K-pop Virtual Boy Group PLAVE Makes Their Debut

On March 12, another virtual idol group stepped onto the K-pop scene. PLAVE, a five-member virtual boy group, made their debut with their single album, Asterum. The group’s name is a combination of the words “play” and “rêve,” which means “dream” in French. The meaning behind this name is that they are creating a new world to achieve their dreams, which is fitting considering the members are virtual. But virtual doesn’t mean that they are entirely digitally created; there is a real person behind each member.

Each of the five members, Yejun, Noah, Bamby, Eunho and Hamin, are virtual avatars for individual musical artists, who perform the vocals and choreography. The manhwa-style characters are created using computer graphics, which rely on real-time motion capture technology to capture the movement of the artists. Performing as a virtual character, this kind of entertainer is commonly known as a Vtuber (short for “virtual YouTuber”).

Although it can be easy for the unfamiliar to dismiss PLAVE as a group of cartoon characters, there’s a lot of human talent and effort behind this virtual idol group. Like any other K-pop group, PLAVE has assigned roles for each of its members, whether it be leader, singer, dancer or rapper. Nevertheless, the group is credited for composing and writing the lyrics of both tracks on their debut release and contributed to making the choreography for their title song, “Wait for You.” PLAVE showcased the full choreography during their broadcast debut on MBC’s music program, Show! MusicCore.

In PLAVE’s first livestream after debut, members Yejun, Bamby and Hamin held a Q&A and chatted about the “Wait for You” music video and the making of it. While one might think a computer-generated music video would be entirely manufactured and edited to perfection, the members recounted filming each scene and even caught Bamby making a slight mistake, glancing directly into the camera instead of immersing himself in the “cool motorcycle scene.” They shared that during the final chorus, it was Hamin’s idea for the dramatic lift of Noah and that Bamby sang the climactic adlib. Bamby admitted singing the consecutively elevating three high notes was tough, and he had to record it hundreds of times to get it right.

This is only the beginning of their journey as PLAVE, and the members shared that there are many things they can’t wait to show. As fans in chat were excited about what’s next for the group, various ideas came up such as fan sign meetings, video calls with fans, and even a concert. Some may question the limitations of a virtual group, but even pre-debut, members Yejun and Noah took to the streets of Hongdae to put on a live busking performance. They sang ballads and pop songs like Sung Shi Kyung’s “Every Moment of You” and Wanna One’s “Energetic,” chatted with the audience, and gave free gifts to lucky crowd members, showing that even virtual idols can engage a crowd from a screen. While nothing’s set in stone yet, PLAVE is open to exploring all the possibilities. Until then, fans can catch PLAVE regularly streaming live on YouTube and Twitch, as they perform vocal and dance covers, play games, and entertain fans with their silly antics.

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Mai Nguyen

Editor-in-Chief at Asia Pacific Arts.
Feel free to send me a note on Twitter to @hellomailee.

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