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Fronted by the enigmatic singer/songwriter Oh Hyuk, Hyukoh are a South Korean indie band known for their melodic, guitar-based rock and somewhat edgy, non-conformist approach. They rose to popularity in the mid-2010s thanks to several high-profile concert and television appearances which helped promote a series of EPs that culminated in the 2017 release of their debut album, 2300. The multilingual Oh often sings in a combination of Korean, Mandarin Chinese, and English, which has helped establish the band in other parts of Asia, and on their first world tour in 2019. A native of South Korea, Oh was raised largely in Beijing, China by academic parents. A passion for music, art, and fashion led him to resettle in Seoul after graduating from high school. He immersed himself in the Korean music scene, citing artists like the Beatles and Norwegian indie pop act the Whitest Boy Alive as inspiration for his melodic approach. He initially began operating as a solo artist called Hyukoh, but by 2014 he'd recast the project as a proper four-piece band with the addition of lead guitarist Lim Hyun-jae, bassist Im Dong-geon, and drummer Lee In-woo. Each member of Hyukoh was born in 1993 and starting with their 2014 debut EP began a tradition of naming each release after their collective age, which at the time was 20. A minor success in South Korea, the band's follow-up EP, 22, proved to be their breakout and was bolstered by a national appearance on the popular variety show Infinite Challenge. The following year, they represented Korea at a handful of major festival appearances in China and Japan, later signing with the Highgrind imprint of popular Korean conglomerate YG Entertainment. Released in 2017, 2300 cemented their mainstream status, though their distinctive image, indie rock-pop sound, and atypical attitude set them apart from the more cultivated acts working the K-pop scene. Their sweeping rock ballad "Tomboy," became a popular charting hit, and the album found a global audience, landing at number six on Billboard's World Music chart. They released a third EP, 24, in 2018 and one of its songs, "Citizen Kane," was used on a widely seen Apple iPhone X commercial. Hyukoh continued to expand their touring range over the next few years and in early 2020 embarked on a major tour that included stops in the U.S. ~ Timothy Monger

Seoul, South Korea
May 2014

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