In Elite Daily’s series Rent-Free, celebrities unpack the one thought, memory, or unforgettable pop culture moment that'll always live in their head. In this piece, NCT 127 reveals the interests and hobbies even die-hard fans will be surprised to learn about.
In the past year, most musical acts had to cancel their highly-anticipated tours, and NCT 127 was no exception. That’s why its members — Johnny, Haechan, Mark, Taeyong, Jaehyun, Yuta, Taeil, Jungwoo, and Doyoung — have taken every opportunity to get closer to their fans with new music. After dropping their second Japanese EP, Loveholic, in February, the group returned on June 4 with “Save,” their latest single all about making unforgettable memories. Up next? An entirely new era. On July 7 (the group’s fifth anniversary), they announced their next album is coming in September. In celebration of all the exciting things ahead, NCT 127 opened up about how they wind down after a hard day’s work.
NCT 127 tells Elite Daily these past five years as a group have been worthwhile, and it’s all thanks to their fans, called NCTzens, who have supported them throughout their journey. “[We have so many] memories from practicing together pre-debut to our actual debut stage, and also all those times we spent working on our music and performance to meet our fans at our first concert and first world tour as well,” the group collectively says. “Each and every moment we spend on our music is for our fans, and we are working hard to better show ourselves in various different ways, so we hope you’re all excited!”
Fans have impacted the group so much that they’ve become the muse behind NCT 127’s biggest tracks. “The inspiration [behind ‘Save’] comes from wanting to save our precious memories with each other and with our fans,” the group says. And NCT 127 hasn’t let go of a single one. While they haven’t been able to perform in front of a live audience since early 2020, they held their online Beyond The Origin concert in May. They add, “It was new getting to meet fans from every part of the world at the same time.”
While the guys have their hands full recording their next project, they’re making sure to get some much-deserved R&R whenever they can. Below, NCT 127 reveal the interests that have been living in their minds rent-free.
Johnny is a major fan of horror movies. “I love how they keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time you’re watching,” he says. His favorite scary movie of all time is Shutter, which is about a couple who accidentally run over a woman and then see her ghost in photographs they develop. “Even though I watched it when I was young, I still remember the movie, and it’s one I think about often. I’ve seen the movie multiple times since I first saw it in high school, and I recall being scared of red-lit rooms for quite some time afterward,” he says.
His most recent watch was The Conjuring franchise. He adds, “After I saw the movies, I looked up some articles about the behind stories. They were pretty interesting!”
Taeil keeps music on his mind even after a full day of rehearsals. “Audio speakers really amplify music so you can hear the intricate details of the track, and there’s also that sense of excitement from when you hear a sound you like!” Taeil says, explaining his love for audio. “I like the speaker brand Focal. There’s still a lot I don’t know about speakers, but I find the brand very attractive since you can experience a flat sound that’s similar to what the songwriter intended to create.”
Taeil says the group’s sound has changed a lot since their debut in 2016. He says, “With time, our team color is definitely becoming more distinct and defined. I think the sound we have now is a very captivating one with strong hip-hop and R&B colors.”
The group’s leader enjoys connecting with others, but especially with NCTzens. “[Our relationship] is a very precious and one that I’m truly grateful for. Not only do we enjoy the same things, but we also try to improve and show that to each other. All of this is very special and meaningful to me,” he says. “It’s nice to learn of each other’s culture, and by singing in different languages, it makes me feel as if I’ve grown closer to our fans from those countries.”
Yuta loves exercising because it’s very rewarding, and although he doesn’t have a specific fitness routine, he prefers working out at a gym rather than at home. “I like how exercising makes me feel stronger and helps me to build up my strength... which is very helpful when practicing group dances that require attention to body angles,” he says. “We had a short preparation period [to learn ‘Save’], but I was able to learn the choreography quickly and had a fun time preparing.”
Ever since he was cast as Axel von Fergen in the Korean adaptation of Marie Antoinette, which is based on the 2006 musical of the same name that originally premiered in Japan, Doyoung has found a newfound appreciation for theatre. “I find it very precious how you can share emotions through singing and acting,” he says. “It’s been very meaningful preparing for my musical debut, and it’s really all thanks to the amazing seniors and producers! The process in itself has been a very fun one, and I have been preparing with a heart of gratitude.”
Doyoung is set to make his musical debut on July 13 when the production opens at the Charlotte Theater in Seoul.
Jaehyun says he “fell in love” with tennis in April because it helps relieve stress. “I’ve always enjoyed trying out new sports like basketball, bowling, and boxing whenever I had the chance. But I actually started tennis because my father recommended it,” he says. “I know this is the case for all sports, but tennis isn’t something you can master after a few tries. It requires persistence, and I started to enjoy it even more as I saw myself gradually improving.”
Jaehyun’s favorite tennis player is Jannik Sinner, a 19-year-old Italian athlete who competed in the 2020 French Open as the youngest quarterfinalist in the men’s singles event. He says, “I’d really like to go see a tournament.”
Lately, Mark is interested in taking better care of his hair. “It’s really important to me because I change my hair color a lot, and because I want my hair and scalp to be healthy,” he says. While he’s experimented with just about every color in the rainbow, there’s one he always loves going back to. He adds, “I think I liked my blue hair the most. It is my favorite color, after all, and I believe my fans liked it as much as I did. I was glad to be able to film the ‘Save’ music video during my blue-haired period. It fit well with all the scenes and the aesthetics!”
Similar to Yuta, Jungwoo has also had exercising on his mind. “My life has become more lively since I started exercising. More so than exercising to improve my physique, I exercise in order to have a healthier, richer life. Also, it makes me proud knowing I’m spending my day more productively,” he says. “The first thing I do after I wake up is to start off the day with simple stretches that improve body balance... Stretching helps to warm up the body, which reduces the risk of injury, and can also boost your mood! I think this is why when I dance, I’m able to express those movements in more detail.”
Haechan is now experimenting with all things fragrance. “I started using perfume since scents can give a sense of self-satisfaction and because I wanted to smell good all the time!” he says, adding he doesn’t have a favorite perfume. “The scent that suits me well, that I personally like, and that will suit me is always different!” However, there’s one scent that will always remind him of a certain memory with NCT 127. “This might sound funny, but I’d have to say the smell of sweat in our practice rooms,” Haechan says, adding it’s “satisfying” because it makes him feel like they worked hard after a long day. As for what draws fans to NCT 127, Haechan credits their “sincere music and performances.”