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The Legend, The KpopStarz Interview: The Band On Their Sound, Their Favorite Song And Why They're Dying For A Mamamoo Collaboration [EXCLUSIVE]

By Tony Sokol | February 24, 2016 06:13 PM EST

Five man K-pop boy band The Legend dropped their debut single "The Legend" in July of 2014. The following year, they returned with the heartfelt R&B track "Nail." Returning to the spotlight on Jan. 21 with their second mini album "Sound Up," the music video for leadoff single "Crush on You" finds the members parking vintage cars amdist a 1950s jukebox musical motif. They even join a varsity team to impress Nine Muses member Kyungri. Earlier this month, The Legend sat down with KpopStarz in wide-ranging exclusive interview touching on the convenience of a smaller (though taller) lineup, why they feel "Nail" best represents their style and their intense desire to collaborate with South Korean girl group Mamamoo.

KpopStarz: You have shown your fans several different sides since your debut. Which song concept do you think best matches The Legend?

Lito: I think "Nail" has been the best fit and the most comfortable for us. Sometimes, we can get a little too used to performing some of the songs. The good thing about "Nail" is that we don't have to worry about getting nervous or bored when we're performing it.

Listen: I agree with Lito. I think songs like "Nail" work well with the group overall. There are parts of the song that have a ballad feel, and there are danceable parts. These are the kinds of songs that match our style.

Roi: I also thought the song itself would fit our group.

Je Hyok: I agree. I like "Nail." I love our performance and I like the song. It's not too heavy to listen to. It's not too boring to watch.

Chang Son: I think "Nail" is one of our best-matched songs. We tend to go with songs that have a ballad-like style.

KpopStarz: Tell us about the process of recording "Nail"?

Je Hyok: Actually I got that song last year from one of my friends, he composed the music. As soon as I heard, I loved it and thought, "Okay, this is for Legend. I need this." I told my friend I needed to sing this song and he said okay. So, maybe around January, we started to record the first version and then the dance part. He restructured the song so it worked better with our solos. It took 10 months to finish it.

KpopStarz: Five-member K-pop groups used to be the trend, but now many acts are much larger. What are the pros and cons of being a quintet?

Lito: Since we have five members, it's easier to meet when we travel. When we say, "let's meet," we only have to get the five of us together. The bad side is when we perform on large stages, it looks a little empty. For groups with a lot of members, the stage looks nice and packed, but with five people, it's not as balanced.

Je Hyok: We see groups with seven or nine or 13 members. Whenever they are shooting something they are energetic and they are, like, so chatty, you know? They talk a lot. They dance. They have so much stuff to show. We have five members so we try really hard. But, I think it's little less energetic than some big member groups.

KpopStarz: Is there anything each member of Legend wants to try out in the coming year?

Chang Son: I want to try and be quicker when I wash up in the morning.

Listen: It's a big problem.

Lito: Since our jobs are on the line {Laughs}

Lito: For 2016, I hope I can take at least one vacation.

Roi: I will make vacation plans then.

Je Hyok: The wish list on [Roi's] messenger said that he wants to go to the beach and he wants to go on vacation. So we went to the beach. But we actually filmed something. So he erased "beach" but still has "vacation" on the list. He said, "when I go on vacation I'll erase that." We actually didn't have any breaks before "Shadow" was released. We are still working on that and still dreaming about a vacation. Another hope for the new year is to have bigger fan meetings and concerts, if possible. That's one of my biggest hopes.

Listen: Since we've been given another year, I hope to learn more about songwriting in 2016. Not going back to basics, but I would like to compose a song incorporating different elements and melodies.

KpopStarz: What are the key characteristics that help Legend stand out among the current slew of boy groups?

Chang Son: We are all tall. People aren't screaming about how tall we are when we're on stage. But, when we are all standing separately, we all look pretty tall.

Je Hyok: It helps our performance because people are using materials to spice up their performance. VIXX for instance, actually had some kind of chains on their neck. We have a point and our positions on stage and two boxes. We climb up on those to sing and we can actually dance on them. So we have the foundation, I would say, to do well on the stage. People, like other singers and our friends, say, "oh, this is really a good performance." They like the box. Not too many people are aware of it, but you can catch it in some concert footage on YouTube.

KpopStarz: How would you describe the group's musical style?

Listen: Let's just say our genre is a little different from your average K-pop music. That's how we feel about it. There are pop elements hidden throughout our songs. Even in our earliest songs, there are some middle parts that are a little different, giving the songs a different identity, that kind of stuff. In this case, for this song, it is a little more Korean in style. I think it has a lot of musical elements that are characteristically Korean. In my opinion, in our upcoming work, we won't simply repeat ourselves, but continuously change and develop new sounds. I think that's our style.

Roi: Yes, that's a cute concept. We like fun, cute songs.

Lito: And fresh, we weren't that fresh before. {Laughs}

KpopStarz: Do you prefer live performance or studio singing?

Chang Son: I think the others agree, but we like performing outdoors, right? I personally like outdoor performances.

Je Hyok: I like what Chang Son said. Of course we like all the concert venues but we went to one middle school, a girl's school, and we had a performance there and the reaction...

