Hello Asia editor Johnny Au spoke exclusively to Korean rap/rock band N.Flying on the eve of the release of their 2nd Korean single “Lonely”. N.Flying made their debut in 2013 on leading Korean entertainment agency FNC Entertainment. Home to established rock acts CNBLUE, FTISLAND and idol girl group AOA, N.Flying (which is a combination of NEW and FLYING meaning new wings) is a unique Korean band that blends rock beats with rap lyrics. Making their debut initially in Japan with the single “BASKET” the four members of N.Flying Lee Seung Hyub (Leader & Vocals), Cha Hun (Guitars), Kwon Kwang Jin (Bass) and Kim Jae Hyun (Drums) has been steadily fine tuning their sound in Japan before their Korean debut in May 2015 with the album and title track Awesome.
N.Flying it’s great to meet you today. Earlier this year you made your Korean debut with the EP Awesome. Can you give me your thoughts on making your Korean debut?
Kim Jae Hyun – Hello! Great to meet you. Debuting is not only the long-dreamt goal as a trainee but also a new beginning so I was both excited and nervous at the same time. But we are trying to overcome the pressure by practicing very hard, ready to prove our talents.
Can you tell me how N.Flying came together as a band? What was your music career individually before the band?
Cha Hun – We first met each other at our agency FNC Entertainment and trained together for five years as a band. Our singer Seung Hyup has been singing even before he became a trainee and I was part of a Hongdae indie band. Kwang Jin and Jae Hyun have been playing their instruments ever since they came into the company, building their career as a member of the band.
Before making your Korean debut you were busy promoting in Japan. What was the experience of promoting in Japan like? How is it different from promoting in Korea?
Lee Seung Hyup – So before N.Flying’s debut in Korea, we began our career firstly in the Japanese indie scene. The reason we started in Japan first is because Japan has a well-developed band culture which allowed us to observe and experience various aspects. It was also a time for us to come together as a band with strong ties. We didn’t even have a manager with us so we were by ourselves and had to do everything on our own. We carried our instruments and took trains to move around which were part of our indie experience in Japan.
How do you think N.Flying is different from other idol bands out there today?
Kwon Kwang Jin. We feel like the most noticeable difference between us and the others is that we have a lot of rapping in our songs even though we are a band. And we also do a very impressive performance as a band.
What are the difficulties in finding your feet and voice in the Korean music market?
Lee Seung Hyup – Performing as a band in the Korean music programs, we don’t have many opportunities to perform live. So the difficulty is that we cannot perform live if it’s not a concert.
N.Flying’s combination of rock and rap is unique for a Korean band. Do you think you are bringing something new to Korean audiences?
Kim Jae Hyun – The combination of rock and rap is a bit risky for us because it is being introduced for the first time in Korea, making it a challenge for us. But on the other hand it makes N.Flying the first band to introduce such genre. It is a point of improvement for us, and we are practicing very hard to take the ‘first’ title.
Which musicians inspire and influence your music? What kind of music are you listening to at the moment?
Cha Hun – Firstly in my case, I have been listening to rock and metal music ever since I was young with bands such as Alter Bridge. As we N.Flying is a band collaborating rap, musicians such as Limp Bizkit and RATM (Rage Against The Machine) have influenced us to find our own colour and music.
Kim Jae Hyun – During our period in Japan, we had the opportunities to perform with our seniors FTISLAND and CNBLUE which have taught us a lot of things. Also, female artists from FNC such as idol group AOA and singer/songwriter Juniel have also influenced our music style. We are trying to learn as much as possible from all the musicians to improve ourselves as a better band.
Can you tell me what N.Flying’s live performance is like?
Kwon Kwang Jin – As a band, N.Flying has a powerful and energetic live performance and if you have the opportunity, we would really like for you to come and listen to us.
You have been busy in the studio recording your new album. Can you talk about the album for me? What’s it sounding like at the moment?
Lee Seung Hyup – We do not have the full details of the album yet, but the title song is called “Lonely”. It’s very different to the previous song “Awesome”. It goes very well with the autumn weather and is powerful and emotional at the same time. The song is about a story between a man and a woman falling in love and breaking up, and the man regrets the break up and misses her.
How is this new album different from Awesome and your previous Japanese releases? Do you think fans will be surprised at the release?
Kwon Kwang Jin – Different to the previous albums, the new album is static and emotional with N.Flying’s own music colour incorporated, more relevant to Korean perspectives. The previous title song “Awesome” showed a powerful and energetic side of N.Flying, but this album is the opposite, so I think the fans will be quite surprised.
Cha Hun – I think differently because even though the songs are very different to our previous album in Korea, ever since we debuted in Japan we have tried different music styles for every album. So ours fans are aware that we have a broad music spectrum, and they look forward to listening to various music genres from us. So rather than being surprised, we want to meet their expectations with our songs.
Lets talk about the music video. What is the music video about for “Lonely”
Kim Jae Hyun – It corresponds with the storyline of the song, featuring everyone regretting their break ups. Everyone have an experience and knows the emotions, so we incorporated our own emotions into the acting. It wasn’t really acting… Well I wasn’t acting! The colours and backgrounds used in the music video expressed a sense of loneliness to reflect the boyish emotions.
You are in an agency with established bands and music acts. How have they helped you to become better musicians? Do you have some examples?
Kim Jae Hyun – As we are a band ourselves and our entertainment company produces band music, we get to learn a lot of things by watching and listening. It is also easier for us to develop skills in this field. Our members Kwang Jin and Cha Hun are writing lyrics as well producing songs with their names as the lyric writers. Seung Hyup used to only sing, but now he has learnt to rap as well, discovering new talents. For myself, I have developed skills in drumming as a trainee in the entertainment company. So we are thankful for FNC for helping us to develop our skills.
Do you have any musicians you would like to work with?
Cha Hun – As I have mentioned previously we all have role models of our own and I’m sure everyone would like an opportunity to work with their role models. As for me, I would like to work with guitarists like Slash and Mark Tremonti (Creed, Alter Bridge) as well as a vocalists Myles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) and Daughtry with N.Flying’s music. This is a very personal thing for me.
It seems to me N.Flying is a band that is made for performing at music festivals. Have you performed at any in Korea?
Kwon Kwang Jin – We recently performed at a showcase for Asia Global Network, and we have been performing in many Korean music programs. We also have performed in Japan, Singapore, China and Taiwan.
When will we see N.Flying in Australia? What have you heard about us and our music scene? I can really see you performing at some of our music festivals.
Kwon Kwang Jin – Australia has a lot of famous musicians such as AC/DC from Sydney. So we as N.Flying would really like to go to Australia to perform if we get the opportunity. Not only once but several times.
Can you tell me what N.Flying fans are like?
Kim Jae Hyun – I think all the members should talk about this individually. But our fans really love our music and they come looking for us, to listen to our music. In some sense they are like our 5th member because they always come for us and for our music. So we are always thankful for them, and we care and love them all dearly.
Lonely is out now and will be available on iTunes
Translation by Lucy Lee