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Love X Stereo Showcasing Their New Material Overseas
Seoul electro-rock group Love X Stereo are halfway through their first North American tour. The jaunt was originally set to start in late September with a pair of performances at Cincinnati, Ohio’s Midpoint Music Festival, but delays with the act’s US touring visa forced them to sadly cancel those dates along with two shows in New York.
Finally receiving the necessary stamps in their passports on October 7, the group caught the next US-bound flight and arrived in time for their October 9 gig at Fontana’s in New York. They’ve since done a few other shows in New York (including a set last Friday as part of the renowned CMJ Music Marathon), traveled to Toronto for an appearance at Indie Week Canada, and did a club concert in Vienna, Virginia as well. Their remaining shows will take place in New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Massachusetts.
Gigging internationally is not an easy task, but Love X Stereo’s vocalist and synth player Annie Ko felt that she learned a lot from all the work that went into booking, promoting, and finding funding for the act’s initial foray overseas.
“The planning was a good experience, but it was exhausting as hell,” she shared before the band began their tour. “You get to know all these people who are willing to support you, do business with you, and try to communicate with you. That’s all the good stuff. However, you still need to reach out to everyone more and more to let them know who you are and what you are capable of. It’s like a never-ending rabbit hole.”
In September, Love X Stereo released their third EP, “Glow.” The offering boasts four new tracks and three remixes (the digital version of the album contains five remixes) of cuts from last year’s “Off the Grid” EP. The tunes on “Glow” are well-crafted and infectious. Possessing a distinct pop edge, the material has a lot of crossover potential and should equally appeal to fans of indie music and mainstream alternative rock/pop music.
The songs on “Glow” were written and recorded in August. Completing everything in such a short time frame was challenging, but the group are happy with the finished release.
“We were worn out by the tight schedule and we felt stressed,” says Ko. “But we love the new songs. We think they’re very well made, catchy, and easy to listen to.
“Both (2011’s) ‘Buzzin’’ and ‘Off the Grid’ were very experimental. We did whatever we wanted to do when making them. But ‘Glow’ is more strict and direct and has a stronger synth-pop influence. Our sound, style, and overall vibe hasn’t changed at all, but the songs are tighter and better produced. We have high expectations for this album.”
With three EPs now under their belts, can we expect a proper full-length effort from Love X Stereo anytime soon?
“We’ll make a full-length album when we’re ready,” says Ko. “As an unsigned band making our own way, it’s very difficult to produce a well-made full-length album without any sort of support. If we’re going to make a full-length album, we believe that we should be in a position where we can say, ‘We deserve this.’ Now isn’t the best timing for us, but when we know we’re ready, we’re definitely going to make a full-length album.”
Here are the remaining live dates on Love X Stereo’s 2013 North American tour. The band already have plans to return stateside again next spring as they were among the first wave of artists announced last week for the 2014 edition of Austin, Texas’ mammoth South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival.
October 25 New York, NY @ Left Field Bar
October 27 New York, NY @ The Delancey
October 29 Hamtramck, MI @ Small’s
November 3 Chicago, IL @ Elbo Room
November 9 Cambridge, MA @ The Loft at Tommy Doyle’s
November 10 Boston, MA @ McGann’s
러브엑스테레오, 좌충우돌 3인방의 미국 투어 연명기(?)
좋아하는 일을 하면서 살아간다는 건 어쩌면 당연히 추구해야 하는 일이지만 그만큼 지키기 어려운 말이다. 녹록하지 않은 세상살이라는 이름으로 주변의 기대가 그리고 현실적인 문제들이 숱한 핑계로 남기 때문이다. 그래서 때로는 좋아하는 일을 한다는 것은 평범하게 남들처럼 살아가기를 포기해야 한다는 말과 같은 의미를 지니기도 한다.
CMJ 뮤직마라톤에서 만난 애니(고연경ㆍ보컬 키보드) 솔(한솔ㆍ베이스) 토비(황정익ㆍ기타 프로듀스) 등으로 2011년 결성된 3인조 일렉트로닉밴드 러브엑스테레오. 이들은 좋아하는 일을 재미있게 해보자는 당연하고 단순한 원리에서 출발했다.
