SEVENTEEN’s Vernon talks Charli XCX, hidden messages and vulnerabilities

His words then slow as he reflects on how he’s grown since then. “I think I’ve gotten more subtle, not just in terms of music, but overall as a person,” he says. “I feel vulnerable when I feel like I’ve revealed too many of my emotions […] But sometimes how I behave is out of my control.”

Although he focuses on his growing instinct to protect himself, some listeners may notice how confident he has become in forging his own path. On SEVENTEEN’s 2020 song “Do Re Mi,” which is about going at your own pace in life, he raps advice for his fans, but maybe also for his younger self: “Break, break, break the illusion that’s stuck as if it’s reality / You define the world / Your future too.” It’s a verse about shattering the expectations others have of you, about embarking on a journey to living a life you love for yourself build up.

These days, Vernon is always finding new ways to expand his universe. He’s worked on the production and even showed off his growing skills on “Bands Boy,” his trap-influenced electronic solo from last November. “Producing is a much broader spectrum of making music than rapping, which is more fun,” he notes. “I get more creative freedom.” Another goal of his is to learn to play the guitar.

But towards the end of our conversation, Vernon hints that just because he’s a global superstar doesn’t mean the world is open to him in every way. “I want to be able to do what people who aren’t publicly known do,” he replies when I ask him if he has any plans for the distant future. After the call, he clarified via email, “I’m happy and grateful to be SEVENTEEN’s Vernon, but I also want to broaden my worldview and have more diverse experiences.”

Right now, SEVENTEEN is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. Last year, all 13 members renewed their contracts with Pledis a year earlier than expected (quite an achievement for K-pop acts), and their two latest mini-albums, Your decision and Attacca, landed in the top 10 best-selling albums in the world according to IFPI. With members always mentioning how much they want to perform in person again, a tour in the near future is certainly a possibility as well.

But how does Vernon see success for himself? “If you’re happy, you’re successful,” he says simply. It’s a fitting statement for an artist defining their own reality. SEVENTEEN’s Vernon talks Charli XCX, hidden messages and vulnerabilities

Olly Dawes

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