Love X Stereo: Looking Out from the Inside
by CHINCHA on Sep 11, 2013 • 9:51 am
Love X Stereo gig more than any other band in Seoul. In the relatively short time they have existed, the dance-oriented rock band have released three EPs and will release their newest one, “Glow,” this Friday. At the end of September, the band will embark on their first North American tour.
While mainstream Korean music explodes across the world in a wave of K-Pop, alternative musicians in Korea still have to claw their way up to be heard. Being a musician in Korea is no easy feat. It’s is a great place to grow and create, but there is little opportunity for independent musicians in Seoul to be heard by a wide audience. Large-scale distribution is very difficult, if not impossible. Touring is limited to a few cities, and while the audience for non-mainstream music is growing, it is still extremely limited. Given this atmosphere, Love X Stereo are branching out.
Chincha caught up with lead singer Annie from Love X Stereo to talk about the group’s future.
Have you gigged outside of Korea before? Why now? Do you have any expectations for the North American audience as opposed to the Korean audience?
No, we haven’t. It’s our first time. And it’s about time. When we first started our band, less than two years ago, our goal was to be heard from the outside world. We are very eager to find out what others have to say about us outside of Korea. It’s pretty much our motivation to do what we do now. We believe that we might get more direct response than here. Good or bad. We can take in, and we’re willing to evolve from there.
What are your goals for the tour?
We would like to meet our fans, of course. And hopefully get some exposure to the music industry if possible. We want to test ourselves to see if we can handle this, too. And want to figure out what needs to be done to make a better show for the audience.
Are there any gigs, cities or festivals that you are particularly looking forward to?
We are looking forward to CMJ Music Marathon, definitely. It’s an honor to be invited to such a huge festival, so we need to bring our A-game. We’re spending almost a month in NYC, so we’re pretty excited. We’re heading to Cincinnati, Washington, Chicago, Detroit and Toronto, too. Very excited, indeed!
What can you tell us about your new EP, Glow?
In “GLOW,” there’s a very strong synth pop vibe into it. It still has the 90s alternative feeling, yes, but we wanted to make this EP more pop than usual. Didn’t think that much when we made it. It’s was supposed to be simple, direct, but grand. Hope we nailed it.
How does it differ from your last EP, Off the Grid?
“Off The Grid” has a more psychedelic feeling. We didn’t know, and actually didn’t want to know, when to stop the song. But this time, we very much knew all along when to start and stop the song. Our sound and style hasn’t changed, but the songs are a bit tighter that way.
Where was it recorded? Did you produce it yourselves?
We recorded it at our humble studio all by ourselves. But luckily, we got to work with one of the best producers, yOoNtEk Jeong, and he’s coming with us on our tour as our sound engineer.
Anything special in this EP?
Our title song is called “Lose to Win.” This song is dedicated to anyone who is struggling everyday with the unknown future. We believe the song is very soothing, relaxing, yet powerful. Hope you like it.
Another song called “Crossing Rivers” is a song about North Korean Kkotjebi. We wanted to send out a message that we need to care more and more about these matters and do something about it. This song will be featured in the upcoming PSCORE compilation album as well. On this EP, we included three remix tracks from two DJs, John Gaska and J-Path. It was really an honor to work with these guys. Superb remixes indeed!
North American tour dates:
Interview by Adam Brennan
South Korean music isn’t limited to K-Pop only. There’s a thriving indie scene centered around Seoul’s Hongik Univeristy, known as Hongdae for short. But some observers say the neighborhood has become a victim of its own popularity.
Original link – http://monocle.com/radio/shows/culture/
Is Korea’s Indie Epicenter Too Small For Musicians?
- Written by Jason Strother
- Wed,23 October 2013 | 08:00
Much of the music we hear coming out of South Korea these days is of the K-pop variety. Acts like the Wonder Girls, Girl’s Generation and of course Psy have drawn global attention.
But back home there is an indie music scene.
It’s not big – in fact it’s almost entirely centered in one neighborhood.
