Posted on August 07, 2018

 


 

# Please introduce the person sitting next to you.

Cheol Min Lee: This is Sung Soo. He is the guitarist in the band. Out of the three of us, he is the best at talking, so he is in charge of saying stuff up on stage.

Sung Soo Kyung: This is our drummer, he’s called Haein. He writes songs as well as playing the drums.

Haein Lee: This is Jangoh. He makes songs and sings them as well.

Jangoh Lee: This here is Dong. He plays the synth, and he also has a solo project on the go called ‘East Water’.

Dong Soo: This is Cheol Min, he plays bass. He has a good heart and keeps the atmosphere in the band nice and positive.

# Please introduce your band to those of our readers who may not know you. I’m curious as to how the band name came about and how you all met.

Sung Soo: The name came about by combining parts of the names of two places we often go to drink and hang out, a sall cafe and a venue in Gonhdae. There were a lot of rubbish candidates in the mix when we were deciding on our name. Haein came up with GongJoongGeuNeul and that’s how the name was born. We’ve all been friends and have hung out together for a long time now. Around the start of 2016 we all realised that we wanted to be involved in music so we decided that rather than just hanging out doing nothing in particular, we would give music a try together, and so we formed this band.

# Most bands form because there is some kind of music they want to create, or some kind of message they want to put across, but your reason for forming is a little unique. In your band profile it says you formed the band because ‘youth is short, and we wanted to spend that time together’. What do you mean by that?

Haein: As Sung Soo mentioned before, we were always hanging out anyway, so we decided we might as well be doing something more productive with that time together, so we started the band. I guess it just means that the time one spends as a youth is short and that we want to spend that time together making the most of it. The songs we make are about the emotions and experiences we are having now. I think if we don’t do it now, it will be impossible for us to make this kind of music later, so I think it means something like, ‘do it now, while we can’.

 

 

# I heard that you have been greatly influenced by the Japanese band Fishmans. I think you can hear their influence in your rhythms and vocal style. That said, what would you say are the characteristics of the band that are unique to you?

Sung Soo: Yeah, I have said that we are influenced by Fishmans; however, we each have our own different set of artists whom we like and use as reference points, too. So, I wouldn’t say that we get all our influences from Fishmans... I think each member of the band has different overall musical orientations.  

Haein: All of the members of our band write music. Everyone has their own tendencies and styles. When we develop songs together, we have a process in which we work through all the songs as a band until we are all happy with our parts and the outcome. So, it can take quite some time for our songs to ripen and mature, and as a result I’d say that our band’s own unique feel works its way into the songs naturally as we develop them.

# It seems like in recent years City Pop music from Shibuya in the 80s/90s has started to become popular again. What do you think about this trend?

Jangoh: Personally, it’s not a genre I am particularly into myself, but it does seem like it is becoming kind of trendy again. However, among our band members there are some who like it, so if one person brings in something like that, we all work on it together and so, of course, there may ultimately be some kind of influence from that genre in the music we produce.

Sung Soo: As City Pop is becoming fashionable again I’m digging out some bands to listen to again. It looks like there are lots of interesting things happening there. This was a culture that was formed during the Japanese bubble economy. It’s fun to hear it again. It sort of represents the vibe of that time.

Haein: I have no experience of that time, but people say that it was a good time to be alive. It can sometimes be tiring to listen to complicated and experimental music when you’re going through a hard time, but this kind of music can be relaxing.

Cheol Min: I like City Pop personally. It’s a re-interpreted genre of American Funk that emerged in Japan. It’s interesting that this genre went back and spread in America again, setting a huge trend, and having an influence on mainstream Pop. I like the genre, so naturally our band’s music takes some influence from it.

 

 

# Where did the lyrics for the song ‘선 (line)’ come from?

Dong: I don’t remember exactly where the lyrics came from, but often it can be hard to clearly see what’s right or wrong in life. So it’s important to choose the right path. We may understand logically which way to go, but often our desire leads us in the opposite direction. The song is about the worries we experience in those moments. The first draft of the lyrics was very different from the final result. The rest of the band were really against the first version, so we changed the lyrics a lot.

Jangoh: The first time around the lyrics were much more aggressive and direct, and the words were somewhat distant from our political opinions. So we asked 동수 to modify the lyrics a little, and the current version is what came about.

