AKMU Talks Busking, AKMU CAMP, Survival Programs, Future Plans and more.
Q: Before K-POP STAR 2, you as Akdong Musician were busking in places like Hongdae. How do you feel about those times now that you’re a star?
Chanhyuk: Those days have become dear memories to us and I miss them a little. Of course, now we feel happy to be able to perform to huge audience, but it’s different. Busking has its own charm, and even if we tried busking now, it wouldn’t have the same vibe anymore. Back in those days, sometimes we even sang for zero audience. I quite miss being able to perform without any kind of burden and just sing lalala as we want to.
Q: There are people who give buskers things like snacks or dolls. Any experience that you received something special?
Chanhyuk: When we were busking, we didn’t even put out any bucket or anything for people to throw in money. We usually did it as a campaign with a purpose. For example, to let people know about the oil spill.
(*note: Chanhyuk’s probably referring to the oil spill in Taean County back in 2007)
Soohyun: Sometimes, people put civil appeal that we’re too noisy, and the police came for us. We moved to other places to keep on busking. Now that we’re Akdong Musician and that we have a management and all, things will get complicated if civil appeal came in because of us. So we can’t go out on busking as we want to anymore, it’s too bad.
Chanhyuk: So I personally want to try busking in foreign countries.
Q: Like where?
Chanhyuk: We already did in Mongolia, so next time, I want to go to Europe for it. I wonder what Europeans will think of our music, will they like our music there too or not.
Soohyun: I want to go out busking somewhere in America or Europe, too. Those countries have different culture from Korea, so I think maybe we could busk there more coolly and freely.
Q: Your new tour is titled “Akmu Camp”. I hear Chanhyuk named it himself.
Chanhyuk: To just say ‘a concert’ seemed so far away. I wanted to make it like a camp with brothers and sisters, or mother and father, just going on camping and eat barbecues and talk, that kind of feel. That’s why I personally recommended “Akmu Camp” as a title. We will make stages with a camp feel, too.
Q: Are you suggesting ideas for concert stages by yourselves?
Soohyun: We are participating on almost every meetings/sessions and laying our heads together. Since it’s our very first concert, we just throw out any ideas we can think of. We want to do this and do that, you know. And then YG staffs tell us what we can do and how we can do it, considering the budget. (laugh) They try their best to maximize rather than refrain our ideas, so we’re preparing our concert with huge satisfactory.
Chanhyuk: We’re only newbies. There are many parts of us that audience don’t really know about, so we want to show it to them at the concert.
Soohyun: Think of it as going to see a musical rather than a singer’s concert.
Q: Soohyun seems to like musicals.
Soohyun: I love them. I think ‘Wow I want to do that too” every time I watch a musical. I already told my management that I want to do musicals too when I grow up. It’s a field that I could do dancing, acting and singing at the same time, and I’ve always wanted to do those three things since childhood. Mr YG doesn’t want us to do something melancholy yet. So when I do a musical, I want to do cute and entertaining things than something too big or serious.
Q: If you pick one song of yours that you want audience to sing along on concerts, what would it be?
Chanhyuk: There’s a song called “안녕(Hello)” which is for the bullied. There’s a part that goes “Nanana~” in the chorus. When I was writing this song, what I had intended was that kids suddenly stand up with raised hands saying “Na(‘me’ in Korean)!” “Na!”. They’re confessing that they were being bullied, too. When recording the song, we made it sound on the left side and then right side by turns. I think it would be fun if we did it on concerts, too. People raise hands saying “Na” “Na” one by one, and in the end, everyone’s putting their hands in the air together.
Soohyun: But I don’t think I will be able to resist myself laughing. (laugh)
Chanhyuk: People use ‘A Foreigner’s Confession’ as a nupital song, too. I saw a video of a choir doing it and it was very cool. It would be nice to sing that song together as well.
Q: A thing people are most curious about AKMU is where you get your inspirations.
Chanhyuk: I got that question so many times, so I jokingly answered “I put an old lady inside my brain, and an old gentleman come in to pick her up.” (*note: a wordplay. In Korean, ‘old gentleman’ and ‘inspiration’ are homonym, both ‘영감’.) But I seriously don’t know. I don’t read books and I don’t get good grades. I don’t know if there is a thing ‘inspiration’ at all, I just write down as it pops out. The thing is, we are curiosity seekers. We have a part of ourselves that are still very pure like a seven or eight-year-old kids. I think the inspiration comes from there, maybe.
