Posted on June 06, 2015
Jiwon : Hi. We are Billy Carter. We play mostly in and around Hongdae and are soon to release our first EP. I play the tambourine, and my name is Jiwon.
Hyun Joon : Hi. I’m Hyun Joon and I play drums.
Jina : I am the guitarist, Jina.
Jina : Jiwon and I met by chance at university. We happened to be smoking the same cigarettes in the same smoking area.
Jiwon : Jina was smoking the same cigarettes as me so I was thinking if I dropped one, I could just blag one off of her.
Jina : We were studying the same subject but I hadn’t met her before. At some point I asked her what music she liked and we became friends.
Jiwon : As soon as I saw her I felt like she was the kind of person I could become friends with. The first question she threw my way was “What kind of music do you like? Do you like punk?” I told her I liked Iggy Pop.
Jina : You might say that it is because of Iggy Pop that we formed a band.
Jiwon : We became friends from that point, but didn’t make a band until later.
Jina : We jammed consistently for a while and in the end just said ‘right, let’s make a band together’. We came up with the name Billy Carter in 2011. One of the reasons we started the band was because we were planning to go to England together.
Jiwon : In fact...in addition to living together in England we decided to start a band together as well for good measure. Before that we had jammed a lot together also. We put the foundations of the band together in England and then decided to continue with it once we got back here.
Jiwon : At the start we worried about the name a lot, but in the end Jina said “perhaps it would be best if we had a name that didn’t really have any specific meaning behind it” and so we just chose a person's name. We picked a name that we imagined would represent a fat old white guy who was into blues music, there was no real meaning to us, other than that.
Pictures : Kammi Madsen
Jiwon : We lived on Finchley Road, in London.
Jina : It is just one block from Abbey Road studios, but that block is a bit slummy so it was a little dangerous.
Jiwon, Jina : We lived like proper tramps while we were there.
Jina : We did a lot of busking. There are people over there that make their living from busking. They would say to us ‘You can’t play here. Move on’. They told us loads of lies and acted like they were the owners of certain patches.
Jiwon : The buskers over there are really professional-minded, they play really really well. They are not playing covers ,they are making their own music for people to listen to. They are really proud as well, to be earning their living through busking their songs. It is pretty damn cool. There are other buskers as well, who don’t have any confidence in their own music and are really just begging I guess. People didn’t give them much money. The ones who are really good could go into any club and play a great show, they are that good. Those guys get given loads of money from busking.
Jiwon : I don’t there is a big difference really. In England the fans will give you direct feedback about your show. For example they might say ‘I really like such and such about your music’, or ‘This part was really touching for me’. They would tell us things like that directly, in person.
Jina : Yeh, they always say more than just ‘I liked it’. Also, the other performers say things like ‘let’s collaborate on this and that, it will be fun’, we heard things like that a lot while we were out there.
Jiwon : Korean people have fun and concentrate more at shows. If you just go over to Itaewon the foreigners there are always talking through the set, whereas Koreans come out specifically to watch the show. I guess they get more immersed in it as well.
Jina : I can not think of any specific bad points about playing in Korea, the audience at each show in Korea is always really different.
Jiwon : Honestly though, when we are playing shows we are busy entertaining other thoughts so we don’t worry too much about what the audience is thinking or doing. We don’t even make much eye contact really.
Jiwon : We played our first show with Hyun Joon on July 5th last year.
Hyun Joon : He was a senior student at our university.
Jina : I remember seeing Hyun Joon performing at our school ages ago. I’ve seen him playing in other bands as well.
Jiwon : Actually, we had been working together really hard to make a good sound between the two of us, so I was worried about breaking that mold we had created. I thought that with a new member we would have to start again and that it would be really hard work. The first time we played together I had already decided that I wouldn’t work out. I was thinking hateful things like ‘If this doesn’t feel right, even a little, I ain’t playing with you’, ‘Let’s see how good you really are’. Then we started playing together and I immediately said ‘Great, you’re in’.
Jina : I have a kind of blues feel to my playing, so lots of people say things like ‘I bet you like Robert Johnson’. I guess there is a blues root to my music, and of course, I like him … but it is hard to say he has had a massive influence on me.
Jiwon : I don’t get any particular inspiration from just blues music, I think I get influence from all kinds of musicians. If I listen to it and like it then I get some kind of influence from it. I get influenced by other things that are not music related also.
Jina : I really like movies as well. Especially movies with good soundtracks. I get lots of inspiration from when I was young.
Jiwon : We both write songs and lyrics separately but we do all the final arrangements of the songs all together. We write whatever we want to write about for the lyrics.
Jina : Life. I want to write songs about everyday things. If I am in love with someone at that time, then I write about love. If I am sad then the lyrics have a more sad feel to them.
Jiwon : You could say more than writing about life in general, I write about ‘my’ life I guess. My thoughts.
Jina : I like to write using figurative and metaphorical words, so when people listen they might not know exactly what I am talking about. When you listen the song ‘Spring(봄)’ you might think it is a bright song, but actually the written lyrics are really serious. So, I tried all the more to make the song feel bright.
Jiwon : I tend to be a fairly negative person, so even when I fall in love I don’t often think of it as an really happy feeling. I don’t really want to fall in love as much as possible. I don’t really want to be anyone’s lover. I think a relationship is like a war between two people, one person is a cheater, trying to deceive the other person and on the other side is someone who is trying hard not to be deceived. That song is a brief and simple song about my own definition of love. It is a song about people who fell in love. It was really hard to write that song. There are lots of different kinds of love, but the hardest kind is that of lovers.
