This week’s Bop Shop includes a quietly powerful statement from Billie Eilish, a new party remix courtesy of Little Mix and Saweetie, Ella Jay Basco and Ruby Ibarra’s ‘Gold’ team-up, and more.
The popcorn is on the stove, the sweatpants are on your legs: Congratulations, you’re just about ready for the MTV Movie & TV Awards! Now, you just need a guide to hold your hand as we toast all of TV’s most side-splitting, drama-filled moments. Look no further than Nikki Glaser, who will host the first-ever MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted.
The inaugural show celebrates everything reality TV, whether it’s the high-glam competition that is RuPaul’s Drag Race or the highly inedible dishes created on Selena + Chef. And truly, there is nobody more fit to hold down the evening than Glaser, whose no-holds-barred, bitingly honest style of comedy has brought her from nightly standup performances to the upper echelons of streaming with her Netflix special Bangin’.
She’ll go all the way off — script, that is — when the special airs on Monday, May 17. It will follow the airing of the annual MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday, May 16, as part of a massive two-day event honoring the biggest and boldest on-screen moments, and the brightest stars who brought them to life. Saturday Night Live comedian and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones will host the MTV Movie & TV Awards live from Los Angeles.
The nominees at the first-of-its-kind show run the gamut from MTV’s own The Challenge, the judge-against-judge brawl between Legendary’s Law Roach and Dominique Jackson, to the celebratory makeovers of Queer Eye. There are also nods for the best hosts, including RuPaul and Nailed It!’s Nicole Byer, and breakthrough social media sensations like Bretman Rock and Rickey Thompson. Check out all the nominees here.
The MTV Movie & TV Awards will air live on MTV on Sunday, May 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Girl in Red has seen your sapphic TikToks using her name to pick up girls, and frankly, she thinks it’s “iconic.”
Zooming with MTV News from her bedroom in Oslo, Norway, the artist born Marie Ulven grins ear-to-ear when I mention her unexpected internet virality. After a tongue-in-cheek song written by a fan called “Do You Listen to Girl in Red?” made the rounds on TikTok, the question became an indirect way for queer girls to identify and connect with other women who like women — and the genesis of many a funny video. Ulven likens it to “friend of Dorothy,” a coded phrase used by gay men in the late 20th century to discreetly describe each other, and she isn’t the first to make that connection. “There are so many people who want to have that type of cultural impact, and I feel like it’s really dope to be a part of something so cool,” she says, toying with the hood of her sweatshirt until it frames her face like a halo. “I just fuck with it.”
But Ulven’s ascendance to icon status was hardly by accident; she shouldered her way into our social media feeds and Spotify playlists through sheer will. The 22-year-old broke into the saturated American indie-pop scene in 2018 with the head-turning “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend,” an angsty, guitar-heavy cut about having the hots for a straight girl. “I don’t wanna be your friend, I wanna be your bitch,” she confesses on the bridge, which, mood. She followed it up with enough singles to fill two EPs (Chapters 1 and 2, respectively), honing her musicality while steadily growing her very vocal, very queer audience. By the start of 2020, she’d signed a worldwide recording deal and covered Gay Times magazine. It all paved the way for her fiery, deeply personal debut album If I Could Make It Go Quiet, out today (April 30).
Ulven describes the record as “Girl in Red 2.0,” an apt descriptor of its elevated and experimental sound. “Serotonin” — the third single off the album and her first collaboration with Grammy winner Finneas, who co-produced it — boasts the diaristic lyrics that define her catalog, only this time, Ulven raps the refrain over warped, explosive beats. While “Serotonin”’s sonic complexity is a prime example of Ulven’s artistic maturation, its explicit references to depression and intrusive thoughts (“Like jumping in front of a bus / Like cutting my hands off / Like, how do I make this stop?”) did spark some pre-release jitters. Prior to this track, even Ulven’s saddest songs were tinged with at least another element: anger, regret, and frequently, horniness.
“There was a point where I was like, wait, am I being too honest?’” she remembers about transforming her frightening thoughts into music. “Am I going to be canceled?” Ultimately, she went with her gut and released the track: “I was like, no, this is my experience. This is going to live in a song.” To date, Ulven has only received affirming feedback from listeners. “It was right on,” she says. “We all have intrusive thoughts. The amount of people who slide into my DMs like, ‘Yo Marie, I’ve actually never been able to say this to anyone’ — that feels so good. Like, I’m sorry you also have them because they suck, but it feels really, really good knowing you’re not alone.”
