Block B on their past, group relations, and future goals
The seven members of Block B - Zico, Jaehyo, Taeil, U-Kwon, P.O., Park Kyung, and B-Bomb - recently sat down for an in-depth interview with News Vision E that covered not only their past, but also their personalities, relationships to one another, along with their future goals.
Check out their interview below!
Q.Your name, Block B, is very unique.
Block B: It’s a shortened form of the term ‘blockbuster.’ It’s an expression of our desires to become a big impact on the Korean music industry.
Q.Could you please introduce your debut track, “Freeze!” Can you elaborate on what kind of song it is?
Block B: It’s an electronic track with a hip hop base. The lyrics are about telling someone you love that keeps drifting, getting further apart from you to freeze for a moment, so that you can deliver your true feelings. It’s got a hip hop feel with an added effect of electronic sounds so it’s modern in that aspect. We all love the song and feel that it’s something that’s easy to enjoy.
Q. It’s been a long time since there’s been an emergence of hip hop idols. After the 90’s, hip hop has basically evaporated from idols and has since turned into a professional genre thanks to the efforts of Cho PD and other hip hop musicians. There’s a strong fanbase of ‘hip hop manias’ for the genre now, so does that pressure you?
Zico: Honestly, I don’t think hip hop fans want idols to pursue the genre. We did hear concerns of us following the tastes of the public and I think that people stereotype us as idols that are just pursuing hip hop with no real skills or talents.
We’re young and stand as an idol group so I think it’s inevitable that we’re stereotyped in such a way. We want to break that with our efforts and talents since we still have so much more to show. Please don’t look over us with a premeditated / certain view in mind, because over time, we will show something that is uniquely us.
Q. Have you always loved hip hop?
Zico: All of the members love hip hop, I was a rapper underground and it’s been about six to seven months since I’ve taken up producing. Park Kyung’s hobby is also rapping and he has always pursued hip hop music. The passion of the other members don’t fall behind as well.
Q.You received a lot of attention for being trained by Cho PD, who’s regarded as one of the godfathers of Korean hip hop. What kind of mentor is he to you?
Park Kyung: Off stage, he has a charisma to him that makes you think it’d be both scary and difficult to approach him, but he’s like a hyung to us that always tries to hear our opinions out. He’s strict when he has to be but overall, he’s really caring. Most of all, he tells us what what we’re doing wrong right on the spot and always asks us questions in a way that makes us think and come up with an answer our selves. We really respect that side of him.
Jaehyo: I have a funny episode to share. Before our official debut, we performed at Lotte World. Right before we were set to get up on the stage, Cho PD hyung pulled us together and told us with a serious expression, “Don’t think for a second that it’s a good thing that you got your name known ahead of everything like this. If you don’t live up to expectations, you can receive double the criticisms. It’s like a double-sided saber.”
But sabers are always double-sided, I think what he meant was a double-edged sword. We were all about to burst out in laughter, but we couldn’t laugh out loud in that situation when he was giving us such serious advice. We bit our lips and held it inside. To this day, he doesn’t know that he made such a mistake. “Hyung, I mean CEO! It’s not double-sided saber, it’s double-edged sword!”
Q.Let’s move on to your personal stories. I’m curious as to how each of you debuted.
Park Kyung: I was studying abroad in New Zealand but returned to Korea to debut. I’ve been friends with Zico since we were in elementary school. Zico had gone overseas to study in Japan and he told me one day that he had passed Cho PD’s audition and was now an official trainee. Through that connection, an opportunity for me to audition for Cho PD opened up as well.
Before then, I wasn’t sure as to whether I should pursue music or not, but after talking it over with Zico and meeting Cho PD, I became determined. The more I think about it, the more thankful I am.
U-Kwon: I first came tried music when I joined a band in junior high school. I played the guitar and was the sub-vocalist for the band for a while, until one day I fell in love with all of the dancing at the concerts we performed at. I wanted to pursue both singing and dancing, so I was determined to become a singer that could do both.
Honestly, two years ago, I was under a different agency and was training to become a member of a different group. I was deeply wounded when that group couldn’t debut, but someone had been watching over me at the time and suggested that I audition for Block B, which is how I received the opportunity.
Zico: I was an art student while studying in Japan. I had always loved listening and making music so recording and composing had always been something I had learned as a hobby. Every time I came back to Korea while studying abroad, I’d perform at Hongdae clubs with a few close crews and met a lot of musicians like that. Two years ago, I received the opportunity to meet Cho PD hyung. He thought well of me then and let me come in as a trainee right away.
