Meet the Boys of EXP, NYC’s Own K-pop Boy Band (Continued)

Above photo courtesy of The Jewish Museum, Photographed by Da Ping Luo

What other genres of music do you listen to?


Koki: I’m a sucker for some Frank Sinatra.

David: My favorite genre outside of K-pop would have to be gospel; my voice is heavily influenced by gospel and R&B, a smidge of pop.

Tarion: I am inspired by all genres and listen to a little bit of everything from classical to R&B to country—good music is good music.

Sime: I grew up listening, studying and performing all sorts of music, from classical arias, folk songs, music theater to EDM tracks.

What has been the best part of joining EXP?


Sime: There are so many awesome things about being in (the first!) NYC-born K-Pop group, from the brotherhood that I get to enjoy with the guys to the fact that we are doing something completely different—something no one has done ever before. We are stretching the boundaries and blurring the lines. We are making history here!

David: The best thing about being an NYC-born K-pop group is the fact that NYC is known for being a culture melting-pot, and because we are all extremely different, I feel we represent NYC to its fullest.

Tarion: Being a part of this project has not only broadened my music and cultural palette, but it has also helped me forge a family in NYC and groomed me to be a better person and artist.

What are some memorable moments you’ve had since joining the band?


Frankie: Best moment was our debut performance day. What started off as a stressful day with everything going wrong turned into an amazing day with so much love and support. Being on stage with the guys for the first time with a live audience was a very special moment.

Koki: Getting lost in Flushing, N.Y. while trying to find MJ’s (our awesome K-pop choreographer) dance studio. I convinced David and Tarion that I knew where I was going, and [we] ended up getting on the wrong bus.

David: Koki getting Tarion and myself lost [on our way] to dance rehearsal in Flushing. He swore he knew where he was going. Now, I’ve seen parts of Flushing I never knew existed!


What are some challenges you’ve faced as a group or an individual member? 


Frankie: Learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to utilize them. [At first], dancing as a group was certainly a struggle because everyone has different backgrounds and levels of dance training. But making us look like one [unit] is and will continue to be one of the hardest parts.

Tarion: We’ve faced a lot of external challenges, which has been a double-edged sword. While each of us felt the sting of cyberbullying in the form of death threats, racial slurs, and homophobic slander, we all supported each other and kept each other lifted it up, so it brought us closer together.

Koki: It’s definitely difficult to keep six guys on task at any time. I’m a bit impatient, and I know it shows, but everyone is brilliant at keeping the ball rolling.

David: I want to say I am more of the quiet one in the group. It’s very hard speaking in the group because everyone has a hundred things to say at the same time, so I have learned to just be quiet and I’m sure someone will say what I was thinking. I had to honestly stop looking at the group as just business and accept [the other members] as family, which has actually helped me open up to each of them way more.


Bora and the team have talked about exploring various social issues of race and representation in media through IMMABB. How does it feel to be “self-aware,” or clearly know the goals of the project while being the project itself?


Frankie: When the documentary comes out, you guys will get to see our reactions to many of the discussions we’ve had about the topics being explored. I forget the cameras are even filming half the time, so being self-aware isn’t something I’ve quite mastered yet, haha!

Tarion: Knowing that the project is a social experiment and what IMMABB is trying to observe in society is something that I think we recognize, but we don’t keep it at the forefront of our minds. I think if we did, then we wouldn’t be present to how we are affected by what happens. We do recap on feelings and moments. Everything is always filmed, so there is footage of very real human responses to [certain topics], but it’s not something we stay continuously aware of.

Koki: There are definitely times when we are self-aware, but most of the time we are just ourselves. We don’t have assigned characters or images so we’re literally just being normal, but in a boy band.

You can learn more about EXP and the IMMABB project by visiting their official Kickstarter page and Instagram.

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Recommended Reading


“Columbia Grad Student Creates K-pop Boy Band ‘EXP’ for Thesis Project”

“Meet Team IMMABB: Bora Kim, Karin Kuroda and Samantha Shao”

“Bora Kim Profile: Columbia University School of the Arts”


All images via IMMABB

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