P1Harmony Are Done Playing It Safe on New Album ‘Killin’ It’

P1Harmony against a celestial backdrop

“Personally, I think we’ve been playing it very safe for the first few years of our career,” says Keeho, leader of K-pop group P1Harmony. “But I feel like moving into 2024 and during the promotions for this album and the ones coming after it, I really want us to be true to ourselves.” That all starts with their debut studio album, 때깔 (Killin‘ It), which came out on Feb. 5.

That title is on the nose: After conquering what could’ve been their most uncertain year yet since debuting in 2020, P1Harmony has quite literally been killing it. Not only did they spend the entirety of 2023 (and a bit of 2024) knee-deep in their world tour across five continents, but the sextet also managed to find time to close the chapter on their successful six-part EP series and become the first independently-signed male Korean group to chart on U.S. Top 40 Radio with their single, “Fall In Love Again” — all while asserting their creative prowess by being more directly involved in their music than ever before. Best part is, that’s not even the half of it.

Now, with three years of cementing their sound in abrasive hip-hop with a dash of pop and soulful R&B, P1Harmony is entering 2024 with a clean slate. On the new album, they explore throwback retro styles with refined finesse while remaining true to the very sounds their fanbase, P1ece, fell in love with from the start. Ahead of the album’s release, Teen Vogue spoke with members Keeho, Theo, Jiung, Intak, Soul, and Jongseob about how this new era represents the group’s current vibe, which songs were worth fighting for, and how they’ve been keeping it all together in the midst of growing fame and an even more packed 2024.

P1Harmony crammed in a hatchback

Teen Vogue: Last year, you hinted at wanting to put out a full-length album in the new year — how soon after “JUMP” did that dream become a reality?

Keeho: So the thing was, originally it wasn’t supposed to be a full album. There were talks if we would make this another mini [album] or if we’re going to do full-length, but I remember we were telling our company, “No, it needs to be a full-length album.” I don’t know exactly when it was executively decided on, but we were pushing for it a lot and they listened. And when we started preparing for it — it was during the tour, so it’s been quite a bit.

TV: How would you compare the process of preparing for a studio album vs. an EP? Was it harder or easier than you expected?

Intak: Because there are so many more tracks on this record, there’s that much more of a need to be more creative and focused, but also make sure we’re able to differentiate between the tracks and express them in a way that’s still genuine to us. So that involves even the dance moves or writing the lyrics, the sound — everything. So just completely having the space to make that ours with a first full album was difficult, but also it’s just a fun experience. It’s different, but fun.

TV: Since 때깔 (Killin‘ It) is essentially a clean slate for you, how did you go about reintroducing P1Harmony to the general public and fans?

Keeho: Personally, I think we’ve been playing it very safe for the first few years of our career with the first few albums, in terms of styles and musical direction — just anything visually or sonically. But I feel like moving into 2024 and during the promotions for this album and the ones coming after it, I really want us to be true to ourselves. I want to try a lot of fun, different ideas, and I think, as you said, it’s such a good opportunity to reintroduce ourselves as something completely new and different. I hope people can accept us as this group that’s super fun and experimental and that has fun with their music but is also able to express that visually, as well.

Theo Soul and Keeho of P1Harmony

TV: It’s interesting because you’ve also been called “The Dark Horse of K-pop,” where you’re kind of like the underdogs to root for. Do you agree with that statement, and how are you using it to your advantage?

Jiung: First of all, it’s an honor to be called a dark horse — I think we have to try our best to prove that we fit this title and show that we have what it takes to make it in K-pop.

TV: Since Killin’ It is all about confidence, where does that confidence come from in your everyday lives?

Jongseob: I draw my confidence from the time and effort I invested in creating this album, as well as my pride in my abilities on stage.

TV: Were there any songs you had to fight to be included in the album? It could be either with executives or even amongst yourselves.

