They go by the enigmatic moniker xikers. The very name itself, a fusion of the enigmatic “x” and the intrepid spirit of “hikers,” speaks to the mission these 10 remarkable individuals have undertaken — to voyage “through infinite time and space based on their own coordinates.”
It’s a daunting undertaking as new K-pop acts are springing up everywhere, and the fifth generation is in its formative phase. Among this star-studded firmament, xikers debuted in March under the stewardship of KQ Entertainment, the same powerhouse that catapulted ATEEZ to international acclaim.
Within its first week, their inaugural EP, “HOUSE OF TRICKY: Doorbell Ringing,” shattered records, boasting over 100,000 physical copies sold and placing the boy band on the Billboard 200 chart in just 12 days.
Now, less than five months after the success of “Doorbell Ringing,” the multinational act are back with a sequel, “HOUSE OF TRICKY: HOW TO PLAY.” The six-track mini-album features two title tracks: “DO OR DIE,” a rebellious and fun punk rock anthem, and the nostalgic crooner “HOMEBOY.” Leader Minjae and fellow group mates Sumin and Yechan have once again lent their lyrical prowess to the album, contributing to all six tracks.
Ahead of the album’s release and their debut appearance at KCON LA 2023, xikers spoke with NextShark about their approach to their new project and what they have learned since their debut.
NextShark: What is the meaning behind the comeback title “HOUSE OF TRICKY : HOW TO PLAY”? Is it meant to be a narrative or thematic continuation of your debut album, “HOUSE OF TRICKY : Doorbell Ringing”?
Minjae: As this is the second mini-album in the “HOUSE OF TRICKY” series, there is quite a bit of continuity to it, but rather than focusing only on the progression of the story, the album is put together like a practice game with the ability to experience various concept games and build experience points during the tutorial before the main event begins. I think the album plays a good role in building anticipation for the story that will unfold in the future!
How did you feel preparing for this comeback?
Jinsik:We missed roadY (xikers’ fanbase) as much as they have missed and waited for us, so we prepared for this comeback with overwhelming excitement. It’s also been a while since we’ve been onstage, so we were extra motivated and worked really hard to prepare for it.
What was the most fun thing about preparing for your comeback album/music videos?
Yechan: We have a lot of fun when we sing together, so whenever we practiced, it always felt like we were having a concert!
How did you or your company determine that “HOUSE OF TRICKY : HOW TO PLAY?” would be the right comeback? Is there any specific message or impact you’re hoping to make with this new release in particular?
Junmin: We worked really hard so that we could have a comeback and show roadY amazing performances as soon as possible. As we prepared the album, we put a lot of attention on imbuing a youthful energy unique to xikers into the tracks and performances. This is something you’ll notice even when you look at the lyrics of the B-side tracks on the album. My hope is that everyone can listen to our album and find comfort in it.
There are two title tracks: “HOMEBOY” and “DO or DIE.” What should your fans pay attention to while listening to these tracks?
Yujun: Each title track has its own unique charm to it. “HOMEBOY” has a refreshing and youthful vibe that can be enjoyed throughout the track, while “DO or DIE” brings through an overwhelming energetic vibe that showcases each member’s personality very well.
Your debut album is known for spanning several different genres. Did you take a similar approach when constructing this second album? Are there any styles and sounds you were excited to explore for this album’s tracks?
Sumin: The song “DO or DIE” has a lot of witty expressions in various aspects incorporated into the track, so I looked up different witty phrases and expressions while I was writing the lyrics for it. As I searched for expressions I could use, I came across a webtoon that gave me a lot of ideas I could use as onomatopoeic inspiration from it.
What is something you’ve learned about yourselves, either personally or as artists, in this industry now that you have more experience since your debut?
Jinsik: There are so many things that we’ve learned after debuting. Of all the experiences, I’ve come to understand that the quality of my performance improves when I am calm and composed.
Were there any fears during your debut that you feel you’ve overcome?
Yujun: It was a little nerve-racking to perform live onstage at first, but now I feel like I’m really able to enjoy it and have fun.
When did it sink in that you are idols and have lots of fans who support you?
Hyunwoo: We performed at KPOP LUX in Spain recently, and when I saw the fans singing along to our songs during our performances, I really felt like we were receiving a lot of love.
If you could go back and give one piece of advice to your debut selves, what would you want them to know?
Hunter: Take care of your health, practice when you still can, don’t take anything for granted.
With your name xikers symbolizing coordinates and traveling like a hiker, how do you handle being homesick when you’re on the road during promotions?
Seeun: When I miss my hometown, I tend to call my family and friends or listen to songs as I wander through my thoughts.
What is the next location you want to go? A music festival? A specific city on a world tour? What is next for xikers?
Minjae: There are so many more roadY all over the world that recognize and like xikers now … we’re excited to meet them as soon as possible, no matter where they are.
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