Friday, 2 August 2013

[INTERVIEW] B.A.P Interview for Nate

In the previous year B.A.P who was in the limelight as one of the best rookie boy bands is coming back after a gap of about half a year. Through the 3rd mini album 'Bad Man' B.A.P will be releasing on the coming 6th , they have resolved to show how they grew a step farther with the experiences and skills they were reinforcing during their overseas tour.

“As much as our break lasted, we have been preparing a lot. While on the Pacific Tour, our eyes and ears have widened” (Leader Yongguk)

In this album, most of the songs are types B.A.P hasn't done before. The members said, “Because we reinterpreted a variety of different types of music, we are also in great anticipation for this album.”

The album was released as a triple title track to highlight those points. Before 'Bad Man', the title track and album title, the two tracks 'Coffee Shop' and 'Hurricane' were made public.

'Coffee Shop' is a jazz and R&B track, while 'Hurricane' is a song with a mix of electronic and house. Both the tracks are different from the styles of most of their other tracks.
“We've never tried out songs with jazz, electronic or house. We released these two tracks first to let people hear our widened range of music.” (Yongguk)

However it seems the title song 'Bad Man' will be the most B.A.P-like song. The members introduced it as, “a song we grafted into our own style with the latest trendy genre.”

“'Bad Man' is the most B.A.P-like song. When we do a song more B.A.P-like, we have more confidence.” (Yongguk)

When asked why they don't just do new genres of music, Bang Yongguk revealed, “We are satisfied with just being able to show 'B.A.P can do even this kind of music'. We like doing music in our style so we have no regrets.”

■ The two reasons why B.A.P is popular, their performances and powerful style

B.A.P mainly met their fans through their performances. They had a 3,000 seat scale debut showcase, and a 5,000 seat scale fanclub inauguration ceremony like a concert. On the other hand, they were hard to meet in variety shows.

“It's because we thought we could show more of ourselves through performances rather than variety shows. For our current activities, rather than variety shows, we think it'll be performance-oriented too.” (Himchan)

This system scored a success. Having debuted a year and 6 months, BAP already has a formidable fandom. Their fanclub members are over 100,000. Their hard work to meet many fans in close places has paid off.

“I think it's because our fans like performances in general. Also doesn't it make you feel more close if you meet at a close place and share stories to actually experience sympathy?” (Himchan, Daehyun)

If your talking about B.A.P, you can't leave out their songs with powerful beats, and strong choreography and styling to match that.

“We debuted in the beginning with a powerful concept for our songs. Because of that, our fans like that kind of music and are waiting for it. This time we are thinking of bringing a more powerful concept for our music.”(Yongguk)

Another unique attribute is how their lyrics have a message for society.

“From our debut to now, our music has held messages. Easy love songs are nice too, but they hold a meaningful message. Of the fans, the younger ones can listen to this kind of music and create a synergy effect to become good adults.” (Yongguk)

■B.A.P went up another level with their overseas tour

After B.A.P hosted their first solo concert in Korea last February, they held a Pacific Tour going around America (LA, San Francisco, Washington, NY, 5 concerts), Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Having debuted for only a year and 6 months, they've taken a step into the world stage.

Through the Pacific Tour, B.A.P has stepped up another level, and they want to show that.

“If we danced and sang in an prepared form before, through the concerts we were able to have more freedom and find a new part of ourselves. Through the activities for this album, you'll be able to meet a developed B.A.P.” (Himchan)

Particularly, they held a concert and interview at MTV studio which is located at NY, Times Square.

“We preformed in a building centered in Times Square, and a lot of people gathered and watched us. A lot of local people came. A lot of Korean people came too, so we were proud and felt patriotism on one part.

While having their concert in America, they weren't surprised by the fact that the ratio of oriental people in the audience were small. It means there were a lot of black people and white people. While covering their story about the concerts, the journalist also saw that there were white female fans waiting outside their agency's office. What is the key factor to how BAP gains popularity from non-Asian fans?

“Well, I guess it's might be because of the Kpop groups, we have powerful performances and songs.” (Jongup)

The members chimed in to say, “Every country is different but whatever country we go to, Zelo is the most popular.”

“The key factor to popularity? Um......I think it's because the staff helped us. We will do our best” (laugh)

After debuting, Zelo was also the youngest idol. However after a year and a half passed by, another idol has stolen that title.

