Dead Buttons, Ludiostelo, and Counter Reset at Shake Shop 15 on May 17

Bellydancers Eshe and Navah will collaborate with Dead Buttons, Ludistelo, and Counter Reset for the 15th edition of the Korea Gig Guide co-presented Shake Shop concert series. The show will take place on Saturday, May 17 at Club Freebird.

Dead Buttons Bench

Fresh from wrapping up their first UK tour – a jaunt that saw them playing six gigs in England and appearing at the Liverpool Sound City music fest – expect Seoul rock ‘n’ roll duo Dead Buttons to exhibit no signs of jet lag as their tear through the punchy anthemic cuts from their fantastic Whoever You Are EP.

Despite Shake Shop taking place only a few days after their return to Korea, Dead Buttons eagerly agreed to team up with shimmying beauties for the show.

“We’ve seen their collaborations with other bands and they have always looked very cool and unique,” says guitarist Hong Jihyun. “When they invited us to play, we were happy to accept.  Now we’re curious about what they have planned for our collaboration and how it will turn out.”

Originally formed as a trio in 2012, Dead Buttons paired down to a duo last summer and began to write the infectious music that graces Whoever You Are. Quickly becoming one of Hongdae’s more buzzed about up-and-coming acts since the EP’s February release, the band are hoping to issue a few new digital singles over the coming months to keep their momentum going.

“We’re still working on the songs,” says Hong. “We’re planning to release one or two new songs but it’s still just a plan.  We’re writing the songs slowly and haven’t made a decision yet on when they’ll come out.  We’re going to work on them more now that our England concerts are finished.”

Ludistelo Picture

Ludistelo is an electro-pop act made up of members from Sugar Donut, The Ratios, and Copy Machine. They started making music together during a trip to Brunei in late 2012 that synthesizer player Park Sangjin and guitarist / synthesizer player Ahn Sunghoon (who goes by the stage name Ash) took together.

“We were traveling the jungles near the equator and trying to put all of those feelings into the music,” says Park. “We worked a lot on our music after the trip and started to play shows in the spring of 2013.”

The trio, which includes drummer Kim Juyeon, issued their debut full-length effort this past April. The album is titled Experience and was recorded between last summer and winter.

“It took a long time to record the album because we were playing shows and recording at the same time,” says Park.  “Also, we wanted to make sure that things sounded perfect!”

Ludistelo will be playing material from Experience at Shake Shop and are confident that their collaboration with Eshe and Navah will go well.

“We have no idea what kind of energy will be created by the combination of our music and bellydancing,” says Park.  “We’re excited to see how the bellydancers feel and react to Ludistelo’s music.  We play a variety of sounds and try to express ideas about the environment, common experiences, and empathy.  We guess that bellydance also sometimes expresses those same things.  So I think that even though our music isn’t traditional bellydancing music the collaboration will still be great to see.”

Counter Reset

Punk stalwarts Counter Reset have been tearing up local stages with their fast-paced melodic punk since the early noughties.  Like the other bands on the bill, they are looking forward to doing something a bit outside the norm by having bellydancers shake their hips while they play.

“It seemed like it would be fun to do together,” says guitarist and vocalist Choi Jihoon. “Our music is really different from bellydance music but the rhythm parts could work well together. The more we think about it, the idea of bellydancers performing to our music sounds awesome.”

Counter Reset released their third full-length album of original material, Born to Drive, in the summer of 2013.  Wanting to try something different, in April the group issued a two-song single called Acoustic Stories. The single features re-worked versions of the Born to Drive tracks “One of a Kind” and “All of the Days We Had.”  The arrangements have been stripped down in both songs and the lyrics have been changed.  As a result, both have been given new titles with “Acoustic Story” representing the alternate take on “One of a Kind” and “Acoustic Memory” doing the same for ““All of the Days We Had.”

Although covering themselves may be new for the band, they are no strangers to playing covers.  They’ve released three covers albums so far, Punk Eats J-Pop (featuring Japanese songs), Michael Punk Covers (featuring Michael Jackson tracks), and Punxmas (featuring Christmas classics). Is there any chance some covers may surface in Saturday’s Shake Shop set?

“Our first covers album, Punk Eats J-Pop, only came out in Japan so we don’t play those songs in Korea,” says Choi.  “And we only play our carols album at Christmas.  But for this show I think we may play ‘Ben’ from our Michael Jackson covers album.”

Shake Shop 15 takes place on Saturday, May 17 at Club Freebird. The show starts at 9 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Dead Buttons, Ludistelo, and Counter Reset. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the set times for tomorrow night’s gig:
9:00-9:35 Counter Reset
9:35-9:50 Navah
9:50-10:35 Ludistelo
10:35-11:20 Dead Buttons

Shake Shop 15 Poster

…Whatever That Means CD Release on May 10

Earlier this year, Jeff and Trash Moses celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. They also celebrated five years as a band, playing guitar and bass for …Whatever That Means, a project that debuted on their wedding night as a one-off thing for Jeff.

