After many tough performances and auditions through Mnet's survival program “No.MERCY,” the winning contestants formed to create the new hip-hop group, Monsta X. They have had monster success since debuting in 2015 by winning the 1theK Performance Award at the MelOn Music Awards and the Red Carpet: Next Generation Asian Artist Award at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. They recently performed in Los Angeles at KCON L.A. The group of fresh new stars Shownu, Wonho, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Jooheon, and I.M were able to make some time for Seoul Journal's Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie to talk about their new life as idols and how the group has been doing since their debut.
SJ: Can you introduce Monsta X in your own words and say something impressive to the fans you love?
Shownu: We are really okay guys. Even though you might be a little embarrassed by our mischief, we are very kind and innocent.
Wonho: I am so happy I can be together with Monsta X members, and fans that show so much interest and love. I value every single moment. Please stay with us and support us. As you always say to us, do not forget any meals and be healthy!
Kihyun: If you get into us, you won’t be able to get out, so be careful!
Minhyuk: We still have a lot of things to show you, so don’t hesitate to follow us. Hurry!
Hyungwon: What do you think about...a life-long contract with us?
Joohyun: We are the mischievous Monsta X. Once you get into us, you won't be able to get out.
I.M: Do not even think about it, just come to us!
SJ: Tell us about your personality.
Shownu: Very quiet. I have a nickname, ‘Robot Shownu’
Wonho: Manlike! I always try to do my best.
Kihyun: Easy going and kind.
Minhyuk: Bright and positive!
Hyungwon: Relaxed and easy going, and I know how to enjoy life.
Joohyun: Reversed charm! I don’t have just one fixed attraction, but I have various personalities.
I.M: Unpredictable. My fans say that they love my voice tone when I rap.
SJ: Congratulations on your recent debut! How was your experience on No.MERCY and debuting with your own group, Monsta X?
Shownu: I felt like it has finally started and I can be a singer now.
Wonho: There were many team members who suffered during the preparation process. I think it was because everyone was so committed and passionate. I was thankful to everyone after the show.
Kiyhn: It has finally started. Let’s go for it!
Minhyuk: I felt very relieved. Every time I was backstage sweating from practicing, I was worried. Even though it was a little tiring, I want to thank everyone around me. I especially want to thank my parents.
Hyungwon: I felt very relieved, and I want to show my fans better performances as soon as possible.
Jooheon: Even though the choreography was hard during the preparation process, it was awesome when it was finished. I wasn’t very afraid of debuting on stage because I had many on-stage experiences from No.MERCY. However, I was very happy to be on stage as ‘MonstaX’ with our new song.
I.M: I just want to show more about me to fans from now on. There is always a feeling of regret
SJ: Is there any episode or difficulty you cannot forget during the show No.Mercy?
Wonho : NoMercy’s first mission! It was an individual mission, and it was difficult choosing the song. I spent a lot of time choosing a song that could emphasize my vocal skills. I was very nervous before getting on stage. I still feel dizzy when I think about that moment!
Kihyun: I was in the same group with Shownu during the second mission, and I was severely scolded. I am still very sorry for disappointing my seniors. K-will gave me some great advice after the performance, and I could better prepare for the next performance with his advice. There is always a great pressure to show my best effort.
Hyongwon: I did not have much time for every mission. It was hard to get ready for the mission within the set amount of time. We all wanted to show our best effort. I endured with my willpower. Looking back now, the journey was very challenging to the point that I would not be able to compete on No.MERCY ever again.
I.M: Because I joined in the middle of the process, I tried my best to fit in quickly. Everything was new and for the first time. I was thankful to my friends who are the same age as me, because they helped me a lot.
SJ: What is the meaning of the name “Monsta X”?
Wonho: The name Monsta X implies two meanings: Monsta X means the monster that will suppress the God of K-Pop, and it also means ‘my star’ (in French, “mon” means ‘My’). Monsta X’s ‘X’ symbolizes the unknown.
SJ:What do you like best about being in the group?
Shownu: Being a member of Monsta X, and I am proud to be the leader. Thank you.
Wonho: I am happy about the fact that the seven of us are in the same team. I am excited to show what we have for our fans.
Kihyun: I think we can truly show our best performance when the seven of us are all on stage. I think one of the biggest strengths of Monsta X is that we are a “complete seven.”.
Minhyuk: I like the fact that the team is free-spirited and produces a lot of energy.
Hyungwon: I like the fact that I can show lots of energy with a lot of confidence on stage.
Jooheon: I like Monsta X so much that I cannot even state everything I like. Please look forward to seeing more from us! I.M: We are a “free” team that can freely show everything we have.
SJ: When did you first want to be an artist or singer? And why?
Shownu: I started to dream about being a singer since I saw the singer Rain’s performance. I have practiced his songs and dance since I was young.
Wongho: The joy of singing and dancing in front of people! I started to dream about being a singer since I felt this.