“When we first debuted, I think that helped us to make us more known to others. Now shouldn't we break away from that and look to work harder to make ourselves known (laugh).” (Zelo)

When asked what their anecdote was to appealing to their fans, the members became embarrassed and wouldn’t talk like before. I asked about Yongguk revealing his abs last February at their solo concert in Korea.

“Since I'm always exercising, I didn't really do anything else (laugh). More than that, I was keeping the promise to our fans that we would show our abs if we won a rookie award. “ (Yongguk)

When  asked the reason why only Yongguk revealed his abs, the members said, “ Of the members, his body was the best  so Yongguk hyung did it.” Adding on, they laughed and said, “It's a big problem because next time when we have to reveal our abs again, someone else has to do it.”

■ Advancement into Japan, another challenge

As idols debuting for 2 years, B.A.P are taking on the rare task of aiming for advancement in America and Japan. For Japan, they have planned ahead to formally debut in Japan this coming October 7th with an album. Why are they so enthusiastic to have activities overseas?

“From when we debuted, all six members had a dream 'to become worldwide artists'. I think it's because we keep holding onto our dreams and working hard, that we are slowly getting a resonance from overseas. Our ultimate goal is four our music to be in America's mainstream. I think the time we take in every little step is very precious. I hope this album will be a stepping stone for that goal.” (Yongguk)

Since their debut, B.A.P has continuously spread out their performances on a large scale. They are going to take another challenge in Japan. From November they will have an Arena Tour in the field. In the three cities Kobe, Aichi,and Tokyo, they will be holding 6 concerts in large scale arenas able to have an audience of up to 60,000 people.

“If activities in Japan is our objective...ranking is important, but taking this opportunity of our debut, as we are advancing, our goal is the  Dome Tour. We think that ranking is important in Japan too, but starting in Japan now, as we grow, our goal is to have a Dome Tour. Because we started with the Arena, shouldn't our greatest desire to go even higher?” (Himchan, Daehyun)

They chose 'Warrior' as their debut song for Japan. This song has a powerful beat as a hip-hop song with a message for society, is B.A.P's debut song, and is the song that shows their uniqueness the best. However it may not be easily relayed to the heart of Japanese music as they prefer publicly easy music. They could have gone for a safer title song.

“Of course our concept and style may be different from the general Japanese music style. However, rather than throwing away our style to match Japanese music, we wanted to stick to our music style and show it.”

B.A.P is one of the idol boy bands to have received the most rookie awards. They also came out with 6 albums in the first year of their debut, and are unparalleled as a rookie group in the amount of activities they have been doing. Why is that?

“Isn't it because the market for Korean music wants aggressiveness and speed? Because the market itself is getting faster in tempo, we think it's right to continuously try to match that.” (Himchan)

Some fans are worried thinking they should have more internal stability in Korea before doing overseas activities.

“I think those worries may be right. However since we have just had our first overseas tour, I don't think we should worry that much. We are debuting in Japan, but since we can fully take on activities in Japan and Korea side by side, I don't think they should worry.” (Yongguk)

■EXO isn't a rival but a competition in good faith

After debuting they're still breathlessly running. However the members are overflowing with power.

“Preforming on stage is enjoyable and that's why we do this job. We've never thought that we were having a hard time on stage before. Although we have thought that it was difficult when we go to variety shows (laugh)” (Yongguk)

Lately EXO is the group showing the most terrifying rise. After debuting for 2 years they have burst out in continuous  success with 'Wolf' and 'Growl'. B.A.P debuted around the same time as EXO, and they were in  competition with each other last year for the rookie award title. Do they have sense of rivalry against them?

“We debuted around the same time but rather than rivals, we think of them as friends. It's nice to see them doing well and we think they should be congratulated. Rather than rivals we see them as companions who are competition in good faith. We hope to step up together in competition. Also there are a lot of groups that debuted around the same time. I think we have something to learn from not only EXO, but those groups too. We also feel responsible to not fall behind them as we learn from our friend/companion.”(Daehyun, Himchan)

Already a year and a half has passed since having debuted. After their overseas activities, this is an important time for them to show their positions. However, especially during such a time, B.A.P will try to step out calmly.

“After debuting this is the longest break we've had. As much as we’ve been gone, we've made music of good quality and they have in them the things we learned through our performances. We hope you are in great anticipation for this album. As we diligently take our steps, we believe we can do all the things we've dreamed of. We hope many people will be in anticipation and show interest in our music through 'Bad Man'.” (Youngjae, Jongup)

Journalist Baek Jongmo 


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