OFF THE GRID EP by LOVE X STEREO
What matters is not the quantity but the quality. That is something many can debate, but in the end we have to agree that this is a fact. Why spend time listening to something that is not worth it when you can, say, hear three songs that will totally blow your mind? These guys leave political or any type of discussions aside and show that PSY is not the only thing in South Korea, yet the music can be as addictive as “Gangnam Style” but more serious.
Even though the sound is not something we call original, Off The Grid EP by Love X Stereo is a record with a combination of vocalists and music with a touch of what seems like indie rock/alternative mixed with electronica that gives us something to dance and sing along to, something pop, something awesome.
“Soul City (Seoul City)” kicks off this fantastic journey. It has a good indie vibe that can be felt throughout the track and gives us an idea of what’s about to come. It is something a little more pulling than Neon Trees. There are some synth effects in it, but the rhythmic and lead guitar riffs are more prominent.
“Chain Reaction” continues with the same wavelength as the second song. Again the voice of Annie Ko invokes feelings in us. It’s just sharp and catchy. The epic part can be seen towards the end. It has a good touch of 30 Seconds To Mars in it, specifically the sound of “This is War.”
“Storm” ends this record in such an energetic, powerful way. I mean, everything we have heard in the first two songs can’t be compared to this awesomeness. It will release so much adrenaline in your body that it will be impossible for you to stop it. You can only go along with it. As the title indicates, this is a musical storm. The drum beats will wrap you and fit perfectly with simple but ingenious guitar riffs that come together with synthesizer effects to create something memorable, something catchy, something that you would never be able to get out of your head. In this track, they are joined by the voices of Toby in the choir with the aggressive, fun, and exciting voice of Annie Ko.
In conclusion, these guys know exactly what they are doing. We’re talking about a band, as aforesaid, that’s really enjoyable, something to put on at a party or for an adventure. The only difference between mainstream music with the same characteristics and these folks is that the boys have gone back to what was lyrically catchy music in the first years of the new millennium and the previous 20 years.
by RJ Frometa
Edited by Marion Lougheed
Love x Stereo
RJ FROMETA on 6 January, 2013 at 16:25
So tell us more about yourself, who’s Love x Stereo? Love X Stereo is a 4 piece electronic rock band based in Seoul, Korea. We like to infuse electronic elements to alternative, pop, punk rock to create new authentic sound. In that sense, we think our music is very experimental.
How did you guys decided to put together this band? We were originally a punk rock band. Our former band “Skrew Attack” is actually one of the very first sk8 punk rock band in Korea formed in the late 90s. Our vocalist joined the band in 2005, and our music automatically transformed into pop punk. But along the way, our drummer left the band, and the rest of us figured that we ultimately wanted to do something completely different from the others, something danceable and fun but very new and very powerful. So we decided to change our band name and started to make new sound right away.
What’s the meaning behind the band’s name? People in the indie music industry instantly thought “Skrew Attack” as an old school punk band, so we needed a fresh new name. We wanted to use the word “stereo” in our new band name (cause we like that word so much), and instantly added the word “love” to give some “oomph” into it. We added “X” in the middle to create a lot of meaning in it, but it simply stands for “Real love moves freely in both directions.”
What are your music influences? Our music is deeply influenced by alternative music from the 90s. We love any type of alternative music, and also love punk rock, 80s pop, 70s Korean psychedelic as well. But lately we are very into electronic music, and still learning a lot and getting inspired from all types of different music. Influenced by New Order, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, Flaming Lips, Mogwai, Radiohead, M83, Friendly Fires, The Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Massive Attack, Alice in Chains, Oasis, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cardigans, Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine and so on… (Many of our fans easily relate our music to LCD Soundsystem or The Kills.)
