In the story of Peter Pan, fairy companion Tinker Bell offers a mature conscience to the boy who will never grow old. But in WJSN’s latest release Neverland, the members of the girl group reimagine Tinker Bell’s story, exploring through their single how one can thrive as a fey-like “Butterfly” and follow their dreams as they get older.
Exemplifying WJSN’s distinct brand of whimsical, atmospheric dance-pop, Neverland features six songs that showcase the act’s growth since their early days: the inspirational “Butterfly” soars before leading into the vibrant Latin-pop-inspired “Hola.” The sleek, frenetic standout “Pantomime” follows, before flitting into the dulcet tones of “Where You Are.” The album closes out on the Exy-penned tropical feels of “Tra-La” before the smooth jazz of “Our Garden,” Seola’s first time composing for WJSN.
Following its release, the members of WJSN shared their thoughts on Neverland and the state of their career, and the world in 2020.
How do you feel about the release of Neverland?
Exy: It’s been seven months since the release of “As You Wish” that we’ve come back with the title track “Butterfly.” As WJSN develops by expanding our musical spectrum through the experiences we have gained from each album, we hope many people and fans can keep an eye on us to continue developing different musical styles and colors.
The album is fronted by “Butterfly,” which is such a bright, uplifting song. What inspired you to release this sort of song as a single?
Yeoreum: WJSN’s music reveals dreamy and mysterious feelings you can often feel from our previous albums, and we all liked the new songs this time, which fit our unique, musical style. Designed from a fairytale-like form of imaginative representation, the song compares a girl’s wishes, who dreams of becoming free to the fluttering wings of the butterfly. It also tells a girl’s story of uncertainty and instability to discover her true identity as she transfers from adolescence to adulthood. I think this single would be able to reflect the mind of WJSN as we are all becoming adults and can also give encouragement to a lot of people, including ourselves.
“Butterfly” seems to be about someone who feels they’re not seen the way they want to be seen and trying to find themselves. Do you ever feel that way?
Eunseo: It is not about how people look at you, but about expressing my thoughts to others, which is not an easy process. You then realize that everyone has no choice but to look at others from a perspective of their own. Just like how I think I know our members well, I also suddenly realize the new characteristics of each member. Therefore, I seek to consider and approach people from a broad perspective instead of a narrow point of view.
What’s the meaning behind the album’s title, Neverland?
Luda: As we depict on Neverland, Peter Pan has already left and only Tinker Bell remains alone, distinguishing it from a typical fairy tale. Above all, the album portrays an affectionate girl who dreams of a life that is free even if she is not beautiful nor showy. If you look at the girl’s growth as a keyword, you will understand our music and the message we try to deliver.
Aside from “Butterfly,” what are some of your favorite tracks?
Soobin: Our favorite tracks are “Our Garden” and “Tra-la.” Seola and Exy must have been agonizing a lot while producing these tracks to express them in a way that would match up with WJSN’s color. And this makes us love these specific tracks more and more. The melody and lyrics are really beautiful and I don’t get tired of listening to them hundreds of times. We also saw new aspects from those two members as they led us so well while we were in the studio.
Are there any lines on the album you want listeners to particularly take note of?
Bona: There are two parts from our title track “Butterfly”: “Even if I’m not beautiful and showy, I’ll be free,” and, “It’s okay to get hurt a little — I’ll fly higher.” I think these lyrics give a message that you don’t have to be perfect nor beautiful to get true freedom.
Were there any memorable moments while creating this album?
Yeonjung: Rather than a specific episode, it was special that all of us had strong, resolute determination for this album. We wanted to show our fans how WJSN has grown and developed more than before, so we tried to talk a lot and shared ideas about concepts, themes, tracks and our stage outfits. We also shot our music video and images for the album with great energy and laughter.
Exy and Seola, was there anything about Neverland’s songwriting process that you want listeners to particularly take note of?
Exy: Whether I write lyrics or compose songs, I always think about WJSN members. That’s why it’s not just my work, but it reflects the energy and feelings of the entire WJSN, so I hope you think of it as an album where we put our passion all together into it. Especially this time, not only my own songs but also Seola’s own songs were included in the album for the first time. Hopefully, I can show you more songs next time that I compose and write with her.
Seola: I wanted my first song to be a song for [our fans] Ujungs. Also, I hoped that our members would be able to empathize with the lyrics when we sing this song. I have unique taste in music, so I wanted that style to be reflected in my song. I often take a walk in the garden with my dog, and I feel the most relaxed and happy when I do that. That is why I decided to include a “garden” in the title, to portray a garden where WJSN and Ujungs would coexist.
There is a line that says, “In this fleeting season, we bloom together.” I think this is a short, but clear message that I wanted the song to tell Ujungs, who have spent all seasons and times with WJSN. I felt like all those moments were part of our growth and all of the memories that we’ve had seem to have bloomed beautifully like flowers.
Neverland is your 8th mini album, and evokes the story of Peter Pan, who never grows up. Do you feel WJSN and your music has grown and changed since the beginning of your career?
Dawon: Actually, I don’t think the centerpiece of WJSN’s music has changed much. WJSN’s music is mysterious, unique, and dreamy. However, as time goes by, I think we’ve become able to handle a wide variety of concepts. Starting with Greek mythology, the magic school, carnival, circus, summer song, and powerful and intense girl crush, we showed our music through various concepts and world views. I’d like to say this is the strength of WJSN.
Seola: As time passed after my debut, I felt more responsible as a member of WJSN. When we were rookies, we were a team that just sprouted up, so I think the first thing to do was to show them and let them know rather than achieving something. By the time we were in our fifth year, I began thinking achievement and goals are important. I’m also thinking about how we’re approaching people as artists and moving forward. While thinking about these things, I thought that we should make our activities more meaningful and we are working harder with responsibility as time goes by.
2020 is a tough year for many across the world. Is there anything you want to tell your fans?
Dayoung: Honestly, we get energy from our Ujung by communicating with each other and cheering for each other. Unfortunately, I was so sad that we couldn’t do it this time. I realized once again how precious it is to be together. But I believe this too shall pass someday. I can’t see you with my eyes, but I hope we can overcome this difficult time by supporting each other. I hope WJSN’s music will be of small help to you. Please stay healthy until we see each other again. Ujung, I love you so much!
This interview has been translated and edited for clarity.
This article originally appeared on Billboard Korea.