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Hello Asia editor Johnny Au chats to the members of Topp Dogg Wizard members Hansol, B-Joo, Hojoon and Xero during their Australian visit. The members of Topp Dogg was in Sydney for the Level Up Volume 1 event which showcased their dancing as well as singing skills. We chat to the boys about their time in Australia, what they have been up to since the release of The Beat, their involvement in the web series Topp Dogg: All-Kill. Members of Topp Dogg Wizard also get into a hilarious exchange about the Korean instruments in ‘Arario’. TURN ON YOUR CAPTIONS FOR ENGLISH SUBTITLES.

Topp Dogg Wizard welcome to Australia! How’s your time in Australia so far?

Xero: First of all – I had always wanted to visit Australia. I’m really happy that I’ve been able to come here through this opportunity. We’ve only come as the four of us – Topp Dogg Wizard – today. But the ten of us as a whole will continue to work hard. I’m really happy. Hehe!

Tell me what is the purpose of your visit this time around? And tell me what’s so special about Level Up Volume 1?

Hansol: Yes, we’ve come to Australia to interact with our fans through ‘Level Up’. The reason that Level Up is special is Volume 1! It became an opportunity for us to make a start. Level Up and– Level Up Volume– Volume 1 Level Up… is! When we first heard about it– We had always had the objective of communicating with fans through performances and songs. We’ve had a lot of stages like that. But the purpose of this schedule was for us to be able to communicate with people who love to dance. So we were like– “Oh! Let’s give it a go. It looks like it’ll be fun.” The members all agreed and we ended up coming. So I think that we’ll be able to judge a lot of great dances during our time here.

Last time I spoke to you was in Korea when we spoke about your album “The Beat”. What have you been up to since that time?

B-Joo: Yes, we have all been doing a lot of personal developments. I personally did a lot of introspection.

Hansol: What kind of introspection did you do?

B-Joo: I took a look back at my life. “Ah, so that’s how I lived up until now. In the future, I ought to live like this.” I thought a lot about stuff like that.

Xero: We also go to health and fitness gyms. B-Joo and I also take acting classes. We each individually took a lot of those kinds of lessons.

I believe Topp Dogg was involved in your own reality web series called Topp Dogg: All-Kill. What was it like filming that series?

Hojoon: I’m Hojoon! I think that we made a lot of great memories while filming ‘All-Kill’. Even before that, we had gained a lot of great memories and experiences through a reality show called ‘Topp Dogg Project’ but we were able to gain a different kind of experience through ‘All-Kill’, so it was really great.

We think your track Arario is amazing. Which one of you Topp Dogg Wizard plays traditional Korean instruments?

Hansol: Yes! There’s a musical genre in Korean known as ‘samul nori’. The ‘buk’ (a type of drum)– you’ve tried–  buk– Hojoon, haven’t you played it before too?

Hojoon: As for me… I do recall learning ‘buk’ while I was learning ‘kumdo’ (modern Korean martial arts).

B-Joo: Oh, you learned ‘buk’ alongside ‘kumdo’?

HoJoon: Yes. Our ‘kumdo’ teacher–

Xero: How is [kumdo]… traditional…

Hansol: No, he said he played ‘buk’!

Hojoon: ‘Buk’, ‘buk’.

Hansol: Give me the microphone, please.

Xero: Personally, I also know how to play the ‘djembe’ (a drum originally from West Africa).

B-Joo: ‘Djembe’ isn’t our traditional instrument.

Hansol: No! Ahhh, honestly, I can’t understand this!

Xero: It’s an instrument either way.

Hansol: Okay. I’m going to try to organise this. You said you play the ‘djembe’?

Xero: Yeah.

Hansol: He says he played ‘buk’ (points at Hojoon).

B-Joo: I’ve played the ‘sogo’ (small hand-held drum) before.

Hansol: ‘Sog–‘ oh, ‘sogo’ is right!

Xero: Your ‘samul nori’–

Hansol: Yes, I – for real – did the real ‘samul nori’. I started off with ‘buk’. It’s actually really hard to get up to the level of becoming the leading gong-player of the band. I did it all. I did all of the ‘janggu’ (type of drum). Even the ‘jing’ (a larger gong)-

B-Joo: Would you be able to show us a little bit?

Hansol: The ‘jing’– Even the ‘jing’– I used to do it!

B-Joo: Oh, you really did used to do it! Congratulations.

What’s Topp Dogg’s plans for the rest of this year? Any messages for ToppKlass?

B-Joo: We’ve taken a long time preparing our comeback, haven’t we? So in the future, we– what’s that thing we need to do? Our comeback! We– yes. For ToppKlass, it looks like we’ll do our comeback around the end of this year. I think that we’ll be able to show you a cooler, a more cool side of Topp Dogg than you’ve seen so far.

Hansol: Hojoon has something to say.

Hojoon: Even though there’s been a long gap, I really want to say thank you to our fans who have waited for us this whole time. Thank you.

Translation by Cassandra Monjo. Photo by Johnny Au.

Check out Topp Dogg’s web series Topp Dogg: All-Kill here.