What You Need Wednesdays: Love X Stereo – Off the Grid EP
Posted by: Jansen 12/12/2012 8:05:00 AM
South Korean electronic band Love x Stereo reached out to us recently to share their new EP Off the Grid. It’s a short three-song jaunt that blends two of our favorite things here at Viva—dance music and 90’s alternative rock.
Citing Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pearl Jam as her largest influences, lead singer/synth player Annie Ko unironically reveres the 90’s alt-rock scene, even the parts we Americans have come to distance ourselves from. Lead track “Soul City (Seoul City)” is an exercise in Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness-esque excess, an almost 7-minute trek though the good and bad of the band’s hometown, propelled by an unabashedly poppy guitar lead and vocal melody.
The quartet’s shameless love of the pop-hook makes them comparable to a more modernized Saint Etienne, another band whose recorded output was an homage to their record collection. But whereas Etienne covered “I’m Too Sexy” and sample Dusty Springfield, Love X Stereo covers “1979” and samples Massive Attack—all in one song.
It’s a strange mix that’s pulled off by a foreign sincerity—Ko takes on both the grandiose and the saccharine without donning a acid-washed jean jacket to let you know she’s “serious.”
러브엑스테레오 | Off The Grid (EP) | 자체제작, 2012-11-26
미묘: 스트레이트함을 유지하면서도 구석구석 꼼꼼하게 공들인 것이 느껴진다. 지향점과 레퍼런스가 분명해 보인다는 점도 매력. 사운드에 분명 힘을 더 실어줄 수도 있었으리란 생각 때문에 아쉬움이 남는다.
최지선: 메인 아이디어 및 그 전개가 조화롭게 이루어진 일렉트로 팝/록. “Soul City”의 경우 경쾌한 기타 및 드럼과, 이를 감싸듯 울리는 여성 보컬이 대조를 이루는데 다만 6분여를 이끌고 가기에는 다소 미진한 감이 있다.
최민우: 신선하고 날렵한 음반. 직선적이면서도 뻔하지 않은 전개와 꼼꼼한 ‘사운드 디자인’이 인상적이다. 반면 녹음이 좀 허전하게 들리는 건 기분 탓이려나.
한명륜: 사운드의 질감에는 일렉트로닉한 면이 묻어나지만 이들의 사운드는 철저히 연주 중심이다. 스스로도 록에 기반을 두고 있다고 말하는 만큼 이들은 자신들의 손에서 나오는 소스들을 중시하고 있는 모양새다. 보컬의 음원을 후면으로 밀어두고 리버브로 공간을 채우는 방식은 요즘 밴드들에게 드물지 않다. 그러나 의외로 아날로그적인 드럼의 울림과 공명하면서 어찌 보면 허전할 수 있는 곡에 밀도를 부여하고 있다. 특히 “Chain Reaction”의 경우 오디오 이퀄라이저를 모두 중립 레벨에 놓고 들어보면 이런 의도가 더 선명하게 다가온다. ‘짬밥’은 무시할 수 없는 건가.
Love X Stereo
우리가 생각하는 펑크록 밴드란 무엇일까? 높게 새운 헤어스타일에 징 박힌 재킷을 입고 주류와의 타협을 씹어먹는 반항아들? 일반적인 펑크록이 쓰디쓴 스트레이트 위스키라면 러브엑스테레오의 펑크록은 달콤한 예거밤에 가깝다. 그들이 제안하는 펑크록의 새로운 대안이 여기 있다.
Editor 서재석 Photographer 이기태
자욱한 담배 연기 사이로 보이는 과격한 모싱핏, 땀에 찌든 채 보컬의 선창을 울부짖으며 따라 부르는 사내들. 펑크록 공연장의 단상은 이렇다. 하지만 러브엑스테레오의 공연장은 다르다. 과격함보다는 유연함이, 끈끈함보다는 달달함이 있다.
물론 그들이 품고 있는 정신은 펑크록 밴드의 그것이지만. 1세대 펑크록 밴드 18크럭을 거쳐 팝 펑크록 밴드 스크류 어택으로 활동하던 토비(기타)는 2011년 드러머 이응균이 밴드를 떠나자 나머지 멤버들(보컬 애니, 베이스 솔)과 함께 새로운 시도를 해보자는 생각에 도달했다.