Now, they’re releasing their second full-length album, Sixty-Eight, Twenty-Two, a reference to the distance from Hongdae Playground to the apartment they lived in in Pennsylvania while Jeff was in grad school. The title song, with guest vocals by Jonghee from Rux, is about Jeff’s journey to Korea and turning it into his adopted home. “Where you grow up and where you’re from, they don’t always stay the same,” Jeff explains in the lyrics. Recently, they recorded a music video for the song in their Yeomni-dong rooftop home, further declaring that this is where they belong.

Impressively, they only got one call from the police.

Impressively, they only got one call from the police.

The album also includes a cover of the Suck Stuff classic “This Wasteland,” with guest vocals from Paul, the original songwriter/singer, as well as a proper recording of “Punk Rock Tourist,” Jeff’s condemnation of random people coming to punk shows and criticising the scene out of their own ignorance/experience.

10336648_248731691999847_8966933574919543865_nThe CD officially debuted at a show in Gwangju last weekend, and it comes out this Saturday at Club Spot. For the Seoul debut, they team up with Wasted Johnny’s, the only band in Korea with more confusing punctuation than …Whatever That Means, as well as Gwangju skatepunk band Bettyass, Seoul ska-punk legends SKASUCKS, Oi! Resolute, and skatepunk band 1Ton.

The show starts at 8pm, and 15,000 won gets you entry, a free CD, and the infamous free cocktail hour from 11 to 12.

RSVP on Facebook.

Dead Buttons Hit Hongdae Tonight, UK in May

Seoul-based rock band Dead Buttons are set to light up the stage at Hongdae’s Prism Hall tonight (Sunday, April 27) as part of the Command 27 comeback show ahead of their first UK tour. After playing at “the largest metropolitan music and arts festival in the UK” on May 2 – 3 that is Liverpool Sound City, they’ll be sharing the stage with Korean indie act Patients across England. Despite being relatively young, the band is not unfamiliar with performing on foreign shores. Less than two months after debuting, Dead Buttons were already performing in Tokyo at the Japan-Korea Punk Festival. They are confident those who can make it out to their shows will not be disappointed. See the bottom of this article for a detailed schedule of their upcoming shows.

Dead Buttons drummer/vocalist Kanghee Lee (left): “I promise you’re going to freaking love us after watching us play.”

Dead Buttons drummer/vocalist Kanghee Lee (left): “I promise you’re going to freaking love us after watching us play.”

First coming together in fall of 2012 after Lee returned from compulsory military service, Dead Buttons was originally a three piece but eventually settled on being a duo in the summer of 2013. With a diverse range of musical influences permeating their sound from stoner metal to blues and country, punk rock is the adhesive that holds it all together. While drummer/vocalist Kanghee Lee hails from Paraguay, guitarist/vocalist Jihyun Hong is also the guitarist for the hardcore act Combative Post and was previously involved in Sweet Guerillaz and Oi! Resolute. The band hit the studio at the end of 2013 to record their eclectic sampler EP, “Whoever You Are”.

Check out this live performance of the last and in my opinion the catchiest track off their EP recorded for Balcony TV.

Korea Gig Guide was lucky enough to be able to interview Kanghee and Jihyun in advance of their UK tour. Enjoy!

How did you guys start making music together?

Kanghee Lee: I was looking to join a band after finishing my army service.  When I met Jihyun, we discovered we had a very similar taste in music so we decided to start a new band together.

Could you tell us the story behind your band name?

Kanghee Lee: I like a lot of bands that have the word “Dead” in their name.  I started calling us “Dead Buttons” as a temporary name.  But at some point we decided just to use it as our actual name.

Jihyun Hong: I liked the name because if reminded me of cool acts like Dead Kennedys and The Dead Weather.

Your sound is pretty eclectic and dynamic. Which influences does each of you bring into your music and which ones would you say are most dominant? 

Jihyun Hong: I think the biggest influence on our sound is Mississippi blues and country music.  We’re both also influenced by punk rock, stoner metal, and psychedelic music.

Tell us about the process of recording “Whoever You Are.”  Given that it’s a pretty diverse collection of tracks, was there an overarching vision or did you just go for it? 

Jihyun Hong: We recorded the album pretty fast.  We wanted to just do one-take of each song, so the whole EP was recorded in only five hours.  “Whoever You Are” is kind of a homage or a tribute album to all the different musicians that have influenced us.

You guys are playing the Liverpool Sound City festival this year. What are you most excited about?

Jihyun Hong: This will be my first time traveling and performing outside of Asia. I’m really excited about getting to play in new venues with new bands for new audiences.  After Liverpool Sound City, we’ll also play shows in Bristol, Southampton, and London with Patients.  Our May 9 London concert at AAA will also feature Asian Chairshot.

Kanghee Lee:  I think this tour is going to be a lot of fun and a great learning experience for us.

Dead Buttons in London

Do you have a message you’d like to share with British fans before you head overseas?

Kanghee Lee: You don’t know us yet, and we don’t know you either.  But I promise you’re going to freaking love us after watching us play and we’re all going to be good friends.  All of our shows in the UK are going to be a lot of fun, so please come hang out with us.

Thank you for your time and good luck with the tour!

Dead Buttons will play at Prism Hall tonight as part of the Command 27 comeback show. The show kicks off at 7pm and also includes The Monotones and The Veggers.

