Rookie girl group Azer are a rarity in that they’re truly unique, but not so much in concept and music as origin story. Rather than hailing from a company, they are instead friends from Howon University’s K-pop department (which is a thing, apparently).
Howon University, situated in the peaceful city of Gunsan, North Jeolla, established its K-pop department in 2019 as a part of the school’s innovation projects. The decision came after talks with professors from the division of applied music and fortunately, the results were successful. The department filled all its 30 student slots without even posting an advertisement and the program has expanded, taking on 43 students this year, as the number of applicants continues to increase. The class of 21 beat a competition ratio of 8:52 to 1. Campuses outside Seoul see less and less students each year, but not at Howon.
The group formed with the intent to “make history as proud and confident women“, and the seven members are Youkyung, Minseo, Mijeong, Soyeon, Jaein, Juyeon, and Yujin. Despite their university origins, they certainly weren’t without experienced guidance, as their professor was Shin Yeon Ah from Big Mama.
Azer debuted without an agency, but had the backing of a veteran manager: Professor Shin Yona, who is also a member of female ballad group Big Mama. Asked why she debuted these girls, Shin answered it was “out of spite.” “A lot of the students in our department are kids who have auditioned for agencies and even trained under them, but none of them got the chance to debut,” she said. “When they passed the age of 20, the companies don’t take care of them anymore and the kids became discouraged. As a senior of the industry and an educator, I wanted to let them know that it wasn’t over.”
Azer debuted with “Elegante” back in March, and it was a solid start considering their context, producing a decent but behind-trend Latin-inspired track.
But Azer recently returned with “PIT A PAT“, and while their budget has been reduced to seemingly about five dollars, the song itself is right on trend, going with a chill, relaxing city pop effort that’s very addictive and quite frankly probably would be praised to high heavens by international girl group stans if it was by any of their faves.
Not sure what the future holds for Azer, but I hope they continue on for the underdog story if nothing else.