Category Archives: Uncategorized

No. 1 Korean, Ynot? & Sugar, Come Again Plus Lots of Shimmies at Shake Shop This Weekend

Since February 2013, Korea Gig Guide has been co-presenting the Shake Shop concert series with Dream Dance Studio.  Created by bellydancer Eshe, the monthly event mixes local indie music with bellydancing.  After seven years in Seoul, Eshe will be moving back to her native Canada this spring which means there will only be two more Shake Shop shows.  This month’s gig will take place on Saturday night (January 24) and will see No. 1 Korean, Ynot?, and Sugar, Come Again all collaborating with Eshe and her Navah bellydance troupe.

No. 1 Korean were quick to join the bill for Saturday’s show after learning that January’s Shake Shop will be the second last installment of the series.

“We heard our friend Eshe will be moving to Canada soon, so we really wanted to do this concert together” says Kwon Milk, the band’s charismatic frontman.

Although No. 1 Korean’s catchy hybrid of ska and rock is very different from typical bellydance fare, the group have little doubt that their collaboration with Eshe and Navah will be fun and entertaining.

“We think our music easily transcends boundaries,” says Kwon Milk.  “And beyond those boundaries we hope to dance with everyone.  Together with the dancers, we hope to share feelings that cannot be expressed with words.”

No. 1 Korean

The act’s most recent offering is their “My Small Calendar” EP.  Released last April, the six-track effort is a mellower affair than No. 1 Korean’s previous output.

“We chose to make love songs for the EP,” shares Kwon Milk.  “We tried to express many complicated feelings about love in the world with different relaxed sounds.”

Ynot Picture

Like No. 1 Korean, Ynot? are looking forward to their collaboration with Eshe and Navah.

“These belly dancers have been performing for a very long time, but unfortunately Ynot? haven’t had the chance to perform with them yet,” says vocalist Jeon Sangkyu. “Since this will be one of the last Shake Shops, we feel very lucky to be playing.”

As for the collaboration itself, Jeon feels that Ynot’s funky rock cuts will fit well with bellydancing.

“Throughout our career, Ynot? have been very interested with the idea of rhythm,” says Jeon.  “Our beat might be a little tougher and more rocking compared to more traditional bellydance ones, but it should still be good because all rhythm is meant to make people dance!  And we also use Korean traditional percussion, which will make it a very unique and interesting performance.”

In December, the quintet celebrated their fifteenth anniversary and issued a new full-length titled “Swing.”  In their write-up of “Swing,” the website Korean Indie said that the “album offers emotional and intensified music which makes you yearn for more.”  Wanting more songs to bop around to, the favorable review later stated that despite the disc boasting a dozen tracks, “it doesn’t seem like enough.”

“It’s heavier and the music and lyrics are more aggressive,” says Jeon when comparing it to the group’s back catalogue.  “We spent a whole year writing and recording our new album.  I think we put the most effort, time, and money into this one.”

Sugar, Come Again 3

Rounding out Saturday night’s bill is Sugar, Come Again.  The self-dubbed “emotional reggae” band is led by Kingston Rudieska vocalist Sugar Sukyuel and also includes Kingston Rudieska drummer Kim Daemin.  The project sprang from a solo show Sugar Sukyuel did in October 2013.

“I had some friends help me with my solo show,” Sugar Sukyuel says.  “It was so much fun that we decided to make a band.  I really like reggae music and had actually been thinking about making a reggae band so I’m happy that it luckily happened!

“Sugar, Come Again’s music has violin, which is unusual for reggae music, but we’re trying to challenge ourselves and to create a new sound which we call ‘emotional reggae.’”

In spring 2014, Sugar, Come Again entered the studio to record some tracks, and  last July they put out a two-song single called “1st Exercise.”  The group’s goal for this year is to continue to practice and play lots in order to continue growing as a band.

Last year, Sugar Sukyuel appeared at Shake Shop with Kingston Rudieska and had a great time working with Eshe and Navah.  He’s excited about teaming up with the hip-shaking beauties again as Sugar, Come Again.

“We’ve been thinking that bellydancing is a good match for our music, so this should be a great collaboration,” he says.  “We think there are no boundaries between any kind of music and dance and that it’s really easy for music and dance to come together as one.”

Shake Shop Vol. 19 takes place on Saturday, January 24 at Club Freebird 2. The doors open at 7:30 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with a free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside No. 1 Korean, Ynot?, and Sugar, Come Again.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for the concert:

8:00 Navah
8:15 Sugar, Come Again
9:00 Ynot?
9:45 No.1 Korean

Shake Shop Poster

…Whatever That Means Ready to Heat Things Up with Winter Tour

Seoul-based melodic punk group …Whatever That Means has carved out a permanent place in the Hongdae scene over the past six years. Originally started as a one-off act put together to celebrate their own wedding back in 2009, guitarist and vocalist Jeff Moses and his wife – and …Whatever That Means bassist – Trash were later convinced by friends to make it a proper band. Thus …Whatever That Means was born and has been crafting their own style of melodic punk ever since. Their current lineup includes drummer Mizno, who took over from long-term band member Hong Gu last year, and new guitarist Bialy.

