I was happily surprised this morning to find an extended Q&A in the New York Times‘ T Magazine blog with Sean Maylone, founder of indie concert promoter SuperColorSuper. Who knew that Sean and Korea’s indie scene was on the radar of the NYT? Says the article’s introduction:
Is there a Korean underground? According to Sean Patrick Maylone, the answer is yes. His Seoul-based booking and promotion agency, SuperColorSuper, has helped to create a South Korean tour circuit for indie bands like Caribou, Das Racist and CocoRosie, blazing a trail not just to Seoul, but also to Busan and Daegu, places the 30-year-old native Californian knew nothing about when he arrived in Korea to teach English four years ago. Here, Maylone discusses South Korea’s burgeoning underground music scene.
And a couple of key parts from the interview:
What do you see happening in Korea’s music world?
I think Korea’s coming into what we in America experienced in the 1950s and ’60s, socially and artistically, and that we’re going to see the rise of more anti-heroes. Something like “Rebel Without a Cause” is going to come out here, or their own hippie movement. Maybe K-pop is going to go through stages like the Beatles did, from straight-up bubblegum to more tripped-out, experimental open-mindedness. It’s related to economics. Korea was having problems in the ’90s. People were having trouble just putting food on their plates. They had a militant government. Now people have all this money to spend. You have the rise of an artist class, and creative explosions are going to follow. People in various industries are sort of betting on it. Vice magazine has gotten involved with music here. Nylon now does a Korean version. I’m hoping we’ll start to feel the development of a Korean signature, a Korean approach to things.
What are some Korean bands people should check out?
A noise-pop duo called (((10))), comprised of a girl and a guy that have a sort of early Animal Collective sound. Wagwak, a catchy, Bright Eyes-type indie folk duo. Vidulgi Ooyoo, a shoe-gaze band reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive whose name translates to “Pigeon Milk.” Bamseom Pirates, a funny grind-core band who play 30-second songs. A chill-wave band called Googolplex. Yamagata Tweakster is a tongue-in-cheek solo artist who dresses in slacks and a tie and sings and dances with his laptop. There’s not a lot of Korean irony, but there are a few bands that have just come out that are using irony pretty well. The band Ninano Nanda combines Korean pansori operatic singing with really ’90s techno-beats and Mortal Kombat soundtrack-type sounds.
All in all, very good for Sean and great for the Korean music scene to get that kind of coverage. Between that article and all those Korean bands playing SXSW (and Apollo 18 playing just about everywhere), this is turning into a great year for Korean indie music.