Posted on January 30, 2016

Interview

# Firstly, please introduce each other to our readers. Do either of you have any unexpected traits?

Itta: This here is Mr Marqido. When I first met him in 2004, I was wearing a massive neck brace because of a big car accident I’d been in. We were actually due to play on the same bill at a local concert that day, but because I was in a neck brace I couldn’t play. Fortunately I still got to see him play. A year later Marqido was on a world tour and he stopped by Korea again to play some shows. We ended up playing on the same lineup at a now defunct venue called Aura. He was playing as a solo project and he had this unmistakable sparkle in his eye. His music really captivated me, so I immediately fell for his music and for him as well. I thought to myself ‘I’ve got to make this person mine’. When I first saw him play he was performing most of his show via a laptop computer. Usually, when people perform using a laptop or something similar, they don’t move around all that much but Marqido was different, he had a lot of ‘action’ (stage presence) in his show. At the end of the show, he suddenly slammed shut his computer, for some reason he looked so manly to me. After spending time with him though, I discovered he is a really sensitive person. 

Marqido: I thought she was an artist with a lot of styles (when I first met her). She is a musician of course, but also a poet and an artist. She also plays the organ... so she is a really diverse person. We have been together for 10 years now, but it is still difficult to predict what she is going to do next. That is her surprising trait. I don’t think I will ever fully understand her, even if we spend the rest of our lives together.

# You two live the nomadic lifestyle, how would you define a ‘nomad’ in the 21st century.

Marqido&Itta: I don’t think it matters to a nomad that it is the 21st century. What is important is to us is that we can go to new places, meet new people and see nature; and through these experiences we get inspiration for our music. We often make music with the people we meet on our travels, but at the moment we are working on a special project in Japan. Our aim is to provide something to help nomads, pilgrims, and artists. Even nomads need help and support from people around them; no one can do everything completely alone. A nomad always needs to meet people on their travels.

# Before you started playing under the moniker of Tengger, you were called 10. Under the name 10 you gained lots of support from outside of Korea. Was this something you always set out to achieve, or something that just happened naturally?

Itta: From the start we never imagined that we would get to play our music abroad. We are based here in Korea but we are outsiders in the scene really, it was a coincidence that we got contacted by people from other countries… anyway, we never planned for it to work out like it has. Especially back then our music style was, and still is, hard for Korean people to understand and get into, so it was difficult for us back then.

# What do you think it is about you that appeals to people abroad?

Marqido&Itta: I think that all of the people we have met abroad have been looking for something they’ve never seen before; something new. Back then there were not many people in Asia making electronic music, so it was a really new thing around that time … I think people liked seeing our unique style and the visual things we show people during our shows as well as our instruments etc. All of that made us stand out a bit from the crowd and helped us catch people’s eyes and ears. 

# How did each of you, Itta and Marqido first get into music in your respective countries?

Itta: I started making music on my own when I was at high school. Some of my friends and I challenged each other to see who could make a song the quickest. I was the winner. That was the first time I made a song. When I was in 3rd grade of high school my father passed away and I started singing as a part time job in live cafes to earn some money, so that's when I started performing in earnest I guess. I kept working as a singer right through university as well. I went to university in my hometown city of Pohang and right after I graduated I moved to Seoul. I started hanging out and doing art at a youth centre in Seoul, and by chance got the opportunity to record some stuff in the recording studio, which is how I ended up recording my first EP. After that I played here and there at clubs and some festivals as well. I was part of the team organising a small festival called ‘Tin Festival’. I got to perform there as well and it was at that show where I first encountered people playing more experimental kinds of music. It was there that I met people like Kopchangjeongol’s Sato Yukie and other cool people too. Ah, also … I took part in an event called Bulgasari, here I got to meet loads of musicians from all around the world, including Marqido. He was doing his solo stuff at that time.

Marqido: I started out making music on an 8 bit computer. I first started making music on that computer when I was in middle school. Right after I graduated high school I went to Tokyo and from then on I was always playing in bands. However, it was always hard to find people who wanted to play the same kind of music as me so I started out with a solo project on my own. I did do some stuff with another person for a while as well. From early 2000 I started making music alone on my laptop, which not many other people were doing in those days. I made some music with a musician who had been active in the 70s, and he said to me ‘you should go over to Korea’ … it was a bit of a prophecy and I ended up coming over here in 2003. That’s how I ended up meeting Itta.

