The worlds of K-pop and J-pop got closer with the release of “Sleeping Beauty,” a collaboration between Korea’s long-running hip-hop trio Epik High and Japan’s genre-blending rock outfit End of the World (also known as Sekai no Owari in Japanese). The rock/hip-hop cut sees both acts embracing a more tender sound with lyrics that showcase the strength in asking for help.
Meeting up in Tokyo, the bands sat down for an exclusive interview with Billboard to talk about how the cross-cultural collaboration happened. “When we wanted to do this with Epik High, I remember asking Nakajin to arrange the track to fit nicely with a rap,” End of the World vocalist Fukase shares of conceptualizing the song that came about after the Epik High guys linked up with an EOTW rep after playing Coachella 2016. “It used to have a much softer and quiet vibe, but the idea of having the rap over the song determined the direction of the song.”
Epik High leader and producer Tablo shared that it was End of the World’s 2015 single “Anti-Hero” that made him want to link up with the group. “When we first heard it, it sounded like a song that we would want to make,” he shares. “I think all music, like rock and hip-hop, you’re aiming to be an anti-hero so it fit in with our vibe as well.” Meanwhile, EOTW picked Epik High classics like “Born Hater,” “I Remember,” and “Don’t Hate Me” (which was re-recorded in Japanese) as their favorites.
“Sleeping Beauty,” which just saw its official music video released on July 6, is the latest release from End of the World who are working on their next studio album. “We’re working on a global album,” Nakajin adds, potentially hinting to grow their list of international collaborators that include Nicky Romero and Owl City. “As we work on the album it has grow with [a] less obvious border of ‘genre,’ but each song has its own genre and character.”