WTM_Band Photo Logo

…Whatever That Means’ sound is energetic and uncomplicated but with enough depth to pull you in. The catchy vocal melodies layered over simple guitar riffs are reminiscent of the So-Cal style of punk that gained popularity in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

“Our biggest influences are probably Bad Religion, Face To Face, The Descendents, and Social Distortion” says Jeff.

In 2011, the band took their show on the road stateside. A career highlight for Jeff was getting to play at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California. Growing up listening to punk rock, he’d wanted to watch a show there since he was 15.

“It’s the club where Operation Ivy, Green Day, and Rancid all got their starts,” Jeff says. “It had a huge impact on the US punk scene of the ‘90s so playing on the stage where so many of my favorite musicians had played really was amazing.”

The band recently released a cover of the Chinkees’ “Asian Prodigy” as a digital single to add to their catalogue of two EPs and two full-length albums. While their style has inevitably evolved since their first release, they have retained their trademark sound.

“Things are still simple, but I think the song writing in general is better,” says Jeff. “We’ve also become a lot more aggressive over the years.”

WTM Album Cover

You can hear this new energy on their latest album, “Sixty-Eight, Twenty-Two.” Recorded at Trash and Jeff’s home studio, it is named after the distance (6,822 miles) between their old apartment in Pennsylvania and Hongdae Playground. The pair spent a year there in 2012 while Jeff attended grad school in the US. A longing to return “home” to Korea and its punk scene inspired the lyrics.

“It’s all about finding that place where you feel like you can be yourself and really making it your own,” says Jeff.

Back home in Korea, the band was fortunate enough to recruit Hongdae punk legend Jonghee Won of Rux to perform on the album’s title track.

“We were running through it at practice, and I kept hearing Jonghee’s voice singing it in my head,” Jeff explains. “It just had that Rux street punk kind of rhythm during the verse. I’ve known Jonghee for years, and we’d worked on a few other projects together so I shot him a text message to ask if he’d be interested in singing on our album, and he responded positively almost immediately.”

Another standout track on the album is “The Goodbye Note,” whose sobering lyrics take the form of a lover’s farewell. They came from Jeff one day thinking about dying and what the most important things to tell Trash would be if he had to say goodbye to her. His wife understandably had a very emotional response when she read the finished lyrics.

“They made her cry, and she swore she’d never be able to sing that song,” he shares “It actually took quite a while before she could get through it, but now it’s a regular part of our set.”

Photo by Ken Robinson

Photo by Ken Robinson

So how does the band go about writing its music?

“Usually, a line or two of melody or a lyric will pop into my head, and it all just builds from there,” Jeff says. “I’ll come up with more melody and lyrics. Then, I start building the rhythm guitar and main riffs around that. Next I’ll record a demo at home with the song basically complete and send it to everyone else in the band.”

The punk scene in Korea has also seen its share of change over the years. While there is a thriving community of musicians and concert goers which has kept the culture and the music alive, many are concerned that the scene is currently on the decline. However, Jeff is more optimistic.

“Some people say that the scene is dying here. I disagree. It sucks that there’s no central club here that we can all rally around like in the past, but there are a lot of really great bands and a lot of people coming out to shows. I hope that more people start to realize the quality of Korean bands and things grow even more, but in general, I think things are good right now.”

Aside from …Whatever That Means having a regular spot on the bill at Hongdae’s now defunct Club Spot, Jeff worked the bar there right up until the iconic basement club closed its doors for good in October last year. He laments its closure but is upbeat about the future.

“It sucks. I hate not having ‘my place’ to go hangout at. Someone just opened a noraebang there. What a waste! In the short term, I think it’s harder for punk and hardcore bands to find a place to easily put on shows in a good-sized club. In the long term, I think the scene will naturally gravitate towards somewhere else. It won’t be the same as Spot, but it’ll be awesome in its own way. Where that will be, I don’t really know. Maybe it’ll be Ruailrock. Maybe somewhere new will open.”

This month will see … Whatever That Means gigging in Malaysia and Singapore as part of their 2015 winter tour. They previously toured in Malaysia in 2010 when the band was in its infancy and well before their new rhythm section got on board.

“We’re all so excited to get back down to Malaysia,” Jeff says. “This time, we have an even more solid lineup and better songs to play. We had only been a band for about eight or nine months when we did that first tour. We’re obviously a lot more experienced now so I’m looking forward to showing how we’ve grown.”

… Whatever That Means will kick off their winter tour in Seoul on Saturday (January 17) with a gig at Ruailrock in Hongdae. The show starts at 9 pm and tickets are 10,000 won. The Veggers, 21 Scott, and Startline will be opening. For more information, check out the Facebook event page for the concert here.

