ASTRO’s MOONBIN&SANHA represent one of the most powerful duos in K-pop music today. With talented vocals, immensely captivating choreography, and charm like no other, the members of this subunit are nothing short of global superstars for a reason. Their latest project, if one has heard it yet, only cements this praise further.
INCENSE, which was released on January 4, is MOONBIN&SANHA’s third mini album. The project explores a variety of different genres and styles that are new to the subunit’s catalog. It includes six hard-hitting tracks revolving around the concept of scent, which both members view as one of the most powerful human senses in existence. Tapping into their ability to spread pure happiness to their fans, “Madness” is a sensational title track that delivers upon the concept of their “fatal sexiness” acting as a scent that spreads upon listeners.
The entire tracklist is flooded with diverse sounds, from the smooth and seductive production of “Perfumer” to the feel-good, more heartwarming songs like “Chup Chup” and “Your day.” The mini album is also a special moment for both MOONBIN&SANHA, as both artists played a heavy hand in composing and songwriting for the first time.
Pop Crave asked MOONBIN&SANHA about their new mini album, INCENSE, the concept behind their title track, “Madness,” hopes for an upcoming tour, and which ASTRO member they think would survive the longest in a zombie apocalypse. Keep reading for the full interview!
Since releasing the highlight medleys of your new songs on Monday, how has the fan reaction from Aroha been for you?
MOON BIN: Yeah, I think for this album, they showed really various reactions, first of all. We decided to divide the highlight medley this time for each short video, and then we released them at different timings. I think that really increased the anticipation from the fans, and they grew more curious and they got more excited. Yeah, they are waiting very excitedly for the album!
As a whole, how would you describe the concept and atmosphere of your new title track, “Madness”?
YOON SAN-HA: Our title track, “Madness,” the concept is that we’re kind of comparing our charm into scent, and we are developing our unique charms into scents. We want to make it memorable to the listeners. The overarching theme of that track and the whole album is to make you happy. That’s our purpose from this album.
MOON BIN: We also want to add that the “Madness” choreography is very powerful and very strong, so I really want everybody to keep a close eye on our powerful performances coming up.
If you were to describe the song “Madness” as a color, what color would it be?
YOON SAN-HA: For me, I want to describe it as the color white because it’s a color of being unpredictable, and it’s a blank canvas. You can paint anything you want, and I think “Madness” is that kind of track that has different charms and different styles in one song. It can be interpreted as anything, so I would choose white to describe that track.
How would you describe the overall concept of INCENSE, and what have you enjoyed about this comeback in comparison to others in the past?
MOON BIN: The overall concept, just like the title track of this whole album, is the scent. We got inspired by the five senses of the human. We were thinking, “What would be a good way to represent our album this time?” And we thought scent is something very memorable. It’s simple yet memorable, and it reminds people of different memories. When you smell something specific, it brings you different memories each time. We thought it was a very strong sense, and that’s how we came across this concept of the album.
Aroha have noticed that this project seems to have a high contrast between the darker, sexier songs and the cuter, more lively songs. How challenging was it to pull both concepts off at the same time?
YOON SAN-HA: For this album, there are two versions: pure and impure versions. They give very different vibes under one concept of scent. One version is more powerful compared to the other. The other concept is more pure and more soft, so we kind of tried to differentiate those concepts into two different versions.
What’s the most noticeable difference you’ve felt between creating your first and third mini album?
MOON BIN: I think we spoke more openly with our company’s staff this time, and we had very active discussions with them. We were all trying to make this cool album together, and so I think we got more affectionate to this album while working on it. I think that’s the difference from our first album when we were working on that one.
This is a massive step for both of you when it comes to showing off your skills as songwriters! The fans have been so excited to hear that you’ve both been writing some of these new songs for INCENSE. What were some of the most fun and challenging parts of songwriting for this mini album?
MOON BIN: I think the most fun part, of course, was trying to compose a song for the first time. It was really fun to watch writing different melodies. Like, if you put this melody here and that melody there… If we differentiate just a little bit, it becomes a whole new song. I think it was really fun to kind of experiment with the melodies and some lines and all. I think also the most challenging part, because it was our first time trying to compose a song, the same melody would continuously come up. Sometimes we were stuck in there. We couldn’t really get out of it for a while, so that was a little challenging, but still it was really fun to try.
