For someone who doesn’t have a lot of female friends I really love girl groups and girls supporting girls and girls feeling themselves and female success and their curves and hair and their just everything about girls an awful lot
Most of the sketches with heavy abuse were Graham’s and mine, anything that started with a slow pan across countryside and impressive music was Mike and Terry’s, and anything that got utterly involved with words and disappeared up any personal orifice was Eric’s
Disclaimer: This interview is the property of High Cut. All translation mistakes are my own. Please credit me if moving or translating into a different language. Thank you!
National MC Yoo Jaesuk vented about hyukoh, saying that “amongst the people I have interviewed in the past 10 years, hyukoh have been the most difficult”. Their songs, based in melancholy, have been quite earnest, and their past interviews have shown profound sensibility in the members. Thus I was afraid, right up until the moment that I met the real hyukoh. I came close to the 23 year old boys of hyukoh, that I faced at a photo studio for one night. Inwoo, who was excited at being complimented on his high jump skills, continuously touched the ceiling without fail, and Oh Hyuk, equipped with a pink pen used for body painting, displayed an overflowing mischeviousness while writing the absurd message “mother” on the arms of all of the staff. Interviewing them was very much the same. At ease after a drink, the conversations kept coming and going during what had become a noisy drinking session. The conversation was pulled in all directions. And so went my delightful 2am chat with Oh Hyuk (vocals, guitar), Im Donggun (bass), Im Hyunje (guitar) and Lee Inwoo (drums). Journalist Bang Jungsun
An article about you visiting the HIGHGRND office was given large space on a portal site’s frontpage. Since being signed to HIGHRGND, is there anything that’s changed? Oh Hyuk: It’s good. First of all, (Ta)blo is really good to us. He listens to us well. He councels us a lot. Although it’s only been up until recently that we’ve been in the same field, if you nitpick at the details, they were different domains, you know? I think it’s good that he speaks to us from the same perspective of making music.
Right now people go wild just at the breathing of hyukoh. Is there anything that’s changed between last year’s hyukoh and this year’s hyukoh? Hyunje: I feel a large difference. There are a lot of people who recognise us, and last year we couldn’t even think of stuff like people singing along.
The singalong at Ansan M Valley Rock Festival a while back was amazing as well. Oh Hyuk: So many people came. It was packed all the way to the sound engineering seats. It was fun. It was fun, but stuff like the animal smell was a bit much. (Laughs) Inwoo: The mosquitoes were no joke either. Mosquito festival. (Sticks out leg) Look at this. Hyunje: Oh? I wasn’t bitten even once. Oh Hyuk: Because your blood is dirty. My blood is clean, so I got bitten a lot.
You’ve been defending the top of the digital charts for over 20 days, even beating out the girl groups. Donggun: Will we be given something if we pass a month? Oh Hyuk: It feels good. It’s not something that happens to just anyone. It’d be nice if we stayed on the charts for half a year.
The longer time passes, the more the expectations of your next album grow. Please give us a hint. Oh Hyuk: We’re thinking of releasing it in September. Orientalism with an odd ambience.
Several of your songs are ranked on the digital charts, but what are the members’ favourite songs that aren’t necessarily on the charts? Oh Hyuk: ‘Hooka’. It was the most fun song to work on. 'Wi ing Wi ing’ and 'Comes and Goes’, that are liked by IU, make sense to me, but Hooka being on the charts was amazing. Hyunje: That’s all thanks to IU, isn’t it. Oh Hyuk: Thank you, IU.
In just a year you’ve become superstars. What’s your secret? Oh Hyuk: Our attitudes being different? Thinking of it now that we’re here, I think we’ve been lucky. Before we gathered as a band it was just me. By the way, I had absolutely no understanding of bands. I knew no one in this scene, and (pointing at Im Hyunje) that guy was just at home. He’s an applied music major, but didn’t go to school. And as for me, I took a leave of abscence from school and sold shoes. (I heard you’re good at tying shoelaces because of that?) Donggun: According to him, he can tie them in just 3 seconds. Oh Hyuk: Today you didn’t hear it from me. (Proudly) It seems people think that simply because I’m good at it. I can really tie shoelaces in only 3 seconds. There’s a video too. Anyway. I was close with these guys who did hiphop. Come to think of it, I think I used to approach musicians in other scenes differently.