 Command 27 Poster

Here are Dead Buttons UK tour dates:

May 2 - Liverpool, England @ Heebie Jeebies (Liverpool Sound City)
May 3 - Liverpool, England @ Kazimier Gardens (Liverpool Sound City)
May 7 - Bristol, England @ The Hatchet Inn
May 8 - Southampton, England @ Unit Club (WTFest)
May 9 - London, England @ AAA
May 10 - London, England @ Astbury Castle

Dead Buttons UK Tour

Big Phony, Streetguns, and Bad Trip Live at Shake Shop on April 25

Big Phony, Streetguns, and Bad Trip will all team up with bellydancers Eshe and Navah for April’s Shake Shop show. Co-presented by Korea Gig Guide, this month’s showcase of local indie music and shimmying will take place on Friday night (April 25) at Club Freebird in Hongdae.

Big Phony

In February, the excellent Korean-American singer-songwriter Big Phony released two new albums, an acoustic disc titled “Bobby” and an electronic one called “Love Live the Lie.” Both charted very well on iTunes in the US, with “Bobby” reaching no. 75 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Music Chart and “Love Live the Lie” climbing all the way to no. 10 on the iTunes Electronic Music Chart.

The man behind the Big Phony moniker, Bobby Choy, explains why he decided to issue both of the albums at the same time.

“I was working on an electronic album mainly because it was something I was dabbling in that turned into a lot of fun,” shares Choy. “As I was getting closer to finishing that project I had the idea of releasing a stripped-down acoustic album that featured the sound and style that people mostly associate with Big Phony. I wanted people to know that although I was releasing an electronic album, I wasn’t changing genres necessarily. I’m still a singer-songwriter at the end of the day.”

Last month, Choy showcased his new material during a string of US dates that included a stop at Texas’ famed South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. According to Choy, the trip had a lot of positives and one minor (but quite enjoyable) downside.

“My tour went incredibly well,” says Choy. “I met so many great people along the way and loved playing night after night. I think my vocal chords improved because of it! The singer-songwriter showcase I performed in at SXSW was a really special night for me. It was a great crowd and perfect venue for my kind of music.

“I gained some weight during the tour as well. I had a lot of BBQ in Texas, and I drank lots of beer, whiskey, and fine wines. Also, for some reason there was an abundance of Girl Scout cookies everywhere I went.”

Eshe and Choy have spoken a few times about performing together at Shake Shop over the past several months, but due to scheduling conflicts the collaboration wasn’t possible until now. Both are very happy to have Big Phony’s name on the bill for Shake Shop Vol. 14.

“I’m so happy that we were able to finally find a date to do this,” says Choy. “I’m not entirely sure how this will pan out but I have faith in Eshe and Navah and in their artistic choices. I’m thrilled that they’ve asked me to take part in what I’m sure will be a memorable night.”

Streetguns Photo

Rockabilly band Streetguns made their live debut in March, but these hep cats are far from newbies. Streetguns is composed of members from the popular Seoul indie band The Rock Tigers. The Rock Tigers parted ways with their front woman, Velvet Geena, late last year. Wanting to make a fresh start, they hired a new male crooner named Chulsoo and re-branded themselves as Streetguns.

“We’ve all been working hard doing this for many years, so everyone agreed that it was maybe a good time to make some changes,” says guitarist Tiger. “We’ve got a new vocalist but our musical style has not changed that much. We’re still playing kimchibilly and are looking forward to building upon the career we established with The Rock Tigers.”

Members of Streetguns actually attended a past Shake Shop event and enjoyed the concert making them very open to the idea of collaborating with Eshe and Navah.

“We went to the Shake Shop show with Kingston Rudieska and Galaxy Express,” says Tiger. “It looked like a lot of fun and we thought that we’d like to be a part of the concert one day too. Shortly after that, Eshe contacted us and asked us to perform. The timing was good for us, so we decided to join the ladies for a special performance. Rockabilly with bellydance is a definitely a unique combination, so I think this is going to be a cool night.”

Bad Trip

Bad Trip’s tunes are a mix of hard rock, garage rock, punk, and psychedelic sounds. The trio issued a three-song single titled “Rain Drop” late last year through Steel Face Records. According to guitarist and vocalist Kim Young-saeng, the act plan to issue more new music sometime this year.

Kim previously played with the psych-tinged alt-rock band Humpbacks. In 2012, Humpbacks invited Eshe to collaborate with them at their CD release party. Kim liked the experience, and is eager to work with bellydancers again with his current group.

“Last time I performed with Eshe, our pairing felt so fresh and new,” says Kim. “When Eshe suggested doing something together with Bad Trip it was our pleasure to accept her invitation. Bellydancing and Bad Trip’s music are very different, but I think that is what will make it interesting to see.”

Volume 14 of Shake Shop takes place on Friday, April 25 at Club Freebird. The show starts at 8:30 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside Big Phony, Streetguns, and Bad Trip. For more information, visit the show’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the set times for tomorrow night’s gig:
8:30 Big Phony
9:15 Navah
9:30 Bad Trip
10:15 Streetguns

Rocking out in Daegu for Big Day South

This weekend, there will be a whole helping of noise rocking from Daegu during the city’s first Big Day South festival.  With a focus on not only putting on a great night, but also striving to showcase a taste of the talent and creativity that exists in the area, the organizers are also keen to bridge the gap between the foreign and Korean communities.