그렇게 해서 잉태된 피조물은 타투처럼 몸에 새겨진 익숙한 펑크를 뿌리에 두고, 일렉트로닉, 그런지, 거기에 90년대 팝까지 더한 완전히 새로운 스타일이었다.얼터너티브 펑크, 일렉트로닉 펑크 등 기존 장르의 조합으로는 정확한 표현이 되지 않아 인디 록의 범주에 넣어야만 하는 낯설지만 유쾌한 장르. “우리는 스스로를 펑크록 밴드라고 생각해요. 그간 해왔던 음악도 펑크 록이고, 지금 하고 있는 음악의 기본도 펑크 록이죠. 하지만 좀 더 다양한 시도를 해보고 싶어요.”
펑크 순혈주의를 조금이나마 내려놓아서일까? 밴드는 한층 가벼워진 마음으로 2012 지산 밸리 록 페스티벌, 아소비 섹수 내한 공연, The KDMS 내한 공연 등을 통해 대중에게 다가가기 시작했다. 하지만 반비례하게도 음악적 욕심은 더욱 묵직해져 자체 스튜디오를 설립하기에 이르렀고, 2012년 1월에는 데모 앨범 <BUZZIN’>을, 같은 해 10월에는 EP <OFF THE GRID>를 내놓았다. 두 앨범 모두 레코딩, 믹싱, 프로듀싱, 앨범 커버 아트워크까지 멤버 전원이 맡아 제작했다. 열혈 펑크 키즈 시절보다 오히려 굳건해진 DIY 정신은 그들의 EP 곳곳에서 느낄 수 있다. 기타, 베이스, 드럼은 물론 신시사이저와 퍼커션, 시퀀서, 마라카스, 심지어 손뼉 소리까지. 그들의 손이 닿지 않은 순간은 전체 러닝 타임 20여 분 중 단 1초도 존재하지 않는다.
“스크류 어택으로 레이블에 소속되어 있을 때, 감나무에서 감이 떨어지기만을 기다렸던 시간이 있었거든요. 그러다 보니 열정이 사라지는 것 같았어요. 훗날 일은 모르겠지만, 지금은 좀 더 다양한 시도를 할 수 있는 현 시스템을 지키려고 해요.” 러브엑스테레오는 요란한 가죽 재킷과 모히칸 헤어스타일을 고수하지 않는다. 그들이 지키고자 하는 것은 그저 펑크록 밴드의 진정한 의미인 DIY 정신이다. 사상에 가까운 그 정신은 레이블에 속한 기존 펑크록 밴드들과의 극명한 차이점이자 러브엑스테레오만의 강력한 무기가 될 것이다.
LOVE X STEREO — <OFF THE GRID>
EP <Off The Grid>는 전작 <BUZZIN’>과 마찬가지로 작곡, 작사, 편곡은 물론 프로듀싱과 믹싱까지 러브엑스테레오 멤버들이 맡아 제작했다. 러브엑스테레오가 서울을 바라보는 시선이 담긴 ‘Soul City (Seoul City)’를 필두로 총 3곡이 담겨 있다.
Love X Stereo : Off the Grid
Posted by Chris P on 2012/11/30 in Reviews
After Buzzin’, Love X Stereo released a 3 song single in 2012. The recording of Off the Gird is more polished than their first EP and slightly changes the sound that was present. The songs pull back some of the electronica and allow the instruments to take a front seat to the music.
The first song “Soul City (Seoul City)” is a indie plus synth pop song. The music is repeating rhythms on the guitar strumming eighth notes for the majority of the song with a clean sound. “Soul City” relies a lot on repetitive elements and the English spoken lyrics follow a lot of the same construction.
“Chain Reaction” is the second song and also carries the same repeating rhythm scheme. It’s uses a different rhythm and half-speed vocals that allow the instrumentals to play more complex polyrhythms. It’s a fun song to listen to, but the song has a piece-by-numbers feel to it.
The last song “Storm” pulls influence from a British rock sound combined with their electronica style. “Storm” sounds a lot of late 1990s rock from the United States alternative scene and Innerpartysystem. It has a lot of energy, but somehow feels constrained on the recording.
Off the Grid has 3 solid songs, but the short length doesn’t allow the band to really present a full set of ideas over an entire album. There isn’t a lot of cohesion from song to song and that might be why the EP sounds abrupt.
Love X Stereo
by OHCHINCHA on Sep 5, 2012 • 1:14 pm
We had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Annie Ko on the weekend about her love for music, her rock band Love X Stereo, and their upcoming performance at Rockdo, the free music festival happening at the Floating Stage on the Han River this Saturday (8th September).
My name is Annie and I do vocals and synthesizer for my band Love X Stereo. All of our members are into 90’s alternative music so we infuse this style with dance music to make something different.
Can you tell us about the history of the band?