Ulven’s commitment to honoring her lived experience, raw as it may be, persists throughout If I Could Make It Go Quiet. In the self-deprecating “HornyLovesickMess,” a tour-bound Ulven laments becoming “the type of person who calls you up / Every time I need to get off.” A deceptively cheerful-sounding track titled simply “.” chronicles Ulven’s petty show of post-breakup strength when she encounters her ex in public (“But I’ll never tell / Honey, I’m not doing so well”). Standout banger “Body and Mind” — which Ulven cites as a personal fave — hurtles into the emotional “deep end” with stomping vocals over keyed-up beats. “I’m really, really proud of it,” she gushes. “Lyrically, that song is so good, and it has such a cool vibe to it.”
As cathartic as putting her mental-health journey to music may seem to those who listen, Ulven says she was only able to write songs about it after months of working through her feelings with a professional, “which was therapeutic.” Seeking treatment for her depression and intrusive thoughts gave Ulven the language to describe what she was going through — and the emotional stability to actually do something with it. “I don’t make great music if I’m depressed,” she explains. “Like, if I have three months of feeling like a flat pancake or feeling 2-D, then it’s really hard to feel excited about music when you don’t feel excited about anything that you used to love.”
It’s easy to hear her excitement about eventually returning to the concert stage, too. Her last live performance before the COVID-19 pandemic was the final show of a European tour at a venue in Oslo. Afterward, she was so exhausted that she collapsed in a stairwell on the way out. Ulven says the lack of live shows during the past year forced her to take some much-needed rest. “I think I needed a break,” she admits, “but I miss playing shows so much now. I just feel like this project and this life doesn’t really feel real with not being able to connect with people. It feels really weird.”
Perhaps that’s why Ulven offers this as a parting message to her queer fans, whose hilarious TikToks and heartfelt DMs helped keep her afloat during an otherwise very lonely year: “I hope you are having a good day.”
By Jaelani Turner-Williams
Reimagining the future of Black New Orleans music, Southern-bred polymath Dawn Richard is breathing new life into her hometown on her latest album, Second Line. She started with its title.
A second line is a traditional jazz foot-led parade that traces its origins back to the 19th century. They’re notably also funeral processions that celebrate the legacy of someone who’s passed with a marching brass band whose swing overtakes the city’s streets. All are welcome to join the spirited homecoming. Richard envisioned her own Second Line to make way for progressive Black women artists by shedding the R&B and hip-hop expectations of her past. Marking the death of old ideas, Second Line is a revival of the singer-songwriter-dancer-actress’s genre-bending experimentation, complete with rhapsodic bass-heavy production and an electronic nod to Afrofuturism.
“When we think of New Orleans, we think of jazz, soul, R&B. We don’t think of electronic, dance, and pop. It’s all I’ve ever known and what I wanted to expose the world to, through the lens of New Orleans,” Richard told MTV News. “I’m hoping that through this album, you’ll start to see the celebration of artists not being celebrated by the color of their skin or the genre that we choose to box them in, but rather by the talent and the art that they expose to the world.”
To Richard, the electronic movement is in dire need of a Black renaissance. While house was created by queer Black artists in Chicago during the 1970s and laid the foundation for contemporary dance music, the genre has largely been dominated by white, straight, cisgender producers and DJs. It later progressed into Black-oriented subgenres like Chicago footwork, D.C. go-go, and New Orleans bounce music, but Black musicians are often still relegated to the underground. Still, there’s incremental progress: In March, multi-genre Canadian DJ and producer Kaytranada was the first Black artist in the category’s 16-year history to nab a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album. Richard, too, joins the ranks of today’s innovators, specifically women, who are transforming the genre, including singers Kelela, FKA Twigs, and Bosco.
“When I was coming up, I loved the Björks and Imogen Heaps of the world, but I didn’t have anyone that looked like me that was in the genres that I loved. We didn’t have social media and technology the way it was then, so I couldn’t find the artists that were influential for me coming into this space,” Richard said. “I hope that with this album, it’ll open a floodgate so that when you ask the next artists under me who were their inspirations, they can name more than one token Black artist as an inspiration to them in a genre that isn’t hip-hop or R&B.”