Big Day South Picture

[b]racket Magazine, I Like Many Records, and Angle Magazine have teamed up to present this event that promises the cream of the crop from not only Daegu, but also Busan and Ulsan, and there are even a few top-quality acts traveling from Seoul to perform. Two great venues, craft store Social Market and iconic music hall Club Urban, are sharing the hosting duties that will see musicians, dancers, and even spoken word performers take the stage.

Dogstar, November on Earth, Colours, The Curses, Say Sue Me, Yamagata Tweakster, Yukari, and many others are to be joined by Andrew Blad, Mine Lee, as well as art demonstrations from Leon Choi, William Joseph Leitzman, and Moke. There will also be food for sale, with all proceeds going to local charities. More details can be found on Facebook, including directions, so follow the link below and do support this great event.

Where: Social Market (12 – 4pm) & Club Urban (5pm – late)
When: Saturday April 26th
How much: 15,000W for a day ticket. Concessions will be available for those wanting to enjoy just one of the venues.
PLUS: The first 70 people to buy all-day tickets at Social Market will receive a wonderful screen-printed poster from [b]racket magazine’s very talented Jess Hinshaw.

Find out more about Big Day South here.

Big Day South Poster

 

March 22: The Geeks, Startline, and 4 Brothers at Shake Shop

The Korea Gig Guide co-presented concert series Shake Shop takes place tonight at Club Freebird.  This month’s show features The Geeks, Startline, and 4 Brothers all collaborating with the bellydancer Eshe and her Navah troupe.

The Geeks

Undeniably one of the country’s top hardcore talents, The Geeks are finally preparing to unveil their long-awaited sophomore album.  The band’s 2007 “Every Time We Fall” debut was a critically acclaimed affair, and fans have been eagerly awaiting its follow up.  While no proper release date has been set yet, according to Geeks’ vocalist Seo Kiseok the disc will definitely be out sooner rather than later.

“We’re working on a new album and it will come out this year for sure,” says Seo.  “It will come out in Korea through Townhall Records and overseas on Think Fast Records.  We just finished mixing and the artwork.  Now we’re working on a release timeline.  We’ll announce our full plans soon.”

Last year saw The Geeks doing an American tour and performing at Texas’ massive South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival.  Although the members of the band all have very busy schedules with work and family commitments, the group are hoping to play some international concerts in support of their upcoming record.  No gigs have been confirmed yet, but Seo says the US, UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan are “top priorities” for The Geeks and are on their list of places to try and make it to.

Hardcore and bellydance are not a combination most people would expect to see, but for Seo that’s what makes The Geeks collaboration with Eshe and Navah at Freebird tonight so interesting.

“The Geeks are all about pushing the limits and living life to the fullest,” Seo says.  “We like to push the envelope and move the needle. This is an extremely great opportunity that will enable us to try new things and progress as a band. I never thought we would be invited to collaborate with bellydancers.  This is just so amazing!

“One of my favorite hardcore bands 7 Seconds says, ‘If we can walk together, why can’t we rock together?’  Our music and our performance is known for its unmatched high level of energy, which I think can be well translated into the main essence of dance.  And the lyrics for one of our new songs were inspired by the German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. So I think us and the bellydancers have a lot in common. This collaboration is going to be cool.”

Startline

Formed in March 2013, melodic punk trio Startline features members of Gumx and Copy Machine.  The ambitious act issued their first EP last September, the six-cut “Light My Fire,” and in November flew to Indonesia to participate in the Asian Beat Grand Final 2013.  They placed third in the competition, and drummer Choi Gun was crowned best drummer at the event.

Looking to further build on last year’s momentum, Startline will put out their full-length debut this spring.

“We’re planning to release our first album in May,” says Choi.  “We’re going to record it in April and it’s going to full of great punk songs with awesome lyrics.  We have so many ideas we want to try and are still deciding which songs should go on the album.  We’re working really hard right now and will continue to challenge ourselves to create great stuff.”

Like The Geeks, Startline are excited about teaming up with bellydancers tonight at Club Freebird.

“We’re very open minded to all new experiences,” says Choi.  “We know Eshe and Navah have been doing great things with a lot of great bands so we also want to try working with them.

“We have lots of fast songs.  We’re going to play them like we normally do and see where the bellydancers can lead us.  We think art and music create really good energy together, so tonight should be a lot of fun for everyone.

Poppy vintage rockers 4 Brothers will round out the bill for Shake Shop Vol. 13.  The band are gigging in support of their 2013 full-length, “The Riot of Decadence.”

Shake Shop Vol. 13 takes place on Saturday, March 22 at Club Freebird. The show starts at 8:30 pm and the cover charge is 15,000 won with one free drink. Eshe and Navah will perform alongside The Geeks, Startline, and 4 Brothers.  For more information, check out the show’s Facebook event page here.

Here are the set times for tonight’s gig:
8:30 4 Brothers
9:15 Navah
9:30 Startline
10:15 The Geeks

Shake Shop 13

Heimlich County Gun Club CD Release on March 22

If you haven’t heard the name Paul Bricky before, then that’s on you.

