Posted on July 25, 2015

Interview

>>>>> DoIndie has some signed CDs from Goonam to give away. Details on how to win can be found at the bottom of this article! <<<<<

# Please introduce the person sitting next to you to our readers.

Byunghak Eem : This is our drummer, Taesik. He has lots of drummer friends. Whenever we meet another band he gets close with their drummer, he’s that kind of drummer. He dances kinda cute as well.

Taesik Park : This is Na-un. She plays the keyboard and sings backing vocals. She sings some main vocals as well. She is our band mascot. She brings in loads of male fans for the band.

Na-un Kim : Ah, that is such an embarrassing thing to say. haha Firstly, Joh Ung is the leader of the band and also the lead vocalist. He is the best leader. He does the lead vocals, lead guitar, second guitar and has a baby.

Ung Joh : This is Byunghak, he plays bass. He is also responsible for all the melodic chorus parts. He is my junior from high school and we’ve been friends for a long time.

# How did you all meet and come to form a band?

Byunghak : Joh Ung and I first met back in high school. I was in first grade and he was my senior in 3rd grade at the time. He liked me so he approached me one day and we got to know each other. When we first became friends we did various things together and finally ended up playing music together. In 2011 we released our second album together and it became impossible to continue as just the two of us. Before that time we would take a laptop computer with us to perform at shows but we decided we needed a drummer and a keyboardist and we got introduced to some people. Na-un was introduced by an acquaintance and Taesik was playing in another band who used the same practice space as us. That band broke up a little later, but just before they did he was helping us out by two timing them with us as a session player, after they broke up he became a full time member of our band.

# You recently completed a crowdfunding campaign for the new album, one of the prizes (if someone donated 10,000,000 won) was to go on a trip abroad with one member of the band. Who’s idea was that? Did you really think anyone would have donated that much?

Na-un : At first it was just an idea that Joh Ung came up with. We figured people would donate the smaller amounts and perhaps a few people might donate enough to sing chorus on one of the tracks. But it ended up that our project was really just the same as everyone else's projects so for fun we added the option of a big donation with that as a prize. After we put it down, we did think that there might be one person who might just do it, after all you never know … so of course we all imagined what might happen a little haha. I think we had each thought about what country we might like to go to.

# Why did you say that if the country chosen was South Africa, then you had to go with Taesik?

Taesik : My older brother lives there, so accommodation would have all been taken care of.

# Why did you decide to set up your own label, Asian Records? What kind of music do you hope to put out through the Asian Records?

Byunghak : We released both our debut album and our second album with Cavare Sound. But a few years ago we became worried about the fact that our opportunities to organise our own projects and things were diminishing. At that time we imagined different kinds of projects we could do that would energize us. We decided that we wanted to release our third album ourselves through our own label, so we set up our own company. At the moment we are the only band on the label but we made the label with the hope of putting out music with other like minded people as well.

Ung : Another hidden reason is that we wanted to become a bit more global. We are here in this country called Korea but in a wider sense we are in Asia. We have played shows over in Europe and America but actually, we haven't played all that much in Asia. Also, every time we went to Europe we were a bit envious. All the countries there are really close together so we were a bit jealous of how easy it was for bands to move around and play shows together ... however after thinking about it for a while we realised that we too could do that kind of thing. Of course, our country is surrounded by ocean on three sides so it feels like everything is far away but in actual fact, the distances are not that great and, also the surrounding countries are similar culturally as well. People from those countries are our audience as well. I think they should probably be considered the foundation audience for us. If we can become successful here in Asia, then we can use that as a stepping stone to go further afield. It is more natural that way.

# The music most bands play here is based on western music, right. What do you think bands can do to give their music a more unique Asian feel?

Ung : Well, I think it starts from where you admit that you can't do pop or western music perfectly no matter how you try hard. So, we try not to copy any styles or follow any trends and just do what comes naturally, then it will of course end up in a more ‘Asian’ style. Of course, we've been influenced by western culture, for one all our instruments are western. But they're just tools. What is important is what kind of music you end up making with those tools.

# Na-un is the only female member of the band.  If you search for Goonam on one of the search engines it is like she is the only member. How important is she to you as a band.

Byunghak :  She means a lot to us. You can probably see just by looking at Na-un that she has a certain energy / vigor about her. Her smile is so pretty as well. Now that I think about it, if Na-un was not in our band and it was just us boys, well, it would be hard to cope.

# Last time I saw you play you took off your t-shirt, to show that your were still a long way from ‘A Healthy & Long Life (the title of a Goonam song). What exactly is the definition of a healthy and long life you you guys? What are you doing to make sure your life is like that?

Byunghak : I think you are talking about Joh Ung taking off his shirt.

Na-un : At that time Byunghak said you looked like a kind of bread roll.

