Two years and a half after their debut, Hyukoh is back with its first full album “23”. This interview was planned nearly a year ago, so there was no need for a lot of preparation. Because everything was Hyukoh’s idea. In order to do this photo shoot with this “Youth” theme, the Hyukoh band took over since the early stage of the process. They wished to work with their crew photographer Han Dasom, videographer Jung Dawoon, NewYork-based stylist Kim Ye Young, and they all gathered as it was meant to be. The photo shoot took place in a residential area in Bundang (which is of course somewhere Hyukoh’s relatives live). [the introduction describes the clothes and how what you see is the real Hyukoh.]
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Instead of doing an individual introduction, how about you introduce other members?
Ohyuk You mean “blind date” style?
It would be more interesting, wouldn’t it?
Ohyuk In Woo is really gentle and innocent and he can’t lie, so you’ll never worry that he cheats and he’s the type a guy you can get married to if you aren’t too clingy.
Hyunje Hey, no one knows if he cheats or not. However, isn’t it a bit too much to talk marriage in a boyfriend introduction?
Ohyuk I mean, it shows he’s that much of a nice guy. Hyunje is a friend who can open the relationship door of another dimension. If your life is boring and you’re tired of the regular dating ways, I will introduce Hyunjae to you.
Donggun Inwoo is husband material, Hyunjae is boyfriend material.
That’s worrysome. Husband material, boyfriend material.
Hyunje Well, instead of saying another dimension, I’ll say he takes you to the “next level” (laughs). If I were a woman, I’d look at Donggun and I think I’d say “he looks manly, but he’s very delicate.” He has this boyish charm. If you want a smart boyfriend, I will introduce you to Hyukoh.
Ohyuk Why that “smart boyfriend” necessary?
Hyunje It’s just something you have.
Donggun We have the same personality. We don’t talk much. I think I’d introduce them by saying Hyukoh is a guy who dresses well and who is a good musician. Hyunje is a tall, long-legged fun friend. Inwoo is a gentle and fun friend.
Inwoo Hyukie has a really nice voice, so if you’re someone who enjoys long phone conversations, you’ll like it. I want to introduce him to someone who likes guys with this baby side.
So you mean he’s like a baby?
Inwoo There are times when he makes you want to take care of him like a baby.
Donggun You’re uspet/You’re sulking?
Ohyuk I’m not.
Inwoo It seems that you’re upset.
Ohyuk I ain’t.
Inwoo When he’s like this, you just want to take care of him (laughs).
As close you are, is there stuff that makes you go “don’t do it” ?
Hyunje Hyukie shakes his legs way too much.
Ohyuk He often tells me not to do it.
Hyunje Inwoo and Donggun have sweaty palms.
Inwoo, Donggun Yes. We sweat excessively.
Is it suddenly the secret reveal time?
Hyunje To be honest, we hide no emotion. If one of us is in a bad mood, we just give him some space and talk it out after a moment.
Ohyuk As our relationships network gets narrow, we speak honestly within it.
You said your “relationships network gets narrow”, you’re talking about your “Hyukoh crew”. Today, you came with your stylist, your photographer, your videographer. What kind of friend Hyukoh will look for next?
Ohyuk Except for Yeyoung, they’re all friends who have been with us since we began our Hyukoh activities. We never looked for new friends, so our first friends are exactly the friends we have now. We will get friends who match our definition of what being a friend is. If there’s good communication, we can probably become friends. I think it’s nice to have similar interests.
If you have similar interests, than music will be a big part of it.
Ohyuk It’s a given that we talk about music, but music is also our job so we don’t talk about music in every setting. It can be movies, fine arts, design, if someone has similar interests, can’t we become friends? And this person must be sincere. If you approach us in a business way…
How should we pronounce your album title <23>? Ilshipsam [Sino-Korean 23]? Semoulset [Native Korean 23 and the way used to tell someone’s age]?
I thought it would be semoulset. You guys are 25, 23.
Ohyuk If you want to force out a meaning to it, it’s true that it can express our age. This title is based on the age we had during the working process. Our songs in our first EP album <20> had songs we wrote when we were around 20. <22> was created around the time we were 22.
If we talk about the song “Wi Ing Wi Ing” which was a song you sang when you were 20, it gives the <23> album a strong sense of flashback.
Ohyuk The point wasn’t to give this flashback feeling, but it seems we did have this approach. For me too, it’s a thought I had after the album was released. The overall context of this album isn’t about “here what I thought and that’s why I did what I did”. It’s about “I’m still wandering”. In the end, it’s about “I don’t know quite well”. From the first track until the last track, it’s “I don’t know quite well”. The answer isn’t something you find out through studying, it’s not something you find in your readings. At the end of the day, there are things you can do nothing but learn as you experience them. I haven’t figured out everything, so what I can choose is nothing but to keep moving on backward. Moving on backward, thinking about my situation, moving on backward then thinking again. That’s why there’s this vibe in our music.
Did you find the answer?
Ohyuk I think I’m still looking for it.
You are the same age, but it seems your emotional maturity is different.
