Is K-pop invading Cambodia? Well, if it is, it’s all for good reasons. Korean pop groups – and all their songs – have so much life in them that, in one way or another, inspire our very own local artists. Rising boy band MASC visited Phnom Penh last week to spread great music and entertainment. Say Tola caught up with Ireah, Woosoo, Moonbong and Heejae.
MASC debuted in August 2016 as a four-member K-pop group. But there has been changes in its members due to controversies last year. For its comeback, MASC is aiming to perform for bigger audiences on bigger stages.
YT: MASC is an abbreviation for “masculine”. How did you come up with such name?
MASC: We decided to name our group MASC because all our members are men. And we share common belief that men are also sexy, cute and charming in our masculine way.
YT: How different is MASC from other Korean pop groups in terms of musicality and style?
MASC: It is unique that we have our own makeup artist, Moonbong. He can do make up for all of us. Besides, he also has his own YouTube channel to share makeup technique. Aside from that, all of us are equal, though we are under the company. Our manager always takes our ideas, and inspires us to achieve success through our own unique ways. But we, as a group, try to find better music for our fans.
YT: How many songs have you released so far? What’s your most significant single to date?
MASC: We have released three albums so far. Our first album has four songs, second album is a single album which has only one song and the last one has two songs. We have seven songs all in all.
Our song, ‘Strange’, is the one that captured the hearts of our fans.
YT: What makes K-pop popular worldwide – even to people who do not even understand the lyrics of K-pop songs?
MASC: K-pop stars are not only handsome, but they can dance gracefully and sing beautifully. And it makes K-pop so different from other forms of music.
YT: How easy or hard is it to be K-pop idols, not just in Korea but everywhere?
MASC: It was hard at first, but people start to know K-pop worldwide. It takes time. It is not easy to have a solid fanbase in Korea now as there are a lot of groups. K-pop is more famous outside of the country because fans can’t easily see and meet their idols.
YT: Cambodia is undeniably very much into anything Korean. Have you established a solid fanbase here?
MASC: I am not sure whether we have fanbase in Cambodia or not. But before we came here, we received a lot of welcome messages and comments on our Instagram accounts. I hope this tour would bring them to create a fan club.
YT: Do you have upcoming shows or albums we should all look forward to?
MASC: We are going to release another album in the middle of the year.
YT: What do you think of Cambodia? Is it your first time to visit the Kingdom? What specific places have you visited or would love to visit?
Heejae: I first came to Cambodia with my parents since I was a young kid. Back then, I enormously love Angkor Wat temple; it was amazing like a city in the movie. I have made a lot of memories there. And now that I’m back here, a lot of high buildings have risen up. There are a lot of beautiful pagodas and temples here; and that’s what we can’t see in Korea.
Woosoo: It is my first time in Cambodia. Before coming here, I researched and found out that the honey bee in Cambodia is nice. I really want to taste it. And we, together, want to ride Tuk Tuk.
YT: There are some local boy groups in Cambodia as well – they’re good but are just waiting for their time to be in the limelight. Can you share with them some tips on how to produce good music?
MASC: Exerting much effort to find and produce good music is important, it is also important to take every detail of the song production. They also have to have professional guild or experts to pave the way for them. They must look professional. But most importantly, they have to enjoy what they are doing.
Besides, they can promote their best music on social media. It is really advantageous as Cambodia has lots of natural places and heritage, so they can show all these things to the world through their music. That is also how they can promote their own country.