In their first two years, P1Harmony has achieved what other groups could have only imagined.
The group has quickly amassed fans all over the world and won over the hearts of millions with their amazing discography, stage presence, and lovable personalities. What makes P1Harmony so unique? It’s how genuine and sincere these boys are. They’ve spoken out on issues like racism and culture appropriation, which is not common for K-pop groups to do. Oftentimes the easiest road is to pretend like the issue does not exist, but the members of P1Harmony make sure to deal with these issues head on and directly address them. Not only do P1Harmony take the time to be vocal about important and sensitive topics, but member Theo has previously mentioned that leader Keeho takes time to speak to his members and educate them on why it is important to stay aware on such topics.
The six-member boy group coming from FNC Entertainment, home to veteran idol groups like CNBLUE, AOA, F.T. Island, and SF9, are straying from the typical path many of their fellow company seniors have taken. Understandably so, considering P1Harmony was FNC Entertainment’s first boy group debuted in four years since SF9. P1Harmony debuted in October 2020 with their debut title track, “Siren“. Along with their musical debut came the premiere of a feature-length film, which in my ten plus years as a K-pop fan I have never seen before. Since then they have already performed at a Major League Soccer match between Los Angeles FC and the Seattle Sounders, completed two Korean Culture Night performances for KCCLA, dropped four physical albums, had a collaboration with Pink Sweat$, completed a US Tour, and performed at multiple K-pop festivals all over the world, just to name a few things. Continuing the success they’ve seen over the past year, the boys have also recently released their fifth mini-album, “Harmony: Set In,” with their single “Back Down” and made their US television debut on The Kelly Clarkson Show on November 29th. Additionally, the boys are far from slowing down anytime soon, having announced their second tour, P1USTAGE H: P1oneer, only seven months after wrapping up their last one.
P1Harmony “Harmony: Set In” track list:
P1Harmony can’t even comprehend their own fame yet. Understandably so considering they were one of the many groups who debuted during the pandemic. Unlike other K-pop groups, P1Harmony missed out on a lot of milestone moments for new groups trying to make it in the K-pop industry. P1Harmony went from having to host an online concert with no physical attendees, to selling out venues in a full American tour. Because they’ve had to keep up energy for shows with no audience, their stage presence today is unbeatable. Sometimes online fan meetings and events can feel scripted and impersonal, but these boys showcase their comfort and professionalism when performing and manage to create connections with viewers all over the world. Through their rise to fame they have maintained their humility and authenticity during every step. The boys also understand their fans with their shared knowledge of what they want to see and through their utilization of digital spaces. Through apps like TikTok, and the inability to see their fans at the beginning of their careers, P1Harmony has helped shape a new generation of idols who aren’t these mysterious untouchable figures but instead humanized people that fans can relate to.
Compared to a lot of the seniors in their company, P1Harmony is FNC Entertainment’s first group made up of completely Gen-Z individuals. This is part of the reason why P1Harmony has been able to relate to their fans and create lasting meaningful interactions despite having debuted in the midst of a global pandemic. The boys have delivered time and time again, and reimagined how idols connect and interact with their fanbase. P1Harmony does an outstanding job of making sure during every show they keep the energy at 110%. Many fans, and nonfans alike, have talked about how amazing P1Harmony’s stage presence is especially when getting to witness it live. Most recently at day one of the disastrous KAMP festival, aptly called the ‘K-pop Fyre Festival’, P1Harmony performed at although many had a lot of negative things to say about the organizers all anyone could talk about was how amazing P1Harmony did. The vibe inside the arena immediately shifted when they appeared on stage with a massively excited and engaged crowd feeding off of the good energy created by the boys. Despite the lack of attendance, at no fault of P1Harmony, the boys were able to get the whole crowd to jump to their songs and have a good time.
Unlike western artists, Korea takes the debut of their idols very seriously. Before one can even fathom a music career they have to first get through an extremely tiresome, expensive, and long training period. During this training period these idol hopefuls will dedicate years of their lives, oftentimes giving up their childhood and missing out on fun experiences like school trips, to perfect their skills in dance and vocals. As a group, P1Harmony spent more than a year training to fulfill their K-pop dreams, but each member spent a lot more time than that training individually. Leader and vocalist Keeho spent two years and nine months, vocalist Theo spent one and a half years, ACE rapper and vocalist Jiung trained for three years, rapper and dancer Intak spent three years and eight months, Japanese dancer Soul spent two years, and–although the youngest– rapper Jongseob spent the most time training with four years of experience before even entering the industry.