A Korean-American army brat, Paul has been part of the Korean music scene since the ’90s. He once ran away from his home on Yongsan Garrison and lived in Skunk Hell in their original location closer to Sinchon. He played guitar in Rux for a while, and played drums in Beef Jarkey, the original band of Kingston Rudieska vocalist Suk-yul. After leaving for a couple years, he returned to Korea in 2005 and joined Suck Stuff, leading them through a period of great songwriting and taking them in new directions never before explored by Korean punk. Then, right as Suck Stuff was building momentum, right after getting signed to Dope Entertainment, he married his girlfriend Yumi, enlisted in the US Army and left Korea in 2007.

hcgc_playground

Heimlich County Gun Club at the Play Out Festival in Hongdae Playground last year.

“I don’t think anyone joins for any single reason,” Paul told me in a recent interview. “For me the overiding impetitus was simply that I was a reasonably healthy and fit young man and my country was at war. I wanted to be a medic; I wouldn’t have done anything else.”

Five years passed, he survived basic training and served as an army medic in Iraq. Then in 2012 he was transferred back to Korea (assignment of choice!) where he found the scene had changed drastically.

Paul and Yumi in 2012 after returning to Korea.

Paul and Yumi in 2012 after returning to Korea.

“The Korean scene as a whole has largely left me behind,” he says. “The old friends that I counted as brothers don’t return the respect they demanded and received when I was younger. The younger people in the scene are unaware or uninterested in the contributions that I have made. Watching your influence fade is a very tough pill to swallow.”

suckstuff_jonghee

Paul did a reunion show with Suck Stuff which also saw his former bandmate Jonghee from Rux on stage.

After a reunion show with Suck Stuff and a few acoustic gigs, he started Heimlich County Gun Club, and his wife joined Chanter’s Alley. “For a while I had made up my mind not to start a band,” he says. ” As a foreigner band it’s difficult not to be a gimmick or a clown within the Korean scene or you focus on playing to the foreigner crowd which is often more interested in socializing and getting drunk rather than listening to live music. But I caved.”

Heimlich County Gun Club in Mullae.

Heimlich County Gun Club in Mullae.

Perhaps soaking up some country influence from his time in the army and life in Mississippi, HCGC has a definitive country sound to it. What’s more, it showcases Paul’s outstanding talent for songwriting, rendering real-life experiences in straightforward lyrics.

“I write tons and tons of songs,” Paul says. “I am in the low hundreds when it comes to songs that I have written. Some of these were just a few phrases that I liked, sounded semi-poetic or made an interesting statement effectively. I didn’t do as much writing as usual in the States. I was usually busy fishing, hunting, or working in my garden or yard. Some definitely were written in Iraq or at least I got the ideas in Iraq but for this album lyrical-wise I would say that about 60% of it was written shortly after I got here.”

The songs on HCGC’s new album, Stars and Streetlights, range from nostalgia about the old days in Hongdae, to his time spent in the US, to his experiences at war in Iraq. No matter what he’s singing, you can tell it’s about something that he has personally lived through.

“You know something, I find it nearly impossible to write about something that I haven’t personally experienced,” Paul explains. “I take songwriting very seriously and it is difficult for me to really insert myself into something so light and produce a well-written piece. I have been trying to write a song, just like a joke sort of, about Strelka and Belka, the first Soviet space dogs to return to Earth. I just thought that it would be fun to try and I can’t seem to make it work. At the same time I haven’t been able to write a song for my dog Sukie who died earlier this year. The song ‘Peace and Plenty’ draws some influence from the relationship that I had with my father who also died earlier this year.”

Paul's dad managed to see Paul on stage in 2007.

Paul’s dad managed to see Paul on stage in 2007.

Paul was originally supposed to only stay in Korea for a year, but that ended up becoming two. Next month, his time in Korea comes to an end and he’s moving to Oregon.

“If I had any say in the matter I would not have come back to Korea,” says Paul. “One thing that I envy about most people that I know is that they have a hometown. I want to put down roots someplace and Korea is not that place.”hcgc_poster

You can pick up a copy of the new CD at his Saturday show in Club Spot, where HCGC will share the stage with eight other bands from the Korean scene. The 15 000 won cover price includes a free CD and a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of Paul’s own homemade cigar-box guitars.

“It’s well time for me to bow out and yield the stage to the newer groups and for me to carry on to different grounds,” says Paul.

RSVP for the show on Facebook or preview the album on Bandcamp.

Dr Ring Ding did an impromptu performance at the one-year anniversary celebration of Jamaican jerked chicken restaurant Zion Boat in Hongdae.

Korea + Germany = Jamaica?

From left: Seok-yul (Kingston Rudieska vocalist), Jeongseok (Kingston Rudieska trumpeter), Dr Ring Ding, Tehiun (Tehiun & Purijah guitarist/vocalist

From left: Seok-yul (Kingston Rudieska vocalist), Jeongseok (Kingston Rudieska trumpeter), Dr Ring Ding (Germany), Tehiun (Tehiun & Purijah guitarist/vocalist

It’s still too rare that Korea’s indie bands connect with the outside world. Which is why it was so great last summer when German dancehall/ska/reggae juggernaut  Dr Ring Ding for the Jisan Rock Festival, where his band Dr Ring Ding Skavaganza shared the stage with Korea’s own Kingston Rudieska and Japanese ska band Doberman.

