Take one look at xikers and you understand their appeal immediately. The ten-member group oozes a talented but innocent charm, made all the more endearing when juxtaposed with their hip-hop- heavy debut EP, House of Tricky: Doorbell Ringing, released at the end of March. Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Emerging Artists Chart, xikers have already shown they’re a force to be reckoned within an increasingly crowded industry.
In the two months since their debut, xikers have racked-up a veritable smorgasbord of impressive stats. They’ve amassed almost 550,000 monthly users on Spotify, and the music video for their track ‘Tricky House’ reached ten million views in under 24 hours, which is no mean feat.
Similar to many groups in the scene, their group name was intentionally chosen for the meaning it holds. “Xikers stands for x-hikers!” explains group leader Minjae in excited, flawless English. “X is the symbol of infinite possibilities and hikers means the boys who are traveling to find their own dream or future.”
Their EP follows the overarching narrative of the members searching for an elusive creature called ‘Tricky’, with a universe concept made popular by acts like Aespa. It’s clear the members are personally invested in the making of this album, which is still relatively uncommon for rookies in the industry. Members Minjae, Sumin and Yechan were also involved in writing the lyrics as well.
For Sumin and Hyunwoo, ‘Rockstar’ is their favourite song from ‘House of Tricky’. The pop-punk track is the embodiment of teenage rebellion and boyish playfulness, and its high energy levels are in keeping with the rest of the EP.
On the choreography side of things, Hunter and Seeun picked ‘Xikey’ as their favourite. “Whenever the chorus comes on, I’m super excited because there’s this part that goes ‘who got that moves’,” says Hunter, flawlessly demonstrating the move without breaking a sweat. “I loved learning it.”
Before debuting, xikers had already built up a considerable fanbase under the ‘KQ Fellaz 2’ moniker. The first ever KQ Fellaz were labelmates and seniors ATEEZ, who played a sold-out O2 Arena in February as part of their ongoing world tour.
The ATEEZ influence is quite visible in House of Tricky – from style to rap and choreography. In fact, ATEEZ leader Hongjoong was extensively involved in producing the album. “He is someone who gives a lot of compliments, and that really helps with our confidence,” beams Yechan, who is the group’s ‘maknae’ (youngest member) at 17. Meanwhile, ATEEZ’s Wooyoung is Junmin’s role model, a fact he is rather proud of. “I am very particular about my choreography and try to keep my moves very clean,” he says. “That way, I think having Wooyoung as a role model is a strength in itself.”
Although they have accumulated a substantial fanbase already, the members still get shocked at how invested the fans can get. “In our song ‘Tricky House’, my part has no fan chant attached to it,” says Hyunwoo. “But when we performed it live, the fans made up one and screamed their support for me. I was really thankful.”
This year was also the first time members could meet fans in person instead of communicating with them over social media. “It was so special to receive my birthday wishes from the fans directly,” says Sumin, who turned 19 in April.
Xikers have been praised for their artistic music videos that blend graphics and seamless camera transitions with their futuristic EDM sound. Shooting their debut music video really brought the group together, reminisces Minjae. “I was so worried about the difficult schedule when shooting, but we all hyped each other up and tried to keep it a good vibe,” he says, every inch the leader already.
Hyping each other up seems to be an essential quality within the group, considering the nerve-wracking situations they frequently find themselves in. “We were really nervous before we did our debut stage,” recalls Hunter, who is xikers’ main dancer. “I remember the members’ voices cracking when we were warming up.”
“It wasn’t as bad as I feared though,” he adds with a grin. “We didn’t make any mistakes, so we were pretty good.”
The debut stage was even more precious for vocalist Seeun because his parents were in the audience. “My mum cried so much, so I cried too,” he admits, laughing.
As the group’s schedule begins to pick up, Yujun confesses that he worries about the members’ health from time to time. “We need to keep our bodies in-check,” he says. “We get back aches and things from time to time and we really need to be careful.”
His worry is not unfounded, as fellow member Junghoon was recently announced as going on hiatus due to a knee surgery. “Teamwork is always first for us,” says Minjae. “Xikers is ten or nothing.”
Xikers have already performed on international stages in Japan (for K-CON) and the USA, where they opened for ATEEZ. Yechan has set his sights on performing in Paris one day. “We’d love to come to London too,” Jinsik and Junmin add tactfully.
We then spend a considerable portion of the interview imagining London activity-castles in the air – football matches for Hyunwoo, fashion shows and museums for Sumin, and fancy afternoon tea for Hunter.
When we come back to earth, I caution them on making promises they may not keep. “We will definitely perform in front of you,” Minjae assures me. “So keep looking forward to our music!”
And considering their charming personalities and tremendous talent, that part will not be tricky at all.