xikers Is Proud to Travel on a Road of Their Own - Men's Folio
Culture, Lifestyle

xikers Is Proud to Travel on a Road of Their Own

  • By Charmaine Tan

xikers are always on the up, no matter what road they choose to take.

When the world came to a near impossible standstill four years ago, travel became one of the most sacred rites of passage to growing up, an almost forgotten art that made use of physically taking in all the world had to offer to in turn, learn about who we can be as full-fledged human beings.

For the 10-piece group xikers — only second to debut from KQ Entertainment after trailblazing seniors ATEEZ — this mindset to cherish all that they have from the very beginning of their artist journeys has earned them not just the acknowledgement of their peers in the music industry, but also fans who, affectionately named roady, are the path xikers needs to take to get to their eventual destination. Just shy of their one year debut anniversary, the group has already released three mini albums, embarked on a world tour, and are showing an ease into the spotlight that should betray more than a mere 12 months of electric (yet mindful) energy expenditure. For all the potential that they have yet to act on, the group is already making a habit to celebrate and appreciate all the people and experiences who have propelled them forward, the contrast of their youthful postures and mature outlooks a constant reminder of why they are “monster rookies” — who only have an infinite amount of songs to put out, stages to perform, and love to show the world. 

In this interview, we speak to MINJAE, JUNMIN, SUMIN, JINSIK, HYUNWOO, SEEUN, YUJUN, HUNTER and YECHAN to uncover what having travel and the undeniable charm of wanderlust be ingrained in their identities is like, in both concept and in real life, advice from ATEEZ, and the kinds of travel companions they hope to be for roady through life.

Pictured above: (On JUNMIN) Shirt, pants, all H2 by Heron Preston x H&M; (On YUJUN) T-shirt, H2 by Heron Preston x H&M
, (On YECHAN) Sweater, H2 by Heron Preston x H&M; (On SEEUN) Hoodie, H2 by Heron Preston x H&M; (On MINJAE) Jacket, tank top, jeans, all H2 by Heron Preston x H&M; (On JINSIK) Sweater, H2 by Heron Preston x H&M; (On HUNTER) Jacket, H2 by Heron Preston x H&M; Necklace, stylist’s own (On HYUNWOO) Sweater, jeans, all H2 by Heron Preston x H&M; (On SUMIN) Jacket, polo shirt, all H2 by Heron Preston x H&M

Hi xikers! Congratulations on your the release of your third mini-album, and very soon, your one year anniversary! How has the past year been?
MINJAE: I feel like we’ve made so many memories in one year, and I couldn’t be happier to have spent it with roady.

SEEUN: It was a very, very fantastic year, I made so many good memories, I want to say thank you so much to roady!

Do you have any pre-performance routines that youve settled in now?
SUMIN: This is my routine from our world tour. Before the show, I always go to the audience and watch the stage for a few minutes.

HYUNWOO: I always keep a humidifier on in the waiting room, and I take care of my throat by clearing it!

If you could pick out one member that has grown the most in the past month, who would it be and why?
JUNMIN: Hyunwoo. He was the last member to join the team, but I think he’s worked harder than anyone else and has improved so much in both dancing and singing.

YUJUN: Everyone has grown a lot, but if I had to pick one person, it would be Hyunwoo. His singing and dancing has improved a lot, and he’s gotten even cooler!

(On MINJAE) Shirt, pants, all Fendi; Sweater, stylist’s own (On YECHAN) Jacket, shirt, pants, belt, all Fendi; (On JINSIK) Jacket, pants, all H&M Studio; Top, stylist’s own

What are some music genres or types you guys would like to tackle next?
MINJAE: I would like to try conceptual music again, like the title track of our first EP, “TRICKY HOUSE”.

JINSIK: I really like the song ‘Break A Leg’ from our third EP! I think it is because the lyrics are hopeful and the message it conveys is positive and empowering, so in the future, I would like to continue making music that can comfort or cheer you up when you’re down.

In past interviews, you have explained that xikers is a combination of the variable “x” for coordinates and the word “hikers” symbolising travelers. Together, it stands for boys who travel through infinite coordinates and time, emphasising infinite possibilities. What is your favourite memory that comes to mind when you think of the word travel?
HUNTER: We recently had a world tour, where we went to the US, Japan, and Europe. I think I just felt really grateful to have the opportunity to be able to go to that many countries in the span of only a couple of months. While being there, it also reminded me of memories I had in that country back when I was a kid. I travelled a lot with my family as a kid, and during the tour, my family was constantly sending me pictures of us being there as a kid. It felt really wholesome to be able to be there both with my actual family and also with my members, which to me, are like a second family.

YECHAN: The first thing that comes to mind is my first world tour, because I traveled to so many countries and performed in so many places.

If you could travel the world on your own terms, what kind of traveller are you? Would you guys prefer to travel with a set itinerary or take it free and easy?
HYUNWOO: I like to travel freely, but I tend to travel with a big plan.