How you see the music scene over there in South Korea? Because of K-pop, and thanks to Psy, people all over the world seem to be interested in Korean music in general. But as for Korean rock scene? There is a sad story behind it. Korean rock music originally emerged in the 60-70s, along with world renowned psychedelic musicians such as Shin Joong Hyun, Sanullim and He6. But government dictatorship gets in the way, blocked all cultural communications between different generations of people, and now Korean rock music has been completely deserted throughout the entire music industry ever since. At the mid 90s, new generation of punk rock kick started the Korean indie music scene again. (Our guitarist Toby is one of the first punk rocker from the late 90s.) However, the K-pop industry alongside with major broadcasting companies has never allowed independent music to become one of the major genres in Korea. Besides, major online distributors still refuse to allocate fair share to singer song-writers, and to make matters worse, the Korean government recently passed the designated distribution law against most of the K-pop/independent artists. So, basically living as an independent musician in Korea means, “living in hell.” Enough said. Despite this harsh environment, even as an undiscovered genre in and out, Korean independent music is ready to explode any time soon. Remarkably, Korean rock scene has become more vibrant than ever these days. But still, perhaps because of the discontinuity in Korean rock history, most artists seem to keep on replicating music from the other side of the world, and struggle to create quality music that shows pure originality. This is the main reason why we try to be original, universal, and powerful as possible as we can be. And this is why we want to go abroad, to show the world that our music doesn’t suck at all, but does sound actually very, very good.
How was it to performed at the Zandari Festa? Zandari Festa is a new annual festival created by many independent labels and clubs to promote Korean rock music to the public and to the outside world, and also bring overseas artists into our local club scene. It was the very first attempt to unite all the bands and clubs in one festival, just like “SXSW.” We performed at a special stage called “Bloc Party,” which was created by foreigners (living in Korea) and Koreans altogether. We had such a great crowd of people singing and dancing with us. It was definitely our best show ever since we started this band. Hope we get to do more shows like that.
So you guys are releasing are planning to release a new single, any details/insights you can tell us? Title, release date in mind? We are scheduled to upload another cover song in January on our SoundCloud (as we did cover songs of “The Smashing Pumpkins” and “The Pixies”). This time, the cover song will be the theme song for movie “28 Days Later,” and this project will be alongside with art exhibition “Zombie,” showcasing pieces by numerous pop artists in Korea. (The cover songs are always free of charge, so please download them at our SoundCloud.)
Also, we are planning to release new singles along the way. We create and record music instantly at our studio, so stay tuned with our new songs! It’s gonna be an awesome 2013!
What are your method at the time of writing a new song? Most of the time, our guitarist come up with a cool guitar riff, and everything starts from there. First we decide the rhythm pattern, add the bass line, and mix it with a lot of synth and effects. Then we decide the overall flow of the song. But sometimes, the lyrics or the melody comes out first. Our song “Free Ass” was like that. Everything went backwards at that time. J
Off The Grid. How was the recording and writing process? How you guys came out with the album’s title? We do all the song writing, arrangement, recording, mixing and producing by ourselves at our studio. It is a humble studio of our own where we can practice and record instantly. The process went very spontaneous but thorough. We had a clear idea about our sound. We wanted something clear, powerful, mystical and experimental. Especially wanted the sound to be mighty (?). It went into the direction of more alternative than dance compared to our last EP “Buzzin’.” We left the songs to be a bit longer than usual in order to project the natural flow of the songs.
Off The Grid means, we’re so ready to present unique, future-oriented sound to the public which pushes our way out of all conventional orbits and heads off on a trajectory all of our own, into the depths of space.
So you guys are planning to hit the road?
Sure, why not? We are planning to go on a Japan tour this year, Asia tour would be nice, too. But ultimately we would like to get more connections with US and Europe if possible, and we think that maybe if we can get airplane tickets and all, we will probably ditch our current jobs and go on a tour immediately. J
What has been one of the funniest moments you guys have been or took part?
Probably the most interesting moments we had were at 2012 Jisan Valley Rock Festival. The festival itself is the biggest rock festivals in Korea, and we felt very lucky to be apart of it. But the best part was the fact that we get to see “Radiohead” and “Stone Roses.” Actually, Radiohead’s show brought the biggest crowd ever, so many of us had to go through serious traffic jam. Koreans tend to sing a lot, so it was quite hard to concentrate on their performances because of all the sing-alongs. Best line-up, good company, lack of quality food, lack of garbage cans, bad sales promotions, hottest temperature ever, melting faces, and rude performers right before us; these are all what we remember. Overall, it was very memorable.