# So, we heard that it was Itta that first initiated contact to set up the band ‘10’. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Itta: At that time Marqido had a show at Badabie and I had a show at a different place on the same day. I took a present to Badabie to give to him before his show and said to him ‘I have a show somewhere else later, if you have nothing to do … come along and hang out’. He couldn’t make it to the show that day but we met up at the after party. At the party I told Sato Yukie that I liked Marqido, he immediately shouted out to Marqido ‘hey, Itta really likes you’! Marqido just thought he was joking and responded by saying ‘I’m a Bohemian’ and that was that. I cried a lot that day. haha. After that we spoke a lot by email, almost everyday. Around that time Sato Yokie was having some problems. Because of visa issues he couldn’t come over to Korea anymore. So, a bunch of musicians flew out to Japan to support him, we played a show over there for him. It was the end of July and that was the first time Marqido and I performed together. I was really sad to have to leave him and come back to Korea, I confessed how I felt about him when I got back home. Soon after there was a festival in Jeju and I invited Marqido to come and play with me, we chatted about how we felt about each other and decided to give our relationship a go. In October of that year while chatting on MSN we decided to make form 10 and make music together too.

# I guess we could call the music you make ambient, drone, experimental etc. But how would you describe Tengger’s music to new listeners?

Marqido: All of the things we do really are based in hippy culture. To put it simply, I guess you could say that our music is ‘free spirited’. Rather than giving it in a specific genre I’d say our music captures the feeling of natural travel.

# It is really cool that you guys are currently doing up a really old house in Shikoku, Japan. How has working on the house affected your music?

Itta: When we are working on the house, I don’t have time to give music a second thought. All I think is that we need to get it done as fast as possible. I hardly get to think about music at all. However, after a while I start to want to think ‘ I want to make music again’. Or, I start to think ‘what am I doing? I should be playing music’. Doing work on the house doesn’t feel all that creative, it is just labour really. Honestly, I would say that working on the house makes me ‘thirsty’ to make music.

# 2015 was the ten year anniversary of 10 (and you guys playing together), I imagine that was a special moment for the both of you. What does it mean to you to have been doing this together for 10 years?

Marqido: I think it has been a really precious time. We have experienced a lot of changes over that time. Living as nomads we have seen not only how countries differ from one another but also how individual cities or certain places have changed as well. We have spent a lot of time together worrying about how we should live and what kind of music we should make. We are a band that makes improvised music. Because of this whenever we go to a new place the atmosphere is really important to us. So, compared to bands who are not improvisational I guess we have probably become more delicate over the years. 

# In 2015, you did a tour of Europe. Are there any stories about shows or people from that tour that you want to share? 

Marqido: I think the place I remember the most was Paris. I was really shocked when I heard about the terror attacks there. We went there not long after those attacks on the city. Right after an attack like that, there are always lots of false alerts that follow. On the day we played our show there were rumors of a bomb scare as well. It was quite shocking. There were police with guns in the playgrounds where the kids were playing and they were searching bags when you went into the supermarkets. Despite all this, everyone who came to the show were really peaceful and relaxed. Lots of people thanked us for coming .. it was really memorable. We also did a presentation to show off our projects over in Japan as well. The venue was really intimate and fitted in well with our image.

# What is the biggest realisation you have had from all your touring abroad?

Marqido: A global sense. I’ve realised that nationalism is not important, we all all human beings, all living on the same earth. Most people talk about globalisation, I don’t mean that. I’ve learned that borders do not matter and that it is possible to just meet people, understand them and live with them.

# What kind of influence do you think your distinctive and artistic way of life will have on your son’s education?

Itta: It’s still not been three years of us being a family of three … rather than thinking about what we should do as mother and father all the time, we just worry about how the three of us can live life to the fullest and have fun together. I worry a lot about what I should let him get away with and what things I shouldn’t let him get away with. Sometimes when we are making music Raai is left to his own devices and he will play on the iPad and learn the alphabet etc. There are days like that and other days like today where I give him lots of things. I don’t worry so much about ‘education’ per say, just about living life together, that’s all. Last year was the first time Raai had started to eat chocolate. I was worried about it making his teeth bad but at a concert sometime someone gave him some. It’s like he had eaten the forbidden fruit. Until then I had always told him not to eat it because it would ruin his teeth, but these days I let him eat it. That kind of sums up how we live I guess.