Jiwon : The SkaSucks show was the first time I laid down like that. I felt really happy that day so I picked up the keyboard, it was much heavier than I had thought, so I leaned up against the wall. However, my body was a bit slippery so I naturally slid down the wall and ended up on the floor. I felt so good that day. But, I ended up laying on top of Trash’s (from Whatever That Means) 2,000,000 won bass guitar and bent the neck. I am so sorry about that. I play shows because I want to be happy, so when we play shows I do lots of things that make me happy. Like lying down, it is really comfortable. I’m always lying down at home as well! haha
All members : It was great. Really good fun.
Jina : Firstly, when you get out of Seoul the air is better, I get lots of energy just because of that.
Jiwon : I went down to hang out in Busan before the show. The trip up to Jeonju was really beautiful. There was a really thick fog so it was like being dead and travelling to another place. I thought, it might be ok to die at that moment. Actually, Korea’s music scene is by nature very small, there is almost nothing so in that situation it is important to help each other out a lot. Jeonju is a really great city but people don’t really think about bands all that much. It is a tough situation for bands to consistently play shows down there.
Jina : We played with 57, who come from Jeonju. It felt a bit like going to hang out at a friend’s house. Because they are from there, loads of their friends and fans came out to see the show.
Jiwon : A while back we went down and played the same venue with Streetguns & Wasted Johnny’s. There was hardly anyone there to watch and the show didn’t turn out so well. It was our first time to play in one of the smaller cities and the promotion side of things didn’t go so well. It is all trial and error I guess. However, this time round was great. The idea to play this show came about when we were drinking with three other bands. We just said, ‘Let’s go and spend some time in Jeonju! And, while we are at it, we can play a show’. That’s how it happened.
Jina : We did some busking in Jeonju while we were there as well, it was a really deep meaningful experience for us. We played at a remembrance shrine for the victims of the Sewol ferry ferry disaster. Everyone there was really kind, they gave us rice cakes and told us how much they liked us.
Jiwon : Everyone was super warm there.
Jina : It was the Jeonju movie festival then as well, so there were lots of people about.
Jiwon : I just wrote that without thinking about it. I went on to change our details so it said we are a three piece band but it was annoying to me to write about all that stuff, so I just wrote that as a joke. At first, it was just the stuff up until the ‘You'll get pregnant’ part… but it seemed so aggressive so I added a few more words to the end. There is no real meaning to it, but people seem to really like it!
Jiwon : I had been waiting for the chance to dress up like that for a while. In the years before we had dressed up as the grim reaper, ghosts, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, it was really fun to dress up like that. As soon as one halloween is finished, I’m planning for next year’s right away. As soon as we had decided on a McDonald’s costume I was really looking forward to the next halloween.
Jina : Our friend made the costumes for us and we bought the accessories on the internet.
Jina : I just thought it would be fun.
Jiwon : Because it was pretty! haha. Red and yellow.
Jina : Also, we ate Burger King that day. There was a plan to make a video about that show, but we haven't seen the finished product yet.
Jiwon : Ah, we can’t tell you, it would be strange to tell everyone early ...
Jina : We do have something in mind though.
Jiwon, Jina : : Hyun Joon, you can answer this one!
Hyun Joon : I don’t think I can... haha.
Jina : It was our aim to create a sound that people would not have been able to imagine from when we were a two piece acoustic band. After becoming a three piece and going electric we finally got to make the kind of music we had originally set out to make. Before it has not been possible while we were an acoustic two person band. But that sound is what you will find on the new EP.
Jiwon : This EP has a really important meaning to us. Actually, originally Jina was an electric guitar player and I was into more metal and punk music. So, neither of us were really the acoustic singer types. It was a big challenge for us to make that kind of music. Because of that it feels a bit like we have come back home. We are back to be making the kind of music we originally set out to make / the style we used to make. Also, when we played as a two piece there was always something missing. Hyun Joon plays the drums really well so he controls the songs well with his beats. He adds that missing something: drums. Hyun Joon’s drums are understated and free. He plays loads of notes but they are not distracting from the overall song. He is masterful at knowing just when to play louder or quieter. He has had a massive influence on the Billy Carter sound since he joined. So, it is really meaningful for us to be recording our first EP together.
Jina : We did all the recordings in one take as well, only the vocals were recorded separately.
Jiwon : We didn’t have any cash so we had to rush and finish really fast. I think everyone everywhere in the world has some kind of regrets about their recordings. At the moment, we are really satisfied with the results.
All members : Have a listen to them all.
Jiwon : People always say this, right : Every child is special in the eyes of their parents.
Hyun Joon : I will think of one soon!
Jiwon, Jina : Don’t bother!
Hyun Joon : The song called ‘Lost My Way’, we don’t play it often at at shows, but personally I really like it. It is a song with a quicker tempo. I like those kind of songs, they are fun.
Jina : Jiwon doesn’t like to.
Jiwon : That song is about getting lost. I like driving. A long time ago I was not feeling so good, so I went out for a drive. I am not good with directions and so I got lost. However, at that time I thought ‘well, I’m lost but I don’t really wanna go back so I’m just gonna keep going’. I made the song while still feeling like that, I think I actually lost a little part of myself somehow that night, it never made it back home with me. I wrote it as a pleasant song, but I can not enjoy playing it so much because of that feeling that I lost something that night.
Jina : Buy lots of copies of our EP please.
Jiwon : Come to Ruailrock at 9pm on the 13th June. You can see Pegurians, Whatever That Means, A’Z bus, Command 27 and we will be releasing our EP as well! Bring your friends! Thanks!
Interview : Kim Jin, Choi Ilhwa, Kammi Madsen
English Translation : Patrick Connor / Doyeon Lim (임도연)
Edited by : Jamie Leigh Gilbert
Date : June 13th (Sat) 21:00
Venue : Ruailrock
Door : 15,000 won (FREE CD)
For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :