[Groove Korea] LOVE X STEREO – Bright, Mesmerizing, Upbeat and Dancable (2014.2.21)
LOVE X STEREO
February 21st, 2014 | Author: Sophie Boladeras
LOVE X STEREO IS
Annie Ko — Lead vocals, keyboards, synthesizers
Toby Hwang — Guitar, backing vocals, production
Sol Han — Bass, backing vocals
With her bright red hair and suspenders, Annie Ko, the lead singer of Love X Stereo, is a sight and sound to behold. Even in a barely lit venue, her clear, feminine voice is an unmistakable compliment to the band’s strong demeanor and electro-punk sound.
Ko and her two bandmates recently arrived back in Seoul after a successful overseas tour that had the group performing at a number of venues across the U.S. and Canada. Like any self-respecting rock band, they all instantly quit their jobs here as soon as they got the go-ahead on the tour, since none of their employers would wait for them.
The trio has returned to the peninsula super broke, but ecstatic about their successes in the States. Though definitely still poor, they have scored a coveted spot in the lineup for South by Southwest (SXSW), the worldís leading music industry event in Austin, Texas, coming up in March.
Love X Stereo has played hard and fast to get to where they are now. The group was known as Skrew Attack back in the ’90s, and was Korea’s very first skate rock band. Back then, Hwang did the lead vocals on top of being the bass player. Ko joined the band in 2005 when Hwang was looking for a female vocalist and Ko was looking for a band. Fortunately for us they were introduced and, with the addition of Han in 2008, the three have been playing together ever since. In 2011 they decided to change their name to Love X Stereo. The band’s sound has developed since those early days and they have come into their own as musicians. They are currently inspired by ’90s alternative, ’80s synth pop and ’70s psychedelic music.
Groove Korea: How has your sound developed and changed over the years?
Annie Ko: We still have the punk base, of course, but we decided to dig deep and figure out what we really wanted to do. Skate punk is good and always will be, but that doesnít really complete us. It’s us wanting to be something that we’re really not. So, we talked a lot, and figured out that we all love ’90s alternative. When we bought our first synthesizer, we instantly knew we could make our new sound fresh and interesting, so we developed our style from there.
You recently returned from your first tour of the U.S. and Canada. How was your experience?
Honestly, we didn’t want to come back. It was that good!
How were you able to make the tour possible?
At first, we got invited to Cincinnati’s annual MidPoint Music Festival. Everything started from there. After that we also got invited to CMJ Music Marathon, Indie Week Canada and New York’s MEANY Fest. We decided to do a tour around those festivals.
Which was your favorite gig and why?
We really enjoyed Bar Matchless in Brooklyn, New York. The sound there was awesome, and we met a lot of great people. We also got to perform with our friends Late Cambrian. We were really impressed by the audience’s reaction at our show in Detroit, and all of us are seriously in love with Detroit. We also really enjoyed the studio live session with American Apparelís Internet radio station Viva Radio.
How did you find the American and Canadian audiences compared with those in Korea?
They were very open-minded, very free with their expressions and very active. I wish Korean audiences were more like that.
You were among the first wave of artists announced for the mammoth South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, in March. Tell us about it.
We got the message when we were in NYC. It was so surreal! We are very excited for the show. Hopefully we meet more people and build up our career even further. It will be a great stepping stone for us!
What is the creative process behind your tracks?
Generally, Toby starts off with a great guitar riff, and then we write our songs together. Sol adds his own groove on the bass lines and I write the lyrics. Till now, we recorded and managed everything at our little studio, but if we had a larger budget, we would record, mix and master outside of our studio.
Do you find that non-Koreans/foreigners get into your music more than Korean people do?
Yes. We really don’t know why, but Korean audiences usually don’t know how to react at our shows. Maybe it’s because of our looks? Our English lyrics? Our sound? I don’t know. So we get a lot of those “jaw-drop” and “stand still” reactions a lot.
How have you found being an indie band in Korea?
It isn’t easy; to be in a band in Korea can be very challenging. The scene isn’t really here yet, and everything costs too much, so it’s an expensive hobby to have. But from the beginning we have been determined to make it work.
In September, you released your third EP, “Glow.” How has the response to it been?
The response has been great, especially in the U.S. where people really dug our second track “Fly Over.” Our music video for “Fly Over” will be released very soon on YouTube and Vimeo.
How does “Glow” differ from your previous EPs?
It is a more calculated sound; we wanted to show that we can produce well-made songs that have potential to be huge in the future. It is smarter than our previous work, but we didn’t have much time, so we basically made the album within a month. That was a crazy schedule; Iím never going to do that again!
Which is your personal favorite track on “Glow”? Why?
I like “Fly Over” the most. Itís made out of only two chords so it’s really easy to listen to and it’s super fun to perform on stage.
Our dream is to do only music for a living. We’re slowly getting there. Our new music video “Fly Over” will be released very soon. It’s directed by pop artist Vakki (playvakki.com), so stay tuned for that one. We are preparing another tour around SXSW. We have new songs coming out soon. 2014 will be a great year.