Posted on September 11, 2015
Tierpark began in 2012, about the same time my own band Table People were piecing ourselves together and figuring out our sound. We don’t sound anything alike but it’s been a real pleasure to watch Tierpark refine themselves into something really unique. It’s hard to pin them down, but Dream-pop and Post-rock sometimes get thrown around. Unlike a lot of bands in Seoul, they don’t play that often. In fact, they’re just coming off of a year-long hiatus taken so that husband and wife, Jonathan and Sehee, could give more attention to their newborn daughter. Who knew they had an entire album up their sleeve for when they returned? So now they’re back, hitting the clubs and warming up for their album release at Yogiga on September 20th. Their guitarist, Jonathan Jacobson, and bass player Nathan Greenberg were kind enough to chat with us about their new album and other stuff like zoos and babies.
Jonathan: It’s more Tierparky…? All of the key elements are there, but now more honed in and finely tuned. We're still dark, atmospheric, and polyrhythmic.
Nathan: The material on our debut album was musically and lyrically very heavy, and I think we all wanted our next album to have a lighter vibe. "The Moment Two Worlds Meet" retains the unconventional meters and lush sounds that characterized our debut album, but it feels more comfortable and less contrived. It's playful and full of surprises.
Jonathan: Actually everything was written and recorded last year. Because Sehee and I were having a baby, we had to take a break for a year. We've just been sitting idly by watching from the sidelines.
Nathan: We had to take a hiatus because of the baby. In retrospect, though, I think this was good for us artistically, because it gave us more time to focus on the new album. Without the pressure to perform or write new material, we were free to devote almost a year to recording and mixing, and I think this effort shows in the final product. That said, we're certainly excited to hit the stage again.
Jonathan: Mixing took an eternity. Although that may be because we had an eternity to do it. We're all sticklers for sound, and sometimes we don't see eye to eye about how things should be mixed.
Nathan: We decided to mix this album ourselves, and with great freedom comes great responsibility. I think we all enjoyed the artistic control that self-production entailed. The responsibility part fell mostly on Jon, who spent literally hundreds of hours hunched over in front of a computer making it all happen.
Jonathan: Definitely “그림자림그 (Shadow Play)”. There's a lot of room to push and pull throughout the song and it's extremely rhythmical without sounding rigid. During the chorus my guitar part suddenly becomes very lax and almost drunken-sounding. And then at the end all of us are flying about in different directions that all collide in the final hit. So much fun to play!
Nathan: My current favorite is “그림자림그 (Shadow play)”. It's hooky and quirky and groovy and, best of all, it's so concise that I never get sick of it.
Jonathan: I'll bring in a short idea and everyone finds their place in that idea. And then as we're playing around with the idea we can start to feel where the different sections should come into play. Everything is very organic, that's what makes it our own unique sound. None of us individually could produce it.
Nathan: Our songs generally begin with riffs or grooves. After we jam on them for a while, they evolve or combine to form what you could almost consider complete songs. Sometimes all of this happens very quickly and naturally, but sometimes we spend months writing and rewriting songs before the pieces start to fit together. Once we have the foundation for a complete song, there's always some fine-tuning and tweaking to do. Lyrics usually come last. Sehee's been known to wait until the day of the show to write them. She seems to work better under pressure.
Jonathan: The artist is Lee Sejun and he is one of a handful of surrealist painters in Korea. Sehee went to an exhibition of his and almost immediately started talking with him about doing our cover. At the time when she first showed the rest of us his work we were at a loss about the direction of the album. His piece silenced that debate real quick. It fit perfectly for what we wanted.
Nathan: We had a very hard time finding the right image for this album. After weeks of heated late-night debates over Kakaotalk, we seemed to be moving in circles. Then we stumbled upon this design, and it was kind of shocking to finally find something that we all liked!
Jonathan: There came a point for me living in Korea where I felt like I was on display. Foreigners just stand out here, there's not much you can do to blend in. Even using the word "foreigner" differentiates us as people. So to me, Tierpark is about that feeling. When you walk down the street and a kid points at you and says "우와, 외국인이다 (wow, a foreigner)". But hey, at least it isn't a petting zoo. That is unless you're an African with dreadlocks. As for the actual zoo, I'm more into the aquarium myself. I go for the sharks, but stay for the jellies. Go figure.
Nathan: We didn't have a concrete reason for choosing the name Tierpark, but we invite our listeners to make their own connections and associations. Some could argue that our name captures the inevitable tension between the artist and the audience. In a sense, all performance can be considered an act of communication between the artist and the audience in which the art serves as the medium. However, in most performances, the artist and audience are physically separated. You want to connect with the crowd, but when you're on stage under the spotlight, it's easy to feel like an animal at a zoo. On that note, my favorite animals to watch at the zoo are humans. The animals in cages tend to look bored or depressed, but the people watching them are always so excited to be there. The look on a child's face when he sees an elephant up close for the first time is magic.
Jonathan: Yogiga is a great space for anyone who wants control over more elements of the performance. The owner Hanjoo is great. He truly encourages experimentation and collaboration. So we chose Yogiga because of that freedom and versatility in the space. You can expect more than just music :)
Nathan: We wanted the show to be on home turf. We've known Yogiga for many years, so it's a comfortable and casual place for us to perform in. They also gave us the artistic freedom to organize the whole event. Although Yogiga is a bit smaller than some of the venues we typically play at, we think that it will offer a unique and intimate atmosphere perfectly suited for our release.
Jonathan: Quite simply they are among our favorite bands to listen to, so it was only natural that we'd want to play with them. Also stylistically it just fit. While our musical genres aren't completely parallel there is a kind of sonic flow to the bill. When we can, we like to think about the show as a whole, how each of the bands fit together but aren't too similar.
Jonathan: More babies! And by babies I mean aural pleasantries.
Nathan: We didn't do a very good job promoting our first album, so I hope we can do better this time around. I love how the new album sounds, and want to make sure that it reaches as many ears as possible. Hopefully that will lead us to opportunities we haven't even imagined yet. If I knew what the future had in store for Tierpark, it would spoil the fun.
Interview : Eric Davis
Korean Translation : Doyeon Lim
Edited by : Rock N Rose
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Date : Sept 20th (Sun) 17:00
Venue : Yogiga
Door : 10,000 won
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