“스매싱펌킨스ㆍ뉴오더 등의 음악을 듣고 자랐어요. 자연스럽게 우리음악도 그런 분위기가 나죠. 그렇다 보니 우리 감성이 국내 시장과 어울리지 않는다는 걸 금세 깨달았어요. 국내 체류하는 외국인들을 위한 무대에 자주 서면서 외국인들의 반응이 남달랐어요. 자연스럽게 한 번 나가보자 했죠.”(토비)
EP 3장을 내며 워밍업을 끝낸 이들은 자연스레 해외 투어를 기획하기에 이른다. 하지만 이 모든 것이 ‘맨땅에 헤딩’하는 고군분투의 서곡이었다. 일단 세 명의 멤버들이 업무를 분담했다. 토비가 음악 프로듀싱에 전념하고 솔은 SNS를 비롯한 프로모션을 맡았다. 해외에서 성장기를 보내 영어에 능통한 애니는 미국 현지 라디오 방송사에 자신의 음악을 알리며 투어 계획을 짜기에 이르렀다. 퇴로가 있으면 전쟁에 전념하지 못할 것이라는 장수의 심정이었을까? 1년간의 준비가 무르익었고 이들은 과감하게 생업을 모두 접었다. CMJ 뮤직 마라톤의 참가가 확정됐고 이를 중심으로 뉴욕 토론토 워싱톤DC 시카고 디트로이트 보스톤 신시내티 등 7개 도시를 돌며 24개 클럽 무대에 오르는 대장정의 그림이 완성됐다. 하지만 쉬운 일은 없었다. 투어 에이전시 없이 모든 것을 스스로 해결하면서 예상하지 못한 각종 문제들이 터져 나왔다.
“연방정부 셧다운 문제가 불거지면서 공연비자가 한 달 가까이 미뤄졌어요. 천재지변이나 다름없었죠. 결국 투어 초반은 포기하게 됐어요. 라디오 방송 출연도 펑크를 냈고요. 사정 설명을 하니 그쪽에서 오히려 위로를 하더군요. 가장 급한 건 숙소문제에요. 친지 집에서 머물 계획이었는데 오해가 생겼는지 어렵다고 하시네요. 온라인으로 민박을 급히 수소문 중이랍니다.”(애니)
CMJ 뮤직 마라톤에 참가할 수 있었던 것은 이들에게 남은 마지막 행운이었다. 18일 뉴욕대 인근 SBD갤러리에서 열린 이들의 쇼케이스는 해외진출을 노리는 국내 음악 관련 종사자들의 파티와 함께 열렸다. 한자리에 모인 CMJ VIP를 비롯해 미국 뮤직 비즈니스 유력 관계자들의 눈도장을 받은 것. 이례적으로 20일에도 CMJ 관련 무대에 다시 설 기회를 거머쥐기도 했다.
이들에게 단박에 스스로의 이름을 알려질 거란 헛된 기대는 없다. 차근히 스스로의 음악을 해나갈 수 있기만을 바랄 뿐이다. 살면서 모든 것을 가질 순 없다. 좋아하는 것은 더욱 그렇다. 무언가를 얻기 위해 아낌없이 비울 줄 아는 이들의 용기는 그래서 더욱 빛을 발한다. 이들의 북미 투어는 11월까지 예정돼 있다.
“힘들게 왔지만 힘든지 모를 정도로 신나고 재미를 느껴요. 음악을 하길 잘 했다는 생각도 들죠. 한국으로 돌아가면 해결할 문제가 많겠지만 지금은 이 순간을 즐기는 게 맞는 것 같아요.”(애니)
Love X Stereo at Korea Remix for CMJ 2013
College Music Journal hosts a music festival every year, a week-long series of shows spanning much of downtown Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge in Williamsburg. CMJ has grown over the years and it was a surprise to me when news hit the interwebs that Love X Stereo’s first North American tour would coincide with the indie music showcase (but after that sentence, not so much).
Love X Stereo, a synth-rock outfit, played at SBD Gallery in the St Mark’s area as part of a music and arts show called “Korea Remix for CMJ”, hosted by KOCCA (Korea Creative Content Agency). Having discovered the band earlier this year and enjoying their music, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to their live show in my backyard, and they did not disappoint.
Playing a mix of old and new from their catalogue, LXS brought their mix of pounding energy in tracks like “부끄러워요” and “High Road,” and the thoughtfulness of “Lose to Win” and “Chain Reaction.” What I loved was Annie, whose voice can be just as loud as the guys’ instruments near the end of “Seoul City,” while still shy in their most overt song, “Free Ass.” For that song, instead of recreating the come hither tone of the recording, she sang parts of the second verse in a whisper, playing up what isn’t mentioned, but alluded to.