Soohyun: I don’t write songs, so I didn’t really care where Chanhyuk got inspirations and all. I tried it myself and it didn’t work. I wrote down what came into my head, and then got embarrassed with it and erased it all. I asked oppa, and he just answered he wrote things as they pop out. I think he’s simply born with it. Things he writes down are not ordinary, and he make them into songs with a little twist. He’s gifted with that.
Chanhyuk: Recently I watched the film “Begin Again” and sympathized with the hero. There is a woman playing an instrument, and a producer puts on sessions on her music inside his imagination. I guess everyone who writes songs or arranges songs imagines like that, not just me. I think inside my head “a base plays here, drum plays there..” like that. I complete my music that way.
Soohyun: I got chills watching it, realizing we were not the only ones.
Chanhyuk: But I can’t think of melodies these days.
Q: Are there any advices you want to share to younger people who want to do music like Akdong Musician?
Chanhyuk: Enjoy it. It sounds so cheap, but for us, enjoying was the hardest part during K-POP STAR 2. There were assignments to do, and we had to write songs when we didn’t feel like it so that was hard. But I think we were able to grow up inside the process. I keep on looking back those days, because nowadays writing songs are not working. Will we grow up again?
Soohyun: Should we do survival programs again? How about “Who Is Next to put out solo songs”? But I will lose. (laugh) There are many survival programs nowadays. KPOP STAR 4 will start soon, and there is Mix & Match in YG, too. Before I didn’t feel about those programs but now, I feel like crying watching them. It’s sad because we know how they feel. There were nothing we could tell them, really.
Chanhyuk: I want to tell them “Enjoy it, and just do what you want”. That’s what our music is all about. Just enjoy it and do what you want, don’t live like artificial grass and be a real grass. Those are the music we will be keep making, and I hope people feel better listening them.
Q: You started social life much earlier than kid of your age. Don’t you feel anxious about keeping Akdong Musician’s own purity?
Soohyun: I’m only a middle school student, so adults around us protect me saying “She’s just a baby”. But oppa is 19. He’ll become an adult in just a couple of months and then he will get many offers, so I worry about that a little. But I think people respect that we have our own style, and we try our best to keep it.
Chanhyuk: I have never thought of myself changing. I don’t think I will change.
Soohyun: I don’t think you will change, either. I won’t change either.
Q: What do you do when you have no schedule?
Soohyun: I learn English and dancing. I want to learn an instrument too but now I’ve no time. After the duet project with Hayi unnie ends, I think I’ll learn how to play guitar, too. Usually when I have nothing to do, I eat and rest. And get fat. (laugh)
Chanhyuk: I love staying at home so I don’t go out a lot.
Soohyun: He and I are so different. Oppa is an introvert but I’m an extrovert so I can’t stand staying at home.
Chanhyuk: I like being with friends but I hang out with them at home. I like to make new friends, but it’s hard for me to get close with new people. As much I want to become friends with them, my face is like a poker face and my voice is low, so… Oh yes! We want to become radio DJs later.
Soohyun: There were no brother-and-sister radio DJs before, right? We want to do radios on times that workers or students can hear. We want to do reality shows too. There are many things we want to do.
Q: If you go to college, what would you major?
Soohyun: I don’t want to do vocal or applied music major. I got vocal trainings a few times, but my voice changed a bit doing it as I ‘should’. I felt like “no, this isn’t it”, so I immediately came back to my own style. What would I do when I go to college? I have many dreams. I want to do acting, I want to play instruments, I want to do musicals…I think I’ll stay in arts field anyway.
Chanhyuk: I think I’ll stay in arts field, too. I never really gave a serious thought about attending college. My parents don’t demand it, either. I don’t think I will major composition, but something that will help me compose would be great.
Q: Please tell us about Akmu’s future plans, too.
Soohyun: I’m doing a duet with Hayi. I knew the day I duet with Hayi unnie will come, but I never expected it to be so early. It’s the first time I’m doing something out of oppa’s reach. I have anxieties and excitement at the same time. Please support us a lot. You can expect something different from Akmu. Maybe someday I can do another duet, and maybe oppa can do solo activities, too. There is this oppa’s solo song that is so good that I covet.
Chanhyuk: People only expect Soohyun to do solo activities but now from me. I have made myself pretty good songs. I don’t know what people will think of them, but someday I want to do a solo too.
Translated by @babyimissyou_21