“We Believe That Every Artist Has Their Own Approach When It Comes to Making Music.” – In Conversation with HYBS
Thailand has always captivated the world with its diversity of cultures, beliefs, traditions, lifestyles, and its incredible variety when it comes to music, TV, and film. While Thai TV shows and cinematic features are quickly making their way to Europe through Netflix, Viki, and GMMTV, Thai Pop music is yet to make a wave beyond its borders.
HYBS, consisting of Alyn and Karn, differ from what Thailand has to offer when it comes to pop music. Formed during the Covid crisis and lockdown, these two joyful individuals decided to form a duo to finally make their dreams of pursuing a music career come true. HYBS debuted in 2021 with the single Ride, not only impressing their local music scene but also shining on Spotify, with almost 2 million monthly listeners. Although often categorised as a pop-duo, HYBS effortlessly combines retro-pop vibes from the 80s and 90s with other musical elements such as R&B and Neo-soul. These sounds can be heard on their recent first full-length album, Making Steak, which also gathered a whopping 70 million Spotify streams worldwide.
Last year, HYBS performed 15 shows in their native home of Thailand and also participated in Zandari Festa, the largest music showcase festival in Seoul, South Korea. While we are just at the beginning of 2023, Alyn and Karn have big plans for the future, including appearances at music festivals, such as Wanderland Festival in the Philippines and EMERGE FEST in Taiwan.
Just ahead of all those activities, we had the pleasure of speaking to HYBS about music, Making Steak, and their growing popularity in Asia and beyond.
Prior to discussing your music, I would like to know, have you thought of a music career when you were younger?
HYBS: Yes, we did. It was kind of our life goal to pursue a career in music, but as we all know, things take time, experience, and practice!
You have known each other for some time. However, it was during the Covid pandemic that you ‘revived’ your friendship. Although the story behind HYBS beginnings is heart-warming, have you ever doubted yourselves when preparing for your debut? Being friends is one thing, creating music that you might equally love and vibe to is another thing.
HYBS: No. We started HYBS as a fun project, and we didn’t think much about it back then. We were recording Ride, and we were going to release it with JUICEY (our record label and management team), which everyone was on board with!
Last September you released your first album called Making Steak. After learning about the album’s name, one thought came into my mind: if you weren’t cooking steak in lockdown, what would you call your album then? You surely have a good sense of humour.
HYBS: Oh man, this is going to be fun.
Alyn: It’d be something like ‘Sushi Revival’ or ‘Shrimps’ [laughs].
Karn: I absolutely have no idea what it would be if it wasn’t Making Steak.
When you were in the process of creating Making Steak, specifically in regard to writing the lyrics, how did you get into the right frame of mind to write them? What kind of approach did you use to write your lyrics? Each song brings something new thematically.
HYBS: We believe in first thoughts – following the first thing that comes into our minds. We created our melodies and lyrics based on what we thought would sound good, then we started humming and did some gibberish for the rest. Karn then started to make some vibe-y music out of our thoughts.
Please correct me if I am wrong, but after listening to your repertoire, I can hear some amazing ‘80s / ‘90s retro-pop vibes with a hint of R&B and Neo-soul. As you probably are in a stage of discovering who you are musically, I was wondering, what genre do you want to “settle in”? Perhaps you would like to stick to the music you are creating right now?
HYBS: For now, we don’t have any specific genre to ‘settle in’, but we are exploring more genres for our upcoming releases. We don’t want to say much, but you can definitely expect some new ‘vibes’ from us!
You gained popularity, not only in Thailand, but in the Philippines, South Korea, and other overseas countries for that matter. How do you deal with your growing popularity?
HYBS: That’s how Rockstar came out. [Laughs] Just joking. We’re super pleased to meet new fans and new friends, both in Thailand and beyond. In South Korea, we performed there twice, and we met amazing people over there, we love it. And we can’t wait to meet more people from different countries. Thank you for your appreciation of our music and our vibes!
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
HYBS: A place with good vibes, which gives us the right mood to do something creative! But to be honest, the best place to work is Alyn’s house – it’s the place where it all started, where we can set up some lighting to create the right atmosphere.
As songwriters, you must constantly write songs, but not necessarily all of them end up being recorded. How do you generally choose which songs you want to release?
HYBS: Depends on the occasion. About 95% of our songs were and are scheduled to be released to the public. For instance, we had No One in our inventory and we didn’t plan to do anything about it until the collaboration with brb. – we thought their style really matched the song.
Improvisation is a large part of the creative process for many artists. How strictly do you separate improvising and composing in your work?
HYBS: Well, we normally combine the two together, since much of our composition is born out of improvisation.
Looking at your current life, to what extent do you think your surroundings shaped you, creatively speaking, and in what way?
HYBS: We assume it’s the people and food [the duo laughs]. Like, if we meet good people with great vibes, we can share those good times together and, of course, eat some great food. Believe it or not, sometimes we get some inspiration for making music from the food we eat – Making Steak, for example.
On which of your songs do you think you delivered your personal best performance so far, from an emotional and technical point of view?
Alyn: I believe it’s Prettiest To Me since it was a song written from my heart, therefore I perform it straight from my soul.
Karn: I’ll say it’s Killer because the song is like a let-it-all-out kind of song for me – each of us had our own solos, and we designed the live version to have a little bit of a rock-style flair to it, so there goes Killer.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do in your free time?
Alyn: I guess Karn enjoys sleeping the most [laughs], but for me, I enjoy spending time with my family and loved ones.
You also participated in a few festivals last year, including one of my favourite ones, Zandari Festa. Did you enjoy performing in South Korea?
HYBS: Absolutely. Zandari was our very first international gig with live audiences outside Thailand, and we had no idea what was coming. The crowd at Zandari really participated in our show even though they didn’t know us back then. Truly fire.
You recently collaborated with brb., an R&B group, on No One. Did you experience any artistic differences while recording the song?
HYBS: We believe that every artist has their own approach when it comes to making music. For brb., they have got their way of coming up with demos and we got ours, but it was not a problem at all since we recorded the vocals and instrumentals separately – they did their part in Singapore, and we did ours in Thailand.
As we are now in 2023, what’s next for you? Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
HYBS: Umm… How much can we say [laughs]? We are planning to do our very first Asia Tour soon! And we also have a collaboration project coming up with artists like slchld from Canada and more! That’s it, that’s all we can say, but please stay tuned because the line-ups will be fire!
[On the 27th of January, HYBS and slchld released a new single called Good Care, and it’s available on all music platforms].
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, and art, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop / K-music, and Asian music in general, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, music, and arts, worldwide.