Posted on July 19, 2014

Interview

No.1 Korean, or Numco as it is often abbreviated in Korean, has been blending ska, punk, rock and a whole lot else for Korean audiences since 2007. Though they may not take formal things like musical genre as seriously as Korea's other ska bands, they put on a memorable performance fronted by their charismatic band leader Kwon Milk. We interviewed Kwon Milk to find out more about his take on music, comedy, and the future of ska in Korea.

How did you choose the name No.1 Korean? When I first heard it, it was hard for me to take it seriously.

Kwon : It came about as a result of a friend’s dream. We made a band called Number 1 Korean in the dream. So, because of this dream we started a band together, initially, just for fun. Seeing as we were born in Korea and we live here every day the name has a meaning I guess. Not only that, but I hope the name (and our music) gives a little bit of strength to the Korean people.

Something about No.1 Korean reminds me of Korean gag concert TV shows. I suspect a lot of people probably tell you that you look like Noh Hong-cheol, but it seems like there's more than that, like in the band's movements and stage presence, as well as image and fashion. Is this sort of comedy an influence of the band?

Kwon : Perhaps it is because I grew a beard a while back, and I am kinda funny! I do really like Noh Hong-cheol, but we are both different people. Clearly there is a difference in our lives and attitudes. Also, I'm constantly changing my appearance. I really like the feeling of freedom that comes from my body and mind these days. I feel the same about image and fashion.

Whatever you're doing, it seems to work very well. No.1 Korean has a lot of stage presence that Korean audiences really seem to like. For instance, you guys are always moving on stage, rather than just standing and staring at your instruments. How important is stage presence? Can you give us any advice on good stage presence?

Kwon : When we get on the stage, we are not performing just for us, or just for just you. We are performing for everyone. We want everyone to have a good time together. If you knock on the door, it will open and the people will come in. We are grateful to have the opportunity to do this kind of thing.

I recall that you toured Japan and China. By now, every successful Korean band has toured Japan, but why did you choose to tour China? What was it like performing over there?

Kwon : I hope that Number 1 Korean will eventually be able to crisscross the world. The China and Shanghai tour was offered to us and so off we went! On that tour we felt that race / nationality / gender and age were all transcended by our music. Thank You God ! One of our songs called ‘Shanghai’ was born on the airplane back from that tour. The soul and spirit of our legendary foreign friends and their dancing lives on in that song.

Can you tell me more about the song "Rosa?" Is it about a real person? Does it have a backstory?

Kwon : Yep, that is indeed about a real person. I was deeply in love with that person and could never imagine breaking up. When we did, it was like my heart had been torn from me. It is a song that was made in the darkness but through it I saw light. I found hope from within my despair.

When No.1 Korean started, there wasn't much ska in Korea. Now, especially with the New Generation of Ska Festival, it seems like there are a lot of bands, and there are more appearing every month. Are you happy to see the genre growing? Or do you miss the days when your music was more rare and unique?

Kwon : Of course. Im really happy. I’d love to see this kind of creation happening all across Korea. It is great to be able to do something cool together. Again, we are grateful to be involved in such a cool scene.

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Interview / Pictures : Jon Dunbar
Translation : Patrick Connor

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

Facebook :  https://www.facebook.com/fromNK
Twitter :  https://twitter.com/Number1Korean
Naver Cafe :  http://blog.naver.com/1ska1
DoIndie : http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/bands/no-1-korean

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No.1 Korean are one of the acts booked for the big street ska festival on August 30. For more information about that huge show, read this interview: http://www.doindie.co.kr/en/posts/new-generation-of-ska

NGOSKA Festival : 

Date : August 30th 
Venue : Sinchon's Munhwa Geori (Street of Culture) - 18-9 Changcheon-dong Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Price : FREE
Lineup : Rollings (Japan), Autocratics (Japan), Bruce Lee Band (USA), Skasucks, Beach Valley, Burning Hepburn, Ska Wakers, No. 1 Korean, Rudy Guns, Lazybone, Reska & Pegurians ... MORE.

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For more information on the festival, please head to the following sites:

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/tngoska
Twitter (Skasucks) :  https://twitter.com/SKASUCKS/
Tumblebug : https://tumblbug.com/ngoskafest
Contact : tngoska@gmail.com

Bands

No. 1 Korean

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