Paying homage to the liveliness of New Orleans parades, Second Line embodies a seductive blend of sounds that swell and surge, complete with nods to trap, soul, and synthpop. Throughout the album, Richard seeps into self-discovery and liberation, with ambitious sonics to match. On “Voodoo (Intermission),” Richard’s mother warns visitors not to “mess with a Louisiana girl” as the song coasts into a sleek guitar-tinged funk.
Through the intoxicating sonics of Second Line, Richard again reinvents herself as she’s done consistently over the course of 15 years in the public eye. In 2005, she became a Bad Boy Records darling as part of the girl group Danity Kane, as documented on MTV’s Making the Band, and later as one-third of electro-laced force Diddy-Dirty Money. Leaving Bad Boy Records in 2012, Richard went the independent route and dropped a series of albums throughout the 2010s, including Goldenheart, Blackheart, Redemptionheart, and New Breed, all while moonlighting as culture curator for Adult Swim (highlighting creative projects by Black visual artists) and starting NOLA plant-based food hub Papa Ted’s, an homage to her late grandfather.
2019’s New Breed threaded Richard’s narrative of New Orleans glory through spoken-word clips from the Washitaw Nation sovereign group and her rich vocals. Second Line carves space for the same familial empowerment, with a focus on her mother’s crucial influence on her development and perspective. “On New Breed, I gave the narration of my father through his music and the Haitian culture that he was a part of,” Richard said. “With [Second Line], I thought it was important to show how my mom is the reason why I am the way I am. Her outlook on life, how she loved, how she lived, how she chose to approach life is a lot of the reason why I see myself as a king. That’s why she was important to be the narrator of this story, and why this album has such a strength to it, to purposely say we exist in this space and we need to be seen in this space.”
Masked behind an animated alter ego called King Creole, Richard encompasses the multi-dimensional approach of the album and the singer’s version of Black New Orleans. Down to her gold-plated armor on the album cover and animated shorts, King Creole is part-technology and part-human, and the evolution of Second Line itself speaks to the character’s growth. While the first half of the album is high-energy with an influx of vocal manipulation, its back end switches into vulnerable balladeer mode, eschewing the machine of King Creole and confronting her humanity. Defying gravity on “Boomerang,” Richard grooves over a house-centric bounce, with soaring vocals about an omnipresent lover. In Richard’s post-apocalyptic universe, New Orleans emulates the sleekness of 2017 sci-fi film Blade Runner 2049 while King Creole faces the concept of her existence and battles the mainstream status quo. In a battle of self, King Creole heroically finds her identity amidst societal pressures.
“Within King Creole is the truth of tech, AI, algorithm, but also the system and how it’s all built off of trends. But what happens when you’re not the trend anymore? How does the human side cope with that and the realness of that? Instead of being bitter, how do you come at it with freedom and happiness?” Richard said.“There’s machine versus human [and] system versus truth — that duality happens through life with all of us.”
The alluring visuals for Second Line, including singles “Bussifame,” “Pilot (A Lude),” and “Jacuzzi,” are filmed in synchrony with each other, with Richard and her accompanying dancers having identical features while inhabiting an alternative landscape. With grainy optics recalling VCR playback, Richard’s recent music videos follow the premise of New Orleans being captured through the lens of King Creole. In the fantasy of Second Line, the first beings to return to New Orleans are Black women, with the album’s raw intensity representing the dawn of a Black electronic music takeover.
“I want [New Orleans] to keep our aesthetic, because it is beautiful. We’ve got so much greatness coming out of our city,” Richard said. “Just think about the sauce that New Orleans is? That grit. I just want to show it in a space that maybe people weren’t seeing.”
Fessy confessed that he was “feeling” Tori on Double Agents, but he would “never cross that line” because at the time, she was in a relationship. Instead, the Big Brother alum
coupled up with focused his attention on Love Island rookie Gabby. Fast-forward to the Challenge Season 36 reunion: What actually happened between Tori and Fessy on the series, and what is their status (since she split with her significant other)?
“She’s just a very dope girl — that’s what I was trying to say,” Fessy told host Vernon Davis about their time in the game on the Double Agents reunion. “There’s a lot of pretty females in the house, but me and her just kind of vibed out when we talked. That’s kind of how it started when we started getting close as friends and we would just talk about a lot of things. I didn’t talk to a lot of people in the house. She was one of the few that I actually opened up to.”
