes me happy!”
Handong: “My favourite song is ‘Alldaylong’. I like this song the most because I feel like it heals me every time I listen to it. The lyrics also make me feel really happy, and just listening to this song brings a smile to my face.”
Yoohyeon: “I would pick ‘A Heart Of Sunflower’, because it’s been awhile since we have sung this kind of ballad.”
JiU: “It’s very difficult for me to pick, but I have two songs that I like the most. The first is ‘BEcause’, which really encompasses Dreamcatcher’s signature sound. It has so many concepts, and it was really fun to try to express them. I also like ‘Alldaylong’, because like I said before, I really love city pop. Also, the members, whom I love, sing with me in this song, and that’s why I love it even more.”
Siyeon: “It’s also really difficult for me to choose, so I picked ‘Intro’. I chose ‘Intro’ because it opens a door to this new side of us. I always like our intros. For every one of our albums, we always have an intro track and, this is something very special, but I have a playlist that only has our intro tracks in it, so my favourite track is ‘Intro’.”
Dreamcatcher’s unique take on combining rock, metal and electronic elements in your music has played a big role in helping you stand out in such a competitive industry. However, it must have also felt like a risk in the beginning. Did you have any doubts or worries when you initially debuted with this type of music?
Dami: “Of course, when we first made our debut, rock and metal were very new to me. So, I was more worried about whether or not it would fit my voice. But this has become kind of our signature style and what defines our music, so I’ve grown to like rock and metal music more. And when it comes to our music, I feel like without it, it would feel like something was missing.”
Also, I would imagine that not everybody is as natural when it comes to a horror concept either. Did any of the members struggle with expressing Dreamcatcher’s concept in the beginning?
Yoohyeon: “For me, I really didn’t know how to make my face look angry or scary. I think personally, I’m more, like, a silly person. So, it was the hardest thing, but I tried really hard, and now, yeah, I think I’m pretty good at it! [laughs].”
Are there any other genres or concepts that Dreamcatcher would like to try in the future?
SuA: “I have a pretty good idea of what Dreamcatcher will be doing in the future, but we would like to try releasing an album that is entirely self-made just once. Where every member participates in the production process just so we can say, ‘Dreamcatcher made this’. Just one time!”
Also, it has been a while since your 2019 tours in Australia, Europe and the US. What do you miss most about touring?
Gahyeon: “Whenever we go on tour, we have our InSomnias in every country. Seeing their culture and experiencing their passion and cheers give us so much strength, but I’m so sad that we can’t go on tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I really hope that the situation gets better, so that we can go visit our InSomnias as soon as possible!”
What would you like to say to international fans who have been waiting so long to see you in person?
Siyeon: “Although we can’t meet our fans all over the world right now, and even though we are far apart, we will always be there for you, we will always cheer you on, and we want you to know that we miss you so much. And we hope that the whole [pandemic] situation gets better so we can go everywhere around the world and give everyone strength.”
Finally, what would you like to tell InSomnia who have been eagerly awaiting this comeback?
JiU: “I’m also an InSomnia. Although I’m a member of Dreamcatcher, I’m still an InSomnia. To all our InSomnia who have been waiting for our music, I am very happy and glad that we are able to deliver songs that live up to your expectations, and we will continue to bring you music that InSomnias will always appreciate, enjoy, and love!”
Dreamcatcher’s latest mini-album ‘Summer Holiday’ is out now.