“Dr Ring Ding, along with the Skatalites, has been my favourite for more than ten years and still one of the musicians who influenced me,” says Oh Jeongseok, Kingston Rudieska’s trumpeter. “Ever since I first loved ska I’ve loved his music, so I never expected to meet him for a performance and make an album together.”

“I had heard of Kingston Rudieska before,” says Dr Ring Ding. “Joep van Rhijn [former Kingston Kitchen bandmate, from Rotterdam Ska-Jazz Foundation, now located in Daegu] gave me their CD and I was amazed. It’s wonderful how they play. I really love it.”

Dr Ring Ding did an impromptu performance at the one-year anniversary celebration of Jamaican jerked chicken restaurant Zion Boat in Hongdae.

Dr Ring Ding did an impromptu performance at the one-year anniversary celebration of Jamaican jerked chicken restaurant Zion Boat in Hongdae.

Before returning to Germany, Dr Ring Ding spent a day in the recording studio with Kingston Rudieska. “I think Jeongseok said while I’m here we might as well record something,” says Dr Ring Ding, who is not  a real doctor. “While the others [in Skavaganza] were sightseeing, we went to the rehearsal studio and rehearsed.”

“Because of our busy schedules, the album was recorded in one day,” says Jeongseok. “Before recording Dr Ring Ding and we had a few hours of rehearsal and decided what we should play.”

What started as a one-song recording quickly turned into a four-song EP, and with an additional dub put together by the good doctor, they produced Ska ‘n Seoul, the first ever Korean/German ska collaboration.

With four songs and an additional dub track, this EP represents Kingston Rudieska at the top of their game, and you can tell they’re having the time of their lives with Dr Ring Ding as he shows off his vocal prowess. The album includes a cover of “Johnny Come Home” by the Fine Young Cannibals as well as a climactic rendition of the classic spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” with Dr Ring Ding playing the role of the preacher and Kingston Rudieska as his flock. There are also two originals, with Dr Ring Ding taking center stage on “Your Sweet Kiss” and sharing the mic with Kingston lead vocalist Seok-yul on the sugary bilingual tune “Bad Company,” a reworking of an old Dr Ring Ding recording.

drrdkrsThat album comes out this week. Dr Ring Ding is back in Korea to promote the album, and if you missed his impromptu performance in Zion Boat last Saturday (pictured at the top of this article), don’t miss him this Saturday at a joint concert in Sangsang Madang. “Dr Ring Ding will play many classic songs and play together with Kingston Rudieska,” says Jeongseok. “It will be a great one-of-a-kind performance.”

For his second time in Korea, Dr Ring Ding has left his regular band at home, instead opting to fly solo and have Kingston Rudieska as his backing band.

“In the reggae/dancehall world that’s a common thing to do,” says Dr Ring Ding, who has previously done a similar thing with bands all over the world. “If you see the old Reggae Sunsplash concerts there are backing bands for eight or twelve solo artists. So that’s easy of course. One person has to travel and meets with a band that knows exactly what they’re doing and what the solo artist is going to do.”

This visit also takes Dr Ring Ding and Kingston Rudieska on a press junket through Korean radio and TV, as well as this humble website. Their album will be released on Kingston Rudieska’s label Rudie System, and will also get international distribution.

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This Korean/German ska collaboration is a historic first for Korea as the country begins to find its musical voice on the global stage, and is sure to win over anyone who hears it.

Bands: Dr Ring Ding, Kingston Rudieska, Rude Paper
Venue: Sangsang Madang
Date: Saturday, 15 March
Start time: 6pm
Advance tickets: 35,000 won
At the door: 40,000won

RSVP on Facebook or buy tickets through Interpark.

Smacksoft to Bring True Korean Post-Punk to US

By: Tom Rainey-Smi​th

From the streets of New York to the underground clubs of Seoul, Smacksoft frontwoman Bo Ryung Whang has been fashioning her own blend of electronica-infused post-punk since she first started performing in Seoul in the late 1990s. Smacksoft was established shortly after, taking on its current form in 2007 when Bo Ryung returned from a stint at art school. Her whispery vocals betray a rawness and honesty that reflect her unapologetic commitment to creating self-expressive art.

Smacksoft 3

Smacksoft  released their fifth album titled Follow Your Heart at the end of 2012, which earned them a nomination at the 2013 Korean Music Awards for “Best Modern Rock Album,” and is planning to bring out their sixth full-length by the middle of this year. The band will join other Korean acts including Crying Nut and Jambinai  at Texas’ South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival next week before heading off to California and then on to Amsterdam. In order to raise funds for their upcoming tour, the band will be performing a special tour fundraiser gig on Friday, March 7 at Nest Nada in Hongdae.

Korea Gig Guide had a chance to interview Smacksoft’s frontwoman Bo Ryung to ask her about the evolution of Smacksoft and their upcoming tour.

Smacksoft 13

Q: What is the meaning behind the name Smacksoft?