Tori’s take: “Obviously, we connected, and we were really cool. We mostly got really close because he was partners with Aneesa. And we were always kind of together. But I didn’t know he was attracted to me until he called me beautiful in the igloo one night. He was drunk. It really wasn’t a big deal — it was super low-key. I didn’t realize any of that stuff, for the most part, until after I had gotten eliminated.”
After filming wrapped, the two were spotted in Turks and Caicos, where they did “lots of talking.” Tori insisted that the two are “just really good friends,” while Fessy responded with, “I plead the fifth.”
“So I was going to meet up with a few of my friends,” Tori explained. “Fessy just kind of slipped through. It was obviously after he had gotten back and was coming off of [finishing at] number four again. I think we were both kind of like, ‘Let’s do something that feels good.'”
They confirmed that they never did anything during Season 36, and the trip was more about getting to know each other outside of being on TV (and dipping their toes in the sand).
“We just found out we are better off as friends,” Fessy concluded.
However, Tori did admit that “sh*t did get weird” between them. What do you think that means — and do you believe that they are strictly platonic today? Sound off, and do not miss Part 2 of the Double Agents reunion next Wednesday at 8/7c!
Leah will face a “fresh new challenge” when Teen Mom 2 returns on May 4: The mother of three is navigating a personal health issue.
“So I scheduled a doctor’s appointment… and today I am going in for an ultrasound of the lump on my breast,” Leah states in the sneak peek below.
What emotions is she experiencing as she faces the upcoming visit?
“I don’t know how I feel. I mean, I don’t want to speak anything into existence,” she continues. “I just want to be extra-cautious and make sure that I keep up with my own health so that I can continue to take care of my babies.”
Speaking of her “babies,” what message does she have for Aleeah Grace and Ali about their own bodies changing as they get older? Watch their candid conversation, and do not miss the return of Teen Mom 2 on Tuesday, May 4 at 8/7c.
If heroes get remembered but legends never die, as the great Sandlot once posed, consider Real World: Las Vegas alum Arissa officially immortal. Her epic, vulgar-splattered tell-off on the most recent The Challenge: All Stars episode was NSFW myth-making at its most potent…and we kinda loved it.
After Teck’s elimination, the game’s remaining players were divided into four teams for “On the Ropes,” a race played in two heats of two teams each. At the sound of host TJ Lavin’s horns, players would alternate racing from one platform across a tangled web of ropes to a second platform and back, at which point they could detach one of their opponents’ ropes and send it splashing into the water below.
And while Gold Team Ruthie, Aneesa, Mark, Yes and Derrick proved to have the game down to a science, it was a struggle for the Silver Team: Jemmye, Syrus, Nememiah and Captain Beth, who was automatically sentenced to The Arena for leading the losing team.
“I’m just not having good luck in this game so far,” said Beth, whose forearms were raw with rope burn after The Challenge.
Mark, who earned the power of the Life Saver as part of his team’s win, toyed with the idea of finally activating the relic that had so far been unused by former winners Jisela, Kendal and Nehemiah. Mark said he was determined to save Katie, who eventually nominated herself into The Arena after an unremarkable performance, from the forthcoming elimination round and, instead, send Kendal in her place.
Still, Jemmye, Beth’s unlikely Challenge BFF, insisted that Arissa would be Beth’s best bet for an elimination-round win. Not only did Beth outsize the Battle of the Sexes 2 finalist, Arissa — who’d been separating herself from the rest of the house during social hours — seemed like an easy target.
“Arissa is a very different person than I know from Real World: Las Vegas,” Alton observed of his former housemate. “She was kind of like this hardcore chick. Now Arissa is kind of like a loner actually…that’s probably going to put a flag on you.”
Still, Arissa insisted to Mark that she wanted to play ball.
“I wanna participate in this game,” Arissa eventually reassured Mark. “I don’t like people f***ing with my money. Just because I’m zen doesn’t mean I can’t revert back to that part of me if need be.”
And revert, Arissa surely did.
Mark, who did, indeed, use the Life Saver to save Katie, unexpectedly discovered that it wasn’t he who’d choose her replacement: The house would have to vote once more for Beth’s new opponent. And when Darrell, the first up to bat, struggled to name his nominee, Beth suggested Arissa.
So Darrell complied. And then, so did many of his fellow competitors. And then, Arissa was summoned down to The Arena, but she didn’t make the trip quietly.
“Bitch, you don’t want to see me in this Arena,” Arissa said. “I’ll f***ing send you home.”
