STAYC on Young-Luv.com’s Meaning and Their Friendship Dynamic


STAYC, one of South Korea’s most successful new girl groups, know what it means to be exceptional. The six-member K-pop act debuted during a challenging time for any music artist: in November 2020, the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. But even in a world where touring and face-to-face fan meetings were put on hold, Sumin, 21; Sieun, 20; Isa, 20; Seeun, 18; Yoon, 17; and 17-year-old J’s joyous music propelled them to staggering heights.

The girls’ output has been prolific: In less than two years, they’ve released two extended plays (Stereotype and their new EP Young-Luv.com, which just arrived on February 21, 2022), and two single albums (their 2020 debut Star to a Young Culture and 2021’s Staydom). And it was received incredibly well: STAYC won multiple Rookie of the Year awards over the last year and a half, including at South Korea’s prestigious Golden Disc Awards in January.

YOUNG-LUV.COM 2nd mini album

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Their devoted SWITH fan base, which stands for “STAY WITH,” is over a million strong: 1.2 million people follow them on Instagram alone. Their “Run2U” music video, their latest single, has over 40 million YouTube views and counting, in a testament to their ever-growing buzz. STAYC credits their fans for it all: “We didn’t have many opportunities to meet them in person and feel their support in real-time,” Yoon tells ELLE.com. “But through these awards and milestones, we truly feel their love. I want to thank SWITH from the bottom of my heart.”

As the girls continue to celebrate the release of Young-Luv.com, they speak to ELLE.com via email about each song’s meaning, their friendship dynamic, what a STAYC tour will be like, and their dream collaborators (Olivia Rodrigo, if you’re reading, hit STAYC up).

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You’ve won multiple Rookie of the Year awards and have had so much success since your debut. How has it felt receiving those honors and receiving acclaim for your work so far?

Sumin: Thank you so much! We received so many awards so far. We want to grow and show better performances to our fans.

Sieun: Thank you so much. I’m proud and happy that we’re growing more through this process. We’ll continue to do better! We want to become a group that wins bigger awards.

Isa: I’m very grateful that we achieved this much as a new group. It’s all thanks to our fans SWITH. We feel a greater sense of responsibility now and want to do even better.

Seeun: I can’t believe that we’ve won so many awards. I’m really proud that we’re being recognized for all our efforts.

Yoon: First of all, I want to thank SWITH. We didn’t have many opportunities to meet them in person and feel their support in real-time. But through these awards and milestones, we truly feel their love. I want to thank SWITH from the bottom of my heart.

J: Since SWITH gave us such a great award, we have a greater sense of responsibility—we want to give back by sharing great performances!

Take ELLE through Young-Luv.com, song by song. What is the meaning of each track?

Sumin: “SAME SAME” is a song that expresses our fresh energy by saying “you and I have the same heart.”

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“247” is a song about someone so deeply in love that they want to spend 24 hours and 7 days with their lover.

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“YOUNG LUV” is a song that unravels how “being young can feel painful and foolish at times, but all the more beautiful and sweet.” We captured that message with STAYC’s confident energy.

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“BUTTERFLY” is a song that encapsulates comforting love with sentimental language. It also feels like floating in a dream.

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The last track of our album “I WANT U BABY” is a song that directly expresses the love that you want so much—like a night sky covered by stars. All the tracks are great, so please listen to the entire album!

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What message do you want fans to take from this mini album?

Isa: This album carries a message about running toward what you love fearlessly without holding back. We hope that it will give our fans confidence to express themselves without fearing what others may think.

What track are you most proud of and why?

Sumin: Title track “RUN2U” because it encapsulates our color with fitting beats and sounds

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Sieun: “YOUNG LUV”—The song complements our vocals and also shows off our energy and individuality well. It’s also our first time trying a rock genre – we’re proud of the result and how our fans love it.

Isa: “RUN2U”—I love the intro and the music itself is amazing. Shout out to our B.E.P producers!

Seeun: Title track “RUN2U”—We haven’t really tried this style before, but it captured both our style and TEENFRESH [STAYC’s official scent] vibes well.

Yoon: I would say our title track “RUN2U.” You’ll need to listen to the song yourself! But it expresses STAYC’s colors beautifully and we’re also getting so much love for it.

J: For me, “SAME SAME”! I think the song expressed TEENFRESH so well.

What’s been your favorite STAYC song so far and why?

Sumin: “LOVE FOOL” from our second single album. I love how it gets more sentimental over time and makes me feel nostalgic.

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Sieun: “SAME SAME” from our second mini album. I fell in love with it ever since I heard the guide track. Even after recording the song, I enjoyed the lyrics and composition of the song. It also complements our vocals so well. Please go listen if you haven’t already!

Isa: “SO WHAT,” the second track in our second single album. Many people—especially our fans—shared that this song comforted them a lot.

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Seeun: “LIKE THIS” from our debut album. It captures our freshness and makes me feel at ease whenever I listen to it.

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Yoon: I really like the fourth track in our new album, “YOUNG LUV.” I love listening to rock and this is our first song in the rock genre. It really grew on me as we recorded the song.