WTM Poster

And here are the rest of the dates for the band’s 2015 winter tour:

January 24 Singapore @ Aliwal Arts Centre
January 25 Batu Pahat, Malaysia @ The Wall
January 27 Melaka, Malaysia @ UTC 8th Floor
January 28 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia @ ALT+HQ
January 30 Kuantan, Malaysia @ Darksky Lounge
January 31 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia @ Black Box (Publika)
February 14 @ Freebird 2

 

“Oh Yes It’s Ladies’ Night, Oh What A Night …”

Volume 1 of Ladies’ Night, a new concert series “aimed at bringing awareness to the problem of street harassment and other issues affecting women in Korea,” will take place on Saturday night (January 10) at Club Ta in Hongdae.

Hollaback Korea

The event will feature a number of very good female-fronted local acts including Manju Pocket, A’z Bus, Veins, Oops Nice, Billy Carter, Wasted Johnny’s, and Juck Juck Grunzie as well as bellydancers Eshe and Navah. Proceeds from Ladies’ Night Volume 1 will be donated to Hollaback! Korea.

“We’re excited!” says Veins guitarist and vocalist Yu Hee.  “The show is going to be loud and crowded.”

“The purpose of the gig is also very good,” adds A’z Bus guitarist and vocalist Woo Ju.

A'z Bus

A’z Bus will be sharing material from their new “Mono Mobile” EP on Saturday night.  The five-track effort was released in December and serves as the follow-up to the alt-rock trio’s solid “Smilecry” EP.

“We made the songs last spring and recorded them in the fall,” Woo Ju says. “Our second EP sounds more organized because the members of our band were more familiar with the songs.”

November 2014 saw A’z Bus coming in second place at the Hello Rookie finals and in December they won first prize at KOCCA’s K-Rookies Final Concert.  Their set at Club Ta on January 10 promises to be one of many entertaining performances at Ladies’ Night Volume 1.

Ladies’ Night Volume 1 takes place on Saturday night at Club Ta.  The show starts at 7 pm and tickets are 10,000 won. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for the concert.

7:00 – Manju Pocket
7:40 – Eshe & Navah
8:05 – A’z Bus
8:55 – Veins
9:45 – Oops Nice
10:35 – Billy Carter
11:25 – Wasted Johnny’s
12:15 – Juck Juck Grunzie

Ladie's Night Poster

KGG Staff 2014 Live Faves

The title above pretty much sums up what this post is about! Below are the live performances that Korea Gig Guide’s contributors liked the best in 2014. Hopefully you saw lots of great gigs last year too.  And we hope you see even more fantastic concerts in 2015!

Shawn Despres

Parquet Courts at Fuji Rock Festival (photo by Julen Esteban-Pretel (JulenPhoto) / Fujirock Express' 14)

Parquet Courts at Fuji Rock Festival (photo by Julen Esteban-Pretel (JulenPhoto) / Fujirock Express’ 14)

1. Parquet Courts @ Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) on July 25
2. Outkast @ Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) on July 27
3. Touché Amoré @ Gogos 2 on October 27
4. Moja @ V-Hall on October 11
5. Apollo 18 @ Soundholic Festival on June 22
6. Death From Above 1979 @ Riot Fest (Canada) on September 6
7. Galaxy Express @ Green Plugged on June 1
8. Ludistelo @ Freebird on May 17
9. Startline @ Freebird on March 22
10. Tie: 24 Hours @ Prism on June 6
Romantiqua with Kim Daeinn @ Freebird 2 on December 13

Mark Russell
(shows listed by date)

GeMF Mudaeruk

Note: I didn’t really go to a lot of shows this year (thanks, new baby), and when I did, I often went to see a particular band and didn’t stick around for the whole bill. But this is what I enjoyed last year.

GeMF @ Mudaeruk on February 23
Soul Train, Gopchang Jeongol @ Strange Fruit on March 1
GeMF @ Mudaeruk on March 23
Funkafric @ Strange Fruit on November 14

Jon Dunbar

Dr. Ring Ding at Sangsang Madang (photo by Jon Dunbar)

Dr. Ring Ding at Sangsang Madang (photo by Jon Dunbar)

1. Dr. Ring Ding and Kingston Rudieska @ Sangsang Madang on March 15
2. Heimlich County Gun Club @ Thunderhorse Tavern on March 29
3. Pegurians @ Ruailrock on May 31
4. Africa Sound Party @ Bar Alegria on February 21
5. Funkafric @ Blue Star on November 7
6. Crying Nut @ Club Spot on October 25
7. Skasucks @ New Generation of Ska Festival on August 30
8. Business @ Prism Live Hall on August 15
9. Ska 4 Ensemble @ All That Jazz on November 30
10. Tie: Durchfall @ Club Spot June 14
Sagal @ Jogwang Studio on May 24