A: The sound of the words “smack” and “soft” both sound like they feel. I like the inherent duality in putting these two things together.  For me, they represent an anti-violence and anti-authoritarian attitude. I like mixing these punk/anarchy and pro-peace ideas together. It is confrontational and serious but also has some humor to it.

Q: Tell us about your journey as a musician from your early days in the punk scene to the present. How has your sound evolved?

A: I have always listened to and played music, painted, drawn, and written stuff – whatever was a meaningful expression of myself at any given time.  I don’t follow trends or what other people are doing, but I am definitely inspired by things that are happening around me and collaborating with other musicians and artists. I think the biggest evolution in my music has occurred through technology – the amount of control I can have in the production and editing as well as playing has allowed me to exercise greater authenticity in my work.

Q: You’ve played many shows in support of various social causes such as “Rock and Resistance: Against the Naval Base on Jeju Island” and “Solidarity for US Military Camptown Women’s Human Rights.” What is your motivation to support these causes?

A: I simply believe it is the right thing to do. Human history is full of violence, war, and suffering, but it is just as equally full of beauty and kind acts. I think sometimes it’s hard to remember that we have the power to change things positively if only we will speak up and get involved.

Q: It can be quite difficult trying to survive off your music alone as an indie musician in South Korea. How do you manage?

A: It is difficult to be an artist.  There’s definitely a reason why everyone says that.  But, honestly, I never really thought about it too much. It wasn’t a question for me of whether or not to live a creative life. I just did it. I’m not really alone as an indie musician, there’s a whole core group of people working to support and promote the indie scene in Korea from venues like Club Rainbow to people who listen to our music. To make ends meet I might teach art, sell some of my paintings, or do other things like that.

Q: Do you have hopes of releasing a new album in the near future?

A: Smacksoft plan to release our sixth studio album in June. And, I just released a solo EP on February 27.  It’s called “As If Nothing Ever Happened.”

Q: You recently shot a beautiful new video for Dreamer of Myths. Tell us about the experience of filming it.

A: It was really cold but really fun. We had a great crew. The video for “Dreamer of Myths” presents my thoughts and ideas along with the music. I am wearing a mask with words – rage, betrayal, feeling lost, loneliness – and when I take that off and burn it, I felt this emotional release of actually letting go of all the human fears and suffering that we create for ourselves.

Q: You toured the US back in 2012. What was the highlight of that tour?

A: Definitely just seeing the States and getting to drive through the country was a highlight. Also, we met some great musicians when we played in Chicago at Transistor and Reggie’s. One band, Evil Twin Sister, their guitarist Mario had a friend who had just seen us play in Tijuana, Mexico so he had already heard about us – that was exciting. Playing in Tijuana was also an amazing experience. And, even though our music is mostly in Korean, people still responded to the music, which was very moving for us.

Q: What can US-based fans expect from you at SXSW?

A: True post-punk music – not the “indie” packaged, soul-less music produced by following some kind of set formula. I think we’re all going to have a great time getting to share our music with a new audience.  I think they’ll love us!

Q: Lastly, you’ll be collaborating with the belly dancer Eshe and her Navah troupe this Friday night to raise money for your trip. Tell us what is it like to take part in these kinds of music-dance collaborations from the band’s perspective.

A: Clearly, music and dance go together well – it’s a natural collaboration. I think working with any artists expands the whole creative process.  I think it shows us all what is possible and creates a wonderful experience for all of the participants regardless of whether they are dancing, listening, playing, or doing something else. Performing live is really the best feeling there is.

Smacksoft Fundraiser

Smacksoft’s US tour fundraiser show takes place on Friday night at Nest Nada.  The show starts at 8 pm and tickets are 20,000 won.  Apollo 18, Rainbow99, and bellydancers Eshe & Navah will also perform.  For international fans, here are Smacksoft’s overseas gigs in March and April:

March 13 Austin, TX @ Icenhauer’s (SXSW)
March 16 San Antonio, TX @ Limelight
March 20 San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall (CAAMFest)
April 12 Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Sugar Factory (PMPS Fest)

Jambinai and Idiotape Team Up for Seoul Show before Their US Tours

By: Tom Rainey-Smi​th

Korean indie acts Jambinai and Idiotape are preparing to take on Texas in March where they will join more than 2,000 bands from 60 countries at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. Before they head off to the States, the two bands are performing a show this Sunday (March 2) at Club Ta in Hongdae. Check out Korea Gig Guide’s interviews with both bands, along with their American tour dates, below.

Jambinai

photo by RIchard Yoon Chan

Fusing elements of metal and punk with traditional Korean music, Jambinai have spent much of the past year showcasing their talent around the world. Recently billed by MTV Iggy as one of the top 10 international acts not to miss at SXSW, this post-rock band are pushing boundaries and winning a diverse fan base with their unique sound. With an EP and an album under their belt, they are currently putting together material for what will be their second full-length release.

The Jambinai experience is hard to define. Their sound might be best described as listening to Meshuggah while walking through Seoul’s Gyeongbok Palace at night on acid; their deeply layered and darkly beautiful songs will leave you in an altered state. As guitarist and piri player Lee Ilwoo explains, their sound has evolved from a longtime interest in traditional Korean music and hopes to take listeners on a unique journey. Read our interview with him below.

