YG: “Aggressive Support for WINNER and iKON to Release New Songs in March”


We are going to place the most focus on iKON and WINNER this year. The fans will be able to listen to their new songs in March.

YG Entertainments main producer YANG HYUN SUK(48) said that the agency will provide aggressive support for the two boy bands as the successors of BIGBANG, and that will be the biggest goal this year.

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Jan. 17th, he said that he would focus on the two boy bands, as YGs new girl band BLACKPINK made a successful debut last year. And his project with the two teams is at its initial stage, he said.

Mr. Yang is paying special attention to these teams because iKON, WINNER and BLACKPINK are going to play a major role in continuing YGs success streaks.

BIGBANG, who celebrated the 10th anniversary last year, is the symbol of YGs first series of successes, and the above mentioned teams are going to be the driving force for the agency for the future. The fans call them YGs jewel box.

I think Im like a farmer, said Mr. Yang. A real farmer doesnt envy what his neighbor has harvested. Instead, he focuses more on finding out good seeds. Its fun to have a good harvest, but I find it more enjoyable to grow those seeds. And talented young artists are those seeds for me.

The following is the interview with him.

YGs artists have won the Rookie of the Year Award for three consecutive years: WINNER in 2014, iKON in 2015, and BLACKPINK in 2016. But the fans complain that WINNER and iKON are not releasing new songs as frequently as they want them to.

Yang Hyun Suk: Maybe its hard to see iKON perform in Korea, but they had a six-month tour in Japan and have become an experienced boy band just like BIGBANG. And in the case of WINNER, they are doing well, although one of the members dropped out of the team. They have a lot of songs they have produced since last year, and iKONhas also composed some good songs. Now that they have a repertoire, all they have to do is produce it into an album and present it to the fans. So I didnt feel the need to hurry.

The so-called YGs jewel box doesnt necessarily carry a positive connotation. It means while YGs artists are glamorous like jewels, they rarely come out of the jewel box, which is the complaint frequently raised by the fans. 

Yang Hyun Suk: Well, YG has many producers and the system, so you may think it is the easiest thing in the world for YG artists to release new songs every year. But the problem is that its really hard to create sophisticated music. Most YG artists compose their own songs, so we have to wait for them to come up with good songs. Of course, I push them to produce songs. The other day I said to EPIK HIGH that when they are going to release an album after the last one they produced two years ago. But I think the competitiveness of YG artists lies in the factthat they create their own music in their own way at their own pace, although it may take a bit longer than expected.

BLACKPINK had a good start, dominating the music charts as soon as they made a debut.

Yang Hyun Suk: BLACKPINK topped the charts without appearing in entertainment programs before their debut. 2NE1 appeared in 2NE1 TV, a reality program, before they made a debut, but BLACKPINK only appealed to the public only with their music. So many people dont know well about each of the members. It seems most people just think that BLACKPINKs songs and fashion are sophisticated. So recently, they started to appear in entertainment programs, so that they can directly appeal to the public. 

YG now has more sub-labels and artists. HIGHGRND, led by TABLO, has Hyukoh and The Black Skirts, while The Black Label, led by TEDDY, has Zion.T. Whats the difference between the two labels?

Yang Hyun Suk: The kind of music they pursue is different. TABLO is working with underground artists, while TEDDY has the potential to produce teams like BIGBANG, as he composed songs for BIGBANG and 2NE1. TEDDYmusic is more like what we do at YG.

But some musicians performing in Hongdae and nearby areas have some negative perceptions about HIGHGRND, as they recruit underground musicians. 

Yang Hyun Suk: I only HYUKOH once, and have never met musicians at HIGHGRND. They are so-called undergroundmusicians, but I dont think they are hungry and poor artists. HIGHGRND is simply providing an environment for them to produce the kind of music they want. And I wanted TABLO to play that role.

You have always recruited talented rookies, so it was a little bit surprising that you decided to work with SECHSKIES, the first-generation boy band in Korea.

Yang Hyun Suk: YG have also recruited PSY and EPIK HIGH before SECHSKIES. These teams have something in common. They are good musicians, but they were having difficulty continuing their careers in music because of some external factors: controversy over military service in the case of PSY and over academic credentials in the case of TABLO. I decided to work with SECHSKIES after meeting them three times. I was impressed by their fans, who welcomed them after a 16-year hiatus although they performed as singers only for a short period of time. In fact, they reminded me of my old days; its impossible for Seotaiji and Boys to make a comeback nowBut I needed to have a cause. It is important to share old memories with their existing fans, but I set it a goal to attract younger fans and to perform overseas as well. Now that we have started, we need to do more this year.