Posted on August 21, 2014

Interview

You’ve got to see a band in multiple venues. If you love a group of certain people making certain sounds in certain patterns, you owe it to yourself to indulge in a variety of performances as the setting of a live set greatly affects your perception of an act. Watching a band at Lowrise (RIP L) was a dramatically separate experience from seeing the same band rock out in Badabie. The totality of your senses tingles differently. The intensity of this phenomenon (the tingling?) is often dependent on the style of the band, with more classic/garage rock style bands usually less affected by the surroundings and more experimental bands altering their sensual output significantly based on the locale.

ECE is a band that I had the distinct pleasure of seeing many times in many different settings. My favorite ECE moment had to be in the shared recording studio Broken Teeth when they played at a little house-party type event. I was fortunate enough to see the last few bands of this concert after shutting down a POWWOW show (meaning I was exhausted and already pretty blasted with music). After chilling out to Noisecat and Non, ECE took the stage and absolutely tore the place down.

Even though I had seen them on multiple occasions in the past, it wasn’t until we were all packed into that little sound studio that I realized how incredibly danceable ECE’s music was. It just happened that that particular venue somehow made this band’s music more conducive to instigating a crazy dance party. That night is one of my favorite concert memories from Seoul, and resulted from me seeing what I thought was a familiar band in a completely different context.

My whole perception of ECE changed, shifting from experimental-vox-glitch-art-punk to makes-you-want-to-dance-like-Ian-Curtis-art-rock.That’s a huge shift, I swear. ECE, whose members once helped me rummage around in the back of POWWOW looking for and humoring me about the quality of my ill-fated new DIY mirror ball, and who has a brand new album out now, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions on their album, the subject of aesthetic context, dance music, incorporating showmanship in rock, and relive a few fond memories.

Hi guys, I hope you’re doing well! I’m really excited for this album. Can you talk about it a bit? As in how was the recording process? Did you use any special or interesting techniques? Did you have any major obstacles to overcome to complete the album? Etc.

Geum-O (Guitar) : The most important characteristic of the recording for this album is that we recorded the whole thing in our practice studio. Seeing as we practice here all the time it is really familiar to us and a comfortable space for us to play and create music. Recording in there was a totally different experience to practicing there. However, thankfully, because it is a place we are already familiar with it was easier to generate more organic ideas. There was no tension in that room so it was easy to apply our ideas to the recording. When people listen to music they think the quality of the recording is very important but we think that showing the real us (our personalities / traits etc) through our music is more important than that.

Of course, if we had the money, we would have brought a few more mics and got a slightly better sound. Sadly, we don’t have endless amounts of money. But despite this minor problem we have managed to produce a sound that we are really proud of. Actually, because of the lack of money we have managed to produce that unique sound that is ECE. We really enjoy the recording process and we always learn loads of new things.

I’ve seen you guys play at least a dozen times and I’ve seen a huge variety of audience reactions. Everything from pretty stoic, stoned faced dudes standing around slightly bobbing their heads or tapping their toes to full on raging dance parties. What do you think determines this huge variety of reactions and behaviors as it relates to your music? Is there anything you feel like you can do to nudge the needle closer to the type of reaction you want, or is it pretty constrained to who’s in the audience and the mood in the venue?

Juwon Park (Bass) : I’m not certain about this, but I think the reason for different reactions at each concert is due to how many people there are seeing us for the first time and how many people in the venue have seen us before. Sometimes I look on twitter and the web for people’s reactions to our music. After doing this I realized the reviews were different from people who had seen us just the one time and people who had seen us two or more times.

The first time people see us, they don’t know where to look and what to concentrate on. So they give a slightly confused kind of reaction to our show. The next time they see us, they know what to expect a little more so they can more easily find something about us that they like. Therefore, the show is a bit more fun than the first time. We don’t ever tell the audience / our fans what the point of a song is, we like them to work it out for themselves. We enjoy it a lot, because everyone always comes up with different ideas. That’s the beauty of a live show. Once people have been to see us two times it seems like they keep coming back again and again. Most the people who are dancing in our gigs are people with familiar faces because they have been to our shows many times. We are so grateful to our dancers. There are other people who often come to see our shows but don’t dance at all. I like these people too. It feels like they are concentrating so intently on our music (I’m probably mistaken! haha).

In conclusion, whether they are dancing or not, we can feel if the audience is connecting with us at any moment. It always feels to me like there is a kind of plug that connects ECE and the audience together. We can tell if the connection is tight or not by the decibel (shouting) or movement (dancing) of the audience. Once you plug in a machine, all other things are set aside; the lights are on, aren't they? The connection between ECE and the audience is kind of like this.

In general do you like the idea of your music being considered “Dance-y”? Dong-Yong, you’re a pretty committed dancer during your performances with a unique style. Are you trying to start a new dance craze? Should I be watching out for how-to ECE dance instruction videos on YouTube? And if you had to choose would you rather people take your music as a serious work of art or have everyone have fun and dance around?

