[KoreAm] March Issue: Love X Stereo Will Make You Dance (2014.3.3)
March Issue: Love X Stereo Will Make You Dance
Posted: March 3rd, 2014
Get to know a few of the bands that will be touring the U.S. this month, including at the renowned SXSW music festival, and showcasing the diversity of today’s Korean indie scene.Love X Stereo: Make ‘Em Dance
by JONATHAN CHA
With roots in skate punk, like the wildly popular band Skrew Attack, Love X Stereo seamlessly combines punk and ’90s alternative rock into an electronic harmony of “danceable music.” Inspired by alternative rock superheroes New Order, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, the artists’ indie punk sound has spun aficionados with K-pop curiosity towards the evolving indie scene in Korea.
Most of the band’s lyrics are actually in English, a result of singer Annie Ko having lived in L.A. for six years as a youngster. Her silvery vocals and hypnotic synthesizer have melted crowds from Hongdae to New York with poignant lyrics of hope in the face of despair.
Guitarist Toby Hwang, “the quintessential skate punk rock kid,” according to Ko, boosts the unique sound with echoes of his past grinding melodic riffs. Meanwhile, the jazz-influenced, rhythmic variations of bassist Sol Han provide the indelible groove behind the band’s hit singles “Fly Over” and “Lose to Win.”
KoreAm Skyped with frontwoman Ko, as Love X Stereo was about to cross the Pacific for its second foray into the U.S. How did you transition from a skate punk band to an electro rock band?
We bought a synthesizer, and that drastically changed our music from punk to what we do now. We thought that this could be very diverse, and we can do a whole lot more than just one genre. It’s pretty unique. We are trying to be distinctive from other electro bands, but we are slowly developing ourselves. I don’t know what it will lead to, but it is pretty fun to do now.
How would you gauge the impact of ’90s music on your sound?
It means a lot to us. We were all teens when we started listening. It didn’t really hit Korea until later. Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In the Name” (released in 1992) became famous here in 1998, which is a big difference timewise.
We started listening while in high school, and mentally, it was a hard time, especially as a student and teenager in the ’90s. We all like ’90s music. We really don’t hate any type of ’90s music.
What is danceable music?
Dance music is something that never dies. We wanted to try something new as rockers, but something danceable.
We figured out along the way that all
dance music came out of rock, anyway. When I am at somebody else’s concert, and I don’t know who they are and they make me dance, then it is the most perfect show ever. I felt that way when I saw New Order. They performed in Korea for two hours last year and we were like, “Whoa.” We were mesmerized, and I didn’t even realize how much I was dancing. We want to be like that.
What does it mean to have an “authentic sound”?
There are so many bands that copy popular music. Authentic means to create your own sound, a sound that nobody else can do. Then, you develop and so on. There are so many bands that don’t do that, probably for fame or for girls. Even though audiences tend to like something that they have already heard, I think we are in a unique position in Korea because we are making our own sound.
What has the fan reception for your latest EP, Glow, been?
Our previous albums were, I guess you could say, experimental. They were quite different. Some of our usual fans think it is too pop, or general, or whatever. We wanted to make it accessible.
It’s cleaner. We like simple clean sounds, especially “Fly Over.” We didn’t think it would be a hit, but this is the song that our fans in the States really reacted to. We thought “Lose to Win” would get that reaction. We were surprised, but it was a good surprise because we now know where to go. It’s a part of the process of doing something better.
What are your expectations for SXSW?
It’s going to be really, really fun. I have never been to a place where the whole town is jumping up and down.
Ultimately, our goal is to be an international rock band that only plays music for a living. We feel like there is a certain process, and you have to work really hard to get that. It’s fun to know we are heading in the right direction.
U.S. TOUR DATES
March 13 @ Icehauer, Austin, TX (2K14 Seoulsonic Showcase, SXSW)
March 20 @ Brick and Mortar Hall, San Francisco
March 25 @ Pike Room at the Crofoot, Pontiac, MI
March 29 @ Webster Hall, New York, NY
March 31 @ Dorothy Betts Marvin Theater, Washington, D.C.
April 6 @ SEED Center, Los Angeles