# It feels like you pay a lot of attention to the visual aspects of the band too, like the album artwork, music videos, etc. How do you discuss and decide on these aspects?

Sung Soo: In the case of the posters for our GongJoongPa concert series, we have a designer called Taeseok Park who makes them for us. We ask him to create a poster for us each and every time we hold one of these shows. In order to make the best poster possible, we communicate with him a lot about the concepts and designs. When we receive the draft designs, we talk them over as a band and decide how best to move forward. We like that way of working; we have been very satisfied with the results thus far at any rate.

Haein: Taeseok Park does our posters and album artwork. For the music video for our first single, GongJoongPa, the artwork was done by Kim Hee Ae and the animation was by Dong Hyeon Lee. We have a lot of discussions about this kind of thing among the band. We talk about what kind of feeling we want to convey and share lots of references and ideas between ourselves as well. We tend to collect all our ideas and opinions then give them to the artists, after that they kind of do what they want with it. I think we are lucky to have met such great people.

# The artwork for ‘파수꾼 (Watchman)’ and ‘선 (Line)’ both seem to be an arrangement of light, shadow and objects placed in some kind of harmony. Is there any meaning behind this artwork?

Jangoh: Yes, it has some meaning. It may not make much sense to anyone else, but we talked about this artwork a lot as we wanted it to express something important to us. After we talked it through, the artists expressed our ideas with those images. There is some meaning behind the exact way that everything is arranged in the image; however, I don’t think it is going to make for a very interesting story if I try to explain it all to you. 'Line' is a song about learning how to give up on some kind of attachment. We tried to express the feeling of comfort that comes after finally getting rid of that thing.

Sung Soo: It feels like there is a ‘different temperature’ in each of the two songs  'Line' and 'Watchman'. That is explained by the amount of the light in the artwork for each song.

# I heard that Haein also drew some artwork for the demo version of the track 선. Do you draw pictures often? I think it has a unique vibe.

Haein: I’m not a professional painter and I don’t want to work as an artist. At first I drew something for the demo version of 'Watchman'. In order to put the demo online, we had to upload some artwork with it too. We wanted a cool image of course, but to do that we would have to hire a professional, which meant spending more money. So, cool was not an option for us, so we decided to make a cute and rough image to upload instead. So I showed a picture I had drawn at a cafe before, which I thought was cute, and suggested we use that. We thought that the artwork for 'Line’s demo should have a similar vibe to that of 'Watchman', so I had to draw again. I drew many animals, but Jangoh suggested choosing only one and in the end we went with that.

Jangoh: He isn’t a professional artist, so I thought the kind of rough sketch type drawings he does would be perfect.

 

 

# How did your concert series ‘GongJoongPa’ come about?

Haein: We had been making music together and practicing together with the aim of performing the songs live. I remember Kuchu Camp (a venue in Hongdae, Seoul) contacted us and gave us a date. They told us to prepare the whole show for them. Even though we thought it was maybe too early for us, we agreed because we thought we would only start to improve if we started playing shows. We hadn’t performed anywhere at that point, so we wanted our first show to be one that had been organised and planned by us.

Sung Soo: We practiced at Kuchu Camp all the time, so the staff there suggested we start to play some shows. It made sense for us to start there.

# What other bands do you want to invite to future ‘GongJoongPa’ shows?

Cheol Min: I want to invite some bands from Japan. I guess it will be almost impossible to achieve, but it is a hope of mine. I’d like to play with bands like Never Young Beach or D.A.N. In my opinion they have a little Fishmans’ vibe in their songs so I think it would be fun to play with them.

Haein: So far we have always invited other bands to the shows. I’d like to hold some shows with some electronic or hip hop artists. That would be interesting.

 

 

# I heard that your goal for this year is to release an EP.  I am sure that many people are looking forward to it. How is it coming along?

Jangoh: It’s a work in progress ... as we are trying to gather enough cash for it at the moment.

Dong: Actually we have made all the songs for the EP. We just need to arrange, record and release them.

Sung Soo: Anyways, our goal is still to release it within this year.

# Do you have any hobby that you all enjoy doing together?

Jangoh: We all love coffee. Specialty coffee..

Sung Soo: Can we call that a hobby?

Jangoh: We drink a lot of it, so I think we can call it a hobby. One of us even does it as a job.