Jaehyo: I lived in Busan and went to see a dance competition with a friend for fun with my friend during my first year of high school. I was street cast there and really worked hard because I was so glad to have been chosen, but I think I overdid. I strained and injured my knee and reached a point where I had to nearly give up my dreams. Right when I was about to give up, MBLAQ’s Lee Joon hyung gave me one last word of support: “Don’t end everything.” Back in Busan, I went through surgery and recovered, and someone later introduced me to Cho PD.
P.O: In junior high school, my dream was to become an actor, or more specifically, a play actor. After getting into Hanlim Arts High School, I worked hard to achieve my dream while keeping rap as my specialty. One of my teachers had watched over me and introduced me to an agency for an audition. After seeing the hyungs rap and make music there, I was just captivated with their charm. Ever since, I changed my dream into becoming a singer.
B-Bomb: By chance, I had an opportunity to see Rain’s performance up close. I really received a shock then and began learning how to dance and sing ever since. After going through a few auditions, I did have the chance of debuting elsewhere, but I think fate tied me to Block B. I learned a lot here and was finally able to debut with them.
Taeil: My story’s pretty unique in that I was preparing to enlist in the army before my debut. I can’t call myself a professional singer, but I had promoted as a singer in a few places. After seeing an advertisement for MBC’s “Birth of a Great Star“, I auditioned for the program and luckily made it to the camp episode. Unfortunately, I was eliminated when they were cutting down to 30 members.
I prepared to enlist in the army until I received a call from our agency right after the show aired. He said he liked what he saw, and soon after, I had joined Block B. I feel like it’s a dream.
Q. Your debut stories are definitely something worth sharing. Now let’s talk about the people next to us. If you had to introduce the person next to you, what would you say?
Park Kyung: U-Kwon is so innocent that it doesn’t work to his advantage. He’s like a child sometimes, but I think the fact that he’s so uncorrupted is his merit. But it can also be his weakness because it makes the people around him kind of tired (laughter).
U-Kwon: Zico is someone that hides his prodigal qualities. He has so much to show, and I don’t think he’s shown all of it yet, which I think is amazing. I feel this when he writes songs because he’s able to come up with two songs that are of completely different colors. It surprises me.
Zico: Jaehyo is a hyung that has a handsome face, but a pure sensibility.He’s like a child, but he’s also the hyung so he’s kind of greedy in that he won’t ever let go of his three favorite things: food, girl groups, and rest. (Jaehyo tried to retort but failed). His preference in food is fast food, and girl groups.. Mmm, kind of dangerous to reveal, but he likes a newly debuted group associated with the color pink. And he also loves resting in his second floor bed no matter what.
Oh, there’s also one more characteristic about him. He’s got a lot of upper body strength, but his legs are quite weak!
Jaehyo: P.O. isn’t like the maknae, but he’s still the adorable maknae. I think he wants to become an adult fast because he doesn’t act like a maknae sometimes. To us, that’s still adorable and he’ll forever be our maknae no matter what. Oh, and another thing is that I never thought he’d become so handsome when I first met him, but he really did become very cool. His cuteness turned into a charm which is pretty surprising. Both his heart and his physical look… have become prettier. I think he’s always improving.
P.O: Main vocalist Taeil hyung is someone that really loves singing and is very good at it. Even though he’s so talented, he practices as if his life depends on it. He’s always living inside of the training room, and I learn a lot from watching him. He’s one of the oldest hyungs, but he’s really innocent and cute. He loves reading comic books and raising fishes. I think he’s a really cute main vocal.
Taeil: B-Bomb is a friend I’m really thankful for. We’re the same age, and he’s also the first person ever that taught me how to dance. Unlike his cold impression, I have a lot of memories with him where he’ll help me up when I’m tired from dancing. I’m thankful for him.
B-Bomb: Park Kyung is like Block B’s endorphin. He’s always energizing the team and lifting everyone’s moods.. although that does tire us out sometimes (laughter). I’m joking. Even though he’s my dongseng, he listens to everything regarding the team very maturely. I’m proud of him. If you exclude the bad manners he commits in the car, he’s a really great person. Because of Kyung, we think very important of the ventilation in the car. (Park Kyung tried to retort this statement as if his life depended on it but was ignored by the other members).
Q. What kind of music will Block B show in the future?
Block B: One thing we’re definitely sure about is that we’re going to be showing music different from the standard idols. With hip hop as our base, we’re going to try bringing in a variety of different genres as actively as possible. We want to be remembered as a group that’s both unique and different.
Q.To you guys, what kind of group is Block B?
Block B: We’re a very free group. We’re not forced into a frame like other idol groups, nor are we pretty. We may be rough, but we have a definite meaning to our identity and feel that we deliver it directly. We’re a group that has a color of our own, and it’s always going to be like that into the future.
Q.One concluding statement of determination?
Block B: We’ll be releasing our mini-album in June and beginning our activities then. It’ll consist of everything we couldn’t show through our debut single, so please watch over us and give us your support.