You can feel the excitement buzzing as soon as I enter a basement conference room in a New York City hotel and am greeted by nine friendly faces belonging to Serim, Allen, Jungmo, Woobin, Wonjin, Minhee, Hyeongjun, Taeyoung, and Seongmin. After our chat, they're off to perform at KCON Chicago — the first-ever, I might add, for my beloved Windy City. (I make sure to let them know that Chicago is my hometown and that they're going to have the best time.)
No doubt they'll perform one of their latest hits, "Adrenaline," which hypes you up with lyrics like "Feel it, embrace me, dominate / Like a fight scene, this thrilling feeling / The adrenaline in my body is raging lightning." It's precisely the type of youthful energy you'd expect from a pack of young men ranging from ages 19 to 22 aspiring to be world-renowned K-pop idols.
Though the pandemic certainly threw a wrench in their debut plans — this is CRAVITY's inaugural overseas trip since debuting on April 14, 2020, by the way — CRAVITY is finally starting to meet their fans, dubbed LUVITY, and experiencing the joys of in-person performances. After all, they've released two albums and three EPs thus far, and even their first digital single "Vivid" as of this month — so there's plenty of discography to wow fans with.
Like most K-pop group names, CRAVITY holds a special meaning. It stands for "Center of Gravity" and combines the words "Creativity" and "Gravity," and really suits the members — who strike me as kind and grounded throughout the entire interview. And, as you'll soon read, that creativity goes beyond music — even though some members have already started contributing to songwriting. Let's just say…LUVITY will be waiting for a marine-themed comeback concept to manifest.
Their attitudes towards beauty are also thoughtful and appreciative, which feels like a breath of fresh air compared to some idols in the industry who might view beauty as a practice confined to the makeup and hairstyling chairs while they're on set for a photo shoot, music video, or TV appearance. (To be totally clear, while I do work for allure.com, beauty is what each individual makes of it and there's no right way to go about it.)
But, to get a bit more specific, I asked CRAVITY a few further questions to get a better understanding of their relationship with beauty (and more). Here's what ensued:
Pre-Debut vs. Now: Beauty Edition
What was your relationship with beauty like growing up and/or pre-debut?
Seongmin: I've always had an interest in making myself up and receiving professional makeup and skin-care treatments.
Sumin: I like to decorate myself. Around the time I was 19, I learned how to do my makeup through a friend.
Taeyoung: Before my debut, all I did was just wash my face with water and apply a toner or skin pad, and no moisturizer. Post-debut, we're in a lot of makeup for the whole day, so my skin gets troublesome. I'm interested in learning how to get better skin, so now I'm using a lot of skin-care products.
Allen: I think beauty in general — doing our hair and makeup, or just wearing clothes that makes us feel comfortable in our bodies — can make a person [feel] so much more confident, and that confidence goes a long way.
Beauty really helps us in that way because we're always in front of cameras and there are always going to be people looking out for us. That's why it's really important for us to really take good care of ourselves, whether that be through skin care or diet, or working out. Our members are doing a fairly good job, in that respect.
If you had to name a desert island beauty necessity, what would it be and why?
Taeyong: Maybe there's coconut oil [you can get] from a tree.
Hyeongjun and Allen: Vaseline.
Serim: Sun cream and an eyebrow knife. I could also use the knife to hunt. [Editor's note: I assume this would be something like a dermaplaning tool.]
Minhee: Sun cream and lotion because my skin is so dry.
If you could have any hair color for the rest of your life (and you magically wouldn't have to retouch it nor would it cause any damage), what would it be?
Taeyoung: Maybe this ash gray.
Woobin: My current color.
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Allen: I say black hair, because as we age, we start growing white hair, right? But if, for the rest of your life, you could have black hair — how great would that be?
On K-Pop Role Models & Finding Their Own Style
Is there anyone in the K-pop industry whose style you really admire, and why?
Multiple CRAVITY members name Monsta X's I.M, one of their sunbaes (a word used to refer to someone older and/or more senior in the industry) from Starship Entertainment. Taeyoung is the most enthusiastic and comments on how cool and sexy his labelmate is.
Taeyoung: He really changed after "Love Killa," he says. When he was changing styles [and doing that] kind of [darker, smokier] makeup, I loved it, and I'm open to trying that kind of style in my own way.
Jungmo: My role model is BTS's V. He's just handsome, stunning, and cool. I like comfortable clothes, which he sometimes wears at the airport, so I like his style.
Allen: It was our very first time showing the fans our airport fashion. We actually spent a lot of time preparing for it, buying new clothes, and just contemplating what to wear, because we really want to show our best sides to our fans.
Imagine you have free rein to create a comeback concept for Cravity and a look for each member. What would that look like?
Serim: A marine look with sharp hair. Like, a sailor outfit. It's a fresh concept that suits the summer.
Taeyoung: It's really hot, so we need to get short-sleeve tops. Allen has been exercising a lot, so maybe [we incorporate] some exposure.
Minhee: I want to dress up Hyeongjun in the western kind of cowboy look, like that authentic PSY kind of style in 'That That.'
Hyeongjun: I want to enhance Minhee's natural freckles.
Allen: I'd like to see Serim in a uniform, like a police or pilot uniform. I think that would be really sexy. He has a good body. [Woobin and Minhee agree with the latter statement.] He also has good proportions.
Wonjin: I want to see Woobin in a chef outfit because he's a really good cook and makes really good food.
On Creativity & Perseverance
What inspires you when you're songwriting, producing, or practicing choreography?
Taeyoung: Definitely, that is our fans.
Allen: Because we want to be [good] sons, we want to make a lot of money so we can pay back our parents. There are our fans as well like Taeyoung said. We always want to show our fans our best sides — new sides that the fans can always look forward to with each comeback.
For me, it's also the little things, whether that be the weather, on sunny or rainy days. Colors as well. I take inspiration from literally anything. I could hear a keyword, or when I'm talking with my friends, I hear stories about their lives and could write a song like that.
What was debuting at the height of the pandemic like? Did it have an impact on your mental health, and how so?
Wonjin: There are not going to be any other situations more depressing than COVID-19, so that's how it made us strong.
Allen: We've been through this pandemic, and so we can face anything. It's definitely taken a toll on us because it's been two years [and counting of COVID]. Working up towards that, it's been a really tough road because we didn't know when it was going to end. Every time we performed on stage in front of the camera without our fans, we lost a lot of energy. So it's like, what's the point of working so hard when what is shown is only captured by the camera? Whereas, with a live audience, you don't know who is looking at you, so you have to be doing your best at all times.
Our first time performing in front of fans was in April of this year. But even then, we couldn't hear them screaming or cheering for us. They only clapped. They also had their masks on, so we couldn't really see their faces. It was still rewarding though.
Reflecting on the Past, Present, & Future
What has been your proudest moment thus far, besides your debut?
Woobin: Our fans probably don't really know to what extent each and every member practices and works each time we prepare for a new album. It's important for us to improve ourselves so that while we record songs or learn new choreography, we can really surprise [our fans] and show them how we improved. I'm really proud of those moments when we're all in the zone, focusing on bettering ourselves.
Seongmin: I'm really proud of the way our members come out on camera during music shows, knowing there might be other teams watching us. [Editor's note: For context, the next group who's performing is on-call and can monitor the on-stage group via screens.]
What makes you excited or optimistic about the future of K-pop?
Taeyoung: I'm looking forward to singing all together with a global audience. Fans all over the world learn Korean just to sing along to their favorite artists. So I'm really proud of how much K-pop has accomplished to be able to have that impact on a global scale.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.