Arissa, seething, originally seem poised to take Beth on in “Wall Ball” though insisted to TJ that she’d rather “box her.” But when it was time to compete, Arissa tore off her helmet, turned to face the crowd behind her and delivered a diatribe more fiery than Ayanna after her BOTS2 elimination, more wounded than Rachel after her Battle of the Sexes ousting and more biting than Jo after removing herself from Gauntlet 2.
“I don’t need a helmet — I’d actually like to address my house right now,” Arissa said. “The way y’all pulled this sh** was some flagrant, snake-ass sh**. And while I respect the way this game is played, what I don’t respect is how y’all is living, which is pretty f***ing foul. And if I can’t box her, I don’t want any part of it.”
“So f*** you, I’m done,” Arissa added as she threw up a middle finger. “Y’all can kiss my motherf***ing ass. And that’s the motherf***ing game.”
That’s the motherf***ing game. May Etsy unveil its new related collection of fine home furnishings by summer.
Check out Arissa’s filthy dismissal in all its fiery glory in the latest episode, and be sure to keep tuning in to The Challenge: All Stars on Paramount+ with new episodes every Thursday.
Is your popcorn buttered? Are your fingers tired from voting for all your faves? Don’t worry — the 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards are only a few weeks away, which means it’s almost time to settle in and watch the biggest names in film and television get honored. And there’s even more good news: Leslie Jones will be your host for the evening.
By the way, did you watch the Oscars on Sunday? Jones sure did, and her running commentary on Instagram helped make sense of all its head-turning moments, like Glenn Close doing “Da Butt” dance (“I know COVID has forced us to do things, but…”) and Daniel Kaluuya shouting out his parents for having sex to make him (“Look at the mom!”). At the Movie & TV Awards, we won’t be wondering what Jones thinks of it all. She’ll be there to tell us in real time!
The Ghostbusters and Saturday Night Live favorite and comedy pro is also up for one award this year in the category of Best Comedic Performance, for her work in Coming 2 America. Jones is set to emcee the ceremony live from Los Angeles on Sunday, May 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. This year, that’s just the first part of a two-night celebration, with the first-ever Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted show airing the following night on Monday, May 17.
This year’s crop of nominees spans the experimental WandaVision, which leads with five nods, as well as bingeable, lovable shows like Emily in Paris, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and The Boys, which all racked up three each. On the cinematic side, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is up for three awards, and Chadwick Boseman landed a posthumous nomination in the Best Performance in a Movie category for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Find the full list of nominees right here.
Fan voting for the 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards is now open at vote.mtv.com and will be until April 30. Get voting!
The MTV Movie & TV Awards will air live on MTV on Sunday, May 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
When’s the last time you were happy? If you’re struggling to find an answer, here’s some good news: Billie Eilish‘s new album is reportedly due out July 30. At least you know now that this summer will be full of joy!
On Tuesday (April 27), Eilish revealed on social media that the follow-up to her globe-quaking 2019 debut When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is titled Happier Than Ever and that it’s her “favorite thing i’ve ever created and i am so excited and nervous and EAGER for you to hear it. i can’t even tell you. i’ve never felt so much love for a project than i do for this one. hope you feel what i feel.”
She accompanied that bit of news with an album cover that’s about as diametrically opposed to the twisted darkness of her debut as you can get. Instead of evoking night terrors and demonic entities, Happier Than Ever features a blonde Eilish giving herself a hug in a pale white garment. Of course, not everything is as its title would suggest: She’s also crying.
Ahead of the announcement, Eilish teased a sample of music, likely the title track, and more from her new platinum look. “When I’m away from you / I’m happier than ever,” she sings in the snippet. This is likely the new song she’s planning to drop on Thursday (April 29) at 9 a.m.
Eilish unveiled her new hair on social media back in March, just a few days after winning Record of the Year at the 2021 Grammys. Based on the last month’s worth of posts, she’s also been expanding her wardrobe, including boasting a shirt with doves on it. She also featured a string of dove emojis in the album announcement. Doves are gonna be big for her this time around.
Happier Than Ever, like its predecessor, features no outside writers apart from Eilish and her brother and collaborator, Finneas. He produced the album, along with Eilish’s debut, in their native Los Angeles.
Below, find the tracklist for Happier Than Ever, which includes the title track as well as early singles “My Future,” released last in July, and “Therefore I Am,” which dropped back in November 2020 complete with a ghostly video filmed in an abandoned mall.