Dong Yong (Vocal) : At first I was a regular dancer, I always used to dance at shows. But as time has gone by my dancing has become just some kind of movement. In my opinion at every moment my dancing / movements visualize our music. I think my movements help people (even if just a little) to understand our music and what it represents. My movements tend to be very intuitive. Because most of ECE’s songs have strong riffs it’s easy to dance along to.

Among ECEs songs there are several that were composted in polyphony. But all the separate parts that make up the song repeat over and over. For example, when the snare oriented drum part drops in, at the same time some part of my body will also repeatedly move in time with the snare / drum groove.

I think there is more technique and skill in an ECE performance than you might find in other kinds of art projects. At the time of actually making our music, I don’t give it too much serious thought or analyze its state too much; I just focus on the senses. The clash is not between one message and another, but between the notes and beats of the song. I like to think that artistic value comes from activities after the actual creation of the music, so I don’t like to put any kind of sophisticated art into the music itself. Music is very close to us, it is an easy thing for us to do, so it is the same with my dancing. It just happens. I’d like to say that the dancing is not about expressing some kind of liberation, agony, theory or anything like that. It is just purely about the music. Nothing else. ECE dance instruction videos on YouTube, there is an idea! Worth considering ;)

Not always, but a decent number of the times I’ve seen your show you’ve done that cool thing where Dong-Yong stands in front of the projector in the pitch-black as your intro starts. I think you even had a blindfold. Do you think that type of showmanship and performance helps you leave a stronger impression on your audience? How did you originally decide to start incorporating that into your show? And any plans to add more artistic, non-musical performance aspects to your regular set?

Dong Yong : Honestly, I was imitating another performance when I did that. I originally started out performing because I liked strong post punk performers like Peter Gabriel or Laurie Anderson. I think the flow from rock to indie apparently ended with them. It’s like holding onto the coattails of punk, which is the music everybody can do, and at the same time the coolest thing to me. I do my best to be faithful to my position in the band (in rock we call me the frontman). My performances can sometimes contain a message for the audience or be purely just for fun. Before we made this album, we would always make a different performance for each venue we played in. After we release this new album however, we have a new performance master plan to put in action. In the new album ‘나를 번쩍’ [Lift me glory], there exists a kind of ‘flow’ and message. We aim to continue this kind of project in our music.

My favorite time seeing you guys play was absolutely that Vin Chaud party at Broken Teeth. The small space and close knit feel of the crowd really made the whole thing feel like some really cool house party with a bunch of friends. What is your favorite performance you can remember? Why did you enjoy that particular performance so much?

Juwon Park : One of my favorite shows (that i can remember) was at the sadly now nonexistent Powwow (in Itaewon). It was that show you mentioned earlier, where Dong-Yong stood in front of the projector blindfolded. The light was awesome at that show. Thanks to whoever was responsible for the lighting on that night.

The second of my favorites was a show at Yogiga. Even though there were not many people there (you could probably count them on one hand) we got a great reaction and it was really good fun. We also played an acoustic cover of ‘Berry Field’ at that show. We made an Automata (a kind of wooden moving model) to show people at the concert, it was really hard to make and took a lot of time, sadly 10 minutes before the show started, it broke. Even though it was broken it became part of the performance and the whole thing turned out well in the end.

Dong Yong : I vividly remember going down to play Busan’s Zero festival. Before we were even a band, the 4 of us were really close friends so even though we went down there to play a show, it felt more like a holiday to us. It was the first time we had been down there and the first time we had been in this club. I had only heard about the club before. It was a really good opportunity for us. I want to do a Korean tour before the year is out.

Finally, the most important question: what is/are your favorite book(s) and why?

Geum-O (Guitar) : My favorite book is ‘Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?’ by Ajahn Brahm. Everyone, treat others right, and let’s all live together peacefully.

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Interview / Pictures : Alex Ameter
Translation : Patrick Connor / Doyeon Lim

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To celebrate the release of their new album, ECE has a showcase at Club Bbang. Check out the information below :

http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/events/ece-new-album-release

Date : Fri, Mar 27th (19:00)
Venue : Club Bbang
Adv : 10,000won
Door : 20,000won
Guest : Lee Seung-Kyu, 0Sinho, Hellivision

Adv Tickets  :

You can get advanced tickets by wiring money to the following bank account :

Shinhan Bank - 110-316-198946

After sending the correct amount of money, please compleate the following form : http://goo.gl/forms/kVwC9uTWGf

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For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :

Official Website : https://www.facebook.com/emergencycallequipment
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/emergencycallequipment
Twitter : https://twitter.com/BandECE
DoIndie : http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/bands/ece-emergency-call-equipment
Email : rockband_ece@naver.com

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