Are there any plans for the future we should be aware of? Based on our upcoming album reviews and press releases from all over the globe, we are up to getting a decent record deal from overseas labels if possible. We are scheduled to release new singles as many as we can this year. We are planning to do collaboration work with EDM artists and DJs here in Korea. We are also planning Japan tour in 2013, hopefully Asia, Europe and the States as well.
Where can we find more about your music?
At many of our websites;
Do you guys feel you’re moving on the right direction?
Whenever we hear from a foreigner (who is not Korean) something like, “OMG, you’re the first Korean band I ever loved!” or “You guys are seriously good. Why are you not famous yet?”, we definitely feel that we are on the right direction. But still, there are so many things to do, so many people to meet, so many shows to do, and most of all, many songs to be written and published. We know that we will get there. You will see us more often in 2013, that’s a promise!
What You Need Wednesdays: Love X Stereo – Off the Grid EP
Posted by: Jansen 12/12/2012 8:05:00 AM
South Korean electronic band Love x Stereo reached out to us recently to share their new EP Off the Grid. It’s a short three-song jaunt that blends two of our favorite things here at Viva—dance music and 90’s alternative rock.
Citing Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pearl Jam as her largest influences, lead singer/synth player Annie Ko unironically reveres the 90’s alt-rock scene, even the parts we Americans have come to distance ourselves from. Lead track “Soul City (Seoul City)” is an exercise in Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness-esque excess, an almost 7-minute trek though the good and bad of the band’s hometown, propelled by an unabashedly poppy guitar lead and vocal melody.
The quartet’s shameless love of the pop-hook makes them comparable to a more modernized Saint Etienne, another band whose recorded output was an homage to their record collection. But whereas Etienne covered “I’m Too Sexy” and sample Dusty Springfield, Love X Stereo covers “1979” and samples Massive Attack—all in one song.
It’s a strange mix that’s pulled off by a foreign sincerity—Ko takes on both the grandiose and the saccharine without donning a acid-washed jean jacket to let you know she’s “serious.”
러브엑스테레오 | Off The Grid (EP) | 자체제작, 2012-11-26
미묘: 스트레이트함을 유지하면서도 구석구석 꼼꼼하게 공들인 것이 느껴진다. 지향점과 레퍼런스가 분명해 보인다는 점도 매력. 사운드에 분명 힘을 더 실어줄 수도 있었으리란 생각 때문에 아쉬움이 남는다.
최지선: 메인 아이디어 및 그 전개가 조화롭게 이루어진 일렉트로 팝/록. “Soul City”의 경우 경쾌한 기타 및 드럼과, 이를 감싸듯 울리는 여성 보컬이 대조를 이루는데 다만 6분여를 이끌고 가기에는 다소 미진한 감이 있다.
최민우: 신선하고 날렵한 음반. 직선적이면서도 뻔하지 않은 전개와 꼼꼼한 ‘사운드 디자인’이 인상적이다. 반면 녹음이 좀 허전하게 들리는 건 기분 탓이려나.
한명륜: 사운드의 질감에는 일렉트로닉한 면이 묻어나지만 이들의 사운드는 철저히 연주 중심이다. 스스로도 록에 기반을 두고 있다고 말하는 만큼 이들은 자신들의 손에서 나오는 소스들을 중시하고 있는 모양새다. 보컬의 음원을 후면으로 밀어두고 리버브로 공간을 채우는 방식은 요즘 밴드들에게 드물지 않다. 그러나 의외로 아날로그적인 드럼의 울림과 공명하면서 어찌 보면 허전할 수 있는 곡에 밀도를 부여하고 있다. 특히 “Chain Reaction”의 경우 오디오 이퀄라이저를 모두 중립 레벨에 놓고 들어보면 이런 의도가 더 선명하게 다가온다. ‘짬밥’은 무시할 수 없는 건가.
Love X Stereo
우리가 생각하는 펑크록 밴드란 무엇일까? 높게 새운 헤어스타일에 징 박힌 재킷을 입고 주류와의 타협을 씹어먹는 반항아들? 일반적인 펑크록이 쓰디쓴 스트레이트 위스키라면 러브엑스테레오의 펑크록은 달콤한 예거밤에 가깝다. 그들이 제안하는 펑크록의 새로운 대안이 여기 있다.