Roi: "Ahhh! Oppa!" Like that.

Je Hyok: Yes, the reaction towards Legend was, it was amazing.  So, if you go to a show, of course we're going to get big, huge reactions from fans, but it's kind of bit different at a school. When we went to perform at the school, we got energy from that. I think I like that.

Chang Son: Me too.

KpopStarz: How would The Legend describe their music style?

Lito: When we listen to our early records, we sometimes think, "Oh, if we did something like this, it could have sounded better." We keep that in mind in the future when we write our songs. I think that's what keeps us evolving.

KpopStarz: Do you get a lot of encouragement from other artists?

Je Hyok: Min Hyok from B2B posted our song on his Twitter and also EXID. They are really good friends of ours. Before a song comes out, we actually let them listen to our song, and they say they love it. And then Jong Hwa from EXID actually put up our song links on her Instagram. They couldn't post it yet, but our other friends like VIXX, Tahiti, BtoB, Son Ji, Jackson from Got7 said it's a very good song and really support us.

KpopStarz: What other artists would you like to collaborate with?

Chang Son:  Mamamoo!

Lito: For a whole year, Mamamoo.

Chang Son: Can we make this happen?

Je Hyok: I hope Mama's watching this.

KpopStarz: How do you get an emotional point across through your music?

Listen: We think about the lyrics we are going to sing. When we think about the lyrics in the right context, we can portray the appropriate emotion in our voices when we sing.

Chang Son: In the past, we used to be pretty intimidated by everyone. But now, we are more confident about ourselves as a group, so it is a little better. But when we're working with someone new we can usually explain what sound are looking for.

Roi: Carefully.

KpopStarz: When you first came out you said you were a little daunted by the name The Legend. Do you still worry about living up to the name?

Je Hyok: I think I like the idea of having a name like Legend, because Legend is not a common name, you know? So it's harder for people to forget our name. In the beginning when we debuted, we would go to music shows, other fans and the staff actually did not know our names. They would ask, "who are they? Who are they?" But when we go to concerts now, they say, "oh, Legend! Oh, Legend!" So I think what we are doing is working and I'm proud of it.

KpopStarz: Now that you are studio veterans, how is it different from you first recording sessions?

Listen: When we went to the studio for our first recording, the producer would ask us for something, and we didn't really know what to do. He would say, "do something like this" and we didn't know what he meant. But now when we go to record, we can do it comfortably without a lot of direction. Even when the producer does come in to help us, we can easily and quickly do everything since we are all in-sync.

KpopStarz: Please discuss your process in the recording studio. Do you hang around in the studio while the others are working?

Je Hyok: When we first go to the studio, we listen to our song guide and think about which part would suit Chang Son, which part would suit Listen or Roi. We think about that first. Then we separate these parts before recording. After that, we each record the entire song separately, listen to the recordings and figure out which part suits each of us the best. After we figure that out, we just record in order. Like, if Chang Son is part A, he goes in. If I'm part B, I go in afterwards. That's how the process works.

Lito: We also eat snacks and drink beverages.

Je Hyok: We listen.

Lito: Yes, we also listen.

Roi: I'm practicing my Korean pronunciation.

Listen: When we are in the recording booth, we support each other by goofing around in front of whoever is singing. During breaks, we never miss the chance to have some fun.

KpopStarz: How do you feel about how K-pop boom is growing internationally? How do you see the world music community viewing K-pop?

Je Hyok: I think K-pop is still booming, and I think we should keep working hard to keep K-pop popular and relevant.

KpopStarz: What do you feel it is that makes Legend different from the other K-pop groups out there?

Roi: I can speak Chinese. Jae Hyuk can speak English. Listen can speak Japanese. I can even speak in a country accent. That is the first advantage. The second is that Lito has written a lot of our title tracks. Then the third advantage is {points to Je Hyok's face}

Listen: What?

Roi: The face.

Je Hyok: What about my face?

Roi: It's good looking.

Je Hyok: Nice visual.

Roi: Yes. We even have eight-pack abs.

Listen: Oh, thank you. {Laughs}

KpopStarz:  What would you like your image to be?

Chang Son: We want Legend to be known as a frontrunner in K-pop and as a role model for people who want to become singers.

KpopStarz:  Do you ever feel pressure to live up to a certain standard?

Listen: We constantly practice to be better and think about what we give our fans. Not just for the song "Nail," but as a kind of ongoing homework. Those are the kinds of expectations we set for ourselves and work towards. We will always try to live up to expectations.

KpopStarz:  When can we expect your next release?

Lito: We are preparing for it now. We will be coming out with a new album early next year anyway, so we are thinking about introducing that as well. We are working on the new album right now.

Je Hyok: Thank you KpopStarz for having us and interviewing us. We had such a great time with you. Currently we are working on promoting "Nail," our single album, so please, if you haven't listened to our song yet, please go and listen to it and watch the video! Once again, thanks for supporting us and we'll be back with a performance of our new song. See you soon.

All five members in unison: Be the legend! This has been The Legend. Bye!

Watch the music video for Legend's most recent single "Nails" RIGHT HERE

Tagged :  legend, boy band, The Legend, Exclusive, interview, kpop, K-Pop, nail

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