K-Pop acts are one of the most hard-working performers around. As the cultural phenomenon continues to spread locally and globally, South Korea’s artists are putting in the effort to interact with fans linguistically and musically. But nothing compares to B.I.G.
The quintet gave Arab listeners their full attention, seldom seen in other K-Pop groups, by covering Arabic songs as part of their ‘Global Cover Project’, releasing an Arabic version of their own track, ‘Hello Hello’, and, astonishingly, learning the language.
What’s also remarkably striking about B.I.G is that they’ll be dropping a new song, ‘Illusion’, not only in Korean but also in Arabic with a K-Pop twist on Monday. This is a first for any K-Pop act.
“It has elements of both K-Pop and Arab pop,” B.I.G told Gulf News tabloid!.
Just a few days before the five members take centre stage in Abu Dhabi over the weekend, the members share with us in an email interview more on their UAE debut, the creative process behind ‘Illusion’, the reason behind covering Hussain Al Jassmi’s ‘Boshret Kheir’ and more.
It’s great to have you come down to Abu Dhabi for a performance. How are you all feeling about performing for the first time in the capital, especially in the Middle East?
B.I.G: We are very excited! It’s probably because of the thought of meeting the Arab fans for real and feeling all the love and support that we have had from them finally in person. Therefore, we are preparing it with a lot of practices to show the best performance.
The majority of you are learning Arabic, so will you be showcasing your skills on stage? What can we expect?
Minpyo: Yes, we’ve been learning Arabic through lessons to communicate with the Arab fans. This will be a chance to show what we’ve learnt so far.
We will perform our original songs, Arabic song covers and special stages for the Abu Dhabi concert. And the highlight will be our new song, so please look forward to it.
It’s great to be able to see a K-Pop act such as yourselves singing in Arabic at the same time widening your musical spectrum by covering other global songs. And with your ‘Global Cover Project’, you’ve been dropping more Arabic songs. Why is that? Is it the language you find appealing, the lyrics, music etc…?
Gunmin: We first started covering Arabic songs when we went to an Arabic radio programme as guests for the Arab fans. Then we got a lot of attention and support, so we wanted to keep covering more Arabic songs and listened to many Arabic songs.
You also sang ‘Boshret Kheir’ by a very popular Emirati singer, Hussain Al Jassmi. Why did you decide to cover this song in particular?
Heedo: All the Arabic songs we covered were love stories. So we wanted to try something different and came up with ‘Boshret Kheir’ which delivers a hopeful message.
Do any of you have favourite songs that you covered for your Global Cover Project or haven’t covered that you can’t stop listening to? It can be any genre.
Jinseok: My favourite song among our global cover project is ‘La Bezzaf’ because it’s our very first Arabic song that we covered and also I like this kind of genre.
You’ll be releasing single ‘Illusion,’ on Monday. Tell us more about it and the creative process behind it.
Gunmin: The new song ‘Illusion’ has two versions — Korean and Arabic. The writer of this song made this song after a lot of studying and listening to more than 200 songs on the Arabic popular chart. It’s greatly meaningful that it’s not a cover song this time, it’s our original Arabic song. We practiced a lot on pronunciation producing this song as we wanted to pronounce the lyrics as naturally as local songs.
Benji, during our interview in Seoul earlier this year, you didn’t reveal much on any upcoming collaborations. You were keen on working with The5 and its member Mohammad Bouhezza aka BMD. Can we get any confirmation on any forthcoming collaborations that may be in the works?
Benji: It would be great if we could do a collaboration, but sadly we do not have any confirmed plans at this moment. However, it would be a great honour if we could collaborate with other artists including BMD.
You also released your own digital single, ‘Telephone’. Will the rest of the members also be dropping individual singles too?
B.I.G: We do not have any plans for solo works of each member, but you never know, keep an eye on us.
What would you like B.I.G to be known for?
Heedo: We got to know much more Arab fans through the Global Cover Project, but we would like to meet them in person through other performances and concerts. We wish we have more opportunities after the upcoming concert in Abu Dhabi and the new song ‘Illusion’.
What’s next for B.I.G?
Heedo: For now, we will be active with the new album ‘Illusion’. See you soon in Abu Dhabi at concert on November 7 and the meet-and-greet on November 8.
Don’t miss it!
B.I.G perform live in Abu Dhabi as part of the ongoing Korea Festival. Catch them at 7.30pm on November 7 at the Cultural Foundation, Al Hosn, Abu Dhabi. A meet-and-great session will be held the following day at 4pm at the Korean Cultural Center, Abu Dhabi. All events are free. Online registration is required.