As a major K-pop Celebrities like BTS and Blackpink continue to conquer the charts. South Korea’s underground scene is taking shape — and acts like Balming Tiger are literally here for everything in the scene.
The eight-piece band highlighted the multidimensional complexity of K-pop extending beyond pop and R&B with punk and hip-hop. On March 15, Balming Tiger spearheaded Tiger Den at SXSW, a The first full-time music event in the festival’s history featured exclusively Asian artists. Two days later, The
The group heads to Dr. Marten’s stage, where their high-energy performance has attendees drunk (yes, just like the Warped Tour drunk) and reeling, all in one set.
this It’s another K-pop alternative, as Balming Tiger has made its name.
The group includes actors Omega Sapien, sogumm, bj wnjn, Mudd the student, producers San Yawn and Unsinkable, video directors Jan’ Qui and Leesuho, visual artist Chanhee Hong, DJ Abyss and writer Henson Hwang. free but when combined This group is a huge blast, offering everything from hip-hop lyrics to punk beats and fiery R&B vocals. The inclusion of punk rock in their songs and live performances definitely sets them apart from the K-pop R&B genre.
from their debut mixtape Tiger Balm vol.1: 虎媄304 With their hit single “SEXY NUKIM (with BTS RM)”, Balming Tiger embraces the future and uses their platform to promote the next generation of Korean artists. After their buzzworthy SXSW show rolling stone Talk to the group about the “alt K-pop” sound that describes their identity and the imminent global revolution of Korea’s different subculture movements.
YouTube is where you get to know your musical inspiration. Was there any artist that made you grow up?
Omega Sapien: Pharrell Williams, Tyler. The Creator and Kanye West abound (point to Unsinkable) The guy goes to Summer Sonic only to run into D’Angelo.
So we did not come together intelligently. We come together as spirit and energy. He (Mudd the student) is from 90’s to early 2000’s Britpop, I’m from hip-hop and she (Sogamm) is from R&B. But we had like-minded people meeting each other. That’s why it adds so much color to our performances and music.
What are your points about your various backgrounds? How do you know each other?
Omega Sapien: In Korea, the subculture scene is growing right now. It’s very easy for us to connect because it’s not that big yet, so San Yawn is the director, CEO and leader-chief. He is our number one man. and he just gathered everyone
So what attracts you to everyone?
Sanhao: I had always liked Sogumm’s music and wanted to team up with her. Then I wanted to listen to his song (Omega Sapien).
Omega Sapien: He’s like a Pokemon collector!
‘Gotta catch them all!’ Finally, what do you think of the group?
Omega Sapien: We didn’t really set goals. I think now we’re just trying to enjoy ourselves and ultimately have a positive influence on people. I have a background in America. When I lived in New Jersey from 2012-2013, there were no Asian role models for me to look for, just Bruce Lee, and he was from the ’60s. I was so lost in this foreign society. It’s as if ‘Who should I look for? Who should I follow?’ And I was like, ‘Damn, I should do that because I need to empower young me.’ Cool.” That was my purpose.
I like this because each of you brings a unique difference to the group. How do you hope to inspire the next generation?
Omega Sapien: So what we want the younger generation in Korea is to show you that you don’t have to be the prettiest, the most handsome, or the most perfect. Just follow your heart. You see Balming Tiger and say, “I can do what I want f—king to do, and I can make it like Balming Tiger.” go out It will make K-pop last longer.
I’m glad that’s the mission. speak as an American Many people think that K-pop is BTS or Blackpink, but it’s more than that. You’ve described your voice as “alt K-pop”, what does that mean? How are you driving K-pop forward?
Omega Sapien: We have to start with ‘What is K-pop’ in our opinion. It’s not a genre, because in K-pop there’s R&B, hip-hop and everything, so you can’t really tell which genre it is. K-pop is more of a phenomenon, so K-pop is anything you want. But we want to go above and beyond with everything we want, so we add “alternatives” up front.
What do you see as the music trend in South Korea?
Omega Sapien: New Jeans. They are the sickest girl group from Korea. They haven’t received the light yet. They combine Korean subculture and traditional K-pop together. So I respect them a lot. They have a bright future ahead.
coming on strong
Good. And how is the subculture in Korea?
Omega Sapien: I feel that now it has grown. This astonishingly talented producer called 250 made music for NewJeans five years ago. It’s all about bringing influences from outside Korea. So we’re absorbed in hip-hop and American pop, but now with us and 250 we’re ready to do our own sh-t and give our own voice. That is a movement in Korean subculture.
You all brought incredible energy to SXSW tonight, so what do you hope new fans and listeners will walk away with knowing you’re a group?
Omega Sapien: Korea is next