When GFRIEND debuted in January 2015 with their EP Season of Glass, the group had an innocent aesthetic. They rocked minimal makeup with matching white T-shirts and tennis skirts, and many of their videos took place in school settings. However, GFRIEND didn't stay that way. They have a knack for reinventing themselves every comeback. For their July 2020 EP 回: Song of Sirens, they transformed into vibrant witches, rocking striking lipstick and eyeshadow with glittery accents. They accompanied their bold new looks with similarly unapologetic lyrics. Now, their latest album, Walpurgis Night, sees the girls experimenting with their biggest transformation yet: disco glamour. GFRIEND's quotes about Walpurgis Night recount Sowon, Yerin, Eunha, Yuju, SinB, and Umji's journey toward finding new confidence in themselves as women and artists.
GFRIEND's album's title may sound obscure to you, but the story behind it makes it all make sense. "Walpurgis Night is a festival similar to Halloween that is held annually in Germany as well as Nordic countries or regions," the group tells Elite Daily. "It’s also known as the festival of the witches, which celebrates a new beginning upon welcoming spring, clearing away the remnants of winter with campfires and fireworks. We wanted to use this reference to express our confidence in being true to our desires as 'Modern Witches.'"
The group worked the theme of reinvention into their record's lead single, "MAGO." GFRIEND likes that the title has a built-in double meaning, since mago means magician in Spanish, and it also represents a goddess in oriental culture. In the track's chorus, the girls declare themselves the "MAGO," and insist they won't be judged or shaken by others.
"We wanted to declare ourselves as witches unbothered by what other people say or think, expressing our honest desires and confident attitudes in a fancy, splendid festival," GFRIEND says about the lyrics.
Eunha, Yuju, and Umji helped bring "MAGO" to life with popular K-pop producers FRANTS and Ju Hwan Noh, along with Big Hit Entertainment's founder and co-CEO, Bang Si Hyuk, aka Hitman Bang. GFRIEND says they're thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with all the famous hitmakers after their label, Source Music, was acquired by Big Hit in July 2019.
"It was a great honor to have worked with our professional producers. We focused on expressing our thoughts and feelings effectively. The process wasn’t easy, though, we learned a lot just by participating in the creative process with the veterans," GFRIEND shares, adding getting directly involved with their music made their experience more enjoyable. "In the beginning, participating in the creative process felt somewhat difficult and burdensome. This time, however, we were able to express our own individual desires both as an artist and an individual, learning the joyful side of working on a song."
The members each took away something different while working in the studio. Sowon, SinB, and Yerin realized making a catchy song requires a lot of effort and tons of revisions. "I became more confident after finishing a song that incorporated my ideas and thoughts," Yerin explains.
While the versions of "MAGO" and "Love Spell" Umji worked on didn’t end up on the album, the songwriting process still taught her an important lesson. "It was... a great learning process for me to compare and contrast my version with other [members'] versions," Umji says.
Meanwhile, Eunha's participation on "MAGO" and "Night Drive" taught her how fun "creating something new" is, while Yuju's pride in her work has only made her more motivated to contribute to more songs in the future.
Although songwriting is always a challenge, GFRIEND says sharing their thoughts and feelings in their music made the album even more special. "For the past six years, we’ve tried a variety of different concepts in a step-by-step manner," they share. "Of course, we faced numerous obstacles along the way, but we thoroughly enjoyed the entire process of exploring new concepts and styles as if we’re picking out the outfits that best suit us in every occasion. We learned and matured greatly, and we wish to become a group that keeps moving forward."
Through it all, the reason GFRIEND continues to channel that MAGO energy all comes down to one thing. "We want to express our sincere gratitude to our BUDDYs, who’ve witnessed our growth and supported us throughout the changeover," GFRIEND says. "We hope they could enjoy our album for which we worked really hard."
GFRIEND's 回: Walpurgis Night is available on all streaming platforms now.