SEEUN: I always travel with a plan, and I love to take pictures, so I especially like places with lots of pretty buildings. Italy has been my favourite place I’ve been to so far!

What is a must-bring travel item?
JUNMIN: I’m sensitive to scents, so I always carry around a room spray or perfume with me! I use it in hotel rooms and waiting rooms at concerts.

YUJUN: My travel essential is earphones, so I can listen to music anytime, anywhere.

What is your dream travel destination?
JINSIK: Everywhere with roady ! We love being on stage, and I think we’d be so happy to play in a big arena full of fans. I can already imagine it.

HUNTER: Scotland. Whenever I see pictures related to Scotland, it shows pictures of really beautiful hills, beautiful water, a lot of trees. I really love nature, and Scotland just seems like a place where I can be near nature all the time. I just want to experience how it really is there and also learn more about Scotland.

(On YUJUN) Jacket, shirt, pants, all Hermès, (On SEEUN) Shirt, pants, belt, tie, all Fendi, (On HUNTER) Jacket, top, pants, all Onitsuka Tiger

Describe a dream trip you would like to embark on in the future. Where would you go and who would want to travel with (if any)?
SUMIN: I would love to travel to the Philippines with my family. I spent some time there when I was younger and have many fond memories of it.

YECHAN: I’d like to go to the beach with my family and relax, watch the night sky, go for a walk.

What has been a particularly memorable moment from your first year since debut?
SUMIN: My favourite memory is from when we were on the world tour. There are no words to describe how happy I was to meet roady from all over the world, and the energy of they brought really recharged me!

HUNTER: There have been many memorable moments, but for me personally, I would say MAMA (Mnet Asia Music Awards) stands out. I remember watching so many legendary MAMA stages ever since I was a trainee, so being able to participate in 2023’s MAMA awards show had been a dream come true for me.

What has been some of the most valuable advice that the ATEEZ members have given you?
MINJAE: I’m always grateful that our seniors ATEEZ give us a lot of good advice, and among them, the biggest takeaway so far has been that health is the most important thing. They said that if we keep healthy, we can meet with our fans and perform for a long time.

JINSIK: There have been many valuable pieces of advice, but I remember recently when they came and monitored us for one of our choreography practices, they told us how to choreograph points that fit our song better, where to strengthen or weaken emphasis. This was very helpful when we were practicing.

What do you hope to show your fans in the next one year?
JUNMIN: We want to grow our stage performance a lot, and we’re trying to communicate with our fans more often and have fun! And we’re going to work hard to share our good songs with more people!

YECHAN: I want to be a more mature YECHAN of xikers who continues to grow in the future, and I want to love and care for roady more!

(On SUMIN) Shirt, pants, all Gucci; (On HYUNWOO) Shirt, pants, all; H2 by Heron Preston & H&M; (On JUNMIN) Trench coat, shorts, all H&M Studio; Top, Onitsuka Tiger 

The phrase 꽃길만 걷자” or let’s walk only on the flower road” has often been referenced or used when idols talk about embracing the future, hand in hand, with their fans. You guys have mentioned before that you want to make a new mark in the K-pop genre. If you had to reimagine this cliche, what kind of new path would you want to walk with roady?
MINJAE: “The right path (올바른 길)”. Our fans always tell us that “the path we’re on is the right path,” and that saying is a great source of comfort to me. I want to keep moving forward with roady as we are now.

JUNMIN: “The road to lifelong happiness (평생 행복할 길)”. xikers will be happy for life with roady!

SUMIN: “The road of the three-leaf clover (세잎 클로버의 길)”. The three-leaf clover means happiness. I hope our roady is always happy.

JINSIK: “A lifelong journey together (평생 함께하는 길)”. I want to be with roady anytime, anywhere.

HYUNWOO : “The road together (함께하는 길)”. For xikers, roady is indispensable and something we always want to be with.

SEEUN: ‘The Road of Blessings (축복의 길)”. I feel so blessed to have made my debut with xikers and to have met roady, and I hope this blessing will continue in the future!

YUJUN: “Happy road (행복한 길)”. I want to be happy with roady!

HUNTER: “Skyways (하늘 길)“. I like to look at the sky. Looking at the sky reminds me that there are millions of other people in this world feeling the same, many more other people going on with their lives, many birds in the sky flying, many fishes doing their thing, and it reminds me that the world is such a big place. I think thinking about this huge universe helps you laugh at your problems, takes things a little less seriously, and also helps you realise how small of a problem it is compared to this huge universe. I hope you look at the sky sometimes and find comfort!

YECHAN: “Joyful Road (즐거운 길)”. It’s been so much fun working with roady so far, and I’m sure there will be more fun to come!

Photography Kim Yoon Woo
Creative Direction Izwan Abdullah
Styling Mauro Locatelli
Makeup Kwon Hee Jung | Cheongdam Contigo
Hair Ahn Hyun Ji | Cheongdam Contigo
Production Oh Seoyul | SY Production

Once you are done with this story, click here to catch up with our March 2024 issue.