Lead by 24-year-old singer-songwriter Oh Hyu who’s own carefree and unapologetic individualism stands them in direct contrast to the polished K-Pop style that is currently dominating the East. Their growing popularity places them as spearheads for the South Korean Indie music scene and we got the chance to catch up with Oh to talk touring and hopes for the future.
The band who are currently signed to Highgrnd a sub-label of YG, aside from Oh, consists of guitarist Lim Hyunjae, bassist Im Dongeon and drummer Lee Inwoo. Due to all the members being the same age their albums are titled accordingly to coincide with this. They first came into existence after Oh moved back to Korea after having been educated at numerous institutions across China. Prior to their Apple Music debut HYUKOH have had a steadily growing fan base in Asia where their most recent album 24: How to Find True Love and Happiness reached number 1 in the iTunes charts in Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan. Prior to that their albums 22 and 23 reached 4th and 6th place in the Billboard charts back home in Korea. Their popularity could largely be put down to their pursuit of producing music that standouts is perhaps what sets them apart from other music that is currently coming out of South Korea and even added to their success.
Their sound can be likened to being a combination of the Beach Fossils and Radiohead but that said with each track they produce they don’t seem to subscribe to any specific musical genre. When we quizzed Oh on the band’s particular musical style, he responded by saying that “we didn’t start by saying that we were going to do Indie Rock. We just wanted to have a band. We didn’t have any specific music or specific genre that we wanted to do”, and this is clearly evident when we take 24 for example as it features songs such as Gang Gang Shiele which has heavy country influences meets Chinese traditional music which is again different from the up-tempo and bass-heavy Citizen Kane. Oh goes on to explain what drives them to make the music they do and the way they do he explains that:
“When we get to look back on all our music and think oh, this is our style or this is a certain genre or this is a certain style that we have I think that’s the point that we get disinterested and stop doing the thing because I think there wouldn’t be any more to do and for the creative process”
“For a while I have not had someone that I have wanted to collaborate with”
We enquired if he would consider collaborating with any other artists in the future and before answering the question Oh hesitates to carefully consider his response, then very honestly says that “for a while I have not had someone that I have wanted to collaborate with”, however, after a little more thought adds that “but now I have a few which is Moses Sumney and Arca and Zach Hill”. He goes on to explain that these are only hopes and dreams, but we are sure that with the way HYUKOH are going these collaborations are perhaps not too far from becoming a reality. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we get to see these happen in the future.
Seeing as this marks the band’s first time in Europe, we had to ask what the band was most looking forward to. Enthusiastically, Oh commented that aside from being on a tour bus for the first time that what he was most excited for was “Meeting new people, meeting new audiences and doing something new in a city that I’ve never visited”.
The Europe portion of their tour will be beginning at Manchester’s Gorilla (26th Feb) before continuing on to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin to name a few of the cities that they’ll be passing through. This tour certainly marks a turning point in their career and one that many musicians long for especially considering how young they are as a group, but when we asked what his thoughts were for the future and how he hopes that they be remembered Oh ever so humbly replies “I think we’re really small beings so I’m not too sure after time passes by I’m not sure if we will get remembered or not”. He then goes on to say that “but I think just the fact that people remember you is very amazing so I would hope that we are one of those that get remembered”. It’s comments like these that really show how grateful they are as a band to be doing what they’re doing and the music that they produce comes from an authentic place.
As we came toward the end of the interview we asked if fans should look forward to hearing any new exclusives at their upcoming gigs Oh could only tell us to wait and see until the new year and ends our interview rather sweetly with a message to fans expressing that “I’m really excited to meet you all”. So, I guess we will just have to wait and see what they have installed for us when they come – We can’t wait to see you too!
If this has sparked your curiosity, you can stream ‘Love Ya!’ below. For us, Londoners, HYUKOH performs at London’s Electric Brixton on 27.02.19. Tickets available at livenation.co.uk