On Valentine’s Day, Rock N’ Seoul favorite Love X Stereo released “Zero One.” The song is the main theme for the film of same name, directed by Nick Neon.
While the music video is simply shots of lead vocalist Annie Ko interspersed between scenes from the film, the song itself has a terrible poignancy that’s hard to ignore. The film follows a young man named Jimmy Park (played by Neon himself), who comes home after four years away. The visit forces him to confront a lot of deeper pains and agonies from the life he left behind. As tends to be the case for many of us who leave home and come back to things pretty much being the same as when we left them, much of those traumas begin and end with family. Poor Jimmy has a doozy of a home life, complete with a disapproving father and homophobic sister.
To round out the overall melancholy, you have a young man of the expansive and culturally variant millennial generation, an era that is marked by the constant need for recognition without the ability to maintain human connection. It weighs on him. Thus the lyrics of the song delve into this idea of love being all but a luxury of the past. But, as in the film itself, there is a glimmer of hope in the protagonist’s desire to continue to feel… something.
So while Annie professes repeatedly, “Love is dead. It’s over,” she ends the song proclaiming that even in this bleakness she is determined to keep love within herself. That “Even though life is breaking us apart, I’m never giving up.” It’s in that declaration that we find some form of redemption. In the end Jimmy finds solace while immersed in what appears to be an increasingly chilling wave of isolation. (No spoilers, y’all. Sorry.)
The MV and the song both offer very poignant commentary on this sense of emotional limbo, this loss of anything real and personal. With “Zero One,” both Neon and Love X Stereo open viewers up, force a sort of vulnerability in us to ask and ultimately attempt to answer the question of what we really want and what we are really willing to give up (or gain) to get it.
Formed by skate punk rocker Toby Hwang and fugitive astrophysicist Annie Ko, Love X Stereo is a dazzling Seoul electro rock duo who offer up “dreamy kaleidoscope” synthpop anthems They have captivated audiences around the globe in music festivals across Asia and North America. With the epic release of their double EP series ‘We Love We Leave’ in 2016, Love X Stereo headlined at SXSW’s perennially packed ‘K-Pop Night Out’ showcase and has been nominated by music critics as one of the best dance/electronic album of the year at the 2017 Korean Music Awards. In 2017, they started to skip the release of traditional albums in favor of releasing 37 brand new tracks and music videos all via Patreon. Recently, their newest single ‘Zero One’, a collaboration with critically acclaimed director-actor Nick Neon, was highly reviewed by Billboard.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the “catalyst” for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I don’t think there was any catalyst, but when all the people around you says no, you still wanna go for it because you know in your bones that you’re meant to do it. That’s music for us.
Let’s get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
It’s quite amazing when, let’s say, cashiers at H&M and convenient stores recognize you. And when “Hide and Seek” got in for K-drama “Cheese In the Trap”. A lot of people love that song. But the most amazing thing hasn’t happened yet in my opinion 🙂
What has been the high point of your music path?
Opportunity to perform at SXSW. Twice!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Toby lay outs the beats or a riff, or I hum a tune with the piano, or just some random melody pops up our head, or we find an amazing loop with our synths. It depends 🙂 Once we establish the core or vibe, we add on.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Too many content and not enough attention/focus, I guess? Especially for a band like us, we kinda feel like we’re kinda stuck in the wrong country right now. The land of K-pop can be very harsh to indie artists like ourselves. And we know for a fact that our music is so much more well received outside of Korea. Numbers tell. So, we’re trying our best to grab opportunities to stretch out from here, but it’s definitely a challenge for sure.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
New Order. We love them so much! Love to meet Bernard Sumner one day. One of our dreams 🙂
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Nothing really special because we’ve been doing this for so long. (Toby started his career in the 90s as a punk rocker). I like to take a snickers bar for energy.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I’d say “Hide and Seek” because the story behind that song makes us sad. It was written for our friend who passed away in Australia years ago. The melody just came out and it broke our hearts. And then the Sewol Ferry happened. We initially released it as a single, but we felt like that version wasn’t enough. So we tried again for “We Love We Leave, Part 2” album. Completely different arrangement. We’re gonna release a remix this year, too.
What’s coming up in the future?
e just released our new single “Zero One”, and that’s kind of a preview for a full length album “37C” which will come out very soon. Also, another album will be coming out as well. All happening in March-April, so stay tuned!
Tell us where fans can access your music?
Listen to Love x Stereo’s new single in film “Zero One”!
Love X Stereo has released their latest single, Zero One, this past Valentines Day! What makes this release extra special is that it’s a part of the soundtrack to indie film Zero One directed by Nick Neon, a half American half Korean born and based NYC-er. The film is currently on the film festival circuit, so this is a pretty big deal for both Nick and Love x Stereo.
Zero One the song is a very chill, ambient tune that’s honestly so perfect for V Day. It’s sweet and innocent, Annie’s voice adding a pixieish touch. The MV is comprised of scenes from the film, so you’ll get a bit of a preview while you listen too. All in all it’s a solid release and super exciting for Love x Stereo. It’s dope to see different mediums of art come together!
Zero One can be streamed on all major streaming platforms.