Love X Stereo is an indie band that’s been playing the bars and clubs around Honggik University for the past seven years.
Lead singer Annie Ko tells me her band takes inspiration from 1990s alternative music, but puts their own twist on it.
“We wanted to make it a bit more 21st century.”
She’s doing that by using synthesizers. “We didn’t want to make it obvious dance type music.”
So it’s definitely not K-pop, I asked.
“Yes it’s not K Pop,” she says and laughs.
Love X Stereo is a staple of the music scene in this neighborhood, known as Hongdae for short.
Outside, the sound of guitars and drums echoes down the alleys. A small park is packed with a young crowd checking out a live performance.
If you’re an indie band in South Korea, Hongdea is the place where you get your start.
Observers say it’s no coincidence that this neighborhood is the epicentre of the country’s independent music scene, or any other art form for that matter.
“Hongdae is without a doubt Korea’s number 1 art university. As a result it’s where all the artists would study, but more importantly, play,” says Bernie Cho, CEO of DSFB Collective, an agency that promotes Korean music overseas.
“So during the early 90s, Hongdae really started out as a hangout with these artists. Pretty much any Korean music act that wants to be considered credible and legit, they need that mark, they need that tag, that bragging right, that they cut their teeth and were a product of the Hongdae scene or the Hongdae system.”
How bands in the Hongdae system get their start is a lot different from how K-Pop acts get their start, says Cho.
Huge entertainment companies south of Seoul’s ritzy Gangnam assemble those groups, give them a style and write their music.
Hongdae is more of a do-it-yourself environment.
The group 3rd Line Butterfly started playing the Hongdae scene about 15 years ago.
They recently won album of the year at the Korean Music Awards.
Guitarist Song Ki-won and singer Nam Sang-ah say Hongdae has gone through some big changes since when they first started performing there.
“We were a part of this very, very sincere musical scene. The bands we know are friends. They don’t lie with their music. It’s true; we are true to the music. I feel proud to be a part of that scene. That’s the most important thing that makes us keep going on.”
I asked singer Nam, if she thinks the scene is still as warm as it used to be.
“I think its warmer. I think the audience is more open minded than before. The number of the audience has increased too. You can see on their faces they are enjoying themselves more.”
But some venue owners in Hongdae say it’s getting tougher to stay in business.
“People come more, more more, prices go up, up. Many artists can’t work in Hongdae, it’s too expensive,” says Eddie Hwang who manages the live music bar F-F.
Bernie Cho of the DSFB Collective says Hongdae’s growing popularity has come with a price.
“Now you have all these franchises that want to get in and cash in on this hip, cool street cred factor. And what’s happening is that is driving some of the smaller clubs out of the neighborhood. It has in some ways it’s become a victim of its own success.”
For Annie Ko, Love X Stereo’s lead singer, finding new venues outside of Hongdae doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. She says her band hopes to broaden its horizons.
“It would nice to know that there is somewhere else where we can perform.”
“Hongdae is a very small pool,” she adds, “Even if you get famous, it’s hard to expect a lot. Our goal is to get out of here.”
Love X Stereo recently took off on their first overseas tour to the United States. It seems like her wish came true.
Interview with Love X Stereo
The past couple times I visited Seoul, I’ve been able to see Love X Stereo perform live. It never occurred that even though I met them in person, I never asked for an interview. So to correct that mistake, I contacted Annie, lead singer, who was open to me sending question for the band to answer.
(Small Trivia) Love X Stereo is also one of the earliest bands that I found on bandcamp.
Can you introduce the band?
Hi, we are Love X Stereo. We started out as an alternative rock band reminiscing the 90s. But we like to keep our sound up to date, so we try to infuse a lot of electro elements into our music. So it’s basically, 21st century style alternative rock that you can dance along.
The history of the band has been mentioned numerous times. The electronica/rock style you play is becoming more popular with Korean bands. Do you see this as an evolution of the music from South Korea?
