[INTERVIEW] Capturing The Essence of Youth with Catch The Young

Five-piece band Catch The Young has been inching their way into listeners’ hearts since their debut in November 2023. Through their genre of music that they dub “Youth Pop-Rock,” Sani (leader, bass, vocal), Jungmo (drum, percussion), Kihoon (guitar, vocal), Namhyun (lead vocal, keyboard), and Junyong (keyboard, vocal) hope to capture the essence of youth and help listeners embrace and relive the joys, challenges, and growth that come with it.

On November 1, 2023, Catch The Young released their debut mini-album, Catch The Young: Fragments of Youth under Evermore Entertainment. The album consists of seven self-composed tracks that depict different moments of youth that listeners can relate to. “My Own Way,” opens the album with its message of self-assurance and resilience to live life your own way, despite the uncertainties that the unknown brings. Aptly named title track “YOUTH!!!” is a celebratory anthem that best embodies the group’s “Youth Pop-Rock” genre. Boasting a playful, synth sound reminiscent of the ‘80s wave music, it encourages listeners to embrace challenges and find beauty in everyday moments. No matter what the outcome is, every experience adds to the richness of life.

The album’s tone shifts with the dreamy, city-pop vibe “Talking to Myself,” which is about someone struggling to express their feelings for someone else. The fourth track, “First Crush,” is a bittersweet, nostalgic track reflecting on an unrequited first love, while the heartfelt ballad, “If You Love Me,” is a love letter of gratitude about an enduring love that withstood time. The album’s tone shifts once again with “The Way To You,” a bold, energetic track that captures the heart-thumping, joyful feelings of being head over heels in love. 

Rounding off the album is the most introspective song on the album, “Cactus Boy.” At first listen, the rock ballad may be misinterpreted as being a love song. Rather, it’s a song about someone who is learning to heal the wounds of their past. In the band’s behind-the-scenes video for “Cactus Boy,” Sani clarified that the “you” referred to in the song does not have to do with a lover, but whatever helps the listener overcome their insecurities. For some people that may be their dreams, their friends, or something that they like or cherish dearly. By keeping the ending of the song open to interpretation, Sani hopes that listeners develop their connection and interpretation of the song, in whatever way it shows up in their own life. 

Youth is a period that many take for granted, but the memories and experiences one learns during this time often become cornerstones that shape their future. Through Catch The Young: Fragments of Youth, Catch The Young is walking listeners through these important moments of their youth, one song at a time.

On Christmas Eve, Catch The Young performed songs off their album at their Santa The Young concert in Seoul. The intimate performance was held at Seongam Art Hall and welcomed fans, called Catcher, for a night of great music and holiday cheer. Kpopconcerts.com had the pleasure of attending Catch The Young’s Santa The Young concert and spoke with them afterward to get their reflections on the year thus far.

Cr. Evermore Entertainment

KPC: Congratulations on completing your Santa The Young Christmas concert! How did you all feel leading up to the concert, and how do you feel now that it’s done?

SANI: Before the concert, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous about delivering a stage better than any we’ve done before. However, after the performance, sharing the joy with our fans was so fulfilling that I couldn’t help but think about how we should prepare for the next one.

KIHOON: Since it was a Christmas concert, I did some extra preparations, which made me more anxious. While I knew the audience would enjoy it, there was still some concern about how they would react. However, after finishing the performance, I felt a strong desire to do it again. Performing is truly the most enjoyable experience.

NAMHYUN: Regardless of the stage, there’s always a bit of tension, but this time, it felt more like excitement. Having a solo concert on Christmas Eve is not something everyone can do. Of course, we needed to show our best, so we practiced diligently, supporting and encouraging each other. However, after the performance, there was a bit of regret. It would have been nice if we could have shared more songs, and if the performance time could have been a bit longer.

JUNGMO: The four of us had already experienced a performance without JUNYONG, so we felt even more determined to do better than last time. It was our first concert since debut, so there was some pressure, but we knew that proper preparation, practice, and teamwork were essential to shine on stage. We worked hard every day to prepare.

