Hello hello! So most of you know that the rhythm.connection team are huge K-pop fans. And I mean HUGE. Imagine our delight when we found out we were going to interview one of K-pop’s OG pop R&B duos while our chief editor was out in Korea a few weeks ago. This two-membered team has been holding it down for SoCal since 1999 and are currently signed to Korea’s top-tiered hip-hop label Brand New Music. Who is it you might ask? Why it’s none other than Min and Crystal, better known as As One!
As One (comprised of LA-born and raised members Crystal Chae and Minyoung Lee) is a Korean pop/R&B duo that debuted in 1999 under Rock Records. Since their debut album ‘Day By Day’, the duo have become a mainstay in the pop R&B scene, and are getting ready to release their sixth full length album – their first one under Brand New Music, whom they signed with in 2012. During a recording for TBSefm radio show K-Popular, which the duo host, they took some time to answer a few of our questions and helped us to get to know them better. Enjoy!
For those who aren’t familiar with who you are, please introduce yourself briefly.
Crystal: Hey guys, we’re As One! I’m Crystal.
Min: And I’m Min, and it’s such a pleasure to meet you.
Crystal: We debuted in 1999…a long time ago. Sixteen years ago we came into the K-pop scene, originally from California. We’re LA girls, born and raised. And we debuted with our first album ‘Day By Day’ and we’ve just been doing music ever since.
You two have been busy as of late. Briefly update fans on what’s been going on with each of you lately.
M: We’ve just been continuing doing our radio thing K-Popular on TBSefm, but recently we’ve been preparing for our official sixth full length album. This is really cool because the last album we released was in 2006, so that’s a long time ago. We’ve released singles here and there but we’re actually getting ready for our official sixth full length album.
C: So we’re getting ready for that, and we just released a new song called ‘어떡하죠’ (Eottokajo), and it’s for the 복면검사 (Masked Detective) drama. It was a collaboration with Eluphant, and it’s a cool song so we hope you guys check it out. We’ve just been doing things here and there, releasing mini-albums and singles with a lot of our BNM label mates.
This year is your 16th anniversary as a duo since your debut in 1999. How does it feel to be doing music for this long, even now that you each have a family of your own to take care of?
C: It doesn’t feel any different. We do it for the love of music and for being able to express ourselves and sing. That’s what we were born to do and that’s what’s in our hearts and doesn’t matter if we’re 18, 19 or 30-something. Neither age nor time have changed how we feel about it, so what we do is from the heart and it’s something that we hope to continue doing for a long time.
M: We feel really lucky to be able to keep putting out music and have people be interested in our music. Each day is a blessing.
How has it been adjusting to married life, and in the case of Crystal, being a parent?
C: We’re lucky because we get to continue doing music and we go and record in the studio and that’s it for us. We don’t go and make the rounds on the music programs like before.
M: We don’t lack sleep and only get two hours of sleep a day because of promotions.
C: We’ve been there, done that. Now for us, just the fact that we get music out there still and people can hear our music and tune into our radio show…it’s a lot easier for us to juggle now.
M: Our husbands both come from the entertainment world so they understand the business. They’re very understanding and they know what’s involved. They’re our biggest supporters so it’s not hard at all to juggle everything because they help us out with so much.
C: The hardest part with having a baby though is trying to the take the time to go out and record, do this and that, but I’m not gone all day every day, so it’s not impossible. It works out in the end.
M: It’s just less promotions if anything, but we’re OK with that!
Your group signed with Brand New Music in 2012. What’s it like being label mates with some of the most renowned hip-hop artists in Korea? Do the hoobaes in your company come to you for advice?
C: When it comes to hip-hop artists, I don’t think they really look for much advice. They’re pretty set…they know what they want, they know how they’re gonna do it, what they’re gonna do. So for us, nobody has ever really come to us looking for advice but definitely I also think that a lot of our BNM hoobaes find it difficult to approach us and say anything to us. They’re like our little brothers and sisters.
M: What’s cool is that these artists came into the company, some being really well known underground, and have blown up even more now after coming to Brand New Music. Take San E for example; he was pretty well known at JYP Entertainment, but he came to Brand New Music and he’s just like on a whole new level now. It’s really cool to see that.
C: When it comes to our hoobaes asking for advice, they’re just doing their thing and they’re good. They’re happy and they know that if they ever wanna ask us anything, we’re there for them!
Your last release was late last year with the single ‘For The Night’. The song as a more youthful vibe that emanates a younger As One vibe. Is this the type of song that you have a preference for or are you more into trying different styles of songs?
C: We definitely like to try different things. For the past few years we’ve done all different kinds of music to try and get a taste for it. This time around we decided to go back to what we love and adore, which is what Rhymer (Brand New Music CEO) wanted for us too. So this is where that song came from…from our roots and the stuff that we enjoy.
