Posted on May 10, 2014
One of the few times I saw Juck Juck GRUNZIE perform live wearing anything other than some sort of dominatrix-demon influenced wardrobe, they were wearing mustaches. That being said, I am hesitant to mention the style of any female musician, who so often already have a steep hill to climb in an overwhelmingly male dominated industry. When we talk about female artists, politicians, or business leaders, for some reason the conversation often revolves around their choice of shoes or their trend setting outfits. For males in comparable positions, this type of talk is almost unheard of. So then, with all this sexism intertwined with the world of female imagery and power, why am I starting an article about a primarily (and originally) female band by discussing what they are wearing? It is because for a band like Juck Juck GRUNZIE, their style is both a conscious and important choice in their identity as well as a shriek in the ear of the stodgy traditionalists perpetuating the music industry’s status quo.
Sexual liberation is a difficult and fickle subject. At the center of many women’s equality movements around the globe, it is often mistaken for a promotion of promiscuity. While it does promote a demystification of sex and a call to bring about equality (For an example, one need only compare the amount of data collected on male sexual dysfunction, and the whole gamut of medical options available as a curative, with the nearly metaphysical study of female sexuality, in which many medical professionals still claim most women simply “are not capable” of achieving an orgasm), it does not expressly promote the taking of casual partners as a woman’s road to sexual power. But this seems to be the part of women’s liberation movements that men really like to get behind. In doing so, its true purpose is hijacked. The liberalization of sex, intended to allow honest discussions of the subject, which might then lead to a discarding of traditional gender roles and an increase in gender equality, is perverted by the still dominant male influence with a firm grip on the media. Sexual liberation transmuted into meaning liberated women should be sexual.
So we arrive in a situation where women who do not flaunt sexuality are considered conservative.Women who do dress and act in sexual ways come to view their motivations through a masculine lens, with their new found sexual freedom existing for the purpose of attracting a male. Club culture is the perfect distillation of skewed of sexual liberation. Then how do we fight back against this infuriating appropriation of an important segment of feminist culture? With Juck Juck GRUNZIE of course!
By dressing in a sexualized style (their first performance was in lingerie), but refusing to bow to the idea that feminine sexuality exists for the purpose of attraction (instead choosing to use it to rock the shingles off the damn roof) Juck Juck GRUNZIE strikes a blow against the male monopoly on sexual power. And their musical style jives with this motif perfectly.
The song “Psycho”, which vocalist Lee Ah-Reum opens by quite literally shrieking the title, stabs the bleeding heart of outmoded submissive femininity. I have actually witnessed men in a Juck Juck GRUNZIE audience quaver with what I liked to think was fear.
“Boy, that is a hot chick band setting up.”
What were they expecting, seduction?
By owning their sexuality so completely, the members of Juck Juck GRUNZIE are able to transcend the rock-chick fetishism so many female-centric bands get drawn into. They refuse to allow their sexuality to define them. But instead of their refusal leading them to reject sexualization, they have chosen to wield it like a weapon, punishing those who dare objectify them by blowing out their ear-drums with raw rock power. Quite simply, these women are too cool to be objectified, and they dare you to try.
Another staple song from Juck Juck GRUNZIE sets is an excellent cover of the Dead Kennedy’s “Too Drunk to Fuck”. The original is a song about a dude at a party who drinks too much and is now too drunk to sleep with girls. Sorry girls! In the hands of Juck Juck GRUNZIE, the song becomes a feminist anthem. In their world, it is the woman who parties too hard, and it is the woman who holds the sexual power, deciding that they are too drunk to sleep with the comparatively tame dudes around them. Sorry guys! Compare this with the often creepy culture of the modern club, in which drunken women are looked at by predatory men as easy targets for manipulation. Suddenly Juck Juck GRUNZIE feels like a revolution.
The original Juck Juck GRUNZIE line-up was all female. Reportedly, they met at a show at Badabie after recently getting out of relationships and decided to form a band. The Juck Juck GRUNZIE (the name means something like “perhaps because I am lonely” with GRUNZIE serving as a cross language pun as it sounds like “grunge”) style has dramatically developed over their short existence. Their drums have been played by Baek Soojung (now of Steamboys), Lee, Yong-Jun (of Vidulgi OoyoO) and finally Park Geun Chang. Guitarist Ham Jeehye (also of Vidulgi OoyoO) and bassist Shim Hyo-Jung or “Booooooooooong” (formerly of Light & Noise) join lead vocalist Lee Ah-Reum, who also plays synth and occasionally even accordion, to form an extremely talented group of musicians.
Earlier Juck Juck GRUNZIE recordings are reminiscent of the punky riot grrrl of Bikini Kill infused with the dangerous sounds of Sleater-Kinney and the grungy flavor of 7 Year Bitch. It all makes for a thrilling, if somewhat familiar, listen. As the group’s sound developed, it became stronger and more distant from their guitar-driven roots. Lee’s synth and voice took on heavier burdens, resulting in a very original sounding schizophrenic synth-grunge One moment their music sounds like spoken word noise rock, the next it takes on the vibe of a trippy dance track, with some jarring transitions in between It is exciting to watch this highly gifted band challenge themselves and bravely push their music into new territory.
With a new album coming out in early November, Juck Juck GRUNZIE will certainly continue to assert their dominance as excellent musicians and feminist rebels. Their very existence is a reminder that battles are being fought every day to combat the corruptions of a media culture obsessed with warping sexuality to suit its own needs.
And with the psychotic energy behind Juck Juck GRUNZIE, it is hard to imagine a more threatening cultural warrior for the guardians of tradition.
Written By: Alex Ameter
Translated by: Grace Kwon --------------------------------------
For more information on the band, please check them out at the following websites :
Cyworld : http://club.cyworld.com/juckjuck
Twitter : https://twitter.com/juckjuckgrunzie
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/juckjuckgrunzie
DoIndie : http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/bands/juckjuck-grunzie