JUNYONG: Aside from the short performances, it was our team’s first time doing such a long concert, so I wasn’t quite sure how much preparation was needed. I felt a mix of tension and excitement personally. Even though I’ve been on stage before, it was a special experience and something I’ve never done before, so I was quite nervous. However, after finishing the performance, it was incredibly exciting and happy. The energy from the fans who enjoyed the show was fantastic, and I finally understood what it means for a band to perform.

KPC: What were some of your favorite moments from the concert?

JUNGMO: I enjoyed every moment, but one of my favorites was when our fans, Catchers, held up slogans with supportive messages for us. It was incredibly touching and heartwarming.

JUNYONG: Like JUNGMO, I loved every moment of the concert. Since it was my first concert with these members as Catch The Young, there isn’t a single moment that stands out. From the beginning of the performance to the farewell greetings at the end, every aspect of the concert was fantastic. 

JUNGMO (Cr. Evermore Entertainment)

KPC: Congratulations on the release of your debut album, “Catch The Young: Fragments of Youth”! I love how each song distinctly represents different stages of youth. Through your music, you’re creating your own genre called “Youth Pop-Rock.” Can you share more about how this came to be, and what elements define “Youth Pop-Rock” within your music?

SANI: The idea of creating our own genre, Youth Pop-Rock, came from our desire to explore various types of music. We found it challenging to define our music within a single genre like pop, rock, or any specific subgenre, as we wanted the freedom to experiment with different sounds and styles. While we don’t intentionally mix genres, we believe that confining ourselves to a specific label limits our creative possibilities. We focus on crafting each song based on the message it conveys, contemplating the sounds and elements that best suit the narrative.

JUNGMO: While there is already a term like alternative pop-rock, we feel it doesn’t perfectly encapsulate our style. More importantly, we see Youth Pop-Rock as a representation of our dedication and attitude. Creating our own genre allows every piece of music we produce to be explained within this framework. It enables us to embrace any challenge, making it uniquely ours. So, Youth Pop-Rock is not just a label; it encompasses our spirit and the mindset of making everything we attempt distinctly ours.

NAMHYUN (Cr. Evermore Entertainment)

KPC: Songs can undergo multiple revisions before they’re released. I understand that other than “YOUTH!!!,” the songs in the album were written quite some time ago. Can you share what the creative process was like and how you selected these songs to be in your debut album?

SANI: The process of creating a song is quite similar for most tracks. Typically, it takes several months, and sometimes up to a year and a half, to refine a song continuously. We have a studio at our company, and once a song is composed, we constantly practice, modify, and fine-tune it. It’s an iterative process.

KIHOON: This was all part of the effort to enhance the completeness of the songs. The work included aspects like arranging and modifying the music, but it also involved aligning all of us in terms of instrument playing and singing. We collaborated on playing and singing, continually refining and adjusting the song. Through this ongoing process, the songs included in the album took shape.

JUNGMO: The lyric-writing process went through a similar journey. All of these steps were challenging for us because there’s no definitive answer. We always contemplated what might be better, worked to improve our skills, and didn’t stop with just releasing our debut album. This process is still ongoing.

NAMHYUN: The songs on the album were selected based on input from many people. We discussed among ourselves which songs fit the concept of this album and also considered the opinions of the staff we work with. It was a collaborative effort to gather various perspectives and make decisions. The next album will probably go through a similar process, and of course, there will be new songs created as well.

SANI (Cr. Evermore Entertainment)

KPC: “Cactus Boy” is a song about someone healing from their internal wounds and insecurities and leaves the ending open to interpretation. Can you explain the thought process behind making “Cactus Boy” abstract at the end and how it connects to the song’s overall message of healing from internal wounds and insecurities?

SANI: “Cactus Boy” is a song created based on my personal experiences. It’s a unique song that came together smoothly from the beginning of the writing process to its completion, without any major obstacles. The song went through several versions before reaching the current recording, and listening to all those versions sometimes brings back memories. While the song is based on my experiences, I believe that not everyone can feel the same emotions I felt.

