BUSAN, South Korea — As you watch the rapid movements of the band on stage, the whirling lights and the laser beams darting over head, you can't help but notice the high quality sound making its way out of the speakers. Club Realize in Kyungsung has some of the best sound equipment in Busan, and owner, Jinsu Bae, and his two good friends, Kirk Kwon and Ed Campbell are the driving force behind it all.
In an attempt to further promote the metal/rock scene in Korea, Bae opened up Realize in June 2010 as well as an independent record label, Realize Records.
Since Club Realize opened, the venue has hosted countless gigs from acts all across the peninsula including bands such as Hellking and King Ly Chee. For the owners its all about getting a relatively little known rock and metal scene in Korea out there in the public eye and ears.
“The rock and metal scene in Korea has been going for quite some time,” says Manchester native, Ed Campbell. “It struggled for attention, lacking much in the way of places to call ‘home.’”
As metal, and many of Korea’s other music genres struggle under the massive weight of the public appetite for K-Pop, Club Realize set out to highlight other aspects of the Korean music scene by opening a place that allows them to show off their talent.
“Seoul has it’s spots around Hongdae, but Busan (at that time) had no dedicated venues,” says Campbell. “We wanted to showcase the Korean ‘underground’ culture with all its many colors, flavors and immense pride.”
Although Realize specializes in Metal, it is open to all genres, including hip-hop, electronic, country and rock. The secret behind Club Realize’s great live sound cannot simply be narrowed down to top notch equipment, but more so to the men at the helm, ensuring that the sound passing through the wires and cables is the best it can possibly be.
The crew of Club Realize bring the right experience to the equation. Jinsu Bae used to build PA systems and even started his own company ‘Max Media’ in 2006. He has mastered records for several Korean bands, as well as some expat bands such as One Drop East. His band Gwamegi, recently scored first place on the EBS show “Hello Rookie” which aired on the 27th of September. Kirk Kwon, who hails from Canada, has spent years as a sound engineer and is always the one behind the mixing board ensuring that every band’s sound is perfect.
Ed Campbell (right) hamming it up on stage.
Ed Campbell has a great deal of experience in music as well. He has worked in local major venues in Manchester including MEN Arena, Manchester University and Apollo Theatre as both crew and show security. He is also the promoter at the forefront of , ‘DIY Alternative Music Scene in Korea,’ an organization dedicated to bringing talent together. He has also headed several bands of his own over the years.
Having been associated with music and musicians for so long brings out a sense of pride to produce the best product musically.
“This is why we strive for the best possible sound, atmosphere and general environment possible both with the club and label. You have to know the style of music you produce (punk, metal, grunge, rock etc) and these styles suffer if you don’t. They need that experience and passion to understand and exhibit the art for what it is and to do it justice. Kirk and Jinsu definitely achieve that on a regular basis,” Campbell said.
Although it is a small club and seemingly hidden on the 5th floor of its building in the Kyungsung area, Realize has not gone unnoticed. As more bands seek to play there and make use of their recording and production services, Realize is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the Korean music scene.
Club Realize is open from 7pm-3am and closes on Monday and Sunday. For more info and a map, check out their Haps page.
As well as serving up great live music, Club Realize offers many services to bands, including:
-Demo Recording Studio
- Practice area for rent
For more info you can contact them through their Facebook group page.
The author, Eugene Smith, is a 16-year-old guitarist, songwriter and vocalist with the band Millstone Grit. He was born in Costa Rica and now resides in Busan