Tell us about your musical influences and how you came to create such a unique sound.

Lee Ilwoo: We all have been playing Korean traditional music since we were middle school and high school. And we’re also fans of lots of other types of music too like hardcore, punk, metal, tango, modern classical music, and many other styles. I think we combine all of our different musical tastes to try and make something new using the instruments we’ve been playing since we were kids and teenagers.

Do you approach your music as an attempt to break through stylistic boundaries or as more of a process of drawing on and fusing together different but established styles?

Lee Ilwoo: I guess we kind of do both of those things when we make music. It’s not something we do consciously, though. We just try to make the music we want to make using the instruments we love and feel really comfortable with.

Jambinai’s music is a collaborative and deeply artistic experience. Describe for our readers the process of song writing.

Lee Ilwoo: I usually come up with the framework for our songs. Then the other members add to the framework and help modify it with their traditional instruments.

You recently showcased some new material that is still as of yet unnamed. It is sounding deep and dark. Is there a specific theme or feeling that you’re going for your next album?

Lee Ilwoo: We want to try and describe feelings that represent the present. Something that has never been known before because no one has recognized that it exists. But actually it has existed the whole time. And when it is finally discovered, people will be shocked. Kind of like what happened with the coelacanth fish.*

What should concert goers expect from you at SXSW?

Lee Ilwoo: They should expect to see a band who can’t speak English well playing heavy music using instruments that they may have never seen before. We’re playing three official showcases at SXSW and two unofficial gigs during the festival as well. We’re excited to play for new audiences and hope lots of people come out see us play.

Here are Jambinai’s March US tour dates:
March 11 Austin, TX @ (7:30 pm) Elysium (official SXSW showcase)
March 12 Austin, TX @ (3 pm) International Day Stage Austin Convention Center (official SXSW showcase)
March 13 Austin, TX @ (1:30 pm) Hotel Vegas (Levitation Austin)
March 13 Austin, TX @ (12:00 am) Flamingo Cantina (official SXSW showcase)
March 14 Austin, TX @ (3:15 pm) Spider House (The Texas Rock N Roll Massacre 2)
March 16 San Antonio, TX @ Limelight

* The coelacanth fish was thought to have been extinct for 66 million years until one was eventually discovered in 1938.

Idiotape

Electro-rock trio Idiotape are no strangers to SXSW having first performed at the festival in 2011. This award-winning electronic act – which is comprised of producer and synthesizer player Dguru, synthesizer player Zeze, and drummer DR – has been pumping out the beats since 2008 when they formed in Seoul. Since then they’ve ripping up dance floors, performing to crowded audiences at a number of Korean and overseas festivals. They recorded an EP in 2010 and put out their first full-length album the following year. The band mixes synth-driven rhythms with a classic rock feel achieved by live drumming.

Not only do they promise to put on a dynamic and electrifying show, but also plan to showcase some new material for the first time when they hit Texas. As the band explains, they are an act that must be seen live to be really understood.

How would you describe your sound? What original elements do you bring into your music that makes it your own?

Dguru: We play dynamic synth-driven music will real drums. We’re kind of like an electronic rock ‘n’ roll band.

Zeze: Maybe electronic shoegaze would be a good description? We play electronic music with electronic instruments, but our mindset is based in rock music.

DR: I think we make rock music for the 21st century.

What are your musical influences?

Dguru: I’m influenced by the music and different sounds I hear everywhere I go. I think drawing is how we see, poetry is how we speak, and music is how we hear. When making music, I try to make sounds based on what I’ve heard or imagined.

Zeze: I’m influenced by the people I meet, by time, and by space. I’m really influenced by the different seasons too.

DR: My musical influences come from past memories of gigs I’ve played and how the audiences reacted at them, and from concerts I’ve seen by other bands.

Idiotape has established a solid following both locally and internationally. Do you think Korean indie music gets the recognition it deserves outside of the country?

Dguru: I don’t think it gets enough recognition yet. But that’s slowly changing. When we went to SXSW in 2011 there were only five Korean acts playing at the festival. This year there are 15 Korean acts. I think this is a really good thing and it could signal the start of a new beginning for the Korean indie scene.

You’ve played SXSW before. What are you most looking forward to about this year’s event?

Dguru: I’m looking forward to getting to know other musicians from around the world. I think we can learn a lot from watching other acts perform and getting to know them.

Zeze: The last time we went to SXSW, I was nervous and made many mistakes because it was our first overseas tour. I want to try and enjoy the festival more this time around.

Besides risking addiction to the music and involuntary body shaking, what should fans expect from your SXSW show?

Zeze: We’re going to play a new song at SXSW which we’ve never played before. People at SXSW will be the first ones to hear it.

DR: They should expect to get to experience the “real” Idiotape. I think you can’t judge our band based only by our albums. Idiotape is a band that needs to be seen live to truly understand us.

Here are Idiotape’s March US tour dates:
March 11 Austin, TX @ (11:30 pm) Elysium (Official SXSW Showcase)
March 20 San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall (CAAMFest)

Club Ta Poster

Jambinai and Iditoape will play a show together on Sunday, March 2 at Club Ta.  Ynot? are also on the bill.  The show starts at 6 pm and tickets are 15,000 in advance.