K-Pop idol groups may come and go, but Hyukoh (혁오) is here to stay and play.
Best known for their organic and eccentric sounds, the indie rock band was formed in 2014 and is made up of a quartet of 1993’ers: frontman Oh Hyuk (오혁, who lent his name to the band), guitarist Lim Hyun Jae (임현제), bassist Im Dong Gun (임동건), and drummer Lee In Woo (이인우).
When they released their debut EP “20” in 2014, the band was a relatively unknown musical act to the mainstream crowd (even though they were pretty well-known in the underground music scene).
But success is 99% hard work and 1% luck. Hyukoh’s big breakthrough came in 2015 when they were featured in popular South Korean variety program “Infinity Challenge”‘s Summer Music Festival. Following the performance, the boys’ 2nd EP “22”, which held their hit single “Comes and Goes” (와리가리), charted in the top 10 of the Billboard World Albums Chart. They were also the first act signed to HIGHGRND (pronounced as high ground), a YG Entertainment sub-label run by Epik High’s Tablo.
(Fun Fact: Hyukoh’s albums were named after the age that the members were when they created them!)
While many describe Hyukoh’s music as “weird”, we think that they’re a refreshing addition to the Korean music scene. Their honest yet relatable tunes and lyrics stand out in an industry filled with sugary pop songs and pretty-faced idols.
So when we got the opportunity to interview Hyukoh prior to their Urbanscapes 2017 performance, we were pretty curious about them as the boys are not active in variety shows. But after talking to them, we found out that the members, who were dressed in oversized black suits, are very polite, well-mannered, and just a little shy.
Here’s what went down:
Welcome to Malaysia, guys! It’s your first time here, did you manage to try any local delicacies?
Oh Hyuk: Ya, we did! We had erm, what’s it called…nasi goreng!
Hyun Jae: Oh, and also satay. It was good.
That sounds great, we hope that you can try more delicious food while you’re here. Also, congratulations on the release of your first full length album, “23”! How does it feel to finally put out your first complete record?
Hyun Jae: We feel very good.
Oh Hyuk: But it’s also really tough because it took us a while to finish it. I think we spent more than 2 years on it.
Your music is eccentric in the sense that you’re not afraid to experiment with different styles. Where do you usually get your inspiration from?
Oh Hyuk: I get inspiration from a lot of sources but I usually get a lot of ideas from events that happen around me. When I get an idea, I’ll proceed with it. I tend to write songs about the things I saw, listened to, and experienced.
With language at your disposal, do you find it easier to write/sing in Korean or in English?
Oh Hyuk: Korean. It’s a bit different by the language. I guess I feel most comfortable when I use Korean to express myself. There are these unique feelings, expressions, or auras only certain languages have. So it’s not just because I’m comfortable with Korean the most, but its’ the language that fits most with the mood of our songs.
What’s the advantage of being an indie band in a music scene that has for so long now been dominated by pop?
Oh Hyuk: I guess it’s not a matter of having an advantage or not. We’re just an indie band and that’s just a state of us. There’s no advantage or disadvantage actually.
Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Hyun Jae: Paul McCartney!
In Woo: Erm… Ringo Starr (laughs).
Oh Hyuk: I’ll go with John Lennon.
Dong Gun: Paul McCartney.
Do you have anything to say to your Malaysian fans?
Oh Hyuk: Thank you for coming to our shows. We hope to see you again next year. And of course, if we can reach more people (fans), it would be great. Thank you for liking our music and we would ask you to keep liking us (laughs). We’ll try to come back every year.
Hyukoh’s first full album “23” consists of 12 tracks including “Wanli” (万里), “Leather Jacket”, “Tokyo Inn”, and “2002 World Cup”.
Special thanks to Tiger Beer Malaysia for making this interview happen :)
For more info on the band, visit their official Facebook page.
Featured image: Hyukoh’s Facebook page.