We aim to tell stories of youth and experiences that everyone can relate to, not only in this album but in the various songs we’ll share in the future. Our goal is to capture experiences that many have been through, and someone listening to our songs can reminisce, empathize, and find comfort by recalling their own experiences. That, I believe, is the most important message encapsulated in our music.

KPC: You each auditioned and underwent a trainee period before being selected to be in the final band lineup. Can you share what the trainee period was like for you all and what it entailed?

SANI: As you mentioned, we all came from different musical backgrounds and were contacted by the company to audition. After the audition process and a trainee period, we became Catch The Young.

KIHOON: I was the first to join the company about 3-4 years ago, followed by SANI. We began our trainee life together.

NAMHYUN: I joined the team after auditioning, and at that time, we were called “Evermore The Young.” During our trainee period, we worked on music, performed, and gained experience. Eventually, the team’s name changed to Catch The Young for various reasons.

JUNGMO: I joined right after the name change and began rehearsing for our first solo concert (in March 2023) with the members.

JUNYONG: I attended that solo concert as an audience member, and around that time, I officially became the last member of the team.

KIHOON: Except for JUNYONG, the other members didn’t have experience as trainees in other companies. While we might not know exactly how other companies train their artists, we focused on what we needed to do to prepare for our debut.

SANI: For example, while idol trainees may learn dance and singing every day, we practiced individual instrument playing and vocal exercises daily. We also had group rehearsals to synchronize our music as a team.

NAMHYUN: It wasn’t just about practicing instruments or vocals. We shared thoughts on our music, worked on songwriting, discussed lyrics, recommended diverse songs to each other, and even studied foreign languages together. Despite having different specialties, we worked hard every day to become one cohesive team.

JUNYONG: However, it wasn’t only about musical rehearsals. To showcase our dynamic performances, we also practiced various aspects of our stage presence.

JUNYONG (Cr. Evermore Entertainment)

KPC: You all went to school or are currently going to school for music. For those who are currently taking classes, how is it balancing your career and your studies?

KIHOON: Members who are attending school do find it a bit challenging at times. What we learn in school is crucial, and being students, we have assignments to complete. Given the nature of our major, there are quite a few collaborative activities, such as ensemble practices and practical exercises with other students. Balancing all of this with our music career can be a bit tough, but the two are not entirely unrelated. What we learn in school can be beneficial to our music, and daily rehearsals with the members contribute to our ensemble skills, making both aspects mutually reinforcing.

JUNYONG: Being a high school student, my situation is a bit different from the other members. I need to leave earlier than the older members to avoid being late. Waking up early can be tiring at times, but I consider these experiences to be something I wouldn’t be able to enjoy at any other time. I’m balancing school life and team activities with a joyful mindset, acknowledging that these are unique experiences.

KPC: Many international fans discovered Catch The Young through your cover performance videos. How do you approach reimagining well-known songs, while still staying true to their essence?

SANI: We consider it crucial to present and share songs in a way that is uniquely Catch The Young. Amidst the various cover versions out there, we aim to make our own version the one we can perform the best. We believe it adds value for our listeners when they hear our rendition.

KPC: How do you want Catch The Young to be known as?

CATCH THE YOUNG: We always want Catch The Young to be known as a band that sings about and brings forth the energy of youth. Remember Catch The Young as a band that captures the energy of youth through our music. Please continue to look forward to it. We will deliver songs that live up to such expectations in the future, and we hope you won’t be disappointed.

KPC: What goals do you have for 2024? Please share with us!

CATCH THE YOUNG: Our goal for 2024 is to receive the “Rookie of the Year” award at music award ceremonies. We also hope to meet more people through performances in broader venues. Whether it’s in Asia or another region, we’re not sure yet, but we want to share the music of Catch The Young beyond Korea and introduce our band to the world.

KPC: Thank you for your time. Do you have any messages or wishes you’d like to send to your fans?

CATCH THE YOUNG: Catch The Young is, as the name suggests, about telling stories related to youth and conveying the energy of youth. It also carries the meaning of delivering music that provides diverse empathy and energy about youth to people of all ages. We will continue to make music that radiates such energy, so please look forward to it and support us. We hope for the day when we can enjoy the stage together with people from all around the world. Thank you and Happy New Year!

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