Monthly Archives: November 2010

A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit of That

By Shawn Despres

The three day Zabcultural Party will take place November 26 – 28 at Theater Zero in Hongdae.  Friday and Saturday night will feature a mix of live music, DJs, and bellydance from 7 pm – 6 am.  Sunday is being billed as the “after party” and runs from 3 pm – 11 pm with DJs, booths from local labels and tattoo artists, and some more bellydancing.

Rux vocalist Won Jong Hee is part of the Zabcultural organzing team.  He’s a big fan of the event’s “Mixed Up and Matched Up” slogan and feels its very representative of what the mini-fest hopes to create.

“We are focusing on making a new guide to our culture,” Won shares.  “It seems very mixed up already, so now we should mash it all together. This is the whole idea behind Zabcultural.”

According to Won, the idea for the party came from hanging out with friends and contemplating the origins of modern Korean culture.  From there the idea of bringing several different subcultures together quickly blossomed.

“Korean punks, Korean hippies — these newly introduced cultures are influenced by various cultures from all around the world,” Won says.  “We want to unite different kinds of artists such as singers, rappers, painters, tattooists, dancers, and ravers with all the people in South Korea who love to party.

“From minimal to hardcore, from caricatures to tattoos, from mosh pits to bellydancing this is the zabculutral spectrum that we have chosen so far.”

Friday will boast performances from DJ Jade, Skasucks, Johnny Royal, The Strikers, DJ Sonyeon with Eshe & Navah, Today x Spot, Bagagee, DJ Mezra, Suck Stuff, Swindlers, and J-Path.  Saturday has DJ Tiny, Skrew Attack, 13 Steps, Vassline, DJ Sarovia, The Beasts, DJ Conan with Eshe & Navah, GoGo Star, Rux, and Risque Rhythm Machine.  The set times for all acts are here.

There will be a stage for bands at one end of the open concept art space and a DJ booth at the other.  Zabcultural will be running their own bar at Theater Zero to keep everyone hydrated as they dance the night away.

“I’m excited to see the crowd mixing and mashing it up,” says Won.  “I want to see who is still standing at the end of each night.  I want to watch different artists teaming up, too.”

So will the bouncing DJ fans and bellydance supporters get into Zabcultural’s electro-rock, punk and hardcore acts?

“Who knows,” offers Won.  “I want to see what happens.”

Will the rock, punk, and hardcore kids be into the DJs and bellydancers?

“I will be,” says Won.

A three day pass for the Zabcultural Party costs 33,000 won in advance and 40,000 won at the door.  Tickets prices for individual days are as follows:

Friday 15,000 won in advance/ 20,000 won at the door.
Saturday 25,000 won in advance/ 30,000 won at the door
Sunday 10,000 won at the door.

For more information, visit Zabcultural’s official site here.

Korea Gig Guide Rates a ’10′

By Mark

Some happy news to report — the nice people at 10 Magazine have chosen the Korea Gig Guide as their Blog of the Month (BotM?) for November.

Winning the BotM award means the KGG will now receive vast amounts of money, fame and endless swag … er, well, maybe not. But I guess it does mean that the folks at 10 Magazine have good taste and are trying to support the local scene, which is much appreciated.

The KGG now joins such luminaries as Eat Your Kimchi, The Marmot’s Hole, Zen Kimchi, and Seoul Sub-Urban — not bad company.

Many thanks to Shawn, Dain, and Jon for all their work. And to all of you readers — October was the best month yet for the KGG (as measured by unique visitors).

K-Indies in the J Times

By Shawn Despres

I wrote a story on Chang Kiha and the Faces and The RockTigers for the music section of last Friday’s Japan Times.  Both acts are playing gigs in Japan soon.  Check out the feature here.

When they return home The RockTigers will hold the 19th edition of their Kimchibilly Night at DGBD on November 27.  The show starts at 10 pm and tickets are 10,000 won.  Tama and Vagabond, Super 8 Bit, and No. 1 Korean will also appear.