Another was Koo Kyoseon’s power on the drums. His drumming plays in contrast to Annie’s smooth delivery, one that’s frantic and urgent, creating a starker balance not heard in the recordings. It was decisions like those that made the show more than just recordings played live, but something interesting to witness.
Love X Stereo is more than just a group of recording artists, but performers that can put on a show. They made the small stage work and got the crowd grooving along. The band is still around in North America, just recently announcing their participation in next year’s South X Southwest music festival in Austin, TX, so if you get a chance, take it.
LOVE X STEREO: DANCING WITH ELECTRONIC ROCK MUSIC
Love X Stereo, a electronic rock based band, consists of Annie (vocals, synthesizer, and percussions), Toby (guitar and producer), and Sol (bass). Their music is based on 90s alternative and punk rock style that every listener can dance to it. In December 2011, they debuted at as group with their demo EP, Buzzin’. They implemented synthesizes and effects to their music that is danceable and easier to listen to.
High Road shows that Love X Stereo has start their own rock music journey that they want to travel even though they know that their travels will be hard. With a mix of rock and electro beats, Love X Stereo brought in their new sounds through this song. Annie expresses the lyrics with soft yet strong feeling that they are willing to take risks through their chosen road.
Ocean Breeze compliments each individual instrumental beats with the essence of bringing the listeners to the ocean to enjoy with no worries. For example, you can hear the raindrop like guitar sound and rattling drums while listening to Ocean Breeze. It was an upgrade for the songs that they have been written and produced while preparing for the demo album. This song makes you feel like you are at the beach listening to the ocean waves.
In October 2012, they released their 2nd EP, Off the Grid, with their main track, Soul City (Seoul City). This was the very first song that I was introduced by a friend. When I listened to this song, I immediately started to like Love X Stereo so much. The meaning behind the song is their experiences and thoughts in the city of Seoul. It is a great song to listen to while you are on a trip especially when you are going to or travelling in Seoul. The mix of drumming and guitaring sound makes the song more fast and upbeat. I think most of the listeners heard Love X Stereo for the first time is Soul City (Seoul City). Definitely a recommendation song to share with friends.
Before releasing the third album, Glow, they released the EP before 부끄러워요 (Bu-kkeu-reo-wo-yo) which is inspired and named after The Jack’s famous catchphrase. While having the repetition of the same word, 부끄러워요 (Bu-kkeu-reo-wo-yo), which means “I’m embarassed”, the layers of instrumental music is build up from start to climax to finish. The song is taking the listeners along the flow of music on flight until they have landed safely on the ground.
Love X Stereo has improved a lot in their production of songs, including mixing rock instruments and electronic synthesizers, with their latest album, Glow, which was released last month. The first track of the album, Lose to Win, gives serene electro-rock sounds with Annie’s angelic voice that sending the inspirational messages about not to give up easily as learning to lose is part of the learning process to do even better to win. An upbeat track, Fly Over, is one definite treat to dance and listen to. The synthesizer, drums, and Annie’s sound are harmonized perfectly that made the listeners to have good times and party like there is no tomorrow.
Then, Love X Stereo give a haunting rock song, Secrets, where a particular person is willing to listen to your secrets and talked about them. The final new track, Crossing Rivers, addresses the issues about the human rights of North Korea. With the calm and strong instrumental beats, it draws the listeners to pay attention to the people who are going through their hardship in North Korea. The final three songs are the Soul City and Chain Reactionof John Gaska and J-Path remixes which has some club beats that is not overly done.
Throughout the three years of their music career, they continue to improve and develop better music as they focus on the quality of music that they could produced. With Annie’s angelic voice and upbeat electro-rock sounds, their music definitely set the mood both relax and outgoing from one song to another. Each of their album has a complete package of each genre of song which is worth about the 30 minutes of time to listen to. Also, they want to produce music that is equal to their capabilities in performing live in front of the audiences. Their music has been spread internationally thanks to the power of social media. Not only these songs are in English, but also the fusion of electro-rock music that every listener could enjoy and dance along with.
Love X Stereo will continue to share their music to the international audiences. Keep an eye out on what are their activities through the following channels: website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also listen to their music through Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Their songs can be purchased through iTunes. They are currently on the US and Canada tour till November so if you can check out whether they will be coming to your city and perform. It is worth seeing and enjoying their live performances.