Dain Leathem

Rippon Festival

Rippon Festival

1. Fat Freddy’s Drop @ Rippon Music Festival (New Zealand) on February 1
2. Empire of the Sun @ UMF Korea on June 14
3. Crying Nut X No Brain @ Let’s Rock Festival on September 20
4. Kasabian, The Inspector Cluzo, Idiotape @ Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival on August 2
5. St Vincent @ Yes24 Muv Hall on July 24
6. Diamond Dogs @ Thunderhorse Tavern on May 17
7. Tokimonsta @ Cakeshop on March 27
8. Yes Yes @ Freebird 2 on October 25
9. Messgram @ Thunderhorse Tavern on May 14
10. Whowho @ Soundholic Festival on June 21

Korea Gig Guide & Do Indie New Year’s Meet Up

On Sunday (January 4), Korea Gig Guide and our friends at Do Indie will be hosting a New Year’s Meet Up at Common in Blu in Hongdae.  The event will run from 4 pm – 7 pm and is open to everyone who is interested in the local indie music scene.

KGG Logo

Write about music?  Come hang out with us!  Play music? Come hang out with us!  Work in the Korean music industry? Come hang out with us!   Simply enjoy listening to Korea-based acts bang out indie anthems on disc and in dingy live spaces?  Come hang out with us!  Anyone who would like to have a few drinks and gab about the Korean indie scene with like-minded folks is more than welcome to join us.

Do Indie Logo

The Korea Gig Guide & Do Indie New Year’s Meet Up will run from 4 pm – 7 pm on Sunday, June 4 at Common in Blu.  The event is totally free to attend, but everyone is responsible for paying for their own drinks.  Hope to see you on Sunday!

Common in Blu Map

To get to Common in Blu, go out Exit 1 of Hongik University Station and walk straight. Turn right at the Standard Chartered bank and then left at Paris Baguette.  Walk straight for a few blocks and then turn left at the 7-11.  Common in Blu will be on your right.  It’s on the first floor of Blu Guest House.

Party 51 screenings in English

A few years ago, Hongdae was the location of a brilliant moment in Korean underground music history. Musicians looking for an affordable place to practice and have concerts connected with Duriban, a small noodle shop undergoing a struggle for its existence. And you can relive it all in the new documentary by Jung Yong-taek, Party 51.

Duriban was located a couple hundred meters out Hongdae Station exit 8, past the Lotte Cinema, near where exit 4 is today. In Duriban’s former location, there is an empty lot filled with weeds. The restaurant owners were offered 5 million won in compensation, from the 25 million they originally put in. Then on Christmas Eve 2009, 30 hired goons entered the restaurant while there were customers eating to forcibly evict everyone. The very next day, Duriban owner Ahn Jong-nyeo returned, forced her way into her shuttered, destroyed business and began a 531-day sit-in protest.

That period presented a unique opportunity for Hongdae musicians, who now had a free place to go to practice, put on shows, or just hang out or even sleep. The main musicians who gathered here were bluesman Ha Heon-jin, grind band Bamseom Pirates, neo-folk musician Danpyunsun, Hahn Vad of Amature Amplifier and Yamagata Tweakster, and noise musician Park Daham. They rallied behind Duriban, forming Jarip (Independent Musicians Collective) and holding the first 51+ Festival on May 1, 2010, which is depicted in the early moments of the movie.

The film premiered on December 11 at theaters around the country, but four screenings with English subtitles are being offered at Indieplus, located near Sinsa Station. Tickets are 7,000 won. Here’s the schedule for the screenings with English subtitles:

12.29 (Mon) 20:30
01.03 (Sat) 10:30
01.07 (Wed) 20:30
01.11 (Sun) 16:10

party51_subtitles

“Duriban was a kind of utopian moment in Korea’s capitalist society, and I doubt there will be another situation quite like that again,” said director Jung Yong-taek in an interview with Broke in Korea. “That Duriban period will never occur again, and there will never been another like it.”

Hippie Death Star (ex-The Plastic Day) Playing in Seoul During the Holidays

Hippie Death Star, a new Australia-based band featuring Shin Sunho (aka Green) – the former guitarist and vocalist for the excellent Korean rock band The Plastic Day – are closing out 2014 by playing a handful of gigs in Seoul.

Hippie Death Star Photo

Formed in Seoul in 2006, The Plastic Day released an EP in 2007 called “Lady” and in 2009 released their fantastic full-length, “30 Seconds between the Dreamer and the Realist.”  The band broke up in 2010 when Shin moved to Australia.

Hippie Death Star is the first group Shin has played with since moving to Sydney.  The act features him on guitar and vocals, Matt King on guitar, Jay Woo on bass, and Tobia Blefari on drums.  Like Shin, Woo is also Korean.  King and Blefari are both Australian and Hippie Death Star’s tour this month is their first time visiting Korea.

“Green was my friend back in Korea but I hadn’t heard from him since I left there,” says Woo.  “But I bumped into him in Sydney a few years later and we had lots of jam sessions with lots of musicians in Sydney.  And then we found Matt and Tobia.  It’s hard to find good players with good attitudes here. I was lucky to meet Matt, Tobia, and Green.”

