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Stray Kids’ K-Wave Coca-Cola Campaign Marks First Big 2024 Project for Their ‘Year of Giving’

It’s the evening at the end of a typically packed week for Stray Kids, but the four-time Billboard 200 chart-toppers are unquestionably buzzing to discuss one of their big first projects in 2024, which they’ve deemed “the year of giving.”

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In the seven days ahead of this interview, Stray Kids members Felix, Seungmin and I.N. all attended different Paris Fashion Week shows — with Felix making his runway debut walking for Louis Vuitton in the luxury brand’s ready-to-wear 2024/2025 collection presentation — Han dropped a new song “13” via the group’s YouTube channel, Bang Chan also revealed his English song “Eternity” and its accompanying video on YouTube as Nylon Japan premiered a striking fashion film tied to his new magazine cover, and the entire group continued preparations for their upcoming fan-meeting concert “SKZ’S MAGIC SCHOOL” taking place at the end of March. Even when Bang Chan notes that “the Kids sometimes can be shy” in having all eight members discuss their latest endeavors, what comes through in both their full-group cheering responses is the vibrant assurance that SKZ are aiming to deliver something to touch both their beloved STAY fandom and global audiences at large.

Alongside three fellow superstar acts under their JYP Entertainment label, Stray Kids teamed up with Coca-Cola in late February for its new Coca-Cola K-Wave Zero Sugar drop that not only introduces a new “Fruity Fantasy” flavor but looks to honor the international K-pop fandom. The guys join ITZY, NMIXX, plus JYP Entertainment founder J.Y. Park for the Coca-Cola Creations joint single “Like Magic.” which was produced by Park, has Bang Chan credited as a vocal arranger, and Changbin as co-writer.

In addition to the new flavor and music video, the collab is delivering limited-edition apparel and accessories including a special lightstick, digital photo cards, a mobile “fan music video AI experience” via the Coca-Cola Creations microsite, all capped off with the K-Wave Concert for Inkigayo, scheduled for June 2 that promises to host JYP talent and other top K-pop names including Stray Kids, ITZY, NMIXX and more.

“The experience starts with an amazing Coca-Cola Zero Sugar taste accompanied by a dash of fruity K-pop magic,” adds Oana Vlad, the senior director of Global Strategy at the Coca-Cola Company. “We are excited to celebrate one of the most passionate fan communities in the world and create new experiences that we hope will bring Coca-Cola magic to fans across the globe.”

Looking ahead to the K-Wave Concert and the year that the group already confirmed will include — and you might need to a breath to take it all in — a fan-meeting concert, third world tour, an album, a “special” album, pop-up stores and loads more digital content, Bang Chan, Lee Know, Changbin, Han, Hyunjin, Felix, Seungmin and I.N. gave Billboard some additional insight into their first major 2024 project and what else is coming.

Congratulations on launching this new campaign for the Coca-Cola K-Wave Zero Sugar. I think the first order of business is to know if you’ve tried it and what you think of this new flavor?

All: Yeah, tastes good!!!

Hyunjin: It’s really very nice. The taste was refreshing, a little like bubblegum, and a somewhat cloudy or misty feeling.

Seungmin: One of the best Cokes in the world.

You and several of your JYP Entertainment artists participated in this campaign that honors K-pop fandom. What’s your overall take on it?

Bang Chan: You know how you just mentioned how this campaign “honors K-pop fandom,” right? But it’s really an honor for us to be able to be in the campaign that honors K-pop fandom, you know what I mean? I feel like it’s just really a good opportunity for not only us, but the other artists in JYP to really spread out the word about K-pop and, that itself is just something that we are very honored to do. And hopefully, people out there can really look forward to the K-pop wave.

Changbin: I usually drink one or two Cokes a day—two Zero Cokes a day, that is! I’m so happy to be able to host this campaign with the actual drink and our JYP family; I think it’s very meaningful. I believe that Zero Coke can unite us all—K-pop fans, JYP family, and Stray Kids. I’m looking forward to continuing that love.

You all participated in the song and video for “Like Magic” alongside J.Y. Park, ITZY, and NMIXX. Changbin wrote alongside JYP, and Bang Chan is a vocal arranger. What was the process of working together?

Bang Chan: Vocal arranging is something that I’ve always done, especially with our own music and everything. But JYP himself was like, “Oh, Chan, you can just direct by yourself; you know the members better than I do, so just get all the vocals done.” And then with like the tuning, editing, the arranging — I figured that out myself as well, and it was a pretty cool experience because usually, we work on music on our own, but to do it for someone else like JYP, it was a great honor, and it was overall very, very fun.

Changbin: When I first heard the song, it was quite new and had kind of a fun feeling to me. So, I was really contemplating and thinking a lot about how to reflect and meld my rap style on it. I’m really happy that the results seemed really fine and Mr. JYP also said he’s happy with that. Also, getting to work with him after a long time, I was really thrilled because it’s been a while since I worked with him as the producer.

Moving from the production, how was it to collaborate on a song with so many of your fellow JYP artists?

Bang Chan: Our company is very much a “family-ship,” you know what I mean? We all looked out for each other, and having a chance to work on something together was really, really fun. I mean, we didn’t actually get to see each other at the music video set and everything — because everyone’s schedules are very, very busy and different — but it kind of felt like as if we were doing like JYP Nation [the name for company-wide JYP Entertainment songs or concerts].

Some of the members spent time as kids in different countries. Are there any special Coke flavors you remember loving as kids?

Felix: When I was younger, I remember drinking a lot of Vanilla…

All: Wow!!!

Felix: I remember I was at a party one time, there was a whole crate of Vanilla Coke and I was drinking, like, six at a time. I think that’s my biggest memory and that was with Vanilla Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola also announced a K-Wave Concert for Inkigayo scheduled for June 2, where you will perform. Is there a chance fans can look forward to new Stray Kids music by then?

Bang Chan: It’s only March and we have so much to do for this year. Look, Jeff, I’m not going to spoil too much, but we have a lot prepared. I’m pretty sure you’re going to be surprised, but I can say we have many things prepared — very different from what we’ve done so far. So, hopefully, people out there can really, I guess, take it all in with our stuff that we’re going to come out with and everything goes well. Hopefully, STAYs really enjoy what we are going to bring out and 2024 can be another great year for Stray Kids.

To expand slightly, the “2024 STEP OUT” video teased a lot. Is there anything else you can share?

Bang Chan: We’ll let your imagination get you there. [Laughs]

Fair enough. What else do we need to know as you begin 2024 with this first big collaboration?

Bang Chan: We’re always processing everything, but we’re just really confident and feel really great that we have STAYs out there because it’s all because of them that we’re getting all these great results. It’s a gift from STAY, and we just want to create more gifts for STAYs out there — 2024 is “the year of giving.” Hopefully, us Stray Kids can give more to not only STAYs, but to everyone out there. So, thank you Billboard for everything, and thanks to Coca-Cola for giving us this great experience and opportunity to work on a very great campaign.

Felix: And we look forward to the future! Today was very fun having to answer a lot of good questions and talk about the Coca-Cola campaign; it was great to get in-depth with it. We just hope that our messages can very clearly spread to the world and show a lot of positivity. We hope that [everyone] can enjoy this year’s Coca-Cola K-Wave edition — just can’t wait.

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