Posted on September 24, 2015
Since 2014 they have been regular fixtures on television talent programs, culminating in their first place finish on EBS Hello Rookie. That victory came exactly a year after their debut album release. When people talk about Cranfield, they talk about their pretty melodies and youthful appearance. Lee Seong Hyeok, Jeong Kwangsu and Suhyun Ji studied the same subject at the same university together and formed the band in 2012. At the start they had Hong Yong Kim (from Slow Baby) as a session guitarist but since then they have recruited Inn Park as a new, full-time member of the band. When the band first started out they all wore white clothes and produced a dreamlike sound, but since the release of their latest EP their music has started to take a new direction. We caught up with the band- who after getting first place on Hello Rookie, have been hard at work making new music- for a chat.
Suhyun: This is the guitarist for Cranfield, Inn. He is 188cm tall and he loves animals.
Inn: This is Kwangsu, Cranfield’s mascot and bass player.
Kwangsu: This is Seong Hyeok, he is the vocalist, guitarist, lyricist and composer for Cranfield.
SeongHyeok: Suhyun is one of those rare female drummers, I reckon she is probably the strongest female drummer in the Hongdae music scene.
Suhyun: She keeps getting stronger and stronger. Haha.
SeongHyeok: She is responsible for all the emotional stuff that us guys know nothing about. She is really valuable to us because she helps us project a less macho image.
Interview Pictures : Jiyoon Han
SeongHyeok: I don’t think there is much difference between us now and before. It’s similar. Inn came in during the middle of recording the EP so didn’t really get a chance to be part of the writing process. Until we make the second album it was kind of like a training period for him. However, he is arranging new guitar parts on a couple of songs already. Actually, his personality is similar to our friend who used to play guitar in the band, so thinking about it, there is not much difference really. If I had to point out one thing that has changed a lot, it would be that we drink less these days.
Suhyun: That’s right. The amount we drink has reduced noticeably.
SeongHyeok: Because Inn doesn’t drink all that much... Before, whenever we finished doing anything we would just go and drink.
Suhyun: That was a really big change for us.
Inn: The guitar lines for Cranfield’s songs are not so difficult, so playing them is not too hard. I am still absorbing everything in the band at the moment, so I don’t really think of anything as being ‘difficult’. It is a lot of fun, and in the case of Sori Museum, since I have been with them right from the start, there is nothing really difficult on that side of things either.
SeongHyeok: We use a lot of sampled sounds in our music. So, because of this, from the beginning I decided to utilize a MTR (Multi Track Recorder) to deal with sounds other than the guitar, drums and bass. However in 2014 we were part of a music competition and we wanted to improve, even if just a little, the quality of our representative song “Dream”. We thought it was important to use the synthesiser when we play live as well, to make the songs sound more like the recorded versions. So we bought one and used it on the EP as well. In my normal life also I like to do lots of things at the same time. So, other than moving the thing around there is nothing too difficult about it. Whenever we play shows I have to take an acoustic guitar and pedals, too. So Kwangsu carries it around for me.
Kwangsu: This is teamwork, right.
SeongHyeok: When using the synthesizer, the performance aspect of the band is improved as well, also we can create intros to lead into songs too, which we couldn’t do before. I use it for a whole lot of different things these days. Changing and using different instruments in itself is just fun as well. Thus far, I’ve had no big issues with having to use several different instruments at a show.
SeongHyeok: Both of the albums were really us just experimenting a bit, but … the first album <밤의 악대 (A Night’s Band)> was made from parts of songs I had already made before. We didn't worry about how people would see them or what people would think of them at all. I just wrote them as if I was writing my own diary, so it turned out a bit gloomy, but I could talk honestly that way. The melodies and basic sentiments are brighter and sweeter but also there is a cynical feel and a certain sadness to it as well, through which I wanted to give a conflicting feel to the record. On the other hand, when we made the EP we didn’t want to repeat the same kind of atmosphere from the first record. Last year, loads of great things happened for the band, but the overall feeling in society was dark and depressing. As one of those people, I too wanted to be consoled. I wanted to make songs that would give people strength, I made the song <파랗네 (It's Blue)>, and that feeling of clearness and pureness that blue gives became the concept behind our EP.
SeongHyeok: There was no special intention. The song <Bluebird> was originally written when we made our first album, although the name was different then. It didn’t really suit the feel of the first album so it was left off, and when we made the EP we figured it would combine well with the other songs so we wrote some new lyrics and included it on the EP. It is different from other Cranfield songs because the guitar sound is much stronger, it feels more like a psychedelic rock song. The songs on the EP have been arranged with a brighter overall tone than our original songs. We spent a lot of time worrying about the arrangement of the tracks on the album, but the song <Drifting> has no drums in it, so we decided to put it near the end of the CD. Bluebird is the last song on the EP but we didn’t structure it like it is on purpose. It just worked out that way.
Suhyun: When you look at Seong Hyeok’s way of working it seems like he doesn’t know what is going on either, but his song arrangement and everything is instinctive I guess. He seems to not be consciously thinking when he is creating the songs but something is happening internally I guess, and after some time he becomes aware of what is happening.
Kwangsu: He sometimes changes the lyrics to songs and then forgets he has changed them.
Kwangsu: Even if I were a consumer I would think the artwork was important as well. I think the album art can exert an influence on the appreciation of the music. too. Our majors are in design also, so we all have a bit of an interest in that area and when I look at other albums I always think that the look of the jacket is important. Just by looking at the image I want the consumer to be able to know which band made it, in the long term I think it is really important for a band to create a good brand for themselves.
