By Chang Dong-woo
SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) — Today’s K-pop bands such as BTS, BIGBANG and TWICE have become international sensations to be reckoned with. But looking back, the scene owes a lot of its popularity to the early pioneers, including H.O.T, Seo-Taiji & Boys and also Clon — one of the first teams to attain legitimate overseas fame.
Clon (pronounced “clone”), K-pop’s legendary duo from the late ’90s, is out with a 20th-anniversary EP album, hoping to prove that it is more than a forgotten blast from the past while culminating over 30 years of friendship.
“I’m happy thinking that I’m in a moment to prove that Clon is still alive. I want to do more as long as I am able to,” member Koo Joon-yup said at a media event held at the Riverside Hotel in southern Seoul on Thursday.
The anniversary album “We Are” holds three fresh songs and three remixes of past hits. Title track “Everybody,” co-written by Koo and legendary ’90s producer Kim Chang-hwan, is an electro-house dance song with part-autobiographical lyrics in which the two recollect their emotions as Clon for the past 20 years.
But make no mistake expecting the duo to dance together for their new album. A tragic motorcycle accident in 2000 left Clon’s other half Kang Won-rae paralyzed from the waist down.
Since the accident, Clon has remained dormant throughout the better part of its group career. The team did release its fifth album “Victory” in 2005 but Koo pursued a career in electronic music under the name DJ Koo as a solo artist.
“I’ve changed my course of work into DJing after my friend’s accident. I then began taking lessons for songwriting and published several solo EDM records,” said Koo, adding that it was Kim who suggested producing a new Clon album after taking a look at Koo’s material.
Kang said he was initially skeptical even scoffing at the idea of Koo producing music. But after listening to his music, he said he had a change of opinion.
“I loved his music upon first listening. I though it would work, having listened to some song over 50 times inside my car,” Kang said.
The album’s title also carries rather deep meaning for the aging duo. “We decided on the title ‘We Are’ since we wanted to answer ‘we are’ when asked whether we’re still continuing with Clon,’ Kang explained.
Clon was inarguably one of the first Korean musicians to reach genuine fame outside of Korea. In 1998, the duo had amassed a sizable following in the greater Sino region and Southeast Asia, sparked by a sudden fame in Taiwan.
“It was truly incredible. We showed everything we could in our Taiwan performances, ripping off our shirts and throwing the microphones, which were banned at home in accordance to broadcast regulations,” Koo recollected.
The singer further added: “They truly sought us out, probably thinking (our performance) was shocking.”
While the group remained relatively nonchalant about its comeback, Kang said got emotional when entering the recording studio.
“I got emotional when seeing the exact same microphone and headphone used by Kim Gun-mo and Shin Seung-hoon,” told Kang, referring to fellow top singers of the ’90s.
Clon also said it wanted to offer hope for its generational cohorts to not give up on dreams.
“I’m going to work hard thinking that my best days of fame are still ahead of me. I hope our generation, from those in their 40s and 50s, don’t give up on dreams thinking we’re too old,’ Kang said.