Oct. 30 (UPI) -- With the newest generation of K-pop acts, individuality is something artists strive to showcase to appeal to a global audience and stand out within an over-saturated scene.
For KARD, it not only helps that they're the only co-ed group currently active, but it's because they have both men and women in their ranks that they can pull off unique performances that shine a bright spotlight on them.
"Everyone sees [KARD] as the first co-ed group to kind of pop-off in a very long time, and the first group to be able to take that Latin sound and turn it into something big within the K-pop industry," BM (Matthew Kim) told UPI over a call from Houston, where the group played the third to last show on their Wild KARD in USA tour.
"But when I see the group, all I see is four really dope artists that constantly feature on each others' songs. We all kind of complement each other."
Hailing from California, BM is the only fluent English speaker in the quartet, therefore taking on the interview by himself.
Though not the first co-ed group to ever exist in the K-pop world, KARD is the first to gain real traction -- especially outside of South Korea.
J.Seph (Kim Tae-hyung), BM, Jeon So-min and Jeon Ji-woo first came out in 2016 and released "Oh Nana," "Don't Recall" and "Rumor" before their official debut with "Hola Hola" the following year.
At the beginning, the group had a strong Caribbean influence in its music, incorporating dance hall and reggaeton sounds and choreography, which ultimately gained them a huge following in the Americas and subsequently the world. A few months short of their three years being active, they're regulars on Billboard's World Digital Albums and World Digital Songs charts.
Since "Hola Hola," KARD has evolved in its sound, adding more electronica to songs. And while the genres vary slightly with each comeback, a constant in KARD's identity and what ultimately sets the group apart is its performances.
Though a changing trend these days, the choreographies seen from boy and girl groups often are starkly different. KARD, with two men and two women, must find the balance between what's perceived as masculine and feminine dance moves with each release, which is one of the biggest struggles for the group.
"When you see girl [groups], they can be tomboyish, but for the most part, people usually want to see that sexy-cute, that pretty girl-ish vibe. And when you see boy groups, they usually have like super hard-hitting and sharp movements. But with us, it's kinda hard to stick with that because we do have two guys in the group, as well," BM said.
"Finding that line between doing what the boys are good at and incorporating what the girls are good at is one of the hardest things for our choreographers. It's a struggle every time because everyone has to shine in the song."
But KARD isn't only finding a balance within that binary. Members actually are redefining it within K-pop.
"We have fun with it, because if it's the girl part of the song, it's inevitable it has to have that girl-ish vibe where the person singing has to look and feel her best as far as being confident about the choreography," BM added.
So when we learn my parts of the song, it is gonna be swag, it is gonna be hard-hitting, so watching the girls actually pull that off is just really, really interesting and fun to watch. And if you flip it and look at it the other way around, where the guys have to do the more feminine dances, it is kinda fun, too. We're just learning about our bodies more and being able to express in different ways."
Already on the third installment of the Wild Kard in USA tour since the group's onset, BM considers going on the road to perform for its fans, Hidden Kard, the best part about their jobs.
"When we come on tour and we meet all our fans face-to-face and actually respond to what they're saying and vibe off of each others' energy, it makes it so much more intimate and rewarding. It definitely helps me remember why I do this and why I constantly make music and why we practice endless hours at night," BM said.
For this tour, KARD had the opportunity to perform their first self-produced single, made by BM, in front of fans. Taking their performance endurance to the next level, "Dumb Litty" is an aggressive EDM molotov bomb -- something they had yet to try.
"We were all getting ready for the next comeback and I was heavily focused on what fans were saying [online]. And many were asking what we do when we're self-conscious or when we're having self-confidence issues. And that was a question I wanted to respond through our music, which is why we came out with 'Dumb Litty,'" BM explained.
"It's a song about not caring about what people say to you. Whether it be outside voices, or it could also be the negative voice inside you that's kinda holding you back. I just wanted to speak about ignoring those voices and just being a boss at life and aggressively taking ahold of your life without being concerned with what anyone has to say."
Moving forward, BM plans to produce more tracks for KARD, and hopes to work with other artists both in their label, DSP Media, and outside of it. His goals for the group recently changed, becoming more humble.
"Just a couple of months ago, I would always say [my goal was], 'No. 1 one on Billboard or music shows' and just getting more popular and whatnot. But I think that at this point in my life, I feel like life is going so good right now that even if we don't pop off harder, just being able to do shows at this caliber and just being able to travel the world and see our fans face-to-face is such a big blessing," he said.
"We're making enough to eat, we live in our own homes and I just feel like life is so good right now and there are no negatives that come out, so, as far as goals, I just want it to be just like this for the rest of our careers."