February 18, 2019
Love X Stereo is the electro pop-rock duo of Toby Hwang and Annie Ko. Toby Hwang is a former skate punk rocker and Annie Ko, a fugitive astrophysicist. Love X Stereo captivates with mesmerizing music for the masses. The duo has played music festivals across Asia and North America. With the epic release of their double EP series ‘We Love We Leave’ in 2016, Love XStereo headlined at SXSW’s perennially packed ‘K-Pop Night Out’ showcase. They were nominated for best dance/electronic album of the year at the 2017 Korean Music n 2017, they started to skip the release of traditional albums in favor of releasing 37 brand new tracks and music videos all via Patreon (http://patreon.com/lovexstereo).
Love X Stereo’s latest release is titled “Zero One.” Zero One” is the sequel soundtrack to “Ultra Bleu.” Both of these tracks, “Zero One” and “Ultra Blue”, are songs to the motion pictures of the same titles by acclaimed Film Director/Actor Nick Neon who collaborated with Love X Stereo.
The song “Zero One” opens with mellow moving synth-pop ambience. The track is instantly moving. Crisp percussion creates a strong beat. A deep electro bass resonates. You could easily close your eyes and get completely lost in this track. Annie enters singing, “Love is dead. It’s over. You can’t see anything. Love is dead. It’s over. You can’t feel anything. ” The lyrics paint the deeply emotional story of young love and loss.
Annie’s voice was made for this genre. With exquisite vocal presentation, Annie has a beautiful, clear-as-a-bell tone that draws you in like a powerful whisper. Melodic synth solos create phrases that complement the track and sound like a muted electric guitar. The track is highly produced and can stand side-by-side with charting synthpop music.
The video to “Zero One” will blow you away. It is so much more than a music video; it is a short , courageous film and Love X Stereo’s “Zero One”is the perfect soundtrack. This is a song about heartbreak, about a love so strong it has an energy of its own that is seen, heard and felt long after the love affair has ended. Watch the video of “Zero One” to learn how the story unfolds.
With each track/song that Love X Stereo releases, it is clear that they are a top-notch international act who have the talent to continue to garnish international appeal. To learn more about Love X Stereo, visit their website.
South Korea’s Love X Stereo Releases Title Track to NYC Short Film
Zero One Lets Us Know that Love Lost isn’t Forever
Out of the darkness of Love X Stereo’s new video, lead singer Annie Ko emerges and brings somber reality to the pain of love lost. “Love is dead,” she begins, and her compliant look seems to agree. The signature electro rock beat of Ko and Toby Hwang doesn’t bode well for a resurrection either. But that’s not how Ko thinks, and neither does Zero One, which is the official sound track to the short film of the same name.
Love once lost, will eventually be found again,” said the South Korean based singer.
A Creative Connection that Spans the Globe
The soliloquy had its origins from a pledge that spanned timezones and made the most of the vast distance in between. “NYC Director/lead actor Nick Neon is a good friend of ours, and we promised him if he ever made a sequel of his first film, ‘Ultra Bleu,’ we’d make a song for him,” Ko revealed.
Filmmaker Knows the Story Well
But Neon doesn’t go far from his own baseline to explore the love and angst of a young gay Asian man in New York. “I grew up half-Asian and queer in Queens,” Neon said.
The most diverse melting pot on Earth didn’t necessarily provide a soft landing spot for his own mixture, though. “I dealt with a lot of confusion and self doubt, because I never really fit into one group of people,” said Neon.
Zero One’s main character is in the same boat. “He’s having trouble relating to other people, but he also doesn’t really know where he belongs or what he wants,” said Neon of Jimmy Park.
In turn, Neon’s coming of age puts Jimmy on the path. “I kept trying to embrace only one of my identities. But it wasn’t until I embraced all of my identities that I finally felt strong and confident in my skin. I wanted to make a film that reflected my personal lens of the world, and my struggles with identity,” said Neon.
But among the morass of nightlife, parting and excess, the main character is caught between easy hookups and the lost one that seemed to have meaning. At the same time, the film doesn’t take place in the New York City vacuum of young adulthood. “The climactic dinner is a very important one,” said Neon. “It shows Jimmy standing up for himself and confronting his family about his sexuality in a very unapologetic way,” Neon asserts.
Love X Stereos Adds the Final Touch
The New Yorker feels the same way about getting “X” onboard. “I’m just so happy that Love X Stereo wanted to create the official theme song for the film,” said Neon.
As as it turns out, he has a good eye for talent. The Love X sound makes you feel as though you are taking a journey in which pitfalls hopefully give way to understanding. “We wanted to infuse a bit of hip hop to create a chill vibe,” Ko said. “Once we got that rhythm, we went for a slow, dreamy song and used special reverbs and effects on our synthesizers.”
In the mix, the piano added depth to the somber mood, and the electric guitar provided some essential sting.
Add in Ko among clips from both films and it feels like the LA raised singer is watching over to guide the journey. But her dream-like look and vocals implies that she is not not above it all and returns an empathy that connects the viewer.
On the other hand, Ko does want people to come away with an important certainty. “Don’t give up on love, because love always finds you in the end,” she concluded.