Has working on this mini album made you feel more confident as both songwriters and producers?
YOON SAN-HA: For me, it was my first time composing and writing lyrics to a song. I think it was really cool. I actually got to know the charm of writing a song through working on this album. I got really excited to be able to share my own song with our fans, so I think it’s really the best part. If I can get another opportunity to work on a song or an album, I think it would be really cool.
Working as a subunit for the third time now, is there something new you discovered or learned about each other during the process of creating INCENSE?
MOON BIN: For me, I think I got to know about Sanha for the first time that he is actually really good at writing melodies, because he usually likes smoother, ballad types of songs. I thought those would be the songs and melodies he would usually come up with, but he was actually coming up with different melodies. He was working on various genres and styles, too, so that really surprised me, actually. That’s something I learned about Sanha for the first time while working on this album.
Scents/smell often evoke strong memories and feelings for many. What is a scent/smell that evokes a specific memory or moment in your life?
YOON SAN-HA: I think for me, the most memorable scent would be the smell of the basement. Like, underground. That kind of dusty, a little bit stuffy smell. That’s the most memorable scent from our trainees practice room, because it was located under the ground at that time. We spent years in that room practicing and working on ourselves. Whenever I walk under the ground going into a basement area, that smell just kicks in and instantly takes me back to those days.
If there was only one scent you could smell over and over again for the rest of your life, what would you want it to be and why?
MOON BIN: I would choose a flower scent. There’s a saying that if you love something, you kind of resemble each other. I feel like if I continuously smell flowers, then suddenly I will smell like flowers. I think it would be a good thing, so I would choose that.
You’ve both worked as actors now! What’s a type of acting role you’d like to try out next?
YOON SAN-HA: I honestly want to try various parts. It doesn’t really matter. I want to try maybe a student part that’s more pure. My most recent role was this really cute, youngest member of the family type of role – very cheeky, very playful. Just any part that would bring laughter to the audience, I would gladly take it.
Being global superstars, I’m sure you need time to decompress and relax every once in a while. During your off time, have there been any new hobbies you’ve gotten into lately?
MOON BIN: I actually want to make a new hobby. I kind of have this routine where I would wake up, stay lounging at home a little bit, and then go run, go to the gym, and then come back, and then repeat. It’s kind of been the same thing, so I kind of want to make a new hobby. Maybe going to the movies or going to the museum – more of the culture related stuff. Yeah, I just want to try new things now.
You performed at the WATERBOMB Festival as a subunit for the first time this year. Will you try to do more festivals in 2023 or possibly tour as a subunit?
MOON BIN: Yeah, definitely going to WATERBOMB and other festivals and performances anywhere else was really good for us. We also hope that there are more opportunities to perform at different festivals and different events. We are also talking about concerts very positively as well, so we can maybe deliver good news by earlier next year !
We’re now going into some fun questions from fans! Which ASTRO member would survive the longest in a zombie apocalypse?
MOON BIN: Personally, I think MJ would survive the longest. He would do anything for his life [laughs].
Should pineapples be on pizza?
MOONBIN&SANHA: We don’t have negative opinions about it. It’s kind of neutral, but we would choose other toppings over pineapple for a pizza.
Would you rather travel to the past or to the future?
MOON BIN: I would travel to the past, because the future is something that consists of the past and the present. To combine those things makes up the future. We would have to travel to the past if we want to change the future.
Do you prefer mornings or evenings?
YOON SAN-HA: I think of myself as a morning person, but our lifestyle can be really irregular. We would have to wake up in the evenings without a choice. I would say I’m a morning person trapped in a night person’s lifestyle.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
MOON BIN: Time traveler!
YOON SAN-HA: Teleport!
Final question! What do you hope Aroha take away from your new mini album, INCENSE?
YOON SAN-HA: We want to make them happy. That’s the goal and purpose of this whole album. I wrote a song to express my gratitude for fans supporting us all the time. I just hope Arohas feel very comfortable and happy while listening to this album. That’s my hope.
MOONBIN&SANHA’s new mini album, INCENSE, is out now.
Special thanks to Abigail Parks for assisting with questions.