Mixing rock and psychedelic sounds, Hippie Death Star began their Korean tour on December 13 and have played three gigs so far at Badabie (December 13), Yogiga (December 17) and Mudaeruk (December 20) as part of Reggae Chicken’s “Psychedelic Flowers” concert series.  The act will be finishing up their tour this week with shows at Club Freebird 2, Club FF, and Strange Fruit before flying back to Australia on Sunday.

The group formed this past summer, and surprisingly had only played two live gigs before flying to Korea for this tour.  While most bands tend to be a bit more experienced before embarking on a round of international dates, when Reggae Chicken owner Rhiu Kwanghee asked Hippie Death Star to play as part of “Psychedelic Flowers,” the offer seemed too good to pass up.

“Honestly I’m so excited to have the chance to play overseas,” says King. “I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t want to do a tour of Korea.”

“It’s a nice excuse to visit family and friends,” adds Shin.  “It’s been a really long time since I’ve hung out over there.  We’re really grateful to Kwanghee for this opportunity.”

According to Shin, Hippie Death Star have five songs so far and their sets run about 45 minutes in length.  He says he’s also got the blueprints for two more numbers in his head and thinks that those seven songs will eventually make up the act’s first album.  The group have actually done some recording while they’ve been in Korea, but there’s no official word yet on how those tracks will be used.

Now that they are halfway through their Korean dates, what can people expect from Hippie Death Star’s remaining concerts in Seoul?

“I want to say that people shouldn’t expect anything,” says Shin.  “Just come say hi to us and give us a big hug or a smile.”

And for those missing The Plastic Day, how does Shin feel that Hippie Death Star compares to his former band?

“I don’t know,” he offers.  “It’s hard to describe some things and very easy to say other things, so it’s better for me not to compare these two bands myself.  One thing I’m sure of is that both bands aren’t chasing the mainstream.  The Plastic Day never pretended to be independent but secretly wanted to play mainstream music.  And neither does Hippie Death Star.”

Hippie Death Star play on December 24 at Freebird 2, December 26 at Club FF, and December 27 at Strange Fruit.  The full info for all the shows is below.

Reggae Chicken Poster

December 24 @ Club Freebird 2 (5 pm start): Hippie Death Star, Yes Yes, Contrules, Juck Juck Grunzie, Romantiqua with Eshe and Navah, Mineri, Kopchangjeongol, and Julia Dream. Tickets are 25,000 won at the door.

December 26 @ Club FF (10 pm start): Hippie Death Star, National Pigeon Unity, Atmo, ABTB. Tickets are 15,000 won at the door with one free drink.

December 27 @ Strange Fruit (5 pm start): Hippie Death Star, Hellivision, Dead Buttons, Ironic Hue, My Way Killing, and Juck Juck Grunzie.  Tickets are 25,000 won at the door.

Club FF Poster

Vidulgi Ooyoo Celebrates 10 Years Together at Club Ta This Weekend

Seoul shoegazers Vidulgi Ooyoo will be playing a concert at Club Ta in Hongdae on Saturday night (December 20) to celebrate their tenth anniversary as a band.

Vidulgi Ooyoo Picture

Long-term followers of the quartet may be wondering how 2014 marks their tenth year together.  Didn’t guitarist Jong-seok Lee start Vidulgi Ooyoo in 2003?

“I formed the band in 2003, but most of our present members came together in 2004,” Lee explains.  “So I think of 2004 as the year that we actually made our live debut.”

The past decade has seen Vidulgi Ooyoo release two excellent full-length albums, 2008’s “Aero” – which earned them nods for “Rookie of the Year,” “Best Modern Rock Album,” and “Best Modern Rock Song” at the 2009 Korean Music Awards – and 2013’s “Officially Pronounced Alive,” and issue a split disc with American act Bliss.City.East in 2010.  The band have also shared their music abroad during tours in the US, Canada, Japan, and China.

Saturday’s concert will be a celebration of all Vidulgi Ooyoo’s accomplishments to date.  But the night will also be a bit sad as it will be guitarist Jee-hye Ham’s last performance with the group.

Jeehye

“Jee-hye plays in two bands, Vidulgi Ooyoo and Juck Juck Grunzie,” says Lee.  “Nowadays she has a hard time keeping up with both bands because of other things in her life.  So she thought she should only focus on one band.

“Juck Juck is the band that she herself started so she decided to stick with them.  It was a very difficult decision for her to make and we totally understand why she had to make it.  We’re very grateful for everything she’s done for our band.  We hope many people will come out to the show at Club Ta this weekend to hear her play her final tunes with us.

A replacement for Ham has already been found but Lee isn’t ready to publicly announce who the person is just yet.  Instead he offers this.

“She is a complete new comer,” he says.  “We’ll start to work together from January and she’ll play guitar song and sing with us.  She’ll cover many of the things that Jeehye does with Vidulgi Ooyoo, but she’ll add her own unique style and identity to them.”