Keeho: We don’t really fight amongst each other — I think the great thing about being in P1Harmony is that we know what’s best for the team, so we all speak with one voice. And like Jiung said…(gestures to Jiung next to him).

Jiung: Even though we choose a song individually, we always say the same one.

Keeho: We were fighting with executives (smiles slyly).

Jiung: So we fought for “Late Night Calls,” “Street Star,” “2Nite,” and then, what else?

The band takes a beat to talk among themselves for a quick recollection.

Keeho: Well, it was so long ago but I feel like the ones we remember the most are “Late Night Calls,” “Street Star,” and “2Nite.”

TV: That’s crazy because “Late Night Calls” is one of my favorites.

Keeho: Exactly! See, they need to listen to me a lot more because as soon as I heard “Late Night Calls,” I was like, ‘People are going to love this song, and we need to have it on the album.’ Oh my god.

TV: You know our tastes so well.

Keeho: Sure do!

Intak Jongseob Jiung of P1Harmony

TV: It must’ve been exciting to be so hands-on with this project in terms of writing and producing the music. Do you feel like you’ve accomplished all the things you wanted to express for your first studio album?

Intak: Of course (nods).

Jiung: Yeah, I think so.

Keeho: I don’t think so, though. I feel like in all six of our hearts, there’s never a point where we can be satisfied. With this album, yes, we’ve been able to show a lot of new stuff, but there’s still so much to show. I feel like the reason why [Intak and Jiung] can say yes is that this is the first album where we put in a lot of our input and a lot of it was used in the end result, so being able to be so deeply involved in the writing and producing the process, the conceptual and visual process — everything top to bottom — makes us feel like, in a sense, yes, we’ve accomplished that, but also there can be more.

TV: This is only one side to P1Harmony out of many more to come, I’m sure. So for touring, you were out on the road for practically a whole year — how did you maintain your physical and mental well-being during that time?

Keeho: (looks at the members sitting behind him) Soul, Theo — let’s get into it.

Jiung: All of us have different routines, honestly,

Soul: Because I’m always so physically active during the tour, it actually helped me have more stamina. So even after the shows, I work out by myself because I’m constantly so used to having all that energy.

Theo: For me too, I’m so used to this schedule now that I’m able to rest when I need to. I just stay in the hotel, get lots of sleep, and keep that routine going.

TV: Were there any unexpected challenges you had to overcome on tour that you want to improve the next go-round?

Jongseob: There are times when we would do a show and then go to another city, and then have a show as soon as we landed, and it would be two shows back-to-back in different cities — that was hard for me to physically endure, so for the next tour, I want it to be communicated with our company and promoters to make sure we have enough space in between to breathe and regroup before moving on to the next show.

Keeho: For me, I felt like I learned a lot on this tour. I think it’s so important to pack beforehand, so for example, if we have two days in Toronto, I just open everything — I don’t know why, I don’t need to be doing that, I just do it and my clothes are everywhere (laughs). As soon as the show’s done, we usually travel to the next city the day after, and I’m sitting there packing and only sleeping for 2-3 hours, and I’m then on the plane exhausted like — (imitates a groaning zombie). So I’m learning to pack beforehand and making sure it’s compact, and I’m not taking out stuff I don’t need so I can get enough sleep.

TV: I’m a last-minute packer myself, so I feel your pain. Do you feel like you’re able to savor those moments you have on tour with fans or while exploring cities?

Theo: Because it is very hectic and there are a lot of times we’re not able to explore the cities that we go to, I really make an effort to try and eat famous foods that certain cities are known for, just so I have that remembrance of the time I spent in those places. It helps me to kind of connect to the cities more, no matter how busy we are.

TV: Finally, what’s your state of mind at this moment? How do you feel about P1Harmony in 2024?

Intak: I’m so eager to finally show this album off and promote it because it’s been a minute since we’ve had promotions, so because of that excitement, I’m very satisfied and happy with life right now.

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