J: I really like the third track of our second single album, “LOVE FOOL.” It expresses STAYC’s musical identity so well!

You debuted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when so many artists weren’t able to tour. What can you tease about what fans can expect from a STAYC concert when you do go on tour?

Isa: A stage where STAYC is so happy to see our fans and we enjoy ourselves with them!

J: So many of our songs are easy to sing along! We want our concerts to be an experience where our fans and we can feel like we’re one as we sing together!

As you approach the two-year anniversary of your debut this year, what’s your dream goal to accomplish in the music industry? Any dream artist to collaborate with?

Seeun: Olivia Rodrigo! She’s one of my favorite artists. Since we’re similar in age, I think we could get along well in many ways.

J: I’ve been a big fan of Dua Lipa since I was a trainee, and I really hope we can collaborate one day. *heart*

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How has the experience becoming so famous and getting to know your SWITH fans changed the way you see yourself?

Sumin: I’ve learned to love myself more.

Sieun: Rather than a change of perspective of myself, I feel my affection for our fans growing day after day. I’m more curious about their interests and stories. Like their name SWITH, they all seem so sweet! There’s a saying, “If you like someone, you’ll begin to take after each other.” Similarly, we’re all beginning to take after each other—both STAYC and SWITH.

Isa: I’m learning to be more confident in different areas. I’m also learning to love myself more—in the same way that my fans love me.

Seeun: Realizing that there [are] people who love me has inspired me to recognize my value more. As I interact more with SWITH, I also realize how I have a lot of love to give!

Yoon: I try to become a better person, especially for our fans who care so much. I work on becoming a better person internally, not just externally. When I look at myself, I don’t stop at this much, but continue to challenge myself to improve.

J: SWITH—In response to all the love you give, I’m going to try my best to show more dynamic and continually growing sides of me! *heart*

You’ve gotten to wear so much incredible fashion for STAYC’s music videos and visuals. What’s been your favorite look so far and why?

Sumin: My outfit in my individual cut in the “RUN2U” music video. There were many other options, but I thought the black mini dress stood out well in the colorful set.

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Sieun: I also liked my outfit in the “RUN2U” music video—in the subway scene. I loved the beautiful shoes, and thought that the makeup and hair matched well with the subway backdrop!

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Isa: I liked my beret outfit in the “ASAP” music video. I tried a beret for the first time that day. Really enjoyed the cool, kitsch vibes—and our fans did too!

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Seeun: The white dress from my individual cut of “RUN2U” music video. I really wanted to try it on when first I saw it and it went well with the flower backdrop.

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Yoon: I personally like the two outfits I wore during my photoshoot with J for the April 2021 issue of Elle Korea. I enjoy wearing long skirts and jackets, but don’t wear them very often. I also loved the weather and the atmosphere that day—and felt refreshed during the shoot.

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J: My star-studded outfit from “RUN2U.” It was my first time wearing that type of style, so it was super memorable.

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Is there any hair color or fashion trend you’d like to try you haven’t gotten a chance to yet?

Sumin: I tried pink hair before debuting—but sadly it was too much for my hair and scalp. I hope to try it again this year.

Sieun: Gray! I also want to try orange hair, choppy bangs, hippie perm, or a bob. Fashion-wise, I’m getting into wide-legged pants and different types of pants and jeans!

Isa: I would like to have “see-through” bangs and dye my hair in red wine. For fashion, I want to try a flashy reformed casual look!

Seeun: I never really tried bright colored hair. I personally think darker hair looks better on me but would love to try more colors!

Yoon: I’d like to try something unconventional! Like going platinum blonde.

J: When I was a trainee, I had long hair. But I haven’t shown long hair to our fans yet! It’s been a while so I’m also very curious about my long hair haha.

How would you describe your personal style? What’s your go-to look on a day off?

Sumin: I dress really comfortably. I like neat styles, so I tend to choose tops depending on the knitwear, jeans, or training pants I’m wearing. I also like wearing hats.

Sieun: Pajamas haha I stay indoors a lot on my days off. When I go out, I dress up according to the location and atmosphere. There’s no limit!

Isa: I like clothes with colorful patterns and distinct colors. I wear different clothes depending on who I meet and where I go. Also love choosing outfits to complement whoever I’m meeting.

Seeun: I enjoy wearing simple styles with dark colors. Like jeans with a black T-shirt, black coat, black Converse, etc.

Yoon: I like to dress comfortably on my days off. I’ve been into knitted vests lately, so I recently bought three. It’s perfect for the warmer weather.

J: I wear comfortable training suit sets on my day off. Also wear more casual styles when I go out!

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What’s something fans should know about your friendship that they don’t get to see?

Sieun: The process of improving STAYC’s teamwork! I don’t think you’ll ever be able to know this unless you’re a STAYC member.

Help ELLE.com learn a little more about your friendship dynamic with these superlative questions.

Who’s the biggest fashionista?