Over the past few months, Lee has written a handful of songs.  The plan is to record some of the material this coming spring and issue it is a two- or three-song single.  The cuts will be the first recordings to come out with Vidulgi Ooyoo’s new lineup.

“I think with these tracks we may expand the guitar textures a bit more than we did on ‘Officially Pronounced Alive,” says Lee.  “Maybe the songs will have more of a psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll feel to them.”

Vidulgi Ooyoo Album Cover

Looking back over the past 10 years, what are some of Lee’s best memories of making music with Vidulgi Ooyoo?

“I think all of our best memories are just performing.  Every stage we’ve performed on has been a great memory for us.  It doesn’t matter where we play, the vibes onstage during our sets always make us excited.”

Moving forward, what does Vidulgi Ooyoo hope to do leading up to its twentieth anniversary?

“We want to keep developing our own sound and mindset,” Lee says.  “And we want to keep re-creating that feeling of excitement we felt when we first performed onstage together 10 years ago.”

Vidulgi Ooyoo plays on December 20 at Club Ta. The show starts at 7 pm and tickets are 35,000 won at the door.  Also on the bill are Jambinai, Underwears Band, Love X Stereo, and a surprise special guest.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.  And here are the set times for the concert:

7:00 Jambinai
7:40 Underwears Band
8:20 Love X Stereo
9:00 Vidulgi Ooyoo
10:00 Special Guest

Vidulgi Ooyoo Poster

Sage Francis: Hip-Hop Hits the South

**KOREA GIG GUIDE HAS FREE TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY FOR SAGE FRANCIS’ DAEGU CONCERT. DETAILS ON HOW TO WIN THE TICKETS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST **

Independent rapper, spoken word artist, and entrepreneur Sage Francis is coming to South Korea for the first time this weekend to share his unique take on hip-hop at Daegu’s Jeng-iy Collective (December 19) and Busan’s Club Realize (December 20).

Sage Francis Picture

Often referred to as the “forefather of indie hip-hop” (alongside “The Emcee’s Emcee” and “The rapper your favorite rappers idolize”), he began entering rap contests at the age of 12, and in a bid to get his music out there, formed his own record label Strange Famous Records before releasing his debut album, “Personal Journeys,” in 2002. Since then, he has released five more albums, produced eight “Sick” mixtapes, collaborated with a huge roster of performers, toured constantly, all the while still developing and growing his label and its roster.

After a four-year hiatus, he released his latest album “Copper Gone” in June of this year to critical acclaim. Korea Gig Guide had a quick chat with him in-between his recent shows in Australia.

Could you introduce yourself to the people of South Korea?

Hey, I thought that was your job! Okay, well, my name is Sage Francis. I am an American hip-hop artist. I talk a lot of shit and I back it all the fuck up. I run my own record label, Strange Famous Records, and that’s pretty much the only kind of running I like to do.

 You are often called a “rapper” and a “spoken word artist”, how do you distinguish the two? How do you feel about genres and labels in music from both a personal and industry perspective?

“Spoken word” is when material is performed with no specific rhythm or rhyme structure. There’s no music or beat to accompany the words. It’s more of a free-form vocal performance. Rap can also be performed without music, but it’s usually executed in 4/4 time with rhymes to connect each bar. I usually rap, and I think that’s always been my strength, but spoken word comes with its own strengths. It’s been important for me to jump between both, especially at live shows, if I think people are really listening.

You started writing and performing at a young age, when did you realize you wanted to do this for a living?

I had no idea I’d be able to do it for a living, but I knew that I always wanted to do it. When I was a kid I had fantasies about scoring a big record contract because, at the time, that’s how I thought all records were made. In college I discovered the punk scene and became aware of the DIY ethic, which was a huge revelation. That was a very important discovery because it would eventually shape a career that basically kicked off in 1996.

What was it about hip-hop that drew you in, and what artists inspired you growing up?

I was inspired by the sounds, the rhymes, the attitude, the language, and the energy. I loved everything about it. This was the mid-80s so I was inspired by everything I listened to. Run DMC, Fat Boys, Ice T, Too Short, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and on and on. Everyone was dope in their own way.

You have earned two degrees; in what ways does your education affect your music, sound, and message?

I have a degree in communications and in journalism. School was not a focus of mine, nor were my studies. I was still trying to figure out who I was and what other people were like. It was important for me to be around different types of people at that time, and even more
important for me to get involved with college radio as well as social activist groups. It was such a busy, hectic, exciting time in my life and there’s no way I could attribute any of what I do to the things that happened in any classroom. The classroom made the least impact on me. It was important for me to pass though, so I made sure I got my degree. My passion and focus was all about the things outside of the stuffy classroom though.

You are in the middle of a very extensive tour, how does performing live compare to recording?