Sung Soo: My hobby is playing games. I can’t play now because I’m too busy, but someday I will do it again...

# I heard there are siblings in the band. How do you cope with being in a band together? Are you close anyway, or do you put up with each other for the sake of the band?

Jangoh: We have been always been close with each other. It’s not business-like, as with the Gallagher brothers in Oasis.

Haein: Yeah, we’ve always spent time together. From our late teens, it’s felt more like we are best friends rather than siblings. My friends are his friends, his friend are my friends too. We always hang out together, and we are into pretty much the same things. We see each other at practice, at home … everywhere.

# As for the other band members, you have known each other for a long time too. Has anything changed between you since starting the band?

Sung Soo: Now we know too much information about each other! I’m not saying that’s a good thing, or a bad thing … that is just the thing that has changed the most, I think.

Jangoh: It’s a business relationship..

Sung Soo: I don’t know if it’s related to us getting older, but I guess it is different in someway.

# Did you prefer it the way it was before?

Jangoh: I think we had less money problems then. Either we all had jobs or we could get some help from our parents. It’s a little harder now. If we didn’t have any money problems, we would be having more fun, like we did in the past.

Cheol Min: We used to play games in our free time, then we decided to spend our time more productively. That’s why we started the band. But sometimes I miss those times from back then, when we had nothing to worry about.

Sung Soo: So these days, we’re searching for some unproductive activities to do together.

Dong: Playing Yut Nori (a traditional Korean game) together is really fun.

Jangoh: Ah, I just remembered. Dong’s hobby is playing board games.

Dong: I’m the only one in the band who likes board games.

 

 

# You mentioned before that your band name came from places you frequent a lot. Where do you often hang out these days?

Jangoh: We are a band that practices a lot. So we are often in our practice space.

Cheol Min: There are some places we go to a lot, like ;Wang Wang;. It’s a Chinese restaurant in the Yeonhui-dong area of Seoul. We go there to eat together a lot. In fact, we go there so often, the staff there told us we may as well come and play a show in the restaurant.

Jangoh: That place used to stay open until 2am, but recently they changed their opening hours and now they close at midnight. With us finishing practice pretty late, it’s a little more difficult to get down there after practice.

# What would you say are your goals and musical direction for the band?

Jangoh: We all have slightly different opinions on this, I think. For me, I really want us to become much more experimental than we are right now... I think about the other senses a lot, aside from hearing. When I arrange music I think about the overall image and texture. So I’d like to add more experimental aspects to our music in the future.

Dong: One of the funny things about being in a band is that everyone is different. I think there is always one person who wants to take things slowly, and others who want to move really fast. Everyone has their own strong points, and they all come together as a band. Personally, I work slowly, but others in the band work fast, so it works and there is a kind of harmony. It gives me motivation too. I don’t know if that’s a good answer to the question or not.

Haein: The most important thing going forward is to make some good songs, put on some cool shows and to keep having fun playing in this band. It is my aim not to overdo it of course, but just to keep working really hard and putting in lots of effort for this band.

Sung Soo: My personal aim musically is to make a better sound in my position in the band. I want to buy loads of different instruments. I would love to be able to make a wide variety of sounds. What I want to achieve as a band is for everyone to be doing well in their parts. It would be nice to earn some money as well.

# Finally, tell us what your plans are for the future.

Sung Soo: We are going to keep doing our series of shows (GongJoongPa). It is a project we have been working really hard on. We always do it with bands and artists that are walking a similar path to us. You should definitely come and check that out.

Jangoh: It is GongJoongGeuNeul’s main event. Compared to other things we do, we really work hard preparing these shows.

Dong: We had our first headliner show for our one year anniversary a while back. We always play for around 30-40 minutes, but for that we played a whole hour for the first time ever.

Sung Soo: We played pretty much everything we had.

Jangoh: We never really play other instruments at shows, but we even did that as well.

Sung Soo:: It won’t happen ever again.

Dong We play a lot of cover songs at these shows, and chat about a lot of rubbish too. These are things you can only see and hear at 공중파 shows.

Jangoh: We are also planning to release that EP as well. It’s not set in stone at the moment, but we plan to release it at the end of this year… at the moment, we are working hard to get the funds together for it.

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gjgn2017/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gongjoonggeuneul/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gjgn2017

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