We think that there is a definite trend here with all those synth-rock styles that got started about 2-3 years ago. We feel that ever since Two Door Cinema Club became a huge hit, a lot of bands tend to go for that kinda style. So, no, it’s not an evolution, it’s just merely a trend.
We try to avoid “The Trend” as much as humanly possible. (And to be honest, we can never pull that off, either 🙂 )
What are the band’s influences?
90s alternative/rock/punk – The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Flaming Lips,Oasis, Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine, Massive Attack, NOFX, Bad Religion
90s electro music – The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Apollo440
80s synth pop/rock – New Order and many more
70s Korean psychedelic – Shin Joong-hyun, He6
What are the challenges the band has had when making music or performing live?
Just one thing: we have so much gear, so we feel like we really need a car, or a manager, or both, but that hasn’t happened, YET.
There are many sites that talk about Korean indie music, what do you think about the genre becoming more popular internationally?
Well, to think of it, the word K-indie itself is kinda weird and awkward to us. We just want to be accepted as a rock artist who happens to live in Korea, and that will do just fine. But there must be some kind of process that needs to be done, I guess.
So for Korean indie music (as a latecomer), in order to gain love and respect internationally, like the way we’d actually want to achieve it in the near future, we feel like we need to be better and better everyday.
Any goals for 2013?
We are preparing a new EP that will come out soon in this summer, so we’re having high hopes for that. We are about to release new videos like high quality live sessions at our studio.
We are currently working on collaboration projects with various pop artists, DJs, and fellow artists. And we would like to go on an international tour if possible.
We are coming up with fresh new songs this summer. It’s going to be HOT!
Are there any bands to recommend?
Rock’N’Roll Radio, New Blue Death, Used Cassettes, WHOwho, Juck Juck Grunzie, We Are The Night,Les Sales, Killer Drones, The Quip, Tier Park, Angry Bear, Dongmyo Police Box, Love Shop, Table People,Luditstelo, Monkey Beats, Sizose, Kite Flying Robot, Gutz, Lowdown 30 etc.
What bands are you listening to now?
Daft Punk, obviously!
Anything to say to readers?
Meet you at Glastonbury, SOON!
Both times I’ve seen the band, they played great shows. With a new EP this summer, there will be new sounds from the band. I do enjoy the last two EPs the band released, but I’m hungry for new music. Love X Stereo is an great band that can use your support.
no sleep til…seoul
A SEOUL SONGTRESS TELLS US ABOUT HER CITY’S MUSIC AND NIGHTLIFE
By Annie Ko / As Told to Abby Schreiber
Each week in our new column, “No Sleep Til…,” we’ll be talking to cool kids around the globe, asking them to fill us in about the bands, DJs, music venues and night spots they and their friends are obsessing over. Next time you visit their home city, leave your Fodor’s and Lonely Planet guides behind and go party like a local instead.
Where do you live?
What do you do?
What type of music does your band play?
Basically, our music is alternative rock infused with electro elements. We like to create grand-scale, energetic, powerful, almost overwhelming sounds that contain majestic, futuristic vibes. We are very open to any type of genre, and like to mix all the elements into our own style.
How long have you been making music?
All of our members have been playing music for over 10 years. Our leader, Toby, is actually one of the pioneers of sk8 punk rock here in Korea.
What South Korean bands or DJs are you obsessed with and think more people should know about?
Hmm.. that’s a hard question. Because honestly, our music scene is still in the developmental stages right now. We would so like to have a certain band or DJ that we could be obsessed with, but unfortunately we don’t. We do have bands and DJs that we like, absolutely. We like dnb DJ J-Path, and experimental grunge band The Quip.
We performed a lot with The Quip. Their sound is very unique, noisy and pretty much ‘drunken alcoholic’ — it’s the opposite of our music. Their music is really, really raw and crazy, as opposed to our music, which is so, so elaborate and futuristic. J-Path is ‘the best’ dnb DJ in Korea. No doubt about that. His sound is very dynamic and rock-based. Actually, he happened to be at one of our shows and contacted us, suggesting a collaboration. Pretty stoked to work with him soon.