They are entirely different beasts. Each thing requires its own set of skills. Recording is an introverted and private experience for me. I don’t like anyone to be around. Performing is obviously more about public entertainment. It’s immediate. I like to do both and I’m glad I was able to marry the two, but they are definitely their own thing. There are a lot of songs I’ve recorded that I don’t ever want to perform live. And there are also a lot of songs that I have to change in order for them to be performed live. I like the control I get to have while recording. I like losing control when I perform.

Do you have any favorite places to perform?

California and Colorado shows are always great. Phoenix, AZ gets really rowdy. A lot of places in the UK get rowdy too. I think there was a mosh pit to one of my spoken word performances when I was there last month. Vancouver shows get wild. I’ve played about 90 shows this year so it’s kind of tough to remember specific cities. Everything just turns into one big blur. I wish I could shout out the East Coast, as that’s where I’m from, but the crowds there are usually very reserved. I still love playing in Providence and Boston though. What I really love is playing in remote areas. Small town shows too. They don’t pay the bills, but they make up for it in other ways. I love being able to travel to places like Alaska, Iceland, and New Zealand. And now I get to play South Korea, which I never thought would be possible. I’m very thankful for these opportunities the fans
and music community have afforded me.

What can you tell us about the formation and running of Strange Famous Records, and how it has progressed since it began?

I dubbed cassette tapes at first so I could have something to sell at shows. Whatever money I made went into making more tapes. And then it went into making CDs, which were actually CD-Rs that I burned at first. Once I made enough money from those sales I was able to pay for a manufacturer to make everything. I sold them at shows and over the
internet if people trusted me enough to send cash in the mail. Eventually I worked with CD distributors who were able to get my music into stores and I developed a more proper webstore. I learned more and more about running a record label as time went on and eventually I was able to put out other people’s music. By 2003 I started employing
other people to do things and by 2005 we grew into a bigger operation with more signed artists. We could have kept growing, and we did have a lot of signings in 2008, but I didn’t like the idea of the label getting big just for the sake of getting big. I think it’s important
for us to maintain quality control and only work with a select few artists.

How has technology helped you to get your music and message out there over the last 15 or so years?

Technology allowed me to reach out to people all over the world. Before the internet I was pretty much stuck to just Rhode Island, Boston, Connecticut, and NYC. But, as fate would have it, it was people from almost every other territory in the world who really “got” what I was doing. That’s when the support came for me to be able to quit my job serving ice cream.

How does your home of Providence, Rhode Island impact your music?

I’m not sure. Maybe it’s good for me to have so much privacy and solitude. Maybe it’s bad. Maybe it doesn’t have any impact. It doesn’t seem like my location affects me much when it comes to writing and recording music, but perhaps I’d have to live somewhere else for a long time to really notice something different.

What’s your opinion on the evolution of hip-hop, and where would you like to see it go?

Hip-hop has evolved in every imaginable way. I’d like for it to keep doing whatever it likes to do. The craft is not in any kind of danger. There will always be great stuff, there will always be awful stuff. I hope at some point the music journalists and websites get a bit more interested in finding what’s really good rather than just covering whatever publicists and major record labels throw at them. That would be helpful in several ways.

Copper Gone

You delivered a new album earlier this year after a four-year gap, how was it to release “Copper Gone”?

It was invigorating. It re-energized me and, in some ways, gave me a brighter outlook on the future. I was in a dark place for far too long. Even if I never put out another album – which I will – I’d be more than content with releasing “Copper Gone” as my final stand. The process of releasing a project of this magnitude on your own label is more work than most people will ever understand, and we did it. We did it big. I’m incredibly proud of everyone who was involved with bringing this album to the public, and I’m glad I pushed myself to continue the tradition of proving my adversaries wrong.


What are your plans after this tour and for your career and label in the future?

I’m going to try and be as happy as possible while being as productive as possible. That’s always the goal, but I never quite know what it will entail. There’s a lot to do. I just want to get to it and do it at my own pace without upsetting people I care about.

What can those of us in South Korea expect from your upcoming live performances?

Expect surprises. Expect entertainment. Expect to be as impressed as you are confused. I’m an expert in all fields. This is what I live for at this point.

Francis’ live performances are mesmerizing, high energy, and unique. Soundfuse Magazine’s review from a show in Chicago this summer stated that he “doesn’t just own the stage while he performs — it looks like he’s about to snap the mic stand over his head and tear the stage to pieces.”  You should not miss the chance to see this talented and focused performer on these shores.

Sage Francis performs at Jeng-iy Collective in Daegu on December 19.  The show starts at 8 pm and Table People, PJQ, and Sean O’Gorman are also on the bill.  Tickets are 25,000 won.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Sage Francis also performs at Club Realize in Busan on December 20.  The show starts at 10 pm and Illap and Carlos Williams are also on the bill.  Tickets are 25,000 won.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Sage Francis Tour Poster

Want to win a pair of free tickets to see Sage Francis play at Jeng-iy Collective?  Korea Gig Guide has a pair of tickets to give away for Friday’s concert courtesy of DigitTo qualify for the tickets, simply share this story on Facebook.  Then email us at koreagigguide@gmail.com to let us know that you’ve posted the link to your Facebook wall, and we’ll add your name to the draw.  The contest closes at 11:30 am on Friday morning (December 19) and we’ll notify the winner by noon that day.  Good luck!