Hyunje Emotionally, I’m 22?
Ohyuk I’m 20.
Inwoo I’m also around 22.
Donggun I’m transitioning from 19 to 20.
It seems to be the best age.
Hyunje In my case, it’s because I think it would have been nice to have, when I was 20, the thoughts I have right now
What’s on your mind these days?
Hyunje I’s just, so many experiences. Experiences and thoughts you get as you get older.
Inwoo I also think I would have done more things I wanted to back then if I had a little bit more of the feelings I have today. Anything.
Donggun When I was 19, 20, it was the age I could legally drink alcohol, so I was happy. Even recently, I’m very happy when I drink alcohol. It still feels like I’m 20 (laughs).
Ohyuk I think the age 20 has a clear meaning. First of all, when you’re 20, it’s okay to make mistakes. Because you’re 20. And I think it’s the age in your 20’s when you shine the most. I get the feeling that your shine fades away one year after the other after this age.
Well in that case, mine disappeared.
Ohyuk It didn’t. You’re just lighting up another light (laughs)
Personnally, I think getting older is about finding yourself being more and more in situations in which you must make a choice.
Ohyuk I can relate to what you’re saying. When I was a teenager and when I turned 20, every choice was about me. At some point, I felt the burden and the pressure of making choices taking into consideration things such as the people I must take care of, what I must give to others.
Have you made an important choice lately?
Ohyuk Every choice was important. They were all important. There were so many of them. That’s why the album finally got released. The spectrum of our audience is completely different now. In the past, we just created, regardless of how big our audience was or not. Now, there’s the pressure that we must be good at what we do.
With this album, you stood for the first time on the “M!Countdown” stage. You also shot the <Concert 7080>. Doesn’t your music bring all generations together?
Hyukoh Thank you.
Hyunje It was an honor and a nice experience.
Ohyuk What’s interesting is how the audience age range of our <Concert 7080> was a bit high. However, when we were performing on stage, they clapped with great enthusiasm. It was thrilling. They gave us the beat like “clap, clap, clap”, especially when we sang “Leather Jacket”, they beat time… (laughs)
Besides music, what are you into these days?
Ohyuk It’s still music. It’s techno music.
Hyunje You listen to it these days.
Inwoo He keeps listening to it.
Hyune Is it fun to listen to it at home? It’s no fun.
Ohyuk When I listen to it by myself, it’s true it’s not that fun. A few techno clubs got recommended to me, but none of them comes to my mind right now. There’s a new one. I was told it’s big like a warehouse and it’s very secret, they didn’t even promote it.
Hyunje I’ve been playing a VR horror game called “Biohazard”. It’s frustrating.
Inwoo I thought you’d faint from fear after playing once, but Hyunje is good at it. I have looking up drums these days.
Hyunje You’re a drummer?
Inwoo It’s because I want to buy drums. I want to do it more and more, so I’m currently looking up where I can buy them.
Donggun For me, it’s jjajangmyeon…
Hyunje He said he wanted to open a jjajangmyeon restaurant later.
Ohyuk For real?
Donggun It’s not like that.
Something you want to try?
Donggun I want to do an Irezumi tattoo (traditional Japanese tattoo), so I’m thinking about it. My mom would hate it.
You still listen to what your mom says?
Donggun It’s not about that (laughs). I wonder if my mom will be upset about it forever… I want to do it only on one arm.
Ohyuk John Mayer did it only on his left arm. Do it somewhere no one can see. It’s “cool”, right?
Inwoo You’re not scared?
Don’t you want to do individual activities, besides what you do with Hyukoh?
Hyunje I do. I don’t know how it will be precisely. If I can’t picture myself doing everything all by myself from singing to playing an instrument, I don’t know if I won’t give these songs to other people but Hyukoh and make some collaboration project. That’s why I’m still in the draft phase for now. I want to do something on my own one day and I think it will be a nice experience also for what I do within our team.
Donggun I think the same. Being in another band?
Inwoo You shouldn’t.
Ohyuk A second band is too much.
Hyunje You have one band, boy. How can you be in a second one?
Ohyuk Thank you for your hard work (laughs).
You said your album titles are the age you were when you recorded them. Which number would you like to reach?
Hyunje The average life span is always increasing. So can’t we hope for a 3-figure number?
Ohyuk 3-figure number?
Inwoo We’ll get there recording.
Donggun If we get to three, doesn’t that make us the ultimate kings?
What’s your youth standard?
Hyunje Someone who keeps wondering about the things he likes, the things he wants to do and keeps looking for the answers.
Donggun How to put it? I think you get the feeling you’re young when you do something because it’s important to you and you actually want to do it rather than do it even if you don’t want to.
Inwoo For me, it’s when I want to get another try at something.
Ohyuk Youth is the shiniest moment of one’s life. I think you can call youth the time of your life when you’re not aware of it. I think it’s when you know you were shining and you realize you’re slowly moving away from that time. It’s when you go “I shone”, this is when youth is over.
Hyunje But I’m okay even knowing that?
Ohyuk That’s why I forget every single day.
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Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com