Where are the cool places to see live music in Seoul?
Obviously, Hongdae area. Hongdae stands for Hongik University, and they have the No.1 art institute in Korea. So you see, it’s the most artsy area you can find in Seoul. The area is basically the birth place of Korean punk rock in the 90s. Not only punk, but all sorts of indie music is happening every minute in the area. There are a lot of live clubs here, and you can easily meet numerous musicians performing at these venues. But these days, a lot of dance clubs and lounge bars are [taking over]. Many people come here to simply dance, enjoy rock music, and get drunk all night long.
What are your favorite bars or nightclubs in Seoul?
My favorite spot these days is Col.l.age+. It’s located in Cheongdam-dong (very far from Hongdae, right in the middle of Gangnam). It’s a new multi-functional space (restaurant/bar/gallery/club), but the space itself is aesthetically mind-blowing. Check photos here. It’s a place for someone who’d like to experience a whole lot of culture. Most days it’s a hip restaurant, but whenever they have a party or a live show — or an exhibition maybe — it automatically transforms into something completely different. Illustrations of a blue sky with white fluffy clouds are all over the venue from top-to-bottom so it’s visually very striking. I wouldn’t call it a hipster place, but it’s definitely the hottest place right now.
What do you think of Gangnam and what’s its reputation among cool Seoul kids?
Hmm… I personally don’t like Gangnam — [the area on] the south side of the Hangang river — that much. It is definitely a posh place, but to me, it lacks culture. Gangnam seems to be very wealthy, expensive, hip and posh; it has nice new buildings, posh boutiques, the best shopping places, pretty girls, huge new nightclubs, and all the fancy stuff. But the traffic is hell and the vibe seems to be a bit shallow. A cup of coffee could go more than $20 easily. On the other hand, Gangbuk (the north side of the Hangang river) has way more culture and history. There are lots of palaces and museums — it’s more old-fashioned but more authentic. I prefer Gangbuk over Gangnam. But a lot of hipsters and wealthy kids will disagree with me.
As a Korean musician, was it weird that Psy became the big K-Pop crossover artist who’s popular in the U.S. and around the world?
Yes. He himself said that he kinda knew “Gangnam Style” would be a hit in Korea, but he never guessed that the rest of the world might like it. I’d have said that the song would’ve been on the charts for maybe a few weeks, but it could’ve been a hard fight with all these K-pop idol groups. So, yeah, it was shocking indeed.
Finally, what’s a bar or nightclub you would NEVER go to in Seoul?
I will never perform at Woodstock again. Not that I don’t like the venue itself, but that bar was one of the worst places we had to perform. We were already upset when we figured out that there was nobody in charge of the outboard mixer, but we really got angry when one of the customers deliberately and easily turned down the volume without even discussing us. At first, we thought that the guy was some sort of engineer, but turns out, everyone had access to turn up and down the volume at that bar. Wrong!
Check out Annie’s band and DJ recs:
The Quip — Live Performance of “Sickcho Strike”
J-Path — Gazebal-“Wings”
And check out Annie’s band!
Love X Stereo — “Soul City (Seoul City)”
Check out Annie’s nightlife listings:
Col.l.age+, 91-5 B1 Chundamdong Gangnamgu, Seoul
– 러브엑스테레오(Love X stereo)는 어떤 음악을 추구하는 밴드인가?
Toby : 많은 영향을 받은 1990년대의 그런지, 얼터너티브, 펑크를 기반으로 우리가 좋아하는 여러 가지 장르들을 더한 음악을 하고 있다.
– 멤버 모두 펑크밴드 스크류어택(skrew Attack) 출신이다.