Canadian-born Keeho, who also helps as a translator despite a majority of the boys being able to speak some English, is the leader of P1Harmony. Keeho grew up spending his childhood in Canada, singing in various settings before finally deciding to become a singer because he felt there was nothing more fun in the world. Along with being the strong and resilient leader of P1Harmony, many fans talk about how he has lots of love and radiates an aura that is patient, kind, funny, and optimistic. What makes Keeho so special is his relatability to his fanbase. He is a “Gen-Z icon” on social media, having once been a K-pop stan himself, which helps him understand and anticipate exactly what fans want to see. Since he grew up on the same internet as many of his fans, he is a digital native with the same sense of humor as his fanbase. Because of this, clips from his lives often go viral on social media. Despite being a meme on occasion, Keeho is also a very serious artist and his passion for music and his group trumps all else. Anyone can see the dedication Keeho has to his group. He exudes leader quality in the way he is always perceptive to all his members. During our interview with P1Harmony, although Keeho was translating the whole time, he made sure everyone had a chance to speak, even prompting Intak and Soul to answer at one point since they hadn’t spoken yet.
Vocalist Theo, whose stage name means “god given gift”– which he definitely has with his amazing vocals, wanted to become a singer because he feels the happiest when he sings. Theo had the realization that stardom was something he wanted to pursue when he was just 6 years old. Since then he has worked tirelessly trying to perfect his craft, at one time even being a trainee for SM Entertainment, which is known for scouting highly talented vocalists. Theo was so sure of becoming a singer that in middle school he bought a fog machine, and with the help of his brother, set up his own stage to perform on in his house. Now having accomplished his goal of becoming a singer, his next dream is to perform in a large soccer stadium just like one of his favorite groups ‘BIGBANG,’ who performed at the Seoul World Cup Stadium for their tenth anniversary. Although Theo can appear shy and distant when you first meet him, as he gets more comfortable you can see him becoming more engaged and even start to tease the other members.
When I think of Jiung only one word comes to mind: ACE. In the K-pop world an ACE is someone that excels in almost everything they do whether that is singing, dancing , or rapping. Additionally, Jiung is extremely multi-talented, maintaining this same passion with other skills as well, such as song-writing and producing. Despite having lived in Korea his whole life, Jiung was able to learn English on a practically native level through hard work and dedicated practice. Jiung’s personality probably attributes to his ability to be amazing at everything he does today. He is a perfectionist, cautious, deliberate, efficient, and a hard worker. Jiung likes to challenge himself and is always looking to improve. His dreams of becoming a singer began on a school trip he took many years ago. For one of the activities a “performance festival” was organized and Jiung decided to perform in it choosing the song ‘Story Of Someone I Know’ by San E. While performing, he began thinking about becoming an idol because of how much he liked the feeling and thrill that came with being on stage. Since then Jiung has never looked back and has worked tirelessly to get to where he is today sharing his craft with the world.
Charismatic Intak is one of the main dancers and rappers in the group. Similar to his colleagues, Intak knew that he wanted to become a singer when he was a child. His mother was a dance instructor, so he naturally came across dancing and started to dance when he was very young, which eventually manifested itself into his dream to be an idol. Since then, he has always loved dancing and being on stage. His love of dance translates today with his dance covers, TikToks, and having just won a gold medal in the dance category at the annual Idol Star Athletic Championship, or ISAC. When he dances, Intak says that he tries to focus on his facial expressions and gestures to show a variety of emotions especially on stage when performing. Dancing is not the only thing Intak is good at; he is also a talented lyricist having written all his raps like fellow member Jongseob. With his unique flow and natural good looks, Intak has amassed many dedicated supporters. Many fans have compared Intak to a golden retriever due to his puppy-like personality despite his large stature. Intak describes himself as a spontaneous person who can never stay still.
Talented Soul, who unlike the rest of his members was born in Japan, comes from Korean-Japanese descent. He is credited as the main dancer in P1Harmony and is talented in creating choreographies. His stage name, Soul, comes from his Japanese name, Shota, which means “child with pure soul” in Japanese. Despite the meaning of his name, all the members always talk about how unique and mysterious his personality is with many fans loving him for that exact reason. Fans of P1Harmony often describe Soul as having a 4D personality because of his unique sense of humor and the way he acts. The term ‘4D’ is often likened to someone who has a weird, eccentric personality. People who are said to have a 4D personality type seem to live in their own strange world, often behaving unusually or unexpectedly and are loved for their weirdness. For example, Soul used to raise more than 30 stag beetles, and members Keeho and Jiung have said that if they were ever in a survival game like ‘Hunger Games’ Soul would win because of how unpredictable he is. Soul’s personality is very quiet and he enjoys being by himself unless leader Keeho is around who is his favorite person to mess with.