Editor 서재석 Photographer 이기태
자욱한 담배 연기 사이로 보이는 과격한 모싱핏, 땀에 찌든 채 보컬의 선창을 울부짖으며 따라 부르는 사내들. 펑크록 공연장의 단상은 이렇다. 하지만 러브엑스테레오의 공연장은 다르다. 과격함보다는 유연함이, 끈끈함보다는 달달함이 있다.
물론 그들이 품고 있는 정신은 펑크록 밴드의 그것이지만. 1세대 펑크록 밴드 18크럭을 거쳐 팝 펑크록 밴드 스크류 어택으로 활동하던 토비(기타)는 2011년 드러머 이응균이 밴드를 떠나자 나머지 멤버들(보컬 애니, 베이스 솔)과 함께 새로운 시도를 해보자는 생각에 도달했다.
그렇게 해서 잉태된 피조물은 타투처럼 몸에 새겨진 익숙한 펑크를 뿌리에 두고, 일렉트로닉, 그런지, 거기에 90년대 팝까지 더한 완전히 새로운 스타일이었다.얼터너티브 펑크, 일렉트로닉 펑크 등 기존 장르의 조합으로는 정확한 표현이 되지 않아 인디 록의 범주에 넣어야만 하는 낯설지만 유쾌한 장르. “우리는 스스로를 펑크록 밴드라고 생각해요. 그간 해왔던 음악도 펑크 록이고, 지금 하고 있는 음악의 기본도 펑크 록이죠. 하지만 좀 더 다양한 시도를 해보고 싶어요.”
펑크 순혈주의를 조금이나마 내려놓아서일까? 밴드는 한층 가벼워진 마음으로 2012 지산 밸리 록 페스티벌, 아소비 섹수 내한 공연, The KDMS 내한 공연 등을 통해 대중에게 다가가기 시작했다. 하지만 반비례하게도 음악적 욕심은 더욱 묵직해져 자체 스튜디오를 설립하기에 이르렀고, 2012년 1월에는 데모 앨범 <BUZZIN’>을, 같은 해 10월에는 EP <OFF THE GRID>를 내놓았다. 두 앨범 모두 레코딩, 믹싱, 프로듀싱, 앨범 커버 아트워크까지 멤버 전원이 맡아 제작했다. 열혈 펑크 키즈 시절보다 오히려 굳건해진 DIY 정신은 그들의 EP 곳곳에서 느낄 수 있다. 기타, 베이스, 드럼은 물론 신시사이저와 퍼커션, 시퀀서, 마라카스, 심지어 손뼉 소리까지. 그들의 손이 닿지 않은 순간은 전체 러닝 타임 20여 분 중 단 1초도 존재하지 않는다.
“스크류 어택으로 레이블에 소속되어 있을 때, 감나무에서 감이 떨어지기만을 기다렸던 시간이 있었거든요. 그러다 보니 열정이 사라지는 것 같았어요. 훗날 일은 모르겠지만, 지금은 좀 더 다양한 시도를 할 수 있는 현 시스템을 지키려고 해요.” 러브엑스테레오는 요란한 가죽 재킷과 모히칸 헤어스타일을 고수하지 않는다. 그들이 지키고자 하는 것은 그저 펑크록 밴드의 진정한 의미인 DIY 정신이다. 사상에 가까운 그 정신은 레이블에 속한 기존 펑크록 밴드들과의 극명한 차이점이자 러브엑스테레오만의 강력한 무기가 될 것이다.
LOVE X STEREO — <OFF THE GRID>
EP <Off The Grid>는 전작 <BUZZIN’>과 마찬가지로 작곡, 작사, 편곡은 물론 프로듀싱과 믹싱까지 러브엑스테레오 멤버들이 맡아 제작했다. 러브엑스테레오가 서울을 바라보는 시선이 담긴 ‘Soul City (Seoul City)’를 필두로 총 3곡이 담겨 있다.