1. Getting Older
2. I Didn’t Change My Number
3. Billie Bossa Nova
4. my future
7. Lost Cause
8. Halley’s Comet
9. Not My Responsibility
11. Everybody Dies
12. Your Power
14. Therefore I Am
15. Happier Than Ever
16. Male Fantasy
Get ready for Billie’s new moves. She’s in love with her future. Can’t wait to meet her.
By Tássia Assis
When MTV News connects via Zoom with Enhypen (stylized all-caps), the South Korean pop group’s seven members sit split into two neat rows: Heeseung, Jake, Jay, and Sunoo in the front, followed by Jungwon, Sunghoon, and Ni-ki right behind them. Their outfits are carefully coordinated in neutral hues, and their hair is styled with boyish side-parts, with the exception of Ni-ki, whose forehead is covered by a precisely placed ash-blonde fringe. Ranging from 15 to 19 years old, it’s only been five months since they debuted with their first project, Border: Day One, the highest-selling release of all the work put out by last year’s rookies. Yet despite their ages, the artists carry themselves with an air of poise — and maybe a little mystery.
Across their lavish music videos and allegorical lyrics, Enhypen have crafted an intricate universe filled with vampires and Shakespearian odes. They aren’t simply mystifying performers, sitting in this conference room to talk about their second mini-album, Border: Carnival, which is out today (April 26); they are both the creators of and creatures within a multidimensional fable that was laid out last year. Formed by Belift Lab, a joint venture between South Korean entertainment companies CJ ENM and HYBE Corporation (formerly known as Big Hit), Enhypen came together through the survival show I-Land. The program’s opening scene featured a quote from the German writer Hermann Hesse’s novel Demian that might also be applied to the group’s own story: “The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.”
If Border: Day One cracked the shell, now the artists are ready to spread their wings. The six-track Border: Carnival tracks their arrival to the dazzling, dizzying world of fame in three distinct versions — “Up,” “Hype,” and “Down” — with distinct visuals filtered through the sugary highs and crashing lows of visiting such a colorful festival. These themes are captured in the music video for the galloping pop-rock single “Drunk-Dazed,” where they throw a house party that quickly devolves into a chilling nightmare. The psychedelic “Intro: The Invitation” offers a deliciously dramatic first taste of this journey, while the hip-hop and rock sounds of “Mixed Up” reflect their vulnerable experience growing up in the public eye. Throughout, there are symbols to be deciphered with seemingly endless interpretations — Victorian attire, crimson blood — but all signifying a world waiting to be discovered.
MTV News: Congrats on your second mini-album! Now that you’ve crossed Border: Day One, how does it feel to step into this Carnival, as you’ve named it?
Jungwon: Border: Carnival is where we’re still sort of confused, but these are honest feelings of us trying to enjoy this moment. We’re looking forward to [our fans] Engenes to also enjoy this new album, and we’re really excited about our new music and showing our performances.
MTV News: Your debut happened only five months ago, but how have you changed since then?
Jake: Like you said, it’s only been five months, so I think we’re still at the very early stages of our careers. But we feel like we have taken a huge step as artists, and that we grew a lot as a team, especially on this album. We hope that our fans will be able to see that chemistry on stage as well as off stage.
MTV News: How do you feel when you look at your achievements so far? Is it challenging to think you have so much responsibility at a young age?
Heeseung: I can’t really say that we achieved a lot. There’s still a lot that we need to do, a lot that we need to learn, a lot that we need to grow. That’s something we’ll continue to build together, both with the members and with our fans. The support and the love from Engenes are what drives us to keep achieving those things.
MTV News: The pandemic has been hard for everyone, but groups like Enhypen, who debuted after it all started, haven’t had many opportunities to meet their fans. What are you learning from these trying times?
Sunghoon: Unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of chances to meet our fans, but still, we have received a lot of love and a lot of support. That made us learn how precious our fans are, and we want to give back to them. We want to keep on working hard so that someday we can meet face to face, perform, and sing. It just happens that we have to wait a little bit more.
MTV News: Your main concept for this comeback is “carnival,” and your title track is named “Drunk-Dazed.” Did you intend to capture these feelings of astonishment and excitement that you experience at a festival?
