Calling them only the “hottest band right now” isn’t enough. Made of guys of the same age in their early 20’s and created by leader Oh Hyuk who spent his childhood in China, this band has the high potential to become one of the biggest bands of the Korean music scene.
How about introducing yourself to those who still don’t really know Hyukoh?
We’re Hyukoh? Haha…
How did the band come together?
Oh Hyuk When I was planning to release a solo album under the name Hyukoh, my debut album “20” was recorded with the sessions I did with In Woo (drums) and my friends. And then I needed a band, so I recruited Hyun Je (guitar) who was In Woo’s friend and Dong Gun (bass) whom I knew well because he’s the boyfriend of a nuna I’m close with.
You released your album while doing band activities. How was the recording process for this album?
Oh Hyuk There’s the fact that my intentions were a bit firmer because of time and the trust built as time went by.
Hyun Je We were greedy about each part, but Hyukie was the one making the final decision at first.
Is Oh Hyuk a good producer to the other members of the group?
Hyun Je He’s a producer with a good sense of music and he’s quick to decide and say yes or no.
This album is titled “22”. Will you keep using numbers? You skipped “21” and released “22”.
Oh Hyuk The album “20” was full of teen thoughts. What came with the number “22”, and it might be because nothing special happened when I was 21 (smiles), but we all met at the age of 22 and there were many changes after that. That’s why the number 22 is meaningful in different ways. I think our next album that will probably be released soon will be titled “23”.
Were there things you were conscious of as you worked on “22”?
Hyun Je I wasn’t there for the recording of “20”, but “22” is an extension of “20” in the end, so I thought to myself it wouldn’t work if you could feel too much of a difference. That’s why the individual sound was important, but we could only be constantly aware of our sound as a group. Like “is this natural?”.
Do you usually entrust entirely the art cover to a designer? How about you explain to us this album cover?
Oh Hyuk Although we suggest the nuance or the mood, we must leave the details to someone else. This album’s cover is a big drawing that is the continuation of our previous album cover. If there is a difference, it would be how there are more characters and the tone and manners give off a more mature feeling than last time.
Hyun Je If you can say 20 is a bit vague as a number, I think 22 gives a little bit more of this feeling of precision and brightness because our voices and our instruments sound are a bit more defined.
When I watched “Hooka” music video, there’s a lonely boy looking like Oh Hyuk. I wonder if your style today is similar to the style you had when you were younger.
Oh Hyuk My style was definitely fiercer back then. Even if my style now isn’t to the point of giving off an unpleasant feeling, I think people might have had this feeling back then. I’m focusing on music right now, but I was into fashion when I was a teen. I even wore skirts and clogs. I’m older now, so I can get embarrassed. I kind of toned things down.
Are you currently satisfied with the band?
Hyun Je I feel like there’s something lacking, there’s always some dissatisfaction that I want to express more, but I also feel that we’re slowly getting closer step by step to the image that I want.
Oh Hyuk It’s a bit hard to answer because we’re just getting started, but I do get the feeling that one or two things I used to dream of came true.
In Woo My dream was to become a musician, despite my childhood spent speed skating.
There are two guitars in your band, how do you divide the roles?
Hyun Je Hyukie plays the basic rhythm or code, then my responsibility is to take care of the point or the phrase.
Oh Hyuk I never took guitar lessons. Hyun Je is a guitar major. I also have to sing, so we can only divide the roles. It comes naturally.
(to Oh Hyuk) Do you have no desire to be the solo guitar? (to Hyun Je) What kind of guitarist Oh Hyuk is?
Oh Hyuk Haha. I have no such desire.
Hyun Je He’s good. The fact that he never took guitar lessons, this feeling survives [in his music]. (everybody laughs) I mean he gives off this vibe and originality that people who studied music can’t give off.
What does “Hooka” mean? While listening to this song, I thought the word would fit your music, even if your style had been a little bit stronger.
Oh Hyuk The title has no meaning. I was working on the song and I had to send it to my friends, so I needed a title and I just wrote this word that came to my mind. When it comes to vocal recording, I’ve been going with the inherent sound. When I recorded my first album, I had no experience. Although I have some experience now, I think I’m able to do things this way now because I’m getting more comfortable with the recording process. We all like hip-hop, so we also tried to give some of this hip-hop vibe.
You’ve worked with various people so far, is there someone you’d like to work with in particular? Like you also did the song “Gondry”.
Hyuk Oh There are many. (after thinking about it for a while) I hope Sofia Coppola would direct one of our music videos.
Hyun Je I wish I could be in Riddley Scott’s new film.(laughs)
In WooChet Baker.
Dong Gun Red Hot Chili Peppers. I used to be a guitar player and I really liked John Frusciante.
How about giving us a simple introduction of your next album “23”?
Hyun Je I don’t know if it will happen for sure, but our goal is to release it before the end of the year.
Oh Hyuk Our two previous albums were EPs, this one will be a full album and we’re planning to release a single first. About the song, the basic frame is complete and we must keep developing the sound.
Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com