Posted on May 31, 2014
It's been eight years since the New Generation of Ska was introduced, and it still very much is the new generation. The festival series, started by Ryu Jinsuk of Skasucks, has become one of the annual highlights of the Korean punk / ska scene, but this year it takes a much greater leap. The plan is to stage an outdoor ska festival, free of charge. This milestone DIY show is completely crowdfunded, with no signs yet of corporate sponsorship. In order to learn more about the workings of this festival and its reason for being, we interviewed Ryu Jinsuk.
Jinsuk : These days, there are loads of rock festivals (both big and small) in Korea. But they are all so damn expensive. Of course, we understand that; casting famous/popular bands doesn't come cheap. Do you think people would want to pay all that money to come and see ska, ska-punk and reggae bands?
...Of course they wouldn’t!
That's because ska has still not gained all that much popularity here in Korea. Of course, a few of the bigger festivals have invited a few ska bands to come and play in the past. We love it when that happens, but sadly, most of the people at the big festivals are not really into it. We don't wanna carry on like that anymore. I really hate playing shows like that. We just want to be involved in shows that are 'fun.' The more people that take part the better. More bands, more fans.
Also, we want to introduce our genre of music to people who don't yet know it. Anyone who happens to be wandering past can just stop by and take a look (it's free after all). We would love it if people stopped by and said 'wow, this music is pretty damn cool.' Perhaps then, when they get home they might begin to listen to more ska music--that would be amazing. We would love that to happen.
These are the reasons we decided to put on this free outdoor ska festival.
Jinsuk : The exact location of the show is 18-9 Changcheon-dong Seodaemun-gu, Seoul. We went down their ourselves to persuade them to let us run the show there, chatted to the merchants in the area as well. Not only did they readily agree to let us hold the festival there, what's more is they also helped us get permission from the local council as well!
That street where we will hold the festival was recently made into a pedestrian-only zone. Additionally on the weekends it is also a bus-free zone. There is a load of foot traffic around there and it's a nice wide road with no traffic, so it is perfect for us. Sinchon used to be an area with loads of live clubs, just like Hongdae. Sadly, it is not like that anymore. Hongdae is saturated with live music these days. Actually, its saturated in every way, the music clubs, the bars, the amount of people, clubs and coffee shops, etc. There is just too much. These days Hongdae Playground is no longer a skinhead and mohawk hangout. These days the park has more of a nightclub vibe than a live music vibe. People are more likely to go there to hit on girls than to watch a cool band play.
I've never really thought about turning the playground back to what it was before. I have really good memories from then, but what's changed is changed. I will just keep my happy memories from that place, but I don't want to be there anymore. I want to set up a new thing, in a new place away from there.
Jinsuk : All the funds will be gathered from the crowd-funding on tumblebug. Its a festival made by everyone, for everyone. We will make public on our Facebook, Twitter, etc the exact expenditure and costs of the festival for everyone to see. The money will go to pay the bands, to set up the stage and merch stalls, etc.
Jinsuk : In 2006 Skasucks played their first show in a club called Skunk Hell. The show was called Ska Vs Punk. At that time, I made a promise to myself. I promised that within ten years I would turn this show into a festival. After that I changed the name I promoted shows under to New Generation of SKA and continued to set up shows. I was doing most things on my own at that point. Liaising with bands and clubs, making posters, etc etc. Everything you need to do to run a show, you name it, I was doing it!
Then, last year for the ninth installment of NGOSKA I saw the possibility for turning it into a full on festival. After doing all these shows for all these years, I suddenly had all these wonderful people in my life. There are so many people who have grown to love our scene. I was friends with all these people who could do all the things I could not do on my own. They were right there, in front of me. So I asked them "Hey, is there anyone here who would help me put on a big event?" I coaxed them and tempted them into agreeing to do it. They all agreed and suddenly we were a team, so I changed the name of my promotion company once more to TNGOSKA. The addition of the ‘T’ stands for ‘team’. The current members of the group are Ryu Jinsuk (Skasucks), Kim Goyang (Skasucks, Billy Carter), Lee KangHee (Dead Buttons), Nagi (Rudy Guns), Jude Nah (Pegurians), and Son Jaewoo.
Our aim as a team is to hold the NGOSKA festival every year and help provide a platform where bands from Korea and abroad can perform together. Our most important goal however is to make a super famous ska festival that everyone knows about. If we succeed with that, then in the future we will hopefully be able to attract foreign musicians that people here in Korea would not usually get the opportunity to see. My personal goal is to bring Rancid, The Specials and Madness over to Korea to play our show! haha
Jinsuk : We became friends with Rollings when they played at the last Korea/Japan Punk Festival, so we invited them to come and play in the 9th NGOSKA show. So this will be their third time playing in Korea. We are really, really thankful and happy that they agreed to come and play our first-ever NGOSKA festival.
Nagi and Jude are personal friends of Autocratics, so they just contacted them directly and invited them to play.
Many people are curious to know how we came to liaise with the Bruce Lee Band. When we were starting to prepare this festival I heard in the news that the Bruce Lee Band was going to reform. So I thought, what the hell. It is worth a shot and I went ahead and invited them to come and play. Mike Park is one of my personal heros, so it was too good an opportunity to miss.
We put together all our thoughts and ideas along with all the festival information and Kim Goyang sent it all directly to the band. Honestly, it was a real longshot, we never really thought anything would come of it, in fact we were sure nothing would come of it. We waited for a reply, but we were not confident of getting the result we wanted.
Mike gave us a very concise reply... he said "I would very much like to participate in this year's ska festival." (What's more he even said he would use his Air Miles to get out here and help reduce our overhead. As you know he has always spend his time and money supporting bands in the ska and ska-punk scenes. I could say thanks a billion times to him, and it wouldn't be enough. He is forever my hero!)
Jinsuk : Firstly, I really want to thank them for playing. I didn't contact Beach Valley directly; they actually contacted me. Beach Valley's bass player Yoon Giseon wanted to help us with our festival in some shape or form. He hurriedly contacted the other members of the band and they agreed to reform just to come and play this show for us. What's even more amazing is that they donated some money to help support the festival. It is so unusual for that to happen. We would love it if this was not their only appearance after reforming. It would be great if we could see them playing regularly again in our scene.
Jinsuk : The Korean ska scene has never been famous. But it is clearly getting bigger bit by bit and looking better. The number of bands is still small, but they are all unique. It is not just Seoul; Busan's Wakeup and Jeju's South Carnival are really great and are helping the ska scene grow and improve.
So, our future is bright.
Often people who come to check out our ska shows contact me personally and ask for advice about how to make/form a ska or punk band. They ask things like "What do I need to do to make a good band?" This of course means the scene will continue to grow and improve. I'm really excited to see how it grows and changes.
In order to make sure the scene continues to grow and develop for both current bands future bands ... I can never stop my work! It feels like everything hinges on me haha ;)
Interviewer : Jon Dunbar
English Translation : Patrick Connor
For more information on the festival, please head to the following sites:
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/tngoska
Twitter (Skasucks) : https://twitter.com/SKASUCKS/
DONATE : http://www.human-k.org/html/02_proj_support_view.php?sponidx=1087
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org