South Korean music collective Balming Tiger is rising among the ranks. They’re making a name not only in the local music scene but also overseas. In addition to being creative and cool, they also sing in multiple languages. It’s good news for Hong Kong fans as the 11-member band debuts at Clockenflap.
With a name like Balming Tiger—taken from the popular pain relief ointment—it’s difficult not to be curious about this group. Since stepping into the scene in 2018, they’ve had their hands full. They’re challenging the notions of K-pop as a genre, seeing themselves as the lone “alternative K-pop” group and most recently, collaborating with BTS leader RM.
Balming Tiger is performing at several music festivals
Before Clockenflap, they’re first headed to Wanderland Fest in the Philippines, followed by a series of sold-out shows in the US. The Korean act consists of director San Yawn, rapper Omega Saipen, D Abyss, and music video directors Jan’Qui and Leesuho. Singer-songwriters Songumm, Wnjn, and Mudd the Student, and editor Henson complete the line-up.
In an exclusive interview, we caught up with Balming Tiger to talk about the festival, their spellbinding genre, and their creative process.
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How do you feel about your Hong Kong debut at Clockenflap?
We are so happy to perform in Hong Kong for the first time. Furthermore, it is an honour to meet our fans at Clockenflap, one of the biggest festivals in the region. We would love to meet our Hong Kong fans more often. We couldn’t be more excited to give a sneak peek of the songs from our upcoming album which is set to be released mid this year.
Why do you choose to focus on “alternative K-pop”?
K-pop is more than just a music genre. It is a cultural phenomenon that blends various genres and non-musical elements. It is difficult for anyone to define K-pop as a single genre. “Alternative K-pop” is our slogan because it opens up infinite possibilities to all other factors besides being based on Korean pop music. It is also a message to platforms that tend to categorise any music within pre-existing genres.
Among your many collaborations, which is the most memorable?
All our collaborations were memorable. But if we really had to pick one, we think it’s the collaboration with RM of BTS on SEXY NUKIM. It was the first time that someone outside of our band has featured in a song we officially released. RM brought a different energy to that track, and it created a synergy like never before.
You’re known for mixing genres and languages in your music. What else are you looking to explore?
We are always on the hunt for sounds that resonate with us. Therefore, we try not to restrict ourselves to any specific genre or language. There are still so many musical challenges we would like to undertake, and it’s difficult to pinpoint just a few. However, it is certain that these creative experiments will continue throughout our lives.
What’s your creative process like?
We have a lot of members, each with their own unique taste in music. Nevertheless, we do share a common appreciation for certain types of music. When we get together, we naturally converse and start working on ideas. Typically, we gather in one house and host a ‘song camp’ where multiple members can collaborate on a single track. Depending on which member takes the lead, the sound of the track tends to vary.
Besides being a collective, what else do you think sets you apart from others in the Korean music scene?
In South Korea, independent musicians tend to stick to their respective genres. Our music scene and the mainstream K-pop market are completely different. We are independent, but we don’t belong to any one genre, and we don’t seem to be walking the path of any stereotypical realm. In many ways, it seems that we are forging a new path that has not existed in the market.
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This year will be the fifth year since you release your first single, “I’m sick.” What has been the biggest challenge so far?
We scouted new talents, integrated them into our group, and worked towards perfect harmony. As there are 11 members with distinct personalities, it took us a while to make our first studio album where we could mix and create a unique constructive collaboration. It’s been five years since the group’s formation and we’re finally ready to release an album that highlights each member’s unique style and sound.
What’s the message you want to send across with the work you put out?
To spread love around the world. Love is our mission!
Catch Balming Tiger on March 5, Sunday at Clockenflap!