K-pop stars Ten and YangYang of WayV on their single Low Low, how it turned from ‘heavy hip-hop' into a carefree summery song, and the fun they had making it

cat dad, NCT, NCT Hollywood, SuperM

When WayV’s Ten and YangYang began working on what would become their August duet Low Low, they thought it would be really different. Forget about the cheery feel of what they did release, they wanted hard hip-hop.

“Before Low Low, the A&R team asked us about what songs we wanted to do as a duet,” Ten reveals over a video call, referring to the artists and repertoire team in charge of helping the artists find tracks to work on. “I was like, ‘We want to do something very hip-hop, very strong’.”

YangYang and Ten passed on a lot of ideas, including some songs for reference, and were excited to hear what the A&R team had for them. Then they heard the opening notes of Low Low.

“‘Oh, that’s heavy hip-hop?’” Ten says with a laugh, recalling his response to hearing the song’s opening up-tempo beats, which he hums for emphasis.

cat dad, NCT, NCT Hollywood, SuperM

Ten is a member of boy bands WayV, NCT and SuperM. Photo: SM Entertainment

Since being a pop star is a business, the A&R staff ultimately convinced them that the summery, upbeat feel of Low Low would be the best direction for them for the moment.

“‘Since WayV’s releasing heavier songs, is it OK if you two do some carefree, happy hip-hop now as a trial run, and do something else later?’” he recalls the conversation going.

And it is a trial run, because YangYang says they’re hoping to work together on something else again. “I think Low Low won’t be the last time, maybe next year? I hope they’ll take our references and we can show our heavier hip-hop side.”

Although the song wasn’t necessarily what they planned, and they still hope for that chance to show a different side in the future, they do feel it ultimately really suited them as a duo to team up for this specific type of bouncy hip-pop number.

Low Low, released on August 17, is the second song by a WayV duo in the past few months, following Kun and Xiaojun’s Back To You in June.

YangYang and Ten are both into having fun, whether on stage or off. Lately, when they have time off they’ve been making time to leave their apartment and go skateboarding. Ten’s also become a bit of a wine connoisseur, though YangYang teases him for judging his drinks by the look of the bottles.

I just wanted to have fun and learn how to perform as a duet or maybe in the future as a solo [artist]

YangYang on his duo with Ten, Low Low

Ten admits to it, and shares that he’s also been painting them as a way to unwind and relax during his own personal lows.

A vibrant song, Low Low’s ultimate point, YangYang thinks – even though its lyrics are ostensibly about romance – is sharing energy with one another.

He does not have quite as many serious interests as cat dad and artist Ten; his way of life is more relaxed, and it comes out in his lively personality on and offstage. “I don’t have low [emotional] moments. I don’t get stressed out a lot. For me, I just look on the bright side.”

cat dad, NCT, NCT Hollywood, SuperM

YangYang was born in Taiwan and spent much of his youth in Germany. Photo: SM Entertainment

Even when YangYang, who was born in Taiwan and spent much of his youth in Germany, does get stressed he still practically vibrates with energy. Ten only recalls a singular instance of him being stressed, and his lips are sealed on the circumstance, but shares some insight into his teammate’s coping mechanisms.

“When he got stressed out, he was like ‘I dunno what direction to walk’,” said Ten, emulating an expression of confusion. “He kinda malfunctions when he tries to do stuff, and he talks more.”

“Really?” asks a shocked YangYang, surprised about this new perspective on his own behaviour during an awkward moment between them.

cat dad, NCT, NCT Hollywood, SuperM

YangYang (left) and Ten had hoped to do a heavy hip-hop song as a duet. Photo: SM Entertainment

According to Ten, their live performances of Low Low were more relaxed and spur-of-the-moment than their other, more rigidly choreographed songs, and it reminded him of fooling around after school while growing up in Thailand with his younger sister.

But in this case, he was being an exuberant, guiding older brother to YangYang, who at 20 is the youngest member of WayV and five years younger than Ten.

Playing up their playfulness was only one part of the process of putting themselves in a good place to get a feel for Low Low.

“When you get the demo [for a new song] it might not fit you,” admits Ten. “But during the process, you get to record your voice, understand the lyrics and be part of the song.

“After that, it might feel that it is the right fit, but I can’t say [that] when I first listened to the demo, I thought, ‘this song is a good fit’”.

Ten and YangYang are members of WayV, the China-oriented septet that is part of NCT, a larger boy band under K-pop label SM Entertainment and its China-based subsidiary Label V. NCT has 23 active members, and three distinct subgroups: NCT 127, NCT Dream and WayV; plans for other subgroups, including NCT Hollywood, are in the works.

Beyond NCT, Ten is also a member of SM’s roster-wide boy band SuperM.

I think it’s going to be so different, super new

WayV’s Ten on his hopes for 2022

Although they’ve been both been active in K-pop for several years, Low Low was a change for YangYang, who had never properly worked on his own project beyond the limits of a larger group.

“I think it was really fun because it was a new experience,” says YangYang. “One thing I felt the most was that I got to give more of my ideas about what I want to do and because it’s only two of us, it’s easier to gather our ideas and work it out.”

He also says it was nice to get a bit more lines than having to split them with six others.

cat dad, NCT, NCT Hollywood, SuperM

YangYang (left) and Ten’s new release, Low Low, is a carefree, summery hit. Photo: SM Entertainment

“When we’re working as seven, we have so many different ideas that sometimes we have to give up a little, but this time I get to just do whatever I want. I get to do more of what I want and I can explain the song in my own way.

“I just wanted to have fun and learn how to perform as a duet or maybe in the future as a solo [artist],” he says.

“Solo YangYang!” shouts Ten, who released his own third solo track, the pop track Paint Me Naked, days before Low Low dropped.

The two tracks are similar stylistically in that they both have a summery feel, and represent a sizeable change of pace for him after his previous solo songs, 2017’s ambient Dream in a Dream and 2018’s lush EDM New Heroes, which are far from the buoyant brightness of the two English-language tunes.

cat dad, NCT, NCT Hollywood, SuperM

Ten (left) and YangYang remain upbeat on the future of WayV. Photo: WayV Twitter/WayV_official

“For Paint Me Naked, a lot of people may say it doesn’t suit me so much because it’s a new song. If you see the old tracks I’ve done, every song is very heavy and performable. Is that a word, ‘performable’?”

“Yeah, performance-based,” interjects YangYang. (It’s debatable, actually.)

“For Paint Me Naked, everyone asked how I was going to perform the song because it might be hard to dance along to. But I said ‘Let’s try it out. I wanna show some singing, a little rap, I want to show this part of me more than the dance part of me,’ and they said OK. I was like ‘Thank you so much!’”

Pandemic permitting, the duo are excited for what 2022 will bring for them and for WayV.

“I think it’s going to be so different, super new,” says Ten.

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