Teen prodigy Jongseob, who I always credit with being one of the coolest people on Earth, is the youngest of the group. Although only 16, he’s accomplished much more than many artists in such a short amount of time. When he was just 11, he won one of Korea’s biggest competition shows K-Pop Star 6 as a performance duo with Park Hyeonjin . After he won he was signed to one of the biggest companies in Korea, YG Entertainment. He then went on to compete on reality competition show YG Treasure Box in 2018 as a member of Group C. After his elimination in episode 8, he became a trainee at FNC Entertainment until his debut with P1harmony in 2020. Since then, along with Intak, he’s one of the most involved in the group’s songwriting. When we asked Jongseob about what he brings to the dynamic of all of the boys’ “harmonies” he said, “I write my own rap parts and especially through my rap I feel like I was able to bring something unique to our different kinds of harmonies. With my rap I am able to more explicitly portray the message that I want to communicate, not just lyrically but with my flow and style of rap. I feel like I am able to create this point and impact in a song that people can relate and cling on to that they can easily remember.”
It is clear that P1Harmony is more than just a group of entertainers, but rather, the future of what K-pop will look like.
We got to speak to the boys while they were preparing to head to LA for their KCON LA performance.
The Knockturnal: You guys are constantly working so hard and always on the go, so how do you find it in yourself to keep up your drive?
Jiung: A long time ago I used to get inspiration from books, movies, and stories that other people wrote. Now I get my own inspiration from the music I write. I’m constantly working and making new stuff regardless if it’s being released or not. I am always working on my own projects and make sure that I am working on music constantly. The energy I get from it helps me to not get exhausted. I am driven by the love I have for making music and constantly wanting to perfect my craft and get better so that I can continue to make music for the fans which is the one thing that gives me my drive.
The Knockturnal: You got to see your fans for the first time with this tour. Was there anything funny, silly, or crazy that happened with any of you and a fan?
Theo: A really fun memory I had from the tour was when we would perform ‘Do It Like This’ on stage. There would be some fans in the audience that literally knew the choreography from top to bottom and had it mastered and would perform it with us. That was something that was really memorable and just really cool to see.
The Knockturnal: What does P1ece mean to you?
Keeho: I think it’s just the reason why we do what we do. Honestly, if they’re not there to see it, or there period, then it’s just like “why are we doing it”? There’s not really a reason. And honestly, we really experienced that this time around getting to perform in front of our fans. Because we have an audience that are supporting us and just being visually, physically, and emotionally right in front of our own eyes I just feel like, “Wow I’m actually being loved for what I do?” I feel like for me that’s very important, and I feel like the fact that we have that kind of communication with our fans is something just so special and important to us. That’s what they mean to me. They’re just the reason I do what I do.
Jiung: I feel like we’re a team. One team. We’re just one. We’re making the performance together, and everything we do there is just a P1ece always there with us. I’m so thankful.
The Knockturnal: What do you think each one of you brings to the dynamic of your harmony? I know you guys are still new or “rookies”, but you’re coming up on two years so you’ll get rid of that label soon!
Keeho: Hopefully soon haha.
The Knockturnal: So what do you think you bring to the group?
Keeho: That’s a hard question.
Jongseob: Yeah it is… Music wise, for me, it’s that I write my own rap parts. With my rap I am able to more explicitly portray the message that I want to communicate, not just lyrically but with my flow and style of rap. I feel like I am able to create this point and impact in a song that people can relate and cling on to that they can easily remember. I feel like that’s my role and unique harmony within P1Harmony.
Jiung: For me, when we’re on stage and when we perform our songs I always try and hope I can give some of my energy to the other members so that way we can continue to perform more energetically. Aside from that, behind the scenes, I wish that I can continue to make music and hope that one day I can compose a song which will be a better song than the ones we’ve made in the past.
The Knockturnal: If you had to choose between someone that creates music, or someone that performs it, which one would you choose?
Jiung: Wow. Wow.. If I had to choose one.. I would choose performing.
