[Herald Interview] Hang5va hopes to become EDM sensation in K-pop

By Hong Dam-young
  • Published : Jul 6, 2017 - 18:23
  • Updated : Jul 7, 2017 - 09:59

With electronic dance music bringing many people around the world to their feet, an EDM act in Korea hopes to carve out its own niche in the K-pop industry with the band’s throbbing electro bass.

The group’s relaxed, jovial nature belies the quartet’s name: Hang5va, pronounced like “hangover.” 

The hip-hop-based EDM group strutted into the K-pop scene with a swagger early this year, consisting of band leader Kazu, MC Crooner, Chocoboi and DJ Hotdog. 

Korean EDM quartet Hang5va poses during a recent interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

They humbly state they would like to begin by retaining Hang5va's own color in the vast world of EDM. Most importantly, they want to tear down the prejudice against Korean EDM.

“One of the biggest barriers as an EDM act in Korea is that the public tends to think EDM played by Koreans is unfashionable and tacky. I feel really bad about it,” Kazu said.

“For example, people still prefer Western EDM to be played in Korean clubs and festivals, rather than EDM-influenced K-pop. Many also consider EDM as music that is intended to be consumed on the road or in clubs, but we would like to challenge such bias and create an EDM sound that can stay on one’s playlist for a long time.”

Korean EDM quartet Hang5va poses during a recent interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

The group released its debut single “Cinderella” in January, which was followed by its second single “Hot Tai” in May. Like other world-famous EDM acts who use props -- such as Marshmallo and deadmau5 who perform wearing marshmallow and mouse masks, respectively -- DJ Hotdog uses a vibrant dog mask called “Hotdog.”

The quartet may sound new to K-pop fans, but it took them almost 10 years to emerge from the underground scene. This year, the group began promoting its music under C&K Entertainment. The experienced artists perform songs that are written and produced by its members. Hang5va also became the first Korean act to perform at the RCA stage at the Songkran Festival in Thailand in April. A month later, it performed at the Seoul World DJ Festival.

To promote the group’s identity as a Korean EDM band, Hang5va said they always bring the Korean national flag when they perform overseas. In line with that goal is the use of traditional Korean instruments, such as the janggu, for the group’s upcoming new song, which is slated for release in mid-July.

However, Hang5va said they have a long way to go before they can put roots down in the K-pop scene, as tens of thousands of EDM songs are already out there. The conflict between the authenticity of EDM sounds and the rigid nature of the Korean pop industry is something the group has always struggled with.

“When we perform our songs in Korean, some people just see us as one of many K-pop acts, not an original EDM group, as EDM is a Western-influenced sound in their mind,” said MC Crooner.

DJ Hotdog said, “I know that if we blend Korean sounds into EDM, some people may think we are not pursuing pure EDM. It may even sound boring. But I don’t think there is a clear line between EDM and other music genres. If you listen to G-Dragon’s ‘High High,’ the sound is definitely EDM, but people usually categorize it as K-pop.”

He added that the group will continue experimenting with EDM to create a sound that can captivate both Koreans and people around the world. He also hopes that Hang5va can lay the groundwork for Korean EDM acts.

Asked if there is a world famous EDM artist that they most look up to, the group pointed to American duo LMFAO.

“The moment I listened to LMFAO’s music, it was just mind blowing. LMFAO has always been my musical inspiration, and I hope we can be like the duo one day,” Kazu said.

“If LMFAO calls us for a collaboration, I think we can blend into the group right away because we are so ready. We can even shuffle dance with LMFAO right after we wake up in the morning,” he added.

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)