ENHYPEN closed out their November 2020 debut EP, BORDER: DAY ONE, with an eerie-sounding track reminiscent of carnival music. "With our last step/ We dance across this line/ Into a new world," the group recited on their record's poetic final track, "Outro: Cross The Line." As it turns out, the song teased ENHYPEN's BORDER: CARNIVAL album, which dropped on April 26. Throughout the EP's six tracks, the septet compares their feelings of wonder and curiosity as rookies in the K-pop industry to experiencing a carnival for the first time. "An extravagant 'carnival' is the analogy we use to describe our process of entering the unfamiliar and unusual world we faced after our debut," SUNGHOON tells Elite Daily. However, as fans go deeper into ENHYPEN's album, they realize this "paradise" the group has always dreamed of is more complex than they initially thought.
ENHYPEN's JUNGWON, HEESEUNG, JAY, JAKE, SUNGHOON, SUNOO, and NI-KI spent 12 weeks competing for a spot in the group on the hit reality show I-LAND and were selected as the final lineup by a voting audience of millions. Despite winning their spot in the group with their talents, charms, and hard work, ENHYPEN's first EP explored the boys' doubts about whether they really earned their debut or not.
Fast-forward to now, and DAY ONE was the highest-selling debut album by a K-pop group in 2020, resulting in four Rookie of The Year awards. ENHYPEN's second mini-album is endowed with a sense of newfound confidence, their imposter syndrome vanished. SUNOO says this change had less to do with their impressive sales and more to do with their fans, called ENGENE. "The figures mean something, but not everything to us. We’re more motivated to work even harder to share more good music with the world [thanks to our fans]. They’re our motivation and pride!" he says.
ENHYPEN didn't get a chance to see their fans in person until their Feb. 6 fan meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it was worth the wait. "I’ll never forget <EN-CONNECT> ... I was extremely nervous because it was the first time meeting our ENGENEs in person, but everyone was very respectful and abided by the social distancing guidelines, so I was really moved by that. I gained a lot of confidence just by having our fans in front of us," JUNGWON says.
Since they've experienced so much success in so little time, ENHYPEN dedicated their newest album to exploring their post-debut world. "In real life, our daily life changed quite rapidly, and we tried to express the emotions that accompanied this significant change," HEESEUNG says.
ENHYPEN welcomes their fans to tag along on their journey with them on their EP's opening song, "Intro : The Invitation." "[It's] a track that describes our post-debut world as a euphoric 'paradise,'" JAKE says. "I think the sort of dreamy haziness that we experienced in this new world is well reflected in the track and intro video."
In BORDER: CARNIVAL, ENHYPEN uses three visual concepts — "UP," "HYPE," and "DOWN" — to express all the mixed emotions they experienced debuting. "'UP' alludes to the moment we are first invited to a magnificent carnival. We're confused and have hesitations towards this new world, but we put that aside and immerse ourselves in the festive atmosphere which is illustrated through 'HYPE,'" SUNGHOON says.
Underneath all their songs and music videos is a feeling of mystery, however. SUNGHOON says the darker side of their album is meant to represent their "DOWN" concept. "These three visual concepts come together to portray the rollercoaster of emotions we experience, from confusion and bewilderment to excitement and awe, and finally, a strong determination to enjoy this unpredictable yet grand carnival-like world," he explains.
So, while ENHYPEN's latest single, "Drunk-Dazed," starts off as an upbeat dance track about the group being hooked on their post-debut world, it takes a turn, revealing the guys' uncertainty about the future. "There’s sort of a dark energy palpable throughout 'Drunk-Dazed,' and because we encapsulate our experiences in our music, the track did a perfect job of capturing our fluctuating emotions and the turbulent thoughts we had during this time in our lives," JAY says.
Meanwhile, "Mixed Up" explores the darker side of fame that comes with being the center of rumors. "I became the main character without even knowing/ Gossip gossip/ Mixed up, leave me alone," ENHYPEN sings on the track.
On "Outro : The Wormhole," ENHYPEN says they've ultimately learned to overcome their insecurities and are hopeful for the future. "When we wake at this tunnel’s end/ What vision awaits?" the group says on the track.
NI-KI thinks ENHYPEN will continue to grow their camaraderie naturally as they move forward. "Practicing our choreography or singing is obviously very important, but I believe that having strong teamwork is just as crucial for us to grow as artists and as a team. With each new release, I can see and feel our teamwork growing significantly stronger, and that makes me very happy," he says.
Meanwhile, JUNGWON says ENHYPEN will continue to improve thanks to their fans. "One thing that we can say for certain right now is that as a global rookie group, we’re determined to mature as artists that can meet and exceed the expectations of our fans around the world with our one-of-a-kind performances. Please look forward to it!" he teases.
Stream ENHYPEN's BORDER: CARNIVAL below.