# You guys have seen and experienced the music scenes in many different countries, how does Korea compare to the other places you have visited?

Marqido:  More than anything else, i think the most important point about the scene in Korea is that it is the sort of culture where everything can be mixed together well. In other places you don’t get to see ‘this band’ and ‘that band’ playing the same show together, but in Korea it happens a lot. I am certainly not saying that is a bad thing. I think it is a really good point. In my opinion it will help give the scene the strength to take the next step forward. In most other countries, the tendency is to compartmentalise the music into different styles, so it is not often all the different genres mix and perform together on the same lineup. It is not like that in Korea so I think there is plenty of room for more really fun and interesting things to emerge. These Days however, it does feel a little like the genres are separating a bit compared to 10 or so years ago, however I still think the fact that they mix a lot is a unique and very Korean charistic to the scene here.

# It will probably be hard to pick just one, but out of the musicians you have had the pleasure of meeting and working with so far, is there anyone who sticks out above the rest?

Marqido: A friend of ours called Junky from Shanghai whose musical project is called Torturing Nurse. Impressively he has been been making the same kind of stuff, almost without change since we first met him. He makes pure noise music. That friend of ours and Shanghai itself have been the most striking to date. We have loads of other friends in China all of whom have ended up moving to Beijing. However, this guy has stayed put and continued to make music in Shanghai. He also collaborates with loads of other artists from around the world as well. He has got pretty famous for doing all this… but he has not changed in any way. He is just the same kind of guy he always was. I think that is really cool.

# Aside from music, is there anything else you are both particularly interested in these days?

Marqido&Itta: We spend a lot of time on the house we are building in Japan and we are also making a magazine as well. The house will be more of an artist residence than a house. In Shikoku (Japan) there are 88 temples that make up part of a pilgrim trail. It takes about 6 weeks if you want to do the whole walk. We did it with our child by car, but it still took us three weeks. We decided to make our house there because we wanted to be able to do the pilgrims course more times. We will be able to offer other pilgrims a place to stay for the night and listen to their stories. We plan to publish some stories in our magazine as well. It will be all about the comings and goings on Shikoku island and we will also use it to tell everyone what we are up to as well. We have been thinking about making the magazine for ages now. Now is the time to stop thinking about it and to get on with making it. Rather than making plans to collaborate with anyone in particular, we look forward to chance encounters that result in projects.

# If you could become an Animal, what animal would you be and why? 

Marqido: I’d like to be a hedgehog. They are small but really strong.

Itta: I’d be a giraffe. We went to the zoo recently and I saw a giraffe’s eye up close, they looked just like our baby’s eyes.

# What are your plans for the future?

Marqido&Itta: We played our 10 year anniversary show on the 10th October 2015 in Korea and to celebrate we did a performance of some old ‘10’ songs as well, it was really well received so we decided not to let ‘10’ die and to play as 10 alongside playing as Tengger as well. We plan to let the 10 project move in it’s own direction and likewise with Tengger too. Firstly, as far as 10 is concerned we will go back over to Japan and organise stuff a bit, then we will come back here and organise some more. We plan to choose the best songs from all the albums we have released so far and re-record them with a full band. As for Tengger we plan to just keep making songs and see what happens. Seeing as we are nomads, we want to keep traveling around as well. At the moment we really want to go over to Yunnan province in China, it is one of the only places in China we have not been able to visit as of yet. We have some friends over there who are always telling us to come, so we are thinking about going there to and find some new inspiration. We will be wanderers for the rest of our lives, that is why we are setting up a little place to help other people like us in Japan.

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Interview: Doyeon Lim & Eunji Kim
English Translation: Patrick & Doyeon Lim
Edited by: Alex Ameter
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For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/tenggerland
Official Site : http://TENGGER.NET
Twitter : https://twitter.com/tenggerland

Bands

Tengger

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