M: We also wanted to show a more mature side. It is youthful but at the same time it was more on the sexier side.
C: I think that the new album we’re working on is gonna be filled with the youthful As One songs people know us best for, but also there will be a more mature sound too.
When can fans expect new material? And what else have you got planned for the rest of the year?
C: Our biggest goal right now is getting our album out in the fall, and once that is out, we’ll see what happens from there. Releasing albums right now is not as popular as before, and many artists release EPs with five songs or so. Releasing an album is a really big deal for us, and it’s a big project that we’ve put our heart into, so after that we’ll see where we’re gonna go from there.
You host a show on TBSefm called K-Popular. What has been the most memorable event in the whole time you’ve hosted the show?
M: The best thing that ever happened us! We have so much fun doing this.
C: Min and I love the music and the people. We don’t enjoy being on camera much, so we get to do the radio show and we get to meet people and talk. We get to introduce music behind the scenes, so it’s kinda nice. This program has kinda become our life and it means so much to us. It’s been great.
M: We love meeting our fans and interacting with them, so we’re very grateful for what we’re able to do with this program.
C: Since we can’t do it on TV all that often, this is the perfect place to do it.
M: And you don’t have to wear makeup to work, so that’s the best part!
Name your two most played songs currently, off the top of your head.
C: There’s one that we’ve been listening to together…Ellie Golding’s track ‘Love Me Like You Do’.
M: That’s so addicting!
C: That one’s been like number one so far for the past few months. The second song of the top of my head…”The wheels on the bus go round and round…”
M: We love old school jams, slow jams. I’m still listening to Maxwell’s “Whenever Wherever Whatever”. But we always go back to that type of music, so it’s one of our favourites.
Who are some of your favourite artists currently?
M: I’m a big KPOP STAR fan, love that show. Kwon Jin-ah…I love her. I love love love her. I love everything she remade, all the JYP and Primary songs. She’s amazing, so right now I’m fangirling Kwon Jin-ah.
C: For me…Crush and Zion.T. It’s gonna be interesting to see what else they bring to the table. Everything they bring to the table is amazing. It’s new, it’s hot, it’s great, just a lot of fun.
M: We love Zion.T!
When you have spare time, what do you do for fun?
C: When we’re not meeting each other and hanging out…usually it was always just hanging out, a girls night. It would be us, J.ae (singer) and our friend Lena and we’d be doing our thing. But nowadays, we love to search the net. Min likes to do online shopping.
M: I’m really addicted to online shopping…it’s bad!
C: For me, I like to watch my American dramas and have a glass of wine in front of the computer.
M: Me too. I love watching American movies.
C: We’re always so busy moving around a lot, so when we do have downtime, it’s just the best to be alone and enjoy it by yourself.
What is your current guilty pleasure?
C: Keeping Up With The Kardashians! Love that show.
M: There’s this Korean program called Love & War, but that’s my favourite show!
Describe your personality in two words.
M: Crystal is straight up.
C: Min is the kind of person to keep you on your toes. You never know what you’re gonna get with her.
M: We have a good balance.
C: When she tries to keep me on my toes, I’ll tell her straight up.
M: She’s very straight up. And also very caring. Motherly and straight up!
What is something each of you would like to remembered for by the fans, many years from now?
C: This is something we’ve said, even in interviews from 16 years ago. We’ve always said that it doesn’t matter if people listen to our songs 5o years from now, but that when they do listen to it, they’ll be like “That’s a good track, even now”, that it’s not outdated and that it’s just good music.
M: It’s been 16 years since we debuted, and I’ll look at album reviews with recent reviews of our debut album and they’re like “Woah this is really good”. We want our music to be the type of music people can still play, even years from now and still enjoy all the same.
C: That’s always been our goal and that’s what we hope to continue with forever.
Any additional words that you would like to leave our readers?
C: First of all, please support and love rhythm.connection!
M: Yes it’s awesome!
C: It’s great when we get to see people who aren’t Korean and their love for music, the K-pop world and everything that has to do with it, and to see that love enough that you want to start your own blog and promote it and talk about…that just means the world to us. For that we thank you! And to all the fans, we have our album coming out this year, so that’s gonna be exciting. We hope you guys support and more importantly, TBSefm – we’re here for you guys and you can listen to us all over the world.
M: You can listen to our program through YouTube, any radio applications. We have our own app also.
C: We’re here for you guys. We do the K-pop thing, we talk, we have our Twitter and Facebook.
M: We just wanna be remembered as “Oh As One! The nice singers!” We just wanna show our appreciations to our fans forever, and we love you guys and we’re thankful for all of you.
A big thank you to Crystal and Min for taking the time to sit down with us despite their tight schedule. Please make sure to support the girls and go and buy their album when it drops later this year. Check out their program K-Popular on TBSefm Mondays thru Saturdays from noon until 2PM. As always, this has been a rhythm.connection exclusive!