SeongHyeok: In the past, when I would buy a cassette tape I would listen to the music while reading the lyrics and looking at the artwork. These days it feels as if people don’t really care so much about if they like the artwork or not, but for us, ever since we were young we have not been able to separate our feelings for the music and the artwork. So rather than thinking of the design as a separate entity I liked to think of it as part of the music. In the past, whenever a good album came out you knew the album’s jacket was going to be really good and artistic as well. So we put as much effort into the album art as we do the music. I think of it as a natural thing to do.
Inn: I think that these days just being a band that plays good music is not enough. I think that all bands put a lot of care and attention into their artwork. If we were not all designers then we would have asked someone to do it for us.
Kwangsu: We can’t listen to all the albums in the world as there are just too many, but if they have good artwork then we are immediately interested.
SeongHyeok: If the music and the artwork are of a similar style then it means so much more. When I was young I would buy albums based purely on the artwork, even if I knew nothing about the band. One of the albums I got was by Coldplay, and that CD made me want to become a musician.
Inn: There are so many… I like bands like Julia Heart, BamShinsa etc. I used to like ‘sloshy’ indie pop … I listened to Onnine Ibalgwan a lot. As for bands from abroad, I liked Johnny Marr’s playing style and Syd Barrett’s too. I liked guitarists who perform a song well, more than those who could play guitar amazingly well.
Kwangsu: In my case the bands that influenced me the most were not the ones who played the best but those that when I watched perform them made me want to become a musician. I am good friends with Seong Hyeok so he got me into things like Coldplay and Radiohead. I liked Joy Division a lot and they were one of the bands that made me think about becoming a musician the most. I like the Strokes, too. The biggest way bands have influenced me is with their energy and their emotions.
Suhyun: There was not one single band that made me want to become a musician. I just started playing music with my friends and it was so much fun I kept on doing it. Personally I really like Lali Puna. When I saw the Strokes play live they looked so fucking cool. I remember I was jealous and wanted to be like them.
SeongHyeok: Hide (From X-Japan) made me want to make music. He was the guitarist for X-Japan and is the reason I started playing guitar. It wasn’t his work in X-Japan that caught my eye, but his solo work that made me want to take up the guitar. Since I started playing the guitar I listened to a lot of neo-punk like Greenday, Blink 182 and Sum 41. I played in some cover bands as well. I learned through those adventures how much fun it was to be part of a band. I wasn’t making music then, just playing covers. The making music aspect started when I started listening to Coldplay’s second album. The songs were simple to play but were really deep emotionally, and it made me think that I could probably make music too. After that I started looking out for and listening to a lot of Britpop, I read a lot of the musicians’ interviews as well and through reading those interviews I found out that most of the bands had been influenced by bands like the Beatles, Velvet Underground and other bands from the 60s. I’d say that Cranfield’s music has also been mainly influenced by the Beetles.
Kwangsu: There isn’t really enough time in the day for all of Cranfield’s stuff… so I’ve never really thought of doing anything else as far as music is concerned. Outside of music, I would love to make a cartoon book someday. Apart from that I intend to focus all my energy into Cranfield.
Inn: For me, playing in Sori Museum and Cranfield is enough. I’d like to be able to make it down to Jebidabang (a local venue) more often for some of their jamming sessions. Nothing really outside of music, hmmm … a clothing model? (haha)
Suhyun: Me too, I haven’t thought about doing anything outside of Cranfield musically. I just want to be able to eat, go to the practice space, eat again, jam and sleep … It would be great to live like that. Somewhere along the line it would be nice if some money would fall from the sky..
SeongHyeok: There are loads of things I would like to try. Ages ago I wanted to try farming. Actually I like to grow plants. To me, gardening is a really worthwhile activity. As for things I can do here in Seoul, I don’t have the time to do it, but I would love to start a rock n roll band where I was the guitarist or drummer. I wouldn’t do the vocals. I would like to do more design work, and perhaps try some writing as well.
Suhyun: I’d love for us to be able to go and play abroad. A festival would be great, or a club tour in London. I want to go and play in loads of different places.
SeongHyeok: Of course, I think about playing abroad as well. However, for now I just want to make lots of good songs. I would also like to play all the big venues and shows here in Korea as well.
Kwangsu: I think that people always classify music differently. I would love it if people would hear our music and just think ‘ah, this must be Cranfield’. Even if we change our music style, I hope there will be something that people will hear and say ‘ah, this sounds like Cranfield’.
SeongHyeok: We have thought about what genre we are a lot, at the moment we say we are indie pop. We aim to try to keep that melodic pop feeling in our music. Basically, I think we make pop music. However we want to experience many other genres as well and express those styles in our music too. We are keen to try to do everything we can within the ‘pop’ outline.
SeongHyeok: I too am a DOINDIE reader. If I want to read some interviews or get some information on shows I use DOINDIE. I guess other people will feel the same, but I really like movements like DOINDIE. I love everything from the interviews to the English language service.
Suhyun: If you go on the website you can get lots of information. I think everything relating to the indie scene is on there. I think it is helpful for bands to become known as well, so I think really positively about the site.
SeongHyeok: All the shows and musicians are on DOINDIE’s platform, in order for it to keep going I hope that people keep supporting it. Don’t forget to support Cranfield as well!
Suhyun: Bookmark us please ;)
Kwangsu: Comparatively the indie scene lacks a bit of cohesiveness, but if you go on DOINDIE you can get all the information you need easily. I hope that everyone who is interested in indie music checks out the website. You can find us, too, on DOINDIE.
Interview : A-Lim Lee
English Translation : Patrick Connor & Doyeon Lim
Edited by : Jamie Leigh Gilbert
Photo by : Jiyoon Han
For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :