Meet MIDNATT, Lee Hyun’s Alter Ego Taking K-pop To The Next Level

His midnight era.

One of BIGHIT MUSIC’s pioneer artists is ready for a reinvention and using AI in unprecedented ways to make it happen.

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Think of an artist from BIGHIT MUSIC, and who comes into mind will either be BTS or TXT. Yet, the company is also home to other artists that are worthy of your attention, such as Lee Hyun. Long before BTS and TXT were tearing up the charts across the globe, Lee Hyun was making the rounds in the industry as one of BIGHIT MUSIC’s first artists, first joining the company in the mid-2000s.

The former 8eight and HOMME member made a name for himself with his ballads and smooth vocals, not to mention his wins in Masker Singer, which is why his newest era is one of the most left-field moves he could have made. While K-pop is known for its concepts, with groups and soloists coming out with new flavors every comeback, Lee Hyun’s latest project feels more like a reinvention. Enter MIDNATT, Lee Hyun’s alter ego that serves as a complete 180 for the soloist. 


Not only can MIDNATT be considered a new artist, but he’s also going bold by using the hottest new tech in his music, AI. His talent combined with the power of AI is a combination MIDNATT is ready to explore. With the help of Supertone AI, MIDNATT turned his debut single, the synth-wave Masquerade, into one of the most unique tracks K-pop has seen in years. 

Not only is the track sung in Korean, but MIDNATT also put in the effort to sing the five different versions in different languages, English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese, as well. Voice technology was later implemented to further refine the pronunciation. Most impressively, it also includes a female voice that was generated by AI tech. Masquerade’s music video, meanwhile, is the first Korean music video to use Chroma and LED-based XR systems. 

A name change would have been enough to get our attention, but MIDNATT is looking to break new ground in K-pop. It’s a bold move, but one driven by the artist’s desire to expand his musical talents. Ahead of the launch of his debut single, we got a chance to speak with MIDNATT where he opened up about his new era, working with AI, and more. Read on below for the full interview.

How would you describe who MIDNATT is as an artist?

So MIDNATT, you can think of it as my alter ego, and it actually means midnight in Swedish. So, midnight is a boundary that ushers in a new day. It symbolizes that I want to try different, new music and approach audiences in a new way all the time.

Do you think MIDNATT and the Lee Hyun that we know is different? If so, how?

I think my goatee and beard is the biggest difference [laughs]. Also, the biggest differences I think whereas Lee Hyun tried to move the audience and listeners with very calm music, MIDNATT is trying on different and new sounds.

Could you share how your journey began to being an artist?

So, how I started music was I just simply enjoyed going to karaoke. And you know, singing itself was so fun. So it all started with the curiosity, ‘can this be my profession?’ And so, rather than regretting not giving it a try, I should just fail quickly. And then, you know, build new experiences. So Chairman Bang offered me to join [BIGHIT MUSIC] when he was founding the company.

BIGHIT MUSIC and HYBE are home to some of the biggest K-pop acts in the world. So, do you feel any pressure putting out a project that is more for a wider global audience and a project where you’re rebooting yourself as an artist with a new name?

It will be a lie to say I don’t feel any pressure at all, but rather than just not trying and regretting, I just prefer to take on new challenges. That’s my motto. And although there are some fears, I’m just trying to enjoy it and being excited all the time. So I think it is a very good opportunity. And it can perhaps be the turning point of my musical life, so I’m committing myself to this, enjoying it more than being afraid.

So what was the inspiration behind Masquerade?

You know, this might be a little bit dark, but by doing music for a very long time, I just felt like there wouldn’t be a new opportunity for me to try different music and I thought that would be too sad. So the lyrics itself explains the paradox of one’s ego trying to push away the past self and finding a new self and the conflict between the other ego which cannot release its grip on the bygone days. And it in that narrative is explained into a love story. So, it all started with the present me and the name.

Did you find working on this project challenging considering how different it is from the typical K-pop release?

I think in order to create good music, the challenging parts and the difficulty always follows and that’s something that you have to bear with all the time. So I’ve been working on music and overcoming those things all the time. I think in my personal opinion, it’s artists’ responsibility to overcome those challenges and I think it’s just what it is.

Masquerade is a song sung in six different languages and features of virtual female voice. What inspired you to bring that song towards that direction?

When I listen to music in different languages, I always felt it’s a bummer that I cannot really fully immerse into the music itself because of the language barrier. But HYBE happened to have this technology right now. And I thought that it would be a great opportunity to bring my music in a more accessible and immersive way to global fans. And you know, I think the musical attempts is all about bringing good sounds and good pitches. Actually, originally, the virtual female voice was supposed to be rapping so I also wrote the rap myself, but I thought that rather than me rapping, the virtual female voice would add more depth to the song.

Moving forward, what can we expect from your from you music wise?

I’m still a rookie so, I really can’t tell you what’s waiting for me ahead. But I can tell you one thing that as Midnatt there will be always new challenges and I will be an artist that takes on new challenges all the time. And there will be a side of me that will always be studying and doing research to bring you what you like.

In a time when experimentation is sometimes frowned upon, MIDNATT’s willingness to embark on a major shift in his music career is admirable. With over 16 years of delivering hit songs, comforting tracks, and bagging multiple nominations and awards, MIDNATT could have easily stuck to what made him successful in the first place. Instead, he aspired to try new things with a spirit of experimentation not often found in most artists. It’s a drastic shift that could scare most people, but MIDNATT is oozing with confidence, conviction, and talent that makes his new journey worth following. It’s just early days for MIDNATT, but he already has a journey that’s filled with the promise of explorations the industry could benefit from.

Interview conducted over Zoom by Elyse Ilagan

Photos courtesy of BIGHIT MUSIC