Byunghak : I am not really doing any methodical exercise at the moment but I guess I’m pretty similar to most other people. If I think I need to lose some weight I do some squat exercises.

Ung : These days people think if they have lots of muscles they are healthy, but I think just eating well and walking places means you will be healthy enough.

Na-un : A sound mind is also important.

Taesik : So long as you are not sick, all is well.

# There are some songs that your fans are really into, but you don’t play them live. For example, “안타까운 로맨스 [A Regrettable Romance]”. How do you come up with your setlists for shows?

Joh Ung : When we play shows, we always just play the songs we want to play. The reasons we don’t play some of them is just because we don’t like playing them I guess. In the case of 'A Regrettable Romance', we made that song ages ago now, I’m embarrassed about my feelings and emotions from that time … Loads of time has passed so its just a bit embarrassing now. I have changed a lot since then.

# Was the recording of this third album as natural as it’s predecessors?

Ung : It’s not like we suddenly said ‘Let’s make some loud hardcore album’ or any concrete kind of concept like that, we just followed our feelings. We would just follow our feelings each day and try to make our music natural. Someone might say ‘Let’s play a fast one’, ‘Let’s play a cheerful one’, ‘Let’s play a crazy one’ and we would give it a go. I think it is more natural to make music by transferring your feelings like that. We really put a lot of effort into making our new album as natural as possible. However, there are always shortcomings, right. We have already started thinking about what we can do on the next album. We think we have done the best we could have done on this album. We tried our best on everything we wanted to do.

# Na-un and Taesik, this is the first time for you to record as full time members of the band, was there anything you found hard about the process?

Taesik : There wasn’t anything that especially stands out. Same as with other bands I guess.

Ung : The biggest problem was that I am a crazy fucker.

Taesik : Everywhere you look there is always a crazy fucker wherever you are. You just have to deal with it. You can’t push it.

Ung : Right, if you push someone over the edge it is the end of the band. You need a captain, someone to steer the boat in the right direction.

Taesik : If you have no talent and you flip out, then it’s no good really, but Joh Ung is super talented ...

Na-un : It’s ok because we trust him and follow him.

# Who usually comes up with the songs? Or do you jam them out together?

Na-un : Joh Ung makes the framework to the songs and the lyrics. At first, he will record and send the guitar parts to us via KakaoTalk and ask what we think of them. Actually, we meet up everyday. It has been like that for the last few years. We work harder than office workers. Even Sundays. We just meet up everyday and give the stuff Joh Ung has come up with a try, this way and that until we have a song.

# We are interested to know more about each member's role in the band, outside of which instruments you play.

Na-un : Our profile picture is a family style picture, right. That is exactly what we are like. Joh Ung is the father, Byunghak is our mother. I am the youngest family member, but sometimes Taesik acts like that as well.

# Byunghak & Joh Ung, you both use vintage gear when you perform, why do you prefer the older instruments? When you recorded the new album did you use any other instruments other than the Gibson semi hollow bass and Telecaster that we see so often at live shows?

Ung :  On this album we used a variety of gear. Before, we would use pretty much the same stuff we played live with, but this time we used loads of other stuff as well. The reason for our preference is that we think the quality and the sound is just better. Just like the air quality was better back in those days. As you know the instruments are made from wood. The wood was better in those days. So the sound is better too. Also, it just looks cooler haha.

# Byeonghak’s beautiful hair is definitely one trademark feature that makes Goonam a “visual” band. Does he have any special hair care or styling tips? Does it ever bother him while playing? Would he ever consider cutting it?

Byunghak : Now it is summertime, it is super uncomfortable. It is harder to wash and harder to dry. I’ve thought about chopping it all off but I guess there has to be one person in the band with long hair, so I can not cut it. Ah, right … tips .. I have one. I don’t wash my hair all too often, just if it is a special occasion. At that time it is important to make sure you dry it all thoroughly. I think it is healthier for you hair not to wash it too often. That is my tip. 

# Last year in the US and earlier this year in Korea you played some collaborative shows with Dengue Fever. At the time there was talk of having recorded a joint EP with them. Can you tell us about that collaboration, and where to listen to it?

Ung : That is coming out in November in both America and Korea. Dengue Fever released their first album in ages right after they recorded this EP. That caused some problems as it would have caused a conflict when promoting them both and may have had an effect on sales. As a result, we postponed the release of the EP until November. We recorded it over in LA, it was super hot at that time. It was so hot that people who live out there were saying it was the hottest weather they had ever experienced. When we listen to those songs now if gives us a kind of sweaty feeling. We rented the studio for three days, we spent one day jamming, the next day recording the instruments and the last day recording vocals. Now all we have left to do is release it. We are releasing it in America digitally, it will be available in Korea in CD form.  