Jay: After we debuted, what we experienced are things I never experienced before, and I believe it’s the first time for all the other members too. Everything seems really elaborate, really glamorous, but also very unfamiliar. I think that’s what you would experience at a carnival, in regards to unfamiliarity, but also all the fanciness, the glitter and glamour. It’s like all these emotions and feelings melted down into one song.
MTV News: Can you talk about the music video for “Drunk-Dazed” and share some memories of the shoot?
Heeseung: I remember practicing the chorus part on the set. There was this moment when we were all in the center, and it was great. Then, we saw how it was turning out and it was really amazing. It was also the first time we were doing the choreography outside of the practice studio. All the staff was giving us positive feedback, and that made us feel really great. It was a fantastic experience.
MTV News: What are the tracks you most relate to in this album and why?
Jungwon: The song that resonated with me the most is the fourth track, “Mixed Up,” because it’s about things that I didn’t experience as a trainee. After I-Land and after our debut, I started to receive all this attention from a lot of people, so this is when the whole environment changed for me and brought up these feelings of being mixed up.
Jake: For me, it has to be our title track, “Drunk-Dazed,” because it expresses the overall theme and message of the album really well. It’s one of my favorites.
MTV News: Engenes all over the world want to know: What’s the relation between Enhypen and vampires?
Jay: Oh, that’s funny.
Heeseung: [To Jake:] What do you think?
Jake: Actually, we’re very curious about that. What do you think?
MTV News: For me, it seems like there are two different stories happening simultaneously. One is Enhypen as you are now, as idols, and the other is a more fantastical one.
Jake: I think the theory you have is a really good one.
MTV News: Are you aware of the theories that Engenes create?
Jake: We do know that a lot of Engenes come up with their own theories, and it’s really exciting to look at them and all their ideas.
MTV News: So what’s the real story behind it?
Jay: It’s open.
Jake: Yes, we want to leave it for the fans to interpret it themselves.
Heeseung: If you interpret or try to divide the storyline using our title tracks as the center of it, I think it will be easier to discover more about our world.
MTV News: Jay, you love rock, so how do you feel about the sounds and visuals in this album?
Jay: The tracks “Mixed Up” and “Drunk-Dazed,” as well as the “Hype” version of the album, really express that rock sensibility. There are a lot of new, fresh, and challenging things that appeal to me. Those themes are similar to how I dress, the kind of clothes that I like, so I really enjoyed it.
MTV News: Heeseung, you once said, “The more time you spend on your work, the less time there is to invest in yourself.” How do you separate your time between work and investing in yourself?
Heeseung: These days, I’m mostly spending time on work, but focusing on work is part of investing in myself. I don’t think those two are very different for me.
MTV News: Jake, where do you feel like you have grown the most for this comeback?
Jake: Now that we have spent more time together as a team, I think our chemistry has definitely improved, as well as having a deeper understanding for one another. But also, in terms of singing and dancing, as well as facial expressions on stage, everything has gotten a lot better.
MTV News: Jungwon, you’re the leader, but how do you stay focused?
Jungwon: I talk to the other members a lot and they give me feedback about what I’m doing and how things are going. That allows me to take an objective view of myself, fix up what I’m doing, and keep on track.
MTV News: Sunoo, you can adapt to any concept easily. What is that process like for you?
Sunoo: There are three concepts in this album, so I had to think a lot about how to adjust [to each of them]. But once we got on set and tried on the outfits, we did a lot of preparations, and I was able to easily adapt to the different atmospheres. Also, especially for the “Up” version, me and the other members studied images and videos of outfits that were similar to that theme, so those efforts made up for it.
MTV News: Sunghoon, Jake, and Heeseung are introverts according to the MBTI personality test. Sunghoon, when do you think it’s an advantage to be introverted?
Sunghoon: There are good and bad things for both personalities, introverted and extroverted. The fact that we have both in Enhypen gives us an advantage, a synergy. I think it’s a good thing that we have a mix of different personalities.
MTV News: Ni-ki, coming from Japan and being the youngest member, how do you feel about growing up with Enhypen?
Ni-ki: The other members always look out for me, and if there’s something I don’t know or that I can’t figure out, they are always right there. They really help me a lot. I feel like I have a family here in Korea.
MTV News: Can you share something about Enhypen’s next adventure, as foreshadowed in “Outro: The Wormhole”?
Ni-ki: I can’t spoil too many details, but I can tell you that we will be back again with great music and great performances that all Engenes can look forward to. So please, look forward to that.