We actually started as a skate punk rock band. Our band was called Skrew Attack and it started in 2001, although I wasn’t involved with it at the time. I joined in 2005 and we figured that we wanted to develop our style into something more interesting. Also, our band name was so old that everyone expected something from us that we didn’t want to be anymore. We wanted to make a change, get some attention, and bring new music to the table.
You mentioned that you’re influenced by 90’s music, but what artists specifically?
Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Blood Honey or Smashing Pumpkins. I saw Billy Corgan around two weeks ago actually, but there weren’t that many people at his gig. I think there were too many festivals going on at the time. It was nice, though.
Speaking of festivals, didn’t you play at Jisan this year? How was that?
It was weird! There was a hip hop band competition on at the same time as us from a show called Show Me the Money. It was 2am in the morning and we had to compete with those guys so we didn’t get a big crowd. It was still really good to have an opportunity to put ourselves out there and play somewhere other than in clubs. The Jisan guys did a really good job with our visuals, which we saw some cool photos of later on.
Are you looking forward to playing Rockdo, the free festival at the Floating Stage this weekend? The venue choice is awesome.
Personally, I think it’s really cool, I thought that the Floating Stage was Seoul city’s property, who never involve rock bands in shows they put on. It’s always jazz bands or busking bands, but never rock bands. I don’t know why. I think whoever runs the shows doesn’t like rock!
When foreigners like something new and original it’s really cool because we never get that from Koreans. They (the guys behind Rockdo) wanted to make a show in a very specific venue, right in front of the Han River, with a mix of Korean bands and foreign bands. So they did.
If you could create a dream festival line-up in Korea who would you choose to play alongside?
AC/DC! For Korean bands…the thing about Korean bands is that it’s very rare for us to be inspired by fellow Korean bands. I don’t know how it works in other countries, but in our opinion it’s really hard to see originality in bands here. We can see that it’s happening, that there are a few bands that are really great and very fresh, and we like to play with those bands.
What do you think of the Seoul underground scene?
I said that we never get inspired but slowly that is beginning to change. It might take a while for crowds to notice it, though, because indie music still doesn’t have enough publicity or popularity in Korea. The Korean music scene is a very limited, with a small pool of people who are not so friendly to one another. I think the main reason the scene doesn’t happen is that it’s too small. If it’s going to be a business then there needs to be a certain amount of people into the scene, but that’s really hard to get in Seoul.
There are 4 of you in the band but you’re the only female. What’s that like for you?
Well, it’s nice to have guys around. When most bands include a female she has a certain look that guys in the audience are drawn to, but I don’t think our band’s like that at all. I think everyone likes the guitarist. Whenever we have a show guys flock to him and tell him he’s 최고 (the best)! Girls immediately like our bassist because he’s tall. Anyway, I kinda like being the only female in the band.
Why did you want to become a singer?
I’ve sung my whole life. I can remember singing when I was three years old. I always thought I would sing when I grew up. In our generation, our parents didn’t like us wanting to be a singer or an entertainer. I had no chance to show my talent at school or at home. My teachers stopped me from doing music and my parents didn’t like me doing it either, so I had a lot of rejection and anger, which made me determined to do it professionally. I think if they had let me be I could just enjoy music like everybody else. It’s my favourite thing to do in the world. Not just singing, but doing music. It’s what I like to do.
Do you write Love X Stereo’s songs yourself?
We write songs together. Sometimes our guitarist brings a cool riff, he plays it and we add stuff to make a whole song. It takes a while to make a song that way but that’s how we like it.
I really like your catchy song ‘Free Ass‘ which includes the repeated lyrics, ‘I wanna have sex with Americans.’ Is there a story behind this line?
We just thought it was a cool hook and it’s really fun when you get to play that song in front of audiences because every person who can understand English does a double take and it keeps their attention on us, We like that.
Do you have a favourite Love X Stereo song?
We’re working on a song called Soul City, which is about Seoul. It’s a really long song: it’s about 7 minutes, which we’ve never done before. I think it’s going to come out in September. You can listen to it at our shows but it’s not recorded yet. It’s about our honest feelings towards Seoul; the good and the bad side. It’s sort of like a dedication.
Do you have anything else coming up soon?
We want to release an EP in September. It will be in stores around Seoul.
What do you hope for the future as a band?
Hopefully we can get a tour in Europe or somewhere else. That would be so cool. We want to make it happen and go places other than Korea. Our final destination is Glastonbury. We really want to play Glastonbury!
Love X Stereo are performing at Rockdo festival this weekend at the Floating Stage, near the Han River. The concert is free and runs from 12pm till 9pm.
Images courtesy of Love X Stereo.
Interview by Loren.