BUSAN, South Korea -Despite the explosion of new clubs hosting live music in Seoul, word of Busan’s dynamic music scene has been creating a growing interest in Korea’s largest city as a potential ‘weekend tour’ stop for bands from the nation’s capital. That trend will continue this Saturday (April 24th) as Seoul-based expat Indie group Hwanan Gom make their way down to the Vinyl Underground.
While playing mainly in Hongdae (Korea’s live music epicenter), they have also managed to hit up Itaewon, Gangnam and Apgujeong in Seoul, illustrating the expansion of Seoul’s music scene outside of the area immediately surrounding Hongik University. This has allowed them to gain something of a ‘buzz’ in the big city, which ultimately culminated in the release of their first album not too long ago.
Busan Haps managed to catch up with band members KC, Scott and Patrick for a few quick questions on the challenges of being an expat band in Korea, the scene in Seoul and the recording of their album.
> How and where did you guys meet each other?
KC: I met Scott as a school-chosen housemate upon entering Korea. We began playing from that point forward and have yet to cease doing so.
Patrick: I, by chance, was on a date with a young lady (who shall remain nameless) and to impress her I thought I'd take her to Rainbow bar in Gangnam. As luck might have it, that night Scott and KC were playing an acoustic show. Brilliantly noticing the lack of a drummer, I approached Scott after their set and demanded that I be allowed to join (well, I asked politely if they required a drummer). A month later or so we had a jam and for one reason or another they decided to take me on. I never did see that girl again …
> How would you describe your style of music?
Scott: Melodic alternative with a tinge of post-rock. Or maybe "moody bearded banjos crossed with wooly wigged washboards."
KC: A culmination and regurgitation of roughly 80-odd years of music & sound intake.
> Can you describe the process by which you came to discover your sound?
Scott: Silent meditation within a mossy cave in the foothills of the Himilayas and tweaking knobs until sound appeared.
KC: I generally discover our sound with my ears. My fingers and thoughts seem to play a large part in producing that sound.
Patrick: By banging on things.
> Where have you played in Seoul?
Patrick: We play regularly in Seoul. Mainly in Hongdae, occasionally in Gangnam, Apgujeong, and Itaewon.
> There seems to be a growing integration between the Korean and foreigner music scenes. Have you noticed this yourselves?
Patrick: I think it is still a work in progress. On the whole, it seems the Korean bands play the early shows, and the foreigner bands tend to play later shows. There are a few bands that cross over, but it's not as much as we would like. We are currently trying to get onto some of the early shows in an attempt to play to a more Korean audience. However, it's proving not to be as easy as we imagined. Hopefully, we will have more luck in the future. We try to write all our newsletters /Internet pages in Korean, as well as English. If you visit our MySpace or Facebook pages, you will see nearly everything is in both languages. Hopefully that will help make us more accessible to both Koreans as well as westerners.
> With many foreigners only staying for one or two years, how does that affect your approach as a band?
KC: We hope that whatever crowd is at each show will be an 'angry bear' willing cross section of humans that freely offer themselves with an aggressive attention to the sound we produce."
> What is your favorite place to play?
Patrick: One of our favorite places to play in Seoul is Club DGBD. The sound system and the engineer in there are great. The place is only used for concerts and the way it is set up creates a really nice atmosphere to play in. We recently played Club Ta in Hongdae– it's much smaller than DGBD, which keeps the audience close to the stage.
> Who is (or are) your favorite band(s) to play with?
Patrick: We had a Korean band called Frenzy play our CD release party in March. They were awesome. We also enjoy playing with Bedroom States (ex Animal Dads), they make you wanna scream out things like…. "Skinny jeans!".
> From a performer perspective, what in your mind makes a good show?
Scott: Looking out into the audience and seeing that you have their attention. Good energy from the band and as few fuck-ups as possible. One or more females approaching the band post-show and offering their praise and hopefully contact details.
KC: The sensation of enjoyment.
> In terms of recording, rehearsing and printing, how long did the process take to produce your album?
KC: Including the writing, recording and finishing of the album, probably a year, all told. From when we began recording, I believe it took about 6 months to get copies of the CD in hand.
> Did you have all the songs written before you started the recording process?
Scott: Yes. However, some if not all took on mutation as the recording process unfolded. Some evolved into healthier, stronger entities, whilst others contracted hideous abnormalities and were swiftly executed.
> Will the show coming up in Busan be your first performance outside of Seoul?
Patrick: It won't be our first outside of Seoul (we have played in Gwang-Ju, Cheonan and Bucheon), however, it will be our first in Busan. We have wanted to play Busan for a long time now, but never managed to set anything up. We are looking forward to finally playing there … with a bit of luck, it will be the first of many visits.
You can download their album (? / Gom) for free @ The Pirate Bay.
Hwanan Gom will be joined by The Headaches, Unchained and The Stokatoz. The show starts at 10:00 and the 7,000 won admission price gets you a free drink.