[Exclusive] U-KISS Talks about Their First U.S. Tour, 2013 Accomplishments, and More!
Following a thrilling show in New York, U-KISS made their way to San Francisco for the next stop in their first U.S. tour.
U-KISS’s First U.S. Tour is part of the Headliner concert series produced by Mnet America, and stops in major U.S. cities: New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Before their San Francisco show, Soompi sat down for an interview with members Soo Hyun, AJ, Kiseop, Hoon, Kevin, and Eli to chat about their busy activities in 2013, the stressful comeback process, and some fun, personal questions. Scroll on to read the interview!
1. We last saw you at the 2011 Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. How does it feel to finally go on a U.S. tour?
Kevin: It feels great. The performance at Hollywood Bowl wasn’t our own concert, so we couldn’t really interact with fans. This time, we’re visiting not only Los Angeles, but also San Francisco and New York. Having a two hour full length concert with our fans, we are pretty excited.
Soompi: Have you had the chance to go sight seeing?
Kevin: Yeah, this morning we went to the Golden Gate Bridge, but today was pretty foggy, so we couldn’t see most of it. We went to Union Square and our members went shopping, and we ate good stuff like clam chowder.
2. Looking back, what was the highlight of your year in 2013?
Eli : In 2013 we had our third Japanese Nationwide tour. That was a lot of fun, and we got to meet all of our Japanese fans. Last year we released about six albums in all, with Korea and Japan, so that was a lot of fun. We were very busy that year.
Kevin : Our Latin America tour has got to be one of the biggest memories of 2013. We are actually the first K-Pop to tour around Latin America: Colombia, Peru, and Mexico.
3. Do you have new years resolutions or goals you want to achieve for 2014?
Kiseop: I would like to pursue a career in acting, like a musical or movie.
Hoon: After coming to America, I feel like I need to learn more English. I want to come back (to the U.S.) after learning more English.
Soompi: Are any of you going to give him one-on-one help?
Eli: If he asks us…
Kevin: (Laughing) If he pays us.
4. From studio recording to comeback stage, what is the most exciting and stressful part of preparing for a comeback?
Eli : The most exciting part would probably be just finally going up on stage and performing that song. The most stressful would probably be the music video. We shoot for like 26-27 hours for every music video. That is probably the hardest part. We can’t sleep because our faces will get swollen.
5. How was the change for the group to go to a more Hip-Hop and R&B style for your mini-album “Moments”?
AJ : I would like to say it was a big change. Throughout the albums we have released so far, they have more melody-focused songs rather than rap style. In creating our “Moments” mini-album, we tried more focus on rapping. We tried to focus on melodies too, but it’s more like a hip-hop beat. It was kind of hard to get used to the transition at the beginning because it was a big change.
After shooting the music video, recording, and through practice, we grew used to the song. Finally now we are used to hip-hop styled songs.
6. Your special clothes album “Only You” has a very innovative approach. What is the story behind the idea?
Kevin: The company thought of it. We also put some thought into it because we wanted the fans to have a special album for themselves, especially for KISSme. We thought that the clothes and album together would be a creative idea — for fans to have us (U-KISS) on themselves, wherever they go.
Eli: We wanted to make the clothes like you can actually wear it and have more utility in the product. We designed the t-shirts.
Soompi: Who had the most trouble making their design?
Eli : Kiseop, because he is really artistic whenever he does something. Every sign he does is very artistic. He always tries to make it a little bit different and is a perfectionist.
Kevin: Some members are like “I want a cute t-shirt” or “I want a cool one,” but Kiseop was like “I’m going to draw my one”, and he really gives it his all when designing in it.
7. U-KISS made a hilarious cameo in Lim Chang Jung’s MV, “Open The Door,” where you had to keep a straight face while your sunbae scolded you all. How was the experience working with the veteran singer?
Kevin: We couldn’t keep a poker face! We had a lot of NG cuts. We had to go over and over the shoot.
AJ: Even during the music video when you see the opening part, Eli is kind of smiling.
Eli: Whenever I started laughing, they cut the recording.
Kevin: It was so hard, he was just too funny. He had so many ad-libs.
Eli: Everything was spontaneous. All of a sudden he says, “let’s do it like this,” and starts throwing drinks around.
8. If you could pick one member to be stranded on an island with, who would you pick and why?
Soo Hyun : Eli, because he is very funny.
AJ: Since it is going to be really dangerous, I would like to choose Hoon. He is strong and a really manly guy. He would take good care of me, and he would bring food.
Kiseop: Hoon, for the same reasons as AJ. Hoon would be able to protect me.
Hoon: Kevin, because I want to protect him. (Everyone laughs)
Kevin: I choose Eli because he is a good cook. He could cook for me every day.
Eli: I pick Soo Hyun, so he could sing while I’m cooking. (Everyone laughs)
9. To Kevin: The San Francisco Bay Area is a particularly special location for you as it is your hometown area. How does it feel to finally return as an accomplished singer?
It’s surreal. This is where I dreamed of becoming a singer. Coming back here as a singer is really special to me. Especially when my family and friends can come and watch and really see me perform in front of them. It’s pretty nerve wracking.
Soompi: Are they here today?
Kevin: They are here today to support me.
Soompi: Are there any places you wanted to show the other members?
Kevin: I wanted to show them Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, and the seals. I also want to show them Alcatraz Island, but we don’t have enough time. Next time then!
10. To AJ: Your recent interview with the New York Post shed some light on the nuances of your double-life at Columbia University. What is the most rewarding and difficult aspect of trying to maintain both lifestyles?
AJ: The rewarding part would be that I’m experiencing the best of both worlds. The hardship would be maintaining both worlds and confusion in identity. I study so hard for this Masters, but when I get back (to Korea), I kind of forget the English and what I did as a student. When I get back (to the U.S.) I have to relearn the process and lifestyle all again.
11. Before going on stage, do you do anything to get pumped up to perform?
Eli: All together, before we go on stage we all do “Hwaiting!” Soo Hyun is the leader, so he tells us what we have to focus on. Like during rehearsals he tells us to make our formations perfect.
Eli: I always have to wash my hands before we go up. It’s like a jinx or good luck, so I always try to wash my hands.
Kevin: I have to eat before.
Kiseop: Drink water.
Kevin: We listen to our own songs to get really focused and prepared.
Hoon : I take throat lozenges.
AJ : I personally listen to hip-hop songs to relax.
Soo Hyun: I don’t have anything. I just think “Hwaiting” to myself.
Kevin: He just talks to himself, like mind control. (Everyone laughs)
Thank you to Mnet and Powerhouse for this interview and for the production of U-KISS’s First U.S. Tour.
Did you attend U-KISS’s tour? What was your favorite part of the concert? Let us know in the comment section below!