    • Sumin: I personally like Seeun’s fashion. I like her neat style—it suits her well.
    • Sieun: Seeun! And me too, haha we know what looks good on us and are also good at picking out pointer items.
    • Isa: Isa. We all have different styles, but I can say for myself that I’m very serious about clothes. In my free time, I spend about 80 percent of my time looking at clothes, shoes, and accessories.
    • Seeun: Sumin. She knows what looks good on her and pulls it off well!
    • Yoon: Isa. I like her unique style. She has a lot of clothes, so she helps me with styling at times.
    • J: Isa. She’s really good at matching colors and dressing in various styles.

      Who’s the mom of the group/biggest caretaker?

      • Sumin: Seeun. She takes good care of us and easily catches things that can be overlooked. She’s really intentional.
      • Sieun: Sumin. I think she knows each member the best, so she is good at caring for us and also gives great constructive criticism.
      • Isa: Isa. Because of my personality, I enjoy listening to and taking care of my members.
      • Seeun: I always picked Isa before, but among other members I’d say Sieun. We always say Sumin is the fatherly figure in the group since she’s the leader and also the oldest. Sieun helps her to relieve that pressure. So I think both Sieun and Isa play motherly roles in the group.
      • Yoon: Isa! Whenever I wake up late in the morning, Isa checks in to make sure I eat. She also helps me out a lot whenever we pick our meals.
      • J: Isa. She always takes good care of me and checks in to make sure I ate.

        Who is the biggest cheerleader?

        • Sumin: Yoon. No one can keep up with Yoon’s energy. Sometimes it’s so ridiculous we all just burst out into laughter.
        • Sieun: Yoon. If you’re a cheerleader, you’re the head of the cheering squad. She helps STAYC’s energy stay high and gives us a lot of strength.
        • Isa: Sumin. She supports all the members so well and gives intentional advice. She is also so cute so she makes us smile a lot.
        • Seeun: All our members are in different ways, but Sumin genuinely supports us in whatever we do and that’s always a huge encouragement.
        • Yoon: I’d pick me haha, I’m always full of energy and love spreading that to my members to cheer them up!
        • J: Yoon! She is always full of energy!

          Who tells the best jokes?

          • Sumin: These days, it’s J. She does things that crack me up and has these funny expressions.
          • Sieun: Yoon. She was always funny but she’s getting funnier as time goes by.
          • Isa: Yoon. She’s the energizer of our team. We love her sense of humor—she makes us laugh all the time.
          • Seeun: Yoon. I love being playful too and our sense of humor is truly aligned.
          • Yoon: I think it’s me. Our members are all funny, but I really love it when they’re happy and laugh because of me!
          • J: Yoon. She made us laugh since the beginning but it’s on another level nowadays.

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            Just for fun: Tell ELLE.com about a few of your favorite things so our readers can get to know you each more.

            Favorite movie

              • Sumin: Twilight. I think it’s the best movie in every aspect—action, romance, twist, and quality.
              • Sieun: It’s too hard to pick just one! Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, Inception, etc!
              • Isa: Will You Be There? [The 2016 Korean film]
              • Seeun: The Princess Diaries. I would love it if the plot of my favorite film happened to me in real life. Thinking about this movie makes me the most excited and happy.
              • Yoon: Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent.
              • J: I really like Disney. Among them, Frozen is my absolute favorite.

                Favorite saying/quote

                • Sumin: “Everything’s going to be okay.”
                • Sieun: “It’s okay, thank you” and “Everything depends on how you think.”
                • Isa: “May the love I give you be the smallest love you will ever receive.”
                • Seeun: “When I achieve my dream, I become someone else’s dream.” I looked up to many artists when I was a trainee, I hope to become that person for someone else.
                • Yoon: “If you don’t walk today, you have to run tomorrow.” It’s something I think about whenever I procrastinate or get lazy!
                • J: Producer Rado always tells us, “As you go higher, lower your head more.” Love that!

                  Favorite food

                  • Sumin: Corn. It’s crispy and addictive when you heat it in an air fryer.
                  • Sieun: I love salmon and seafood!
                  • Isa: Kouign-amann. I love the texture—it’s a great balance of oil and syrup.
                  • Seeun: I really like fruit, especially grapes and watermelon.
                  • Yoon: My mom’s spicy pork dish and dad’s steamed eggs.
                  • J: Bread! I love bread so much that I often eat bread instead of rice.

                    Favorite thing about yourself

                    • Sumin: My smiling face. I tend to smile big—it can help cheer up others.
                    • Sieun: My eccentric, honest, and easy-going personality! Perhaps that’s why people tend to miss me so much haha.
                    • Isa: My bright smile.
                    • Seeun: My charm and performance that make people watching happy.
                    • Yoon: My unexpected charm on and off stage.
                    • J: My heart-shaped lips. They are not common!

                      What can you tease about what’s coming next for you? Are there any themes you’d like to explore in your music next?

                      Sieun: We don’t have any plans yet, but I’d like to try seasonal concepts around summer or winter. Like a summer or winter song. Also, a charismatic concept in military uniforms!

                      Yoon: I also want to try a refreshing, summery concept. Also, a song that can really comfort someone.

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                      You can stream Young-Luv.com here on YouTube or here on Spotify.

                      This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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