At this point in rookie group ATEEZ‘s career, the members have a solid, respectful relationship with their producer, Eden. However, the “father of ATEEZ’s music” recently came out with a story of how he tried to make leader Hongjoong quit music – and how Hongjoong showed his immense dedication to the art.
Hongjoong was the first member of ATEEZ to join KQ Entertainment as a trainee. Eden was working for the company at the time, but had no formal training, and when he was told he was going to become the teacher to a new trainee, he wasn’t thrilled about the idea.
There was a song of [Hongjoong’s] that he brought to me, and I couldn’t get a grasp on where to start or what to work on with him. So I thought, ‘I’ll find a way to make him give up on music.’
In order to do this, Eden showed Hongjoong a list of 200 words related to composing, and told him that he had to memorize them all by the next day. Assuming that he wouldn’t do it, Eden planned on telling his new student that Hongjoong couldn’t do music and thus Eden wouldn’t be his teacher.
However, Hongjoong shocked Eden by showing up the next day with all 200 words memorized – he’d stayed up the entire night memorizing them. Seeing now how dedicated and determined Hongjoong was, Eden lost his distaste for the shy trainee and ended up taking him on as a pupil.
What I highly praise about Hongjoong is that he was below average in every discipline when he started as a trainee. He wasn’t a natural dancer, and he couldn’t rap at all. But he sacrifices rest for practice. Watching him improve, I thought, ‘I should think of Hongjoong as my younger self and help him grow’.
These days, Hongjoong is welcome in Eden’s studio, and even has his own space in the room where he works on his songwriting and production work and gets input from ATEEZ’s producer. The leader of ATEEZ has even taken on a sound and style similar to that of Eden, which the producer doesn’t seem to mind.
Hongjoong embraced me. I never learned music in a formal setting from somebody else, so I didn’t want to teach anyone. But if there was one person that I had to teach music, to pass on what I know, it would be Hongjoong.
It’s so nice to see how the two have bonded over time despite the initial tension! And it’s incredible to see how hard-working Hongjoong was, even back then as an untrained teenager.