 

Nice Legs Tour Diary: Taipei4Life

By Henry Demos

I have been staring at this screen for what seems like minutes or hours or maybe days.  I have no idea.  Time has come to a standstill.  I am writing this because I fell in love with Taipei.  I have to write this.  Whatever this is, I have to write this because of Taipei.

Oh yeah, I forgot the introductions!  We are Nice Legs.  Lauren E. Walker plays the voice.  JJ hits things hard and rhythmically, and I play the three string.  Nice Legs is improv fuzz pop or something.  When we aren’t noising, we live in Seoul, Korea.

But now back to us playing in Taipei …

A few months back, we started sending emails – lots and lots of emails.  You see, we had previously toured Tokyo and I just didn’t learn my lesson.  I thought I needed to send hundreds of wasteful emails to schmucks that just don’t care about me, my music, or my face.  It seemed logical: send a bunch of emails and see what sticks.  It isn’t logical.  After days of stupidity, I started sending smart emails.

The first person I contacted was my new friend and owner/operator of another great gig guide (GigGuide.tw), Steve Leggat.  Steve is a nice f*cking guy.  He didn’t know me. Luckily through the amazing internet email land we were able to build a relationship.  He told me who to write.  More importantly, I could use his name as a reference.  Steve’s word is bond down in Taipei.  He put me in touch with my dream date Dan.  Dan is best known for being both the the booking agent for the Taipei live space Revolver and as lead singer/guitarist of the unstoppable Until Seeing Whales Eyes.

After booking us at Revolver, Dan told me that he would put us on a festival he was running called Volume 22.  Awesome!  Our first time playing Taipei and already we were getting a f*cking festival!  Man, did it kill but more on Volume 22 later because that was the sh*t.  Now we had to figure out where we were going to sleep.  I mean, we are poor … and did I mention our drummer JJ is going to have a baby?  Yeah, we needed something cheap.

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but boy did it.  We had another great stroke of luck with our friends Todde and Patty.  They not only put us up, showed us the town, and drank us under the table, but they also found us a third gig.  They made our trip complete!

So we promptly bought plane tickets.  Of course that is a total lie.  We all waited until the last minute and paid way too much.  But let’s just flash forward.

Friday:

Nice Legs Revolver

We played at the totally righteous Revolver.  I want to call it a punk club, but that wouldn’t really do it justice.  It’s a two-story joint with a bar on the first floor and the venue on the second, and it has great amps, drinks, and drums.  The green room was pretty ill too.  We were the opening act for Taipei legends Freckles and Osaka beatbox math noise rockers Qu.  The show was packed.  I stripped down to only my fishnets for some reason.  It was just that good.  Our first night playing in a new city and we already felt welcomed with open arms.

Later, Dan took us out for drinks.  Things got a little hazy from there.  I’m pretty sure it was fun!

Saturday:

Volume 22

This was that festival, Volume 22 at a place called The Wall.  There were bands from Taipei, Tokyo, Osaka, and Singapore.  It was the most organized event I have been a part of.  Two stages right next to each other.  When one band played, the next would set up.  Dude, it was great.  There was even this guy in the audience that sang along with the strangest voice.  Lauren definitely gave him the mic for the chorus of one song.  I could go on for pages about the bands, people, and everything but I won’t.  I will just say 22Records is doing some fine work.

Dan took us out for drinks again …

Sunday:

After a rough start at the crack of noon, we got fixed up with spectacular meals at Mary’s Hamburger. Definitely go there if you visit Taipei!  Gig time came quicker than we hoped so we were off to Vicious Circle.  The club had a diner, a bar, and a clothing shop.  Also it was oddly clean.

Our lovely hosts Todde and Patty had wrangled this show for us.  The young and quirky Dirty Fiction opened for us.  The concert was riddled with technical difficulties but damn it was probably my favorite show of the weekend.  Feedback can go f*ck itself!  By the way David Frazier from the Taipei Times came out that night.  I should mention he wrote an “article” about us.  It was … uh … unique.  What a guy.

Nice Legs Article

I’m not really sure how to end this.  The tour was over.  We didn’t have much time left so we thought it best to spend it with our new friends.  Actually, I retract that last bit.  The people we met in Taipei aren’t just new friends; they are new family.  I’m glad we could spend the weekend with those guys:  Dan, Todde, Patty, Kiki, Benben, Taipei Jesus, Steve, Dave, everybody.

Taiwan is an amazing place with amazing people.  Nice Legs is going back, you can bet your ass on that.  Taiwan, we love you!  Unless that is not really your thing but we love you still, okay?

rainbow