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Sunday, January 5, 2014

[131218 | INTERVIEW] ToppDogg “We have sunbaes that we respect but we have no rivals”

50 days have passed since the debut of Cho PD’s ambitious idol group, Topp Dogg. P-Goon (Leader). Kidoh. Jenissi. Seogoong. Gohn. Sangdo. Hooon. Hansol. Xero. B-Joo. Nakta. A-tom. Yano, are part of the 13-membered idol group whose members are equipped with composing, producing, choreographing skills. Before debut, these people have gathered the expectation to present an evolved idol group image.

On the 13th, we met ToppDogg at a café in Gangnam to listen to their experiences and thoughts after debut. How did it feel to debut after receiving a lot of fists(T/N: Meaning they went through many hardships) and promoting through broadcast activities?

Leader P-Goon: “While doing broadcast activities, we thought about how we’d get along in the future. Rather than thinking about teamwork, we thought about how to mix well, and we felt that since we were losing focus we had to make choreography that could match well even if it reduced the flow of our movements. They were four rewarding weeks.”
After being informed about ToppDogg’s level of confidence, we moved on to their future goals and aspirations. We could see that despite looking like a common rookie idol group, they showed a strong image for music. They are a group that does their own composing and producing. P-Goon didn’t hide his pride as he said, “we feel happy when hear that we don’t look like rookies.”

▲ Topp Dogg Member Gohn

■ Talk about your new song“Cigarette”.
Last December has marked a month into ToppDogg’s debut, and they have released a new song ‘Cigarette’. A modern neo seoul-style to express a yearning for a relationship, the song had previously been performed at their debut showcase.
Gohn: “It was a song I wrote alone when I dreamed of being a singer-songwriter. In movies, when someone’s heartbroken they smoke as they look back on the joyful memories and I thought, “When someone who is drowned in yearning looks into the cigarette smoke, does it seem like the person they’re longing for is swimming in it?” The lyrics ‘You swim in my cigarette’ was based on that kind of feeling, thus the song’s dreamlike vibe.”
I’m curious as to why you choose ‘Cigarette’, as smoking can be a sensitive topic.
Gohn explained, “When it was decided that after introducing this song at the showcase it would be made our repackage title song, we consulted with Cho PD whether the word ‘cigarette’ would be okay. However, if we gave that word up we felt it would damage the musicality and what we wanted to express so we went with it after careful deliberation”. In addition, A-Tom & Yano, who are still underage, didn’t appear in the MV.

▲Topp Dogg Leader P-Goon

There is somewhat a lacking aspect for rookie groups’ songs to become popular despite having musical skills. Until now, although ToppDogg’s showcased songs have high degree of completion it is true that when it comes to idol music there is a somewhat harsh feeling. There are also many rough expressions in the lyrics. For example, in the song called “Doggs Out” there’s a part that says “From our hometown to China. A variety of harmonies, 13 people’s Rainbow. I dare to look over the throne, watch out, you might get surprised and run away after seeing us appear all of a sudden”.
Pointing out that it would be great to try creating popular music like EXO, Kidoh, who is in charge of producing in the group, said, “We don’t know the public’s standard. We think that EXO’s music and musicality are very great.”
In regards to lyrics, Kidoh simply stated that “Since I’ve lived the underground [crew] life, there are a lot of rebellious lyrics,” and “the word ‘china’ used has a double meaning. Just like China’s population, the number of our members is the greatest among idols. It has this kind of meaning,” he responded.
Sangdo’s words, “we don’t make popular music, but we wish our music would become popular”, clearly expressed their opinion on music.  

▲Topp Dogg Member Kidoh

■ Is ToppDogg an idol group or not?
There is still an ambiguous aspect of ToppDogg’s identity. Although the team itself is packed artificially, the direction of our musical activities are natural just like that of underground musicians’. While doing musical activities, in many cases it becomes visible. Do the members think of themselves as idols?
Gohn: “We are not afraid to distinguish ourselves from that concept. We want to be group that can do everything as both artists and idols. Rather than creating a separation of identities, we are going to become a group that grows their own identity while receiving love by from the public and making the music that we want to do.”
There were reports that you walked on the path of music alone, as well as about whether you entered the company as ‘idol trainees’ or not.
Kidoh: “There were a lot of concerns. We talked with Cho PD and felt the atmosphere of a company a lot, but we knew we wouldn’t be created as idols. Rather, we received a lot of support from the working environment. Because of this, we thought that there was no need to work alone. We can make the music we want, but we thought that there is a prejudice that comes with being labelled as ‘idols’.”
Kidoh, who came from the underground crew DaeNamHyup, originally had the dream of becoming a producer. In the case of Seogoong, he passed an audition at Cube Entertainment but wandered through GYM Entertainment before finally settling on Stardom.
Could these ‘adverse effects’ result from being too outstanding?
Since debut, ToppDogg has become the subject of controversy due to their strong personality and remarkable skills. Many reasoned that their number of members is similar to that of Super Junior’s and EXO; they’ve also been compared to other popular groups. Previously, Cho PD has released an introduction statement in regards to ToppDogg that “not only the number of members is large, but individually the members are the best in their fields.”  This remark was made in response to those misunderstandings.
About this, B-Joo explained, “If there are a lot of members you’d usually need to hand different parts to them, such as those in charge of visual etc, but I think that because each of us is very capable in handling his area, that kind of thing doesn’t exist.”
When asked if it was difficult balancing the harmony of the team with so many remarkable individual talents, Jenissi answered, “It is important to make good food with good ingredients. We work and practice hard with that in mind.” Gohn added, “The team’s existence is built on respect for each other. If we appreciate and focus on each other’s talent, we can mix well.”

▲ToppDogg member, Hansol

Each of them is careful, saying that they have not compared themselves to other senior artists. 
Gohn and Hansol: “’Who do you want to be like?’ We’ve been asked if we wanted to be like [certain] senior artists, if we wanted to be like another [idol] group. However, if we’re asked questions like ‘Who is/are your rival(s)?’ or ‘Who do you want to beat?’, we just answer that we’ve never had that kind of thought; it’s not our goal. Although we feel honoured by those comparisons, we feel sad for those who received misunderstandings [because of the comparisons]. It has been 50 days since ToppDogg has came out to the world, and we are like little chicks who just came to the world, while the seniors are already flying in the sky. We feel very privileged.”
ToppDogg still maintains a good relationship with ex-labelmates Block B. In particular, they look up to Zico’s musical work. Hansol & several other members were already trainees when Block B was active under Cho PD. Block B also gave sincere encouraging words to ToppDogg.
Now ToppDogg can remove any misunderstandings and focus solely on their music.
Gohn: “We dare to think that there are fans who may be hurt at the fact that we are compared to senior singers. We’ve never once thought of our seniors as rivals, we’re their fans too. We wish there will be no more misunderstandings.”
Claiming that “ToppDogg doesn’t think of anyone as rivals”, Seogoong also emphasised that “it’s not that they want to become anyone, but rather singers who have something, who have personalities.”

▲ ToppDogg member B-Joo

These people have revealed their goals for the future.
P-Goon has revealed that ‘if 2013 was the year when Topp Dogg had begun to be known, in 2014 we want to (at least) win a rookie award and first place on a music show.”
This year, Topp Dogg has decided not to do any promotional activities for ‘Cigarette’ and meets their fans through fansigning events instead. They are planning to release another mini album sometime in the middle of next month.

Translated by: Topp Dogg Intl

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