Keeho: Oh really!?
The Knockturnal: You guys are going to be performing at K-Con LA, so congrats on that. What can fans expect since you guys are preparing for that right now?
Intak: Because our new album is out, we haven’t gotten the chance to show our fans that album yet outside of Korea. It feels like they will be able to see new songs on stage, which we are excited to show.
Soul: We have a special stage prepared just for K-Con, so I can’t wait to see how fans will respond to that. This stage is special because it’s only for K-Con.
Jiung: It’s K-Con! It’s huge.
The Knockturnal: Speaking of performing, if you guys could perform at any type of festival where would you like to perform? What would be your dream stage?
Theo: Definitely on the MAMA stage for the MAMA awards.
Keeho: If we’re talking America obviously Coachella or Lollapalooza would be great. Also Rolling Loud would be great too, but I know there’s usually a lot of just rappers there, but it would be so cool to perform there. There’s festivals pretty much all over America so honestly, any of those would be amazing to perform at.
Jongseob: It would be cool to perform for a fashion show. You know how Tyler the Creator or Kendrick Lamar did performances for fashion runways? Like high fashion runway shows would be cool and fun to perform at.
Keeho: That is very creative and cool and a very unique answer, good job Jongseob.
The Knockturnal: When you guys started you were in your ‘Disharmony’ era and now you guys are in your ‘Harmony’ era. What does this new chapter mean to you guys, and why close that door and open a new one? What was the thought process behind that?
Keeho: With the first three albums, which was the ‘Disharmony’ series, we were always going to make it a three-part series. So that was already planned. ‘Disharmony’ was basically about breaking away from stereotypes and standards that are put on us and people from our generation. The whole goal with that era was to break away from all of that and societal standards of being told who to be and how to be it. It’s just about saying, “You know what? Screw it. I’m just going to be what I want and do it on my terms.” I feel like that was our main point with ‘Disharmony’. With this new ‘Harmony’ era, we’re trying to create a new world for ourselves after we destroyed all previous standards and stereotypes. This new world we created is called “Plus World”. Starting from our ‘Harmony’ series with our album ‘Harmony: Zero In‘, because we’ve destroyed everything, the world is completely zeroed so there’s nothing left. We plan to rebuild it up from that zero and figure out how we’re going to create a new world with new rules and standards that fits us and how we want to live on this planet. I feel like that is the mindset we kept in mind during this era shift and new album. That’s what we’re trying to portray with this new ‘Harmony’ series.
The Knockturnal: We definitely were able to hear that sound shift from ‘Disharmony’ to ‘Harmony’, as well as just music you can expect from fourth-generation K-pop. Honestly, you guys could also be seen as being a brand new fifth generation.
Keeho: I definitely agree that there is a difference from fourth gen groups that came out before covid versus groups like us that debuted during the pandemic.
The Knockturnal: We definitely can’t coin that term since I don’t know how fans and people like Jeff Benjamin would react, but when you came out with ‘Siren‘ which was such a hard hitting song that felt very fourth generation. At the same time, you have songs like ‘Swagger‘ and ‘Yes Man‘ which have a much more funky and fun vibe to them. Do you guys feel like your song evolution reflects your journey? Obviously you guys put a lot of pressure on yourselves, and fans are always seeing how hard you are working to outdo yourselves and really find your voice. Do you feel like now that you are coming on to two years, you guys are starting to find your own voices and can start to relax a little bit?
Jiung: We’ve been wanting to show different types of music we don’t usually make to our fans. I think this was the chance to show our new characteristic and sound. We’ve kind of been planning this sound shift for a while to show the fans a different side of us.
Keeho: Yea, I don’t really think it’s reflecting us leaning back and chilling out because we are always going to keep wanting to make the best music possible. We will always try to be intense, be our best, be at the top of our game, and always be in the best condition when it comes to music. Like Jiung said, we really just want to explore a bunch of different genres and show our fans different sides of us. We want to be able to show people we are able to do any type of genre, which I think makes P1Harmony so great because no matter what we do we will always put “P1Harmony” into it. I feel like that was our thought process when it came to songs like ‘Yes Man‘. Especially like you said before, we are moving into our ‘Harmony’ series and I feel like this era is a lot more lighter, brighter, and overall just more fun and free. There are definitely a lot more lighter and funkier songs on this album compared to our past albums.
