Posted on April 28, 2015


# You sing in the Busan based punk rock band Genius as well as doing your own folk / acoustic solo project. There is a big difference in the two styles of music you play. Do both styles reflect you as a person?

Ildu Kim: Yeah, both styles represent me well. Everyone has a fast side and a slow one. There is a big difference in the two genres but to me they feel much the same. The styles may be different but my solo songs and my Genius songs have one thing in common: I alway try my best to be truthful to myself with the lyrics. For example, in one of the songs I say ‘keep your hands off my girlfriend’ or ‘I was just using that girl’ Anyways, in the song lyrics I never tell any lies. Actually, in the case of Genius, its extremely childish really. But, within that childishness is a person's true personality. It takes a bit of bravery to admit that.

# In your first album, one of the most popular lyrics was ‘곱고 맑은 영혼’ [beautiful & pure spirit]. The title of your the new album is ‘달과 별의 영혼’ [The spirit of the moon and the stars]. Is there any reason you like to refer to ‘spirit’ so much?

Ildu: [Laughs]. No. Not really. Actually, when I wrote the line 'beautiful & pure spirit' for the first album it was a kind of joke I guess. Just a joke. It’s a kind of positive thought, right. In reality, I'm not really like that at all, but I believe that if I think positively, I will become more positive. I don’t worry about what others think or say about me, I just wanted to say something positive about me. There is not much of a difference between the new album’s songs and the songs from before. Perhaps the new album is a little brighter than the first one, thats why I decided to call it 'The spirit of the moon and the stars'. Also, because I like the moon and the stars! Just because. As you know when people look at me I’m not a beautiful or pure spirit at all. I am a bit murky as a person! My liver is not so good, so my eyes are a bit jaundiced! However, saying 'beautiful & pure spirit' is both positive and fun so I said it as a joke.

# Has there ever been a time you have really thought of yourself as a genius?

Ildu: No. I’ve never thought that. I just like saying it as a joke!

# OK, then, has there ever been a time where you have felt like a genius?

Ildu: Of course! [Laughs]. I feel like that whenever I write lyrics that to me sound really good. I’m not all that good at playing guitar, so I never think that I’m a genius guitar player or anything. Whenever some lyrics or a good melody unexpectedly pop into my head I feel a bit like a genius. In all honesty, it’s not because I am a genius at all, it just happens by chance. But still, I think, ‘well fuck me, I am a genius’!

# At concerts, you often say ‘My English is easy to understand, isn't it?’ and you have a lot of songs with English lyrics. How would you describe your English style? Ilduish?

Ildu: My style is not being very good at it! I reckon only Casey and Steve (members of Genius) can understand me. I’m just a fella who can’t do it so well, writing lyrics in English. So if I do write in English, I always ask Casey or Steve to look over it and fix my mistakes. But they always ask me ‘Do you want the lyrics to be perfect? Or do you want them to have a slightly imperfect feel to them?’ I always reply that I don’t need them to be perfect, so they just tell me to leave it as it is! Everyone knows I’m not all that good at English, so if my lyrics are suddenly perfect, it would be a little strange, wouldn’t it. I don’t really want it to be like that. But I think the lyrics should be at least funny. It is rock n roll afterall. I used to really like the Ramones. So when I started my old bands Suspense & Mamason I wanted to give it a bit of the Ramones feel. Even though their lyrics are often a bit silly they are really entertaining. I like that.

# What do the Chinese characters in your name mean? Do you think that is an apt name for you? Why?

Ildu: Yeah, I guess it is a good name for me. I’ve had the name for about 40 years now, it would be weird to think it didn’t suit me. When I was young, I thought my name was a little weird. My friends used to tease me about it a bit. Around the time I went to high school, it had grown on me. Up until I went to middle school, when I would go to church or somewhere people would tell me my name was funny. These days I think it suits me quite well. The meaning of my name is ‘one star’, which is amusing. The ‘Il’ means ‘one’ and in Chinese the ‘Du’ means ‘star’.

# In the chorus of the song ‘No Job No Truth’ you say ‘catch your job’. In Korean, it sounds a bit like you are saying 개추잡 [rough translation : fucking dirty]. Did you do that on purpose? I’m 100% sure you did. But I can’t see any mention of it it any interviews anywhere. (Question By : 박석완 (Seokwan Park))

Ildu: That's fucking nonsense! I never said anything like that. It’s some kind of diss on my pronunciation. I guess I’d better get studying some more.

# From when did you become a ‘beautiful and pure spirited’ person? (Question By : 유진환 (Yoo Jin Hwang))

Ildu: From the time I released that album! 1st April 2013!

