When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, the health crisis forced concerts and tours to come to a halt, devastating music industries. And for South Korean hip-hop trio Epik High, the previous years under lockdown felt “frustrating and scary.”
But as COVID-19 restrictions began to ease, the veteran act composed of Tablo, Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz — known for songs such as “Born Hater,” “Don’t Hate Me” and most recently “Rosario” — wasted no time to reconnect with fans.
Earlier this year, the group kicked off its “Epik High Is Here” tour, playing across the United States, Canada and Asia-Pacific region.
“We’re thrilled that we’re finally able to perform and travel around the world to meet everyone,” DJ Tukutz told ABS-CBN News ahead of the tour’s Manila stop, to be held at the New Frontier Theater in Quezon City on Wednesday, November 30.
Asked what fans can expect from the concert, DJ Tukutz said: “We’ll make everyone feel like ‘This is Epik High’s strength!’. Please look forward to it.”
The concert also marks Epik High’s return to the Philippines in a month. Last October 29, the trio was part of the lineup for Hallyuween 2022, a Halloween-themed K-pop party and concert.
“It’s too bad our performance was a little short last month but this time, we’re happy that we get to plan our own show. We’re so happy that it became a world where we can perform again,” DJ Tukutz said.
Below are excerpts from the interview with DJ Tukutz:
Q: You have performed several times in the Philippines. What do you like about playing here?
Firstly, the people are very nice and friendly. The food is also delicious. Don’t you think Philippines’ charm is its beautiful weather and view? Coming back after only a month still makes me feel excited.
Q: This tour is named after your 10th album “Epik High Is Here.” What was the message that you were trying to deliver through this album and why was it released in two parts?
Think of it as a name that represents Epik High’s past, present and future. Even one second from now is already in the past. The time we spent in our studio and workspaces became a lot due to the unexpected pandemic. Because of that, we released not only one, but two albums since we made a lot of songs with different concepts, but they should still feel connected.
Q: You collaborated with a lot of artists (like CL, Zico, Heize, B.I, Wonstein, pH-1, Younha and Lee Hi) for the album. How did you pick those artists and what do you look for in a collaborator?
We think of other artists’ voices that best compliment the songs and we personally contact them and send them the song and edit accordingly. Isn’t it simple?
Q: Epik High has been around for two decades now. Have you guys ever felt burned out? How do you stay motivated to keep creating music?
Of course, we had a lot of times when we fell and got hurt. But there will be nothing in this world that we can do if we always give up during these times. We learned one thing for sure during our 20 years in the industry. It's that any adversity or challenge will eventually pass by and it will become a thing of the past. This one learning is enough to overcome any struggle.
Q: What do you think is Epik High's secret to longevity?
Isn’t it because we believe in each other, and our hopes and dreams match as well?