Hyunje, you entered Seoul Institute of the Arts as a top student. Why didn’t you go to school? Hyunje: It wasn’t interesting. Having tried it out, it felt like I was learning the same things all over again. Oh Hyuk: I’ll go back to school next year. Taking classes with the freshmen. (Laughs) The seniors used to be afraid of me, since I look scary. I couldn’t get used to that, so I didn’t even smile properly.
Hyunje, do you still like SISTAR’s Bora? Hyunje: I used to think she was charming, didn’t I. Oh Hyuk: It’s IU for me. She’s our savior. Hyunje: By the way, we’ve met IU in real life. She’s really pretty in person, I think. Oh Hyuk: Rumours are going to start circulating, saying Im Hyunje and IU are in a relationship. Hyunje: Hate comments are attention too.
Donggun, while you have played guitar since middle school, you play bass in hyukoh. Donggun: Because there was no one to fill the bass part. I played the guitar for about a month. Hyunje’s style fit the team better. I have no discontent with it. Inwoo: Since he’s a really cool guy. He’s dignified. Im Dignified.
Isn’t it it because Donggun is so manly that he takes lead of the atmosphere in the team? Hyunje: Donggun is a hippie. Whatever happens happens. He thinks that all the events in the world happen for a good reason. He gives the impression of not putting too much meaning into matters, and chooses to have an attitude of moderation. Oh Hyuk: In any case, it’s something that no one will remember in 100 years.
Oh Hyuk, you’ve heard the talk about you looking like Manse, right? Inwoo: He’s pretending to be cute a lot these days. Hyunje: Isn’t it that Manse looks like Oh Hyuk? Donggun: Since Manse got famous first. Oh Hyuk: Manse is more famous. So first of all, Manse is hyung. I think I look like Manse hyung. Hyunje: You don’t care that articles like this will come out? Oh Hyuk: I can’t. I’m a rocker. I’m 23 years old. I’m 21 years older (than Manse). If he was born the year before last, then now we have a kid worthy of cheering.*
It seems people are even more crazy about hyukoh due to your lyrics speaking the minds of the youth. I wonder if such an interpretation is a bit exaggerated. Oh Hyuk: It’s exaggerated. I just write my own stories. Inwoo: Cyworld aesthetic.** Oh Hyuk: I’ve been criticised by someone for my lyrics. They said it felt like peeking at someone’s diary. I don’t actually write a diary.
Are all of you in relationships? Hyunje: I have a girlfriend, as does Donggun. Inwoo: (Stealthily raises hand) You’ve worked hard. Oh Hyuk: Inwoo has one? Since when? Donggun: You were dating her? Oh Hyuk: I’m disappointed. How could you not tell me? In the end I’m the only one without one.
Oh Hyuk must put in more effort. Hyunje: He’s receiving love from a lot of people. He can’t be satisfied with only one person. Oh Hyuk: What are you saying. (Laughs) I want to be in a relationship. I’m aiming for monogamy. Everyone: You’re saying weird things. Oh Hyuk: Instead of being in a relationship, I’m living diligently. Everyone: Are we not living diligently? Oh Hyuk: Relationships waste your 20′s. Your 20′s is a time for preparation. Hyunje: From now on, don’t say you want to be in a relationship. Oh Hyuk: But I want to. The truth is, I don’t want to be preparing in my 20s.
* He’s speaking nonsense here and didn’t use proper particles, so it’s difficult to decipher exactly what he’s saying. Hyung = older brother. Manse also means 10 000 years, and is a term used in the context of cheering, ie. the phrase “Daehanminguk manse” would be something like “Hail the Republic of Korea”. (Manse and his brothers are named after this phrase.) ** Cyworld was an extremely popular Korean internet community, where you had your own mini homepages where you could publish content like diary entries, videos and photos, and that you could decorate with themes, background music, stickers, etc.