The Knockturnal: We love that you said you guys can do almost every genre, so we’re sure fans can look forward to a country song in the future.
Keeho: Oh we love country!
The Knockturnal: We know you guys put in a lot of hard work and time into this album, so what do you hope fans will take away from it? What do you hope they see or hear?
Intak: Starting a new series was definitely a big switch musically, but also just personally and lyrically so I wish that our fans can look at the lyrics and see what’s changed and how our tones have shifted.
The Knockturnal: Take us through your writing process. It sounds fascinating how you guys have very different styles and all like different genres of music, but when you come together you guys can have a cohesive-sounding album.
Jongseob: One thing that keeps us all within the same thought process or boundary of each other in our musical process when writing and coming up with melodies is we get a whole list of songs and then we create a keyword for each one of them together. We talk about things that might embody different feelings or moods, for example a weather or certain emotion, and then we choose the main keyword we should focus on from those options. Once we are able to finally come up with the one keyword we all go and write our own music while focusing on what the keyword we picked was. We can write whatever we feel that word means to us personally, and then we come together and try to piece everything together. We try to use this to keep us all in bounds so everything sounds somewhat cohesive even if we work on it by ourselves first.
The Knockturnal: That’s a really unique group writing process. We would have never thought about something like that! We could talk to you guys all day, but our time is almost up so before we wrap up we have two fun questions for you. If you could be any animal what would you be? And also what is your favorite hair color on yourself?
Keeho: I think I would be a wolf. Mostly just because our fans say I look like a wolf, but I don’t know that sounds weird of me to say. Also my favorite hair color is probably this one. Gray.
Intak: My favorite animal is a dog.
Keeho: Not your favorite animal, if you were an animal what would you be.
Intak: Ah!! Many fans say I am like a golden retriever so probably that. My favorite hair color is probably black, I like that color.
Jiung: For me, I would like to be a cat because they are such an independent animal. And I like my hair color right now. It’s like an ash brown or blonde or something. It’s good.
Keeho: I think it’s ash brown.
Intak: Yea, ash brown.
Jongseob: I would want to be an eagle because I want to fly around in the sky and be able to sit in trees. My favorite hair color is this color like orange.
Theo: For me, lion.
Theo: Lion because it’s kind of like a cat. Like Jiung said, they have that independent cat vibe but also they’re the king of the jungle so they’re better than cats.
(Jiung immediately starts laughing when he hears this.)
Theo: And pink hair.
Keeho: Lions that have pink hair? OH!! You mean your favorite hair color is pink hair.
Keeho: What about you Soul?
(Soul immediately pulls out his phone and shows Keeho a picture he pulled up on Google.)
The Knockturnal: Oh! You have a picture?
Keeho: What the hell is this?
(Everyone starts laughing as Keeho gets up to show us Soul’s phone.)
Keeho: What is a “Balaeniceps rex”?
The Knockturnal: Oh that is very specific!
Keeho: I think it’s like the scientific name for it. I think there is a different name for it?
Jiung: What is that?
The Knockturnal: We might have to google different birds for the next couple days to figure it out.
Intak: “What the hell is this” haha.
Jiung: It says “broad billed stork”.
(Jiung precedes to play text to speech audio pronouncing the name of the bird.)
Keeho: I guess it’s a “broad billed stork”. What’s your favorite hair color?
Soul: Black! I like black.
The Knockturnal: We’re so sad, but that’s our time. Thank you guys so much for such an amazing interview.
Keeho: No thank you, we had such a great time.
The Knockturnal: Hopefully we can speak to you guys in the future and I hope you can also do a tour in Canada sometime soon!
Keeho: Yes! I would love that!
The Knockturnal: You have to show these guys your home! Have you had them try poutine yet?
Keeho: No, we have to, though I want them to try it.
The Knockturnal: You have to. Well thank you again, and good luck with K-Con!
P1Harmony: Thank you! Bye!
For more P1Harmony information:
Editor/Producer: OJ Williams @ojwilliams4
Interview By: Emerson Unger @emersonunger
Cover Story: Serena Khahera @idkrena
Photographer: Jeiroh @jeiroh
Stylist: Mike Stallings @mikestallingsny
Stylist Assistant: Colin Blacksmith @colin.blacksmith
Photo Assistant: Aidan Tan @aidan.at
Social Media: Sydney Hargrove @thesydneyhargrove
Hair: Kyeongrim Han
Makeup: Eunsol Park
Styling Assistance: Jayeon Kim