Local Chang Kiha and the Faces fans have to wait a few weeks longer to see the band.  They’ll play two gigs at V-Hall on December 24 and 25.  They’ll be supported by Achime and Tokyo’s Shugo Tokumaru.  Tokumaru played a very good  solo show at Live Club Ssam (Ssamzie Space) in July.  Word has it he’s bringing his full backing band with him for the Christmas concerts, which should make his fantastic music sound even better.  Tickets for both nights are 44,000 won.

Although I didn’t cover them in The Japan Times story, Rux, Skasucks, and The Cripples are also playing together in Japan this Saturday.  Rux and Skasucks are each scheduled to appear at the Zabcultural Fest in Hongdae the following weekend (November 26 – 28) as well.  We’ll have a write up on the event on Korea Gig Guide next week.

Something’s Off About Online Music

By Mark

I think everyone knows that life is pretty hard for indie musicians in Korea. Very few make it out of Hongdae (or wherever) and onto the national stage, very few can make a living at it. So with that in mind, there is a very interesting article over at the Hankyoreh’s website about the state of online music in Korea, in particular the bum deal that the artists receive from most music portals.

The lede comes from the recent death of Lee Jin-won, the singer behind the indie band Moonlight Nymph (aka, Moonlight Come From Behind Grand Slam), which the Hankyoreh relates to his having money problems. I did not know the singer, and I think he had not performed in about a year, or at least quite some time (actually, I have been told that he had been performing, with his last show on Oct. 31 at Club Bbang). Regardless, it is sad news.

The main problem mentioned in the article is the very low rates artists receive for their music here. In the rare instances where someone actually pays for a download (what a radical thought, I know), Korean portals typically charge 500 won, less than half of what iTunes charges. And then, the portals share much less of the money than Apple does, around 55 percent. Then there is 13.5 percent that goes to various rights groups (some of whom are extremely dodgy in Korea, and do not distribute their money fairly, if at all). So in the end, the artist and production company get just around 200 won to share.

Of course, the music sales sites would point out that they have to compete with streaming websites and all sorts of illegal downloading, so have no choice but to pick a low price point. But I think that misses the point. It is in the portals’ interest to have a strong, flourishing local music scene, so more people want to listen to more music. Pop music is what it is, but there is so much room for growth in live/indie/alt music. It is in the portals’ interest to support that scene. By being so short-sighted, the portals are just hurting themselves … not to mention all the artists struggling to make a living.

(Note: Cross-posted over at my other blog).

High Praise For Natccu

By Shawn Despres

The ePs (eSSENTIAL People’s sPACE) festival will take place in Seoul on Saturday (November 6).  The free event will feature a mix of live music and visual artists from South Korea and Japan.

Local acts Seong Bae Kim and Woo Sung Choi, Dong-Il Park and Si-Youl Kim, Banana Bau, and City Lady will all perform.  Tokyo’s Natccu will also play.  Natccu has showcased her brand of dark-edged pop throughout throughout Japan, the U.S., and the U.K. and has garnered some very good reviews along the way.

Here are a few of the press quotes from her MySpace page:

“Powerful pop-infused indie… Her infectiously idiosyncratic music jumps from astute angular riffery to emotive rock balladry, and it hooks itself into your head.” – NME

“Natccu plays a set of gutsy pop with hysteric vocal stylings that recall Kate Bush as much as anything Japanese… She delivers effortless and gorgeous grown-up music with a raunchy rock heart and beautiful doe eyes.” – Drowned In Sound

“Natccu meshes the shouty thrills of Riot Grrrl with something far more febrile.” – Time Out New York

Natccu will play a special acoustic set at ePs.  She will be backed by Turkey from GO!GO!7188 on percussion and guitarist Ichige.  Expect her concert to include some selections from her upcoming album.  Highly respected American bassist Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, Iggy and The Stooges) is one of the guest musicians that appears on the disc.

ePs takes place at Anthracite (Sangsu Station Exit 4, map here) from 5 – 10 pm.  Natccu is scheduled to go on around 8:45 pm.