# Are there any other musicians, either Korean or foreign, that you would love to collaborate with?

Ung : David Bowie. I have been into him since I was a kid. I’d love it if I could just eat dinner with him. Kurt Cobain is super cool as well. Apart from him there are not too many people who give off this kind of aura. After him, I guess it was a while … Amy Winehouse. These days I like a Japanese musician called Sakamoto Shintaro.

Taesik : I have one. We live our lives not often thinking about the possibility of collaborating with musicians from other countries. There are a few really cool bass players I think I would like to play with. I really like the styles of Noh Sun Yaek and Nakkwon Kim. I’d love to play with them some time.  

Ung : You think they would play with you?

Taesik : They would love to play with me!

# I feel like Taesik gets the least recognition in the band, sitting as he does at the back. He also doesn’t get to dance around on stage like the other three. No one seems to know much about you yet, so, Taesik, this is your opportunity to tell the world how you feel about that and to let us know more about yourself!

Taesik : I don’t get to come out front, but I have no complaints about that. I don’t worry if people don’t recognise me or anything like that. But, sometimes … when I look at the monitor I think that I don’t look all that cool. I think I got used to people not really noticing me, so I guess I also stopped worrying about what I look like too. On a personal level I’m not worried about it, but when I think about the band I think it would be better if I looked cooler, but I can’t do that. I really love listening to music and playing the drums. Actually, there is a limit to how creative you can be on the drums. But after playing with Joh Ung I have found that I am able to do all the things I didn’t think I could do before and I have developed a lot, I like that. That is the best thing about playing in Goonam. I will keep trying my best to get better and better.

# I think one of the reasons Goonam are such a popular live band is because of your spontaneity. Lots of listeners think of you almost as a jam band, is that how you intended it to be?

Ung : We try hard to come across like that. We prepare it to be like that. We try to create a situation where we can improvise on stage. We don’t plan to do certain pre planned actions, we try to keep it natural when we are on stage. We check our condition and feelings, then before we go up on the stage we spend a lot of time making sure everything is in order and we can keep everything as natural as possible.

# Is there any particular theme or concept to the new album? How does it differ to the last one, and was the recording process any different?

Ung : The album title is Sun Power. Think of it as a colour. We can see because of the sun, right. It’s called Sun Power, but it could just as easily be called Colour Power. Just Colour. It is not exactly the same, but you can think of music as colour as well. We tried to fill up the album with things that you can capture with all your senses.

# What songs would most like to recommend to a new listener and which do you like to play live?

Taesik : I have one, ‘Singapore’. I am not sure why, it’s strange but I really like that song. It’s just right for me. As for playing live, I like ‘아침의 빛 [Morning's Light]'.

Na-un : I have a different song I like personally, but if any of my friends are curious about the work I do I like to show them the 3rd album instead of the 1st and 2nd albums. The third album has a bit more popular appeal than the existing albums so I guess it is good to recommend to friends who don’t know much about our music.  

Byunghak : I like the song called 재미 [Fun]. Playing that is fun.

Ung : We usually only play the fun songs. Everything on the setlist is fun to play.

# Do each of you have any special rituals before a show to calm the nerves?

Taesik : Stretching.

Na-un : I just like to sit quietly. I don’t even look at my phone on gig days. I just try hard to sit quietly. To keep my emotions calm.

Ung : I think about my baby.

# What are your plans after your CD release?

Ung : We are going to Japan on July 6th and playing a show in Tokyo on the 7th. We are taking part in a festival in Okinawa. We come back to Korea on the 14th and we will rest a bit and practice too I guess. We are playing a festival in August and then we are going to Berlin. We come back to Korea the first week of September and will have an album release party then.

# If you could meet anyone, from anywhere in the world right now. Who would it be, and why?

Ung : Amy Winehouse. I’d want to meet her early in the morning and eat together, and then spend the whole day together drinking and smoking.

Taesik : You know all those old guys who appeared in the movie Buena Vista Social Club. I want to spend a day in that neighbourhood with those guys. Just to taking it easy and doing nothing.

Byunghak : I would like to meet Roh Moo-hyun.

Na-un : I don’t want to meet anyone in particular, I just want to be in an alcohol shop in France. I’d like to be at a table where everyone is being noisy and boisterous. I’d talk about this and that.

Buy 'Sun Power’ (Digital) :

Daum MusicNaver Music | Olleh MusicBugsGenie | M-Net | Melon

Buy 'Sun Power’ (Physical) :

Hyang MusicYes Asia (International Delivery) | Yes 24AladinKyobo Bookstore (Online) |

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Interview : J-Myon Kim, Eunji Kim, Doyeon Lim
English Translation : Patrick Connor
Edited by : Alex Ameter
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Official Site : http://www.9xxy.com/
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