Toby : 에피타프(Epitaph) 레이블의 음악을 좋아해서 펑크밴드로 오랫동안 활동을 했는데 시간이 흐르면서 음악에 조금 더 프로페셔널하게 접근하고 싶어졌다. 2006년에 애니가 합류하면서 스크류어택의 활동을 시작했는데 당시 ‘스케이트 펑크’라는 장르의 음악을 국내에선 처음으로 시도했었다. 락스미스 바이 쇼쇼 타입(Locksmith By Shyoshyo Type)과 계약하면서 조금 더 메인스트 림의 음악을 하려고 접근했고 마스터링도 미국에 맡기며 심혈을 기울였지만 결과적으로는 잘 안되었다. 만족스런 앨범이었기에 아쉬웠다. 회사에는 대부분 일렉트로닉 장르를 하는 뮤지션들이 속해 있어서 분위기가 안맞기도 했고.
Annie : 그 당시에는 우리가 지금과 같은 음악을 할 것이라고는 전혀 예상하지 못했다. 펑크만을 하겠다는 생각이었는데 회사를 나오 고 나니 그 때의 영향을 받은 것 같기도 하다.
Toby : 전자음악에 관심은 있었지만 해보고 싶다는 생각을 당시엔 안 했다. 2009년 회사와 계약이 끝난 뒤 다른 음악을 하고 싶다는생각이 들었고 당시에 펑크밴드들도 워낙 많았다. 펑크밴드의 이미지가 너무 강했던 스크류 어택의 이름을 러브엑스테레오로 변경하게 되었다.
– 두 번째 EP앨범<off The Grid>의 수록곡인 ‘Free Ass’의 곡 설명을 밴드에게 직접 듣고 싶다.
Toby : 얘기해도 될까 싶다.특별한 의도는 없었지만 우리를 안 좋게 볼 수도 있을 것 같다.
Annie : <SUPERCULTURE>의 독자들이 열려있길…….(웃음)
Toby:홍대에 클럽이 모여 있는 곳으로 공연을 갈 때마다 거리에 사람들이굉장히 길게 줄을 서서 입장을 기다리고 있다. 하지만 공연장에는 사람들이 오지 않는다.어느 날 공연을 마치고 클럽을 나왔는데 그 날 역시 사람이 많았다. 장비를 많이 들고 다니기에 힘겹게 움직이고 있었는데 앞에서 술 취한 여성들이 외국인들과 엉겨붙어있는 모습을 보았다.영어도 잘 안 되는거 같은데 어떻게든 외국 남자와 놀아보려는 느낌이 들어서 보기 안 좋았다. 그날 스튜디오에 서 아까의 여성들이 생각나서 즉석으로 만들게 된 곡이다.
Annie : 가사가 먼저 나온 곡이다. 음원만 들으면 가사를 오해하고 미국 사람들이 기분 나빠하는 경우가 있다. 특히 여자들이 더욱 그런데 공연을 보고나면 굉장히 좋아한다.
Toby : 앞서 얘기했듯이 어떠한 의도는 없다. 나쁘게 보면 그렇게 보이겠지만…….
Sol : 표현의 자유이다.
– 같은 EP앨범의 수록곡 ‘soul City(seoul City)’가 인상적으로 들렸는데 러브엑스테레오가 생각한 서울을 어떠한 도시인가?
Toby : 기타를 가지고 놀다가 나온 리프가 괜찮아서 드럼을 붙여서 발전시켜 봤더니 애니가 도시적인 느낌의 가사를 붙이면 어울릴 것 같다는 의견을 주었다. 그렇게 나온 곡인데 같은 리프가 계속 반복되니 지겨울 수도 있다.
Annie : 바로 그 점이 서울이라는 도시와 닮았다고 생각한다. 계속 반복되고 가면 갈수록 돌아버리는 느낌이라고 할까? 그런 느낌이 서울이라는 도시처럼 느껴졌다. 나는 한국사람이지만 다른 나라에서 살다 온 경험도 있어서 한국이 좋아서 살고 있는 외국인들의 입장도 이해가 되고, 한국사람들 중 서울을 싫어한다는 사람들의 생각도 이해가 된다. 그 두 입장, 양면적인 것을 다 넣지만 단순하게 만들어 보려고 노력했다.
SUPERCULTURE 20th Edition
<록밴드 LOVE X STEREO> 중에서