Hello Asia editor Johnny Au spoke to 10 member K-Pop hip hop group Topp Dogg in Seoul on the eve of their comeback EP The Beat. The members of Topp Dogg spoke to Johnny about their growth as artists since their debut in 2013, touring in Europe and the US, production in the new EP, their fans Topp Klass and plans for the future.

Hi Topp Dogg. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. October marks Topp Dogg’s two year anniversary as a group. Can you tell me how you have all grown as artists over that time? What’s been some of the highlights over the two years?

Xero – Firstly, we’re very happy to meet you and thank you for taking the time to interview us. This October is the two year anniversary for Topp Dogg. P-Goon will tell us how much we have grown as an artist over the two years and what special moments we had.

P-Goon – Over the two years the members became very close to each other as a team. We were also able to gain a lot of experiences from different performances and now when we look into each others’ eyes we know what each of us are trying to say.

Topp Dogg toured Europe recently. What was it like to perform in Europe? Was there a particular city you enjoyed?

Xero – When we were touring Europe, the number of fans who attended our concerts were more than we’ve expected. The loud cheering from our fans gave us energy to enjoy the performance more. All the places we have visited are all memorable, but the last performance at the last destination France is perhaps the most memorable. The moment when I took photo with Sangdo in front of the Eiffel Tower is also memorable as well.

Topp Dogg also toured the US earlier this year. Do you think the US will ever be a place where you can find success?

Hojoon – We always try our best to show all our talents, so when we open up the fans’ mind, I believe we can achieve success anywhere.

Its been a year since Annie (last single) was released. What should we look forward to? What is the theme or concept you are aiming for in the comeback?

B-Joo – Our new concept is different to ‘Annie’. Looking at Annie you can see a very distinct concept and we all played around within the single concept. But now we all have individual concepts of our own to play around with which shows how much we have changed in a year’s time.

Of course music videos are important in any Korean artist release. Can you give any hint as to what the theme of the MV and what it will look like?

Nakta – The music video is very important, and personally even though I liked all of them, I wan’t fully satisfied with our previous MVs. But the MV for our comeback would be more sophisticated even though I didn’t get the chance to look at the full video yet. I think through this MV the entire album would have better quality in the fans’ perspective.

In what way have Topp Dogg been involved in the production of the comeback album?

Jenissi – With our previous albums we didn’t get much chance to participate in the production. Some of our members did get to participate in writing the lyrics for the rap, but we weren’t able to make any decision on the general production like deciding the concept for the album. But with our new album I personally think our involvement with the production increased. The Topp Dogg members are all individually distinct and have our own colours and charms. But unfortunately with our previous albums we weren’t able to show our individual characteristics even in terms of how we dressed. This time we have voiced our opinions little bit more and thankfully our company agreed with us, so we are able to show more of our individual characteristics – one member appears more well-groomed whilst the other look more cheeky. Personally this change in concept does not indicate the true Topp Dogg colour, but is a process of revealing our true colours. I think the fans will enjoy such changes as well.

Tell me about your interactions with your fans Topp Klass? Do you have any stories to share about your experiences with fans?

Hansol – As we are preparing for a comeback, we were not involved in any concerts or television programs. So our members interact with the fans a lot through SNS such as Twitter. The fans might be curious of what we’ve been up to and we want to tell them ourselves as well so through SNS we try to communicate with them. As for myself, I have recently started an Instagram and there is an episode with this. On the Instagram you can send a direct message which I wasn’t aware of when I first started. So I accepted every request, and the fans were able to send me direct messages. I got nervous so I asked my friend what I should do and he just told me to ignore and delete them and thankfully the fans stopped sending me messages after that.

What would members of Topp Dogg like to achieve in their careers?

Sangdo – Firstly our goal as Topp Dogg is to reach the top in the music industry. For me, all our members becoming an outstanding artist is my hope and my goal. I have seen the potential of our members to become leading artists so I believe in them.

How has life as an Idol changed you?

Yano – The first change is that I am able to hear my own voice and song on the Melon chart. Also, in terms of performing on stage in front of audience with our members, if we haven’t debuted we wouldn’t have had so many opportunities to perform.

What do you know about Australia? When will we see Topp Dogg in Australia?

A-Tom – As we are touring around the world, I think we can visit Australia some time soon. Talking about Australia, I have friend called Sam and he told me baseball and soccer are famous in Korea but in Australia football is more popular. When I watched videos I figured it’s a very manly sports and I wanted to have a go at playing it myself.

Do any members have any ambitions outside of the music industry?

Yano – Most of our members are interested in doing variety shows and some members are taking acting lessons to help them build another career in that path. B-Joo is into doing BJ (internet broadcasting) at the moment and is running a show called ‘B-Joo TV’. By doing so he is showing his interest in being a MC and in the general variety/entertainment sector. P-Goon is also MCing for our show at V App which he enjoys and will continue to do it.

What’s the future plans for Topp Dogg for the rest of 2015?

Jenissi – I’ve recently realised that the end of 2015 is already coming because of the weather getting cold. The remaining two months for Topp Dogg would be a very busy one – we have to prepare for comeback and get ready for performances. The two months will be a foundation for next year and we will have busy times preparing. We also want to be busy to work hard.

Do you have a message for Topp Klass?

P-Goon – Thank you for waiting for us during the year’s gap. We put our best efforts in for preparing the new album ready to show new and better sides of Topp Dogg. Hope you like and enjoy our new album and we promise to do our best. Once again thank you for waiting.

Topp Dogg’s latest EP The Beat is available on iTunes Australia: The Beat

Translation by Lucy Lee