Featured, Interviews

Epik High’s Interview with Sports Donga [Part 1]

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Source: Sports Donga

Part 1 , Part 2 , 

Translation keurimjanee @ icaruswalks
please credit when re-translating/reposting

The 14 year old “ahjussi” hiphop group proves they are still in excellent health.

The group Epik High (Tablo, Mithra, Tukutz) recently broke their 3 year hiatus and shook the charts with their 9th album ‘We’ve Done Something Wonderful’. Double title tracks ‘Love Story feat. IU)’ and ‘Home is Far Away (feat. Oh Hyuk)’ occupied the #1 and #2 spots on the charts while Billboard selected Epik High as Korea’s most important team.

About the favorable reviews, Epik High expressed in Korean: “We are nothing but thankful for this chance to keep making music”, and responded to Billboard with a “Thank you” in English.

“We agreed to not get too caught up on the charts or have any expectations, but I did have some. The reaction has been much bigger than my expectations though, so I’m just happy and thankful.” (Tukutz)

“First of all, I’m relieved that the album is finally out. We were worried about the release itself, since we worked on it for such a time long time. ‘Maybe people have forgotten about Epik High…’ Luckily the result was amazing, so we’re grateful.” (Mithra)

“We made up our minds to not make a comeback until we felt that the album title ‘we’ve done something wonderful’ was actually true. It may still be lacking, but we gave it our all. Thankfully the reaction has been great, so we feel blessed.” (Tablo)

Epik High’s musical sensitivity has grown up. Tablo introduced the current Epik High by saying: “We’re not hiding ourselves or trying to look younger just because we’re in our late 30s now. Of course the featuring artists on our album are young, but our lyrics expresses us exactly the way we are. The word ‘ahjussi’ is perfect for us.” Sticking to full albums rather than digital singles is also one of Epik High’s distinct characteristics.

“We want to make a comeback with every album. Some people close to us and at our company feel sorry for us because of that. ‘We’re living in the age of digital singles now, and you have to release singles regularly if you want to make any money. Why do you insist on making full albums? You have a family now, so don’t you have to make a living for them?’ But we can’t make anything other than albums.” (Tablo)

“We are of the album generation, and that’s what we’ve learned. We think albums are the most ideal form of painting. Honestly, we’re a bit scared of digital singles. If you release only one song at a time, you have to put so much into them, you know. I doubt we could even make a digital single.” (Mithra)

Whether it’s a single or a full album, you must pour all your energy into it, but Epik High are artists who need to feel the agony of creation in order to exist. They weren’t sure if the public would remember them after their long hiatus.

“As time goes by, we become stricter towards ourselves. But I would say that in itself is enjoyable rather than painful.” (Tukutz)

“Rather than being put off by the pain of creating, we create because it’s more painful not to. If we’re not making something, we lose part of our lives. We torture ourselves. Epik High definitely isn’t a group of great musical talent, you see. There are many things we are clueless about, and that’s why we have to give our all. Working harder is a benefit of being lacking at what you do.” (Tablo)

14 years ago, these 3 people found their team’s direction with ‘epic’ and ‘high’; getting high on poetry (t/n: an ‘epic’) or searching for a higher narrative. They solidified their attitude towards music once more with their 9th album as the base, saying: “You must experience the end of the ‘low’ in order to feel the ‘high'”.

“When we put ‘high’ together with ‘epik’, we did it with the thought that “I wish we could become highly exceptional”, and we experienced our ‘high’ with ‘Fly’ from our 3rd album. I think you have to experience a deep low before you can properly understand the meaning of the word ‘high’. You see, it hasn’t just been a bed of roses for us all the way since our debut 14 years ago. We’ve fallen from high to low, and far enough that ‘low’ no longer existed. We’re always trying to climb up one step at a time. So I think our gratitude for our ‘highs’ is different from many other people’s. We heard we got an all-kill on the charts, but ‘all-kill’ is such a destructive, strong word. Even so, we feel nothing but gratitude. Of course the feeling of having been given a miracle, a blessing, came before that. Especially since working in the music industry at our age isn’t easy, but we’ll work even harder to make better music in the future.” (Tablo)

“My first thought was ‘looks like we’ve been given another chance to make more music’. When we release an album in our current situation and people still give us love for it, that’s a chance for us to continue making music, and I am so thankful for that. It makes me work even harder.” (Tukutz)

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