# You have been playing music for over 10 years now, what do you think has changed the most in that time?

Ildu: I’ve got old. Probably nothing, apart from that. Realistically, I have just got older and weaker. As I got older, I have probably got a little wiser and I think in a more detailed way than before. When I was young. I was valiant and energetic. Like Don Quijote (from the novel by Miguel de Cervantes) I was a little obstinate I guess, but these days I’m none of those things. I think you need those charastics, when you are playing punk rock. But these days I don't wanna be like that.

# In the 10 years or so you have been playing music, you have been at your most popular while doing your solo work. In that time, have you ever been recognised on the street?

Ildu: Sometimes, about once a year someone recognises me. But, really for me, thats not so much fun, actually, it makes me a little sad. Because, to me the music i make with my friends in Genius is way more fun and meaningful to me than my solo work. Actually, it is because of Casey and Steve that I am doing as well as I am doing today. I’d love to be able to give them more cool things to do together, I feel sorry to them that I can’t. So there is that. But, sadly, I can’t do whatever I want.

Photos By : Wendy Nind / 지알원 / 이해란 / unknown / Cindi L'Abbe

# So, is there nothing fun about playing solo?

Ildu: Yeah, the once a year when someone recognises me is fun! Once each year, I will be walking down the street and someone will say ‘oh oh oh’. It’s always surprising and amazing when that happens. Today’s interview with you guys as well, I’m not a famous or important person, but you have stayed up late on a Saturday night to hang out with me. You should be out getting drunk on whiskey, but you are here with me. I’m really thankful for that, it’s a lot of fun.

# If you were to write a review about your album, what would you say?

Ildu: Actually, when I made the album, I didn’t really give it any thought at all. I just wanted to make an album, so I did. It was the same in all the bands I’ve played in as well, we just made them naturally, with no real thought behind them. My first solo album was a bit different, all the songs on that album were made in my 20’s, so I guess the album was a kind of way to organise all that part of my life. So, I guess that album had some kind of specific meaning. This new album however, was just made because I wanted to. People look at my lyrics on my albums and think to themselves that it is some kind of reflection on my life and thoughts. But, in actual fact, I don’t give them any real thought at all. I wrote them all, for sure … but I don’t even know what they mean really. I’m not just saying that to hide something, I really don’t know what they mean.

# What inspires you when you write your lyrics?

Ildu: I watch a lot of TV, I even watch the repeats of shows I have already seen. For example, I watch ‘The Bridges of Madison County’, the main character is Robert Kincaid. He falls in love with a married woman. It is really a beautification of cheating on people. I get inspiration from watching things like that. Also, like right now, I draw inspiration from meeting new people. You look like a real man, but when you are talking in Korean you sound a bit like a girl. It’s unique and funny to me. I get inspiration from everything, good or bad. I guess things that impress me stick in the mind more. I write some of these things down in memos. Else I will forget them. When I read them the next day, they often lead me to think of other things as well. It’s like an investment in time. Investment perhaps isn’t the right word, I do it because I enjoy it. 

# In the song ‘해당화’ you sing about someone called Michael. Is there any relation to the bible in that song? (Question By : 박석완 (Seokwan Park))

Ildu: Not at all! Next to Busan station is a street known as Texas Alley. There are loads of Russians there. I was passing by there and loads of Russian guys were talking together. There were saying ‘blah blah blah …’ and suddenly I heard the word ‘Michael’. Their pronunciation of that name was almost the same as a Koreans. I don't know why exactly, but it really stuck in my mind. So, I just stuck it in the song. No reason, no relation to the bible.

# When did you make the song ‘사랑의 환영’ [The illusion of love]? (Question By : 야미 (Yammi))

Ildu: When I was in my twenties. The original title was actually ‘고양이’ [The Cat]. I really like cats, so I called it that. It was the first song I ever wrote. I was looking at the song sheet for a church gospel song, I used the same chords from that song to make it.

# Your lyrics are simple but poetic. You wrote a book as well ..

Ildu: The book, its just a joke really. I made one massive mistake when I wrote that book, that was the price. 10,000 won. There are loads of books that are better than mine, and they are all cheaper. I feel a bit guilty about that. I made that crap, and sold it for 10,000 won. That makes me a shitty person, doesn’t it. I like that books don’t decay, so long as you take good care of them. Writing is fun. I want to write a fun novel in the future. But, music is more important than writing for me at the moment. It is really good fun to get together and make music with my friends. Writing is fun, but I don’t dream of becoming a writer. In the future, who knows.

# One of your new songs, ‘Old Train’ is really fun. You compare a girls body parts to all manor of things you see out of windows on different kinds of transport. Who were you thinking of when you wrote it? What about your other love songs, who were you talking about in them?

