While October is all about the weather cooling down (finally), everything pumpkin spice, and the inevitable countdown towards Christmas, nothing gets us more in the mood for the holiday season like some mellow acoustic music. This is why This Month’s Beat is none other than K-Pop’s quintessential folk-pop duo, AKMU!
AKMU (short for Akdong Musician or 악동뮤지션) is a folk pop brother-sister tandem consisting of Lee Chan-hyuk and Lee Su-hyun. While AKMU is still quite young in age, the duo has been killing it in the music scene since 2012, releasing hit after hit with music that takes a break from the usual electronica dance music we’re often used to hearing in K-Pop and refreshing our ears with cool vocals, crisp acoustic guitar, and off-beat, often poignant lyrics. This duo has earned their fare share of accolades, such as Best Pop Album in 2014 at the Korean Music Awards, and Digital Bonsang in 2018 at the Golden Disc Awards, to name a few.
The duo first appeared on the survival audition show, K-pop Star, in August of 2012. Their acoustic rendition of Miss A’s Breathe impressed judges and their performance of their original song, Don’t Cross Your Legs, solidified their status as up-and-coming singer-songwriters.
AKMU went on to win K-Pop Star and released several songs, mainly for drama OSTs. The duo signed under YG Entertainment in May of 2013 and debuted under the label with the self-produced album Play in April of 2014. The album peaked at #1 on Gaon Albums Chart and #2 on the US Billboard World Albums Chart.
This album featured several songs that were released as singles, namely 200%, Melted, and Give Love; all of which topped the South Korean music charts on release.
In May of 2016, the duo released the EP Spring, which was the first part of AKMU’s two-part album series titled Puberty. The series was meant to capture AKMU’s growth as musicians and also their own personal growth into adulthood. The EP featured Re-Bye and How People Move, with Re-Bye topping the music charts.
AKMU released the second part of their Puberty series in January of 2017, which was a seasonally themed album entitled Winter. The duo released a musical short film to go with the album and promoted with the title track Last Goodbye.
In July of 2017, AKMU released the single album, Summer Episode. This marks the duo’s first time experimenting with EDM themes in their music. The single featured the two tracks Dinosaur and My Darling. This was also the same year that Chan-hyuk enlisted in the military, halting all Akdong Musician activities.
Cut to present year! Last May, Chan-hyuk was officially discharged from the military after completing his mandatory service. The duo began performing once again, announcing their comeback in September with the studio album, Sailing. They are currently promoting the album with the title track, How Can I Love the Heartbreak, You’re the One I Love, and have released a series of videos to accompany the album, entitled Sailing Log.
Now with that said, let’s take a closer look at the duo that makes AKMU:
Korean Name: 이찬혁
Date of Birth: September 12, 1996
Position: Singer, Composer, Producer
Instruments: Vocals, Guitar
Lee Chan-hyuk, along with his sister, lived in Mongolia with their missionary parents for five years. He was home-schooled at the time and used music as a way to pass the time. When the family moved back to South Korea, he and sister Su Hyun would busk and audition for agencies to help with their family’s finances.
Chan Hyuk started composing by ear and only after debuting, began writing scores and using music programs. While in the Korean Marines for his mandatory service, his self-composed song was chosen to officially represent the Corps. Chan Hyuk has also released a book entitled Fish Meets Water, which became a nationwide best selling novel.
Korean Name: 이수현
Date of Birth: May 4, 1999 (age 20)
Lee Su-hyun is not just one half of AKMU, but a YouTuber under the name MochiPeach, and has over one million subscribers, earning her a YouTube Golden Play Button. In 2014, Su-hyun debuted in a sub-unit called Hi Suhyun under YG Family with fellow label mate LEE HI. Her other activities include acting credits in Netflix’s Temporary Idol and YG Future Strategy Office, along with several appearances on reality programs. Su-hyun is also the radio DJ of her own program on KBS Cool FM entitled AKMU Su-hyun’s Volume Up, which earned her a best Radio DJ award at the 16th KBS Entertainment Awards.
What do you think of AKMU’s latest song? Which AKMU song is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!