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Celebrity Travel: Go Away With Tablo of Epik High

By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency on

The first Korean group to ever perform at Coachella, Epik High is touring to promote its critically acclaimed album, "Sleepless In __________." Comprised of Tablo, Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz, the alternative hip-hop group is known for its impassioned live shows and lyrically complex music. Ten years ago, the group was in jeopardy when an internet rumor about Tablo's education snowballed into a full-blown scandal. Online trolls accused Tablo of having lied about graduating from Stanford University. Even after the school proved that he was an alumni, the rumors didn't die down. He received death threats and was forced to go into hiding. "I took my family to Tokyo and then to Hawaii to keep them away from the awe-inspiringly hellish thing that was happening to me," he says. "I remember everything about that trip. It kept me sane for a little bit. Call it a sane-cation." Follow Tablo on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/EPIKHIGH), Twitter (https://twitter.com/blobyblo) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/blobyblo/). Their updated concert dates are at https://www.epikhigh.com/.

Q. Your family moved around a lot when you were younger. How did that affect your childhood?

A. I was born in Seoul and almost immediately taken along to Jakarta. I was there for a while, and then was elsewhere, and then I was back in Seoul. I immigrated to Canada when I was 8. This I remember well because the move occurred halfway into the Summer Olympics in Seoul. I saw half the Olympics in Seoul and the latter half in Vancouver. My parents were always moving. Even in Vancouver, we moved to a new neighborhood almost every year or two. I changed schools so many times. I returned to Seoul after middle school. So, my childhood was a constant loop of saying teary goodbyes to old friends and awkward hellos to new ones. Eventually, I stopped myself from making too many friends, because I knew I would have to say goodbye to them and I hated that. Wow, this sounds really depressing when I word it out like this. Well, it was.

Q. How has visiting other countries affected your music, particularly your lyrics?

A. The fact that I'm bilingual seems to affect my writing the most. There are certain beautiful words that embody a world of emotions in the Korean language that don't have counterparts in English. And vice versa. So being versed in both allows my emotions to have a much larger playing field. Also, the sheer number of cultures I've had the blessing to be acquainted with has stretched out my sensibilities, I'm sure.

Q. Many musicians have told me that being on tour is a conflicting experience for them, because they love performing live, but they also miss being home. How do you feel being on the road?

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A. I do miss home during tours. We all do. Our North American tour hits 17 cities and lasts more than a month. My wife and daughter are my best friends. A month is a long time to be away from your best friends. But I also deeply love performing for our fans. It's always going to be conflicting, yes, but what a blessed thing to be conflicted about.

Q. When you are touring, do you get the opportunity to see local attractions?

A. Our tours are usually back-to-back shows, so it's not easy, but we make maximum effort to do so. We don't really do tourist things, but we love to roam. On our tour four years ago, we were in Seattle after a show and just wandering around. We somehow ended up at a "Star Wars" costume exhibit that was at the same place as a Nirvana exhibit. This just made so much sense to us. We spent like the whole day there. It's impossible to experience a moment like that in Seoul, so we have to catch it when and where we can and shove it into our hearts.

Q. Who would you like to see perform live?

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