Ildu: My girlfriend, of course. In the case of Old Train, it was definitely her I was thinking of. When I went to America with my friends Steve and Casey for the first time, I saw this really long train. I had never seen a train as long as that train. America is a really big wide country. It is a big place, but the trains are really long. I wanted to ride that train. I imagined her while I was watching that train go by the forest. When you see cool things like that, you always wish you could be with your partner to watch it together. It was one of those thoughts. For some reason among other thoughts, I thought of her legs. There are several songs on the new album that I wrote thinking about her. With regards to the other songs, as I said before, my first album was written in my 20’s so lots of the songs were written just using my imagination. They were written so long ago now, I can’t really remember what they were about exactly. I guess they were about my hopes and dreams. I don't think they were about anyone in particular, just about what most people think of as ‘love’ I guess.

# What is a pretty girl to you? (Question By : 송연지 (Song Younji))

Ildu: She is a good thing! Is there anyone who thinks otherwise? Even girls like looking at pretty girls. Of course guys like looking.

# Why don’t you bother with twitter? Not a fan of tweeting?

Ildu: I’ve no interest in all that. you need a computer for twitter, I don’t have one at home. Not because I’m a technophobe, I just missed that time. Instead of all that, I like watching TV. I don't like sitting in front of a computer typing away, I prefer pressing buttons (on a remote control) to change things. I am really lazy. To put it a better way, I like thinking. You can think even while laying down watching TV, right. I like doing passive things, I guess.

# What is the stupidest thing you have done? What is the most intelligent thing?

Ildu: It’s really funny, but the answer to both those things is probably rock’n’roll. When I got entwined with rock’n’roll was probably when my life was ruined. But being involved in rock’n’roll has also been one of the most fun things in my life. I’ve never really done anything for any length of time, other than rock. I got into it all in my late 20s. I went to a festival at a university in 1996, I saw a Rage Against The Machine cover band there and they were so fucking cool. I started playing from right then.

# Have you ever thought about changing to electric cigarettes? (Question By : 박석완 (Seokwan Park))

Ildu: Never! I’d rather quit altogether than smoke those electronic cigarettes.

# In the song where you say ‘Enjoy your fucking life. Life is moment’ you also say ‘your big hole I have 3 balls? What are you talking about? (Question By : 박석완 (Seokwan Park))

Ildu: This must be Steve! Steve wrote this. It feels like something he would ask. It just means exactly that. If the hole is really big, you need three balls. That would be a good match. If the hole is small, two balls are plenty. I don’t fucking know, I was probably drunk when I wrote it. My English is rubbish. When I wrote that song, it was even worse than it is now. A big hole is funny, so are three balls. It was just a lyric I wrote that made me laugh. I’m not so smart, it made me laugh. [Laughs]

# Dear Ildu, Who wins the game of thrones? (Question By : Clayton)

Ildu: I don't watch that series, but I reckon the winner will be whoever this person want’s it to be. Sometimes, things just work out how you want them to in life.

# What am I wearing? (Question By : Clayton)

Ildu: Ahhhh. This person is really wasting our time. They should ask themselves! This could be a questions from one of a few people. Yuppie Killer’s Ian or Steve I’d guess. I don’t wanna waste this interview time by answering. Ian, thanks! Thanks for asking this important question. It might not be you, but anyway. 

# In the future, is there anything you want to achieve, musically?

Ildu: I want to go on a world tour with Genius. I don't care who comes to listen to our music, I just want to do it. But for a load of different reasons, it probably won't happen just yet. Seeing the world would be a much better adventure than commuting between Seoul and Busan all the time. Personally, I really want to go to America. When I was younger I wanted to go to England, but since I went to America once already, I really want to go back to a big, wide country. I want to see all the nature and also, I want to play where all the musicians I looked up to played. If the day ever comes when Genius breaks up, I want it to be after we have done a world tour.

Buy '달과 별의 영혼’ [The spirit of the moon and the stars] (Digital) :

iTunes (USA) | iTunes (UK)Daum MusicNaver Music | Olleh MusicBugsGenie | M-Net | Melon

Buy '달과 별의 영혼’ [The spirit of the moon and the stars] (Physical) :

Hyang MusicYes Asia (International Delivery) | Yes 24AladinKyobo Bookstore (Online) |

Buy '달과 별의 영혼’ [The spirit of the moon and the stars] on Bandcamp :

Interview : 임도연 (Doyeon Lim) & Patrick Connor
English Translation : Patrick Connor
Edited by : Alex Ameter

For more information on Kim Ildu, check out at the following sites :

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Kim Il Du


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