They got rid of their identical and precise group choreography. They took off their perfectly fitting stage wear. They briefly forgot about the other five members of their group. INFINITE H, the hip-hop unit of group boy band INFINITE, composed of members Hoya and Dong Woo, appeared into the music scene 180 degrees different from their original style. They created performances of their own, rapping as if they were singing and moving their bodies with groove. On top of that, with Primary as producer, a number of prominent musicians including Zion.T, Beenzino, and Dynamic Duo’s Choiza took part in the boys’ first album “FLY HIGH,” a refreshing attempt for an idol group. Dong Woo and Hoya, who had always imagined of performing freely on stage, said they have finally come to quench their thirst a bit. And they excitedly shared their stories on the experiences they have had as INFINITE H.
Q. When did you start preparing this album?
Hoya: When we were promoting “Paradise,” our boss came into our waiting room at KBS’s “Music Bank” and told us, “Do you guys know Primary? He’ll be working on your album.” And after maybe half a year of no progress, we started recording the album last summer.
Dong Woo: There’s a song called “Crying” in our first full-length album “OVER THE TOP.” Hoya and I sang that together, while a guy named Baby Soul at our agency did a featuring for it, and I think that may have been the beginning of INFINITE H.
Hoya: We actually thought our team would be called something like ‘Dongwoo&Hoya.’ We only found out that it’s INFINITE H after our album came out. (laughs) And we didn’t know what the ‘H’ meant until we were told it stands for hip-hop. I think people would have had a easier time knowing who we were if we’d gone with our names. (laughs)
Q. How was it working with Primary as the main producer for your album?
Dong Woo: Primary is the type that leads people. When we were recording, he gave us situations to think about rather than make demands, such as, “This is your album so the music will be better if you come up with ideas as well. Let’s talk about them.” I think we worked harder because he respected us.
Hoya: And we clicked even more because he liked donkatsu. (laughs)
Q. You must’ve had to learn new rap flows since the album was a hip-hop album.
Dong Woo: There were only four to eight measures of rap to INFINITE’s songs. But there was a lot of rap to our title track “Special Girl” so we needed to know some technique to raise the degree of completion. We rapped only with intensity for our dance songs so we learned methods of control to help bring out the emotions expressed by the rap.
Hoya: The tone of the rap didn’t work with us at first because someone else had written it for us and we’d usually written our own rap. And there were pitches to some of the rap so it felt a bit low for us to do while moving about. We also had a hard time with the vocalization because we had to go back and forth between singing and rapping. So it really felt like the song wasn’t ours at first but we slowly got used to it.
Q. In the music video, both of you did some acting with the main female character played by Song Hae-na.
Dong Woo: I almost went crazy because I’d never acted before. Even the director told me straightforwardly, “You look like a huge loser right now!” (laughs) But the good thing was that Song is a model and older than me so she was a good leader. That’s why I don’t think I could say that I really did any acting. I also made tons of bloopers. For example, when I was shot for 30 minutes, I spent about 20 minutes making bloopers and of the 10 minutes that were okay, only a single scene was used. I felt so bad.
Hoya: But he did great at scenes where he’s supposed to act like he likes her. He was smiling from ear to ear. (laughs) I think he’s good for music videos or commercials – productions where he needs to make an impact in a short period of time. I’m not sure about movies or dramas yet because he hasn’t been in any.
Q. Well you thanked Kwack Jung-wook at your agency for the acting lessons through the ‘Thanks To’ part of your album but I guess it didn’t help? (laughs)
Dong Woo: Oh, I just wrote that. (laughs) We started out as trainees together and have been close ever since. We’d always talked about acting. He told me things like, “You need to say your lines when the camera comes about here.” So I mentioned him in my ‘Thanks To’ message. I’ve actually never watched his show “School 2013” though.
Hoya: Dong Woo never even watched my show “Respond 1997.”
Dong Woo: But I haven’t watched any of the dramas that the members of my group have been in. I just don’t watch TV a lot at all. And when it comes to dramas, part of the fun is in watching them at a set time but we can’t do that either because of our schedule so even if we have time, I just don’t watch them. Everybody in our group is like this, not just me. (laughs)
Photographer. Lee Jin Hyuk firstname.lastname@example.org
Translator. Jessica Kim