Kihyun: I started to like music when I started listening to the music my older brother listened to. I started to dream about being a singer since I sang at my high school festival.
Minhyuk: When I was on stage during middle school. Even though I was very nervous, I was so happy after the performance. Unforgettable.
Hyungwon: I was so into dancing when I was in High School, then I wanted to sing and dance in front of more people.
Joohyun: I’ve wanted to become a singer since I was young. I loved to dance in front of a lot of people in church, and I think this is how I started to dream about being a singer.
I.M: Special features of music attracted me when I was in high school, and then I started to dream about being a singer.
SJ: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get where you are today?
Shownu: I think the long training period was the hardest thing to overcome. However, the harsh training helped me have a debut like this. Nowadays, I am trying to live more enthusiastically by looking back at that time.
Won Ho: Time! When I was a trainee, I thought making the best use of time would determine my future. I think time is the biggest obstacle of my life.
Kihyun: When I cannot sing as well as I expected. It is hard when my voice cannot express my feelings. I feel like it is an obstacle that I still have to overcome.
Min Hyuk: I had many obstacles, but participating in “No.MERCY” was the hardest moment.
Hyung Won: I think I had the hardest time during the trainee period when my future was uncertain. Even though there were lots of obstacles and moments that made me want to give up, I think I am here now because I overcame all those hardships.
JooHeon: It was during No.MERCY. It was heartbreaking to see the other members dropping out, and competing with those whom I spent lots of time with. I think it was the most difficult time.
I.M.: Instead of saying when the most difficult time was, I believe it is my ‘own mental attitude’ that I have to overcome every time .
SJ: When did you first become interested in hip-hop?
Shownu: We all enjoy listening to every kind of music without any specific genre. However, we especially paid more attention to hip hop because it is a genre that we all decided to participate in. I think we came to like hip-hop because we practiced and learned hip-hop since we were young.
SJ:All of you can dance really well and showed a great performance. Is there any kind of role model that inspires your performances on stage?
Hyung Won: Our team’s role model is Big Bang. There are so many things to learn through their music, and they are trying to attempt new things in many fields.
Kihyun: I dreamed to be a singer when I saw and followed Big Bang’s performance. When I had a debut performance and stood on the same stage as Big Bang, I was very thrilled. I hope our team becomes a group like Big Bang that shows many cool performances.
SJ: Who are your hip-hop influences? What international artists do you like?
Shownu : Chris Brown
Wonho : Kanye West, Chris Brown, Usher
Minhyuk : Michael Jackson
Kiyhun: : J.Cole
Hyungwon : Michael Jackson, Chris Brown
Jooheon : Lil Wayne, Kid Ink, Joey Badass, Jay Z
I.M.: J.Cole, Big Sean, Joey Badass, ASAP Rocky
SJ: Who are some of your favorite Korean musicians?
Shownu : Big Bang
Wonho : Big Bang
Minhyuk : Big Bang . Kim KyungHo
Kiyhun: : Big Bang. JooYoung (Starship Family)
Hyungwon : Big Bang
Jooheon : Big Bang. Tiger JK
I.M. : Big Bang
SJ: How do you distinguish yourself from other hip-hop groups?
Min Hyuk: All of our personalities are vivid and our style of music is very clear. Also we will be grateful if people also know that all of our members write music.
SJ: What is the best thing about being idols?
Shownu: Getting lots of attention and love from many people!
Wonho: Fans who are always worrying and giving attention to us.
Kihyun: Performing the music that we want to do with many people’s interest and love.
Minhyuk: Interacting with fans who love us!
Hyongwon: Singing on stage!
Jooheon: Sharing the music we like with our fans!
I.M: Interest and love from many people! And doing new performances for our fans!
SJ: What kind of message do you want to convey to your fans through your music?
I.M: I want to provide a lot energy and fun to many people through Monsta X’s style of music. We want to interact with our fans!
SJ: Would you like to perform internationally? Where would you like to perform?
Shownu: Monsta X wants to perform internationally. If there is an opportunity, we would like to go anywhere, whether domestically or internationally, where we can interact with more fans.
I.M.: Recently, it was a lot of fun when we went to L.A. for KCON and album jacket shooting. I hope to have more opportunities to perform in the U.S.
SJ:What other projects are you working on?
Minhyuk: Our second mini-album called “RUSH” is in full swing, and we are working on our next song to show our fans. We promised our fans to show a new side every time we perform. Please look forward to hearing Monsta X’s music.
SJ: What are some of your future goals for the group?
Jooheon: We would like to perform music that is made by us from the beginning until the end. We never want to change, no matter what happens, and we want to interact with our fans.
Kihyun: We want to show our best effort and expand our audience. We wish that someday, young people will say, ‘I want to become like Monsta X’.
Wongho: Since debuting this year, we have want to receive “Rookie of the Year award,” which is a once in a lifetime prize