Posted on June 12, 2014
Late night fans of the indie rock scene in Hongdae are not strangers of the increasingly popular dance-rock band Space Papa. They have been playing countless shows in the area since forming back in 2011 and although they have gone through numerous changes over the years, they have only grown in notoriety and popularity. In addition to playing venues like FF, Freebird and Soundholic City regularly, the band members can often be seen as fans at many shows and festivals around Seoul. It was as fans that I first became familiar with the guys, but it was on a Friday night amidst a Reflex and Beatniks show at Soundholic City a year or so ago that I first got the chance to see an entire set of their unique space-pop-dance-rock sound, and I have done my best not to miss a show since. As genuine music fans as well as musicians, they are truly a part of the music scene here and their shows and fans prove that at every performance.
In March, Space Papa released their first studio album - a five track EP entitled “Adaptor.” The next day, they had a fantastically-received release show at Club FF. In May, indie musicians and fans gathered together at Freebird to say “See you soon” to synth-bassist Park Su Bin as he had to begin his obligatory military service. Though not necessarily a celebratory time, the show was a beautiful moment for everyone present. Shortly thereafter, the band agreed to sit down and have a chat with DoIndie. The current lineup of Choi Seung Min on guitar, Bak Jin Kyu on vocals and guitar, drummer Lee Eun Ho and bassist Ha Jae Hoon met me at Freebird’s rehearsal studio in Hongdae, and we discussed Su Bin’s departure, the new EP, the past and future of Space Papa, and more. Please enjoy a little introduction to this dynamic and exciting band, and then head to their page on DoIndie to be sure and catch their next live show. Welcome to The Space!
SM: We started back in 2011… I think it was in May. Eun Ho and I were neighborhood friends and Jin Kyu was an academy director. At the time, I was working here at Freebird’s rehearsal space part time. I really wanted to play music, so I called my friends and we started this band.
JH: I just liked listening to music. I never really dreamed of being a musician. But, one of my friends started playing, so I listened to a lot of music with him. We also watched a lot of music videos on YouTube, and the main instrument was the bass. I felt the bass was good for me and I liked the instrument, so I started to play.
EH: I first saw the drums in church, and I started to like it. So, I started playing drums because it was the first instrument I had seen.
JK: I used to like watching concert videos. This inspired me to want to play music and perform. This was just a dream of mine, and now I play in a band. As for inspirations in songwriting… In the very early hours of the morning, before I go to sleep, when it’s quiet, I get inspired.
SM: When I was young, I liked pop music, so I wanted to be a musician because I liked pop music. I joined the middle school band and played guitar. My inspiration comes just during work days, at no special time. Even if there is nothing big going on, I get inspired- it can be anytime, just living.
SM: When we started the band, we talked about the issue [of military service], so we decided to play for just one year. Since we had talked about it, we were ready for his departure, so we were not too sad. Our goal is to get together again after military duties.
You know the band Beatniks. Chan Woo plays bass for them and he introduced us to Jae Hoon because we had posted that we needed a bassist and Chan Woo saw it. Jae Hoon went to Junior College with him. So we met Jae Hoon, and we felt like he was a good fit, so now we play together.
SM: Before changing to a bassist, Su Bin was using a synthesizer to play bass, which is kind of unique, but there are some negatives as well. So, I expect some positive change because we are using a real bass now. With a real bass, we can play better in terms of pop style and with live gigs. Now we have a real bass and I can play keyboard, so we have more flexibility. Additionally, before, we wrote songs about things and stuff, but now we plan to write more about emotions and feelings.
SM: We have no label, so we prepared everything by ourselves. Even the smallest logos…we made it all on our own. We did the mixing ourselves, too. Oh Hye Suk, he is an engineer, helped us a lot. Through his help, we could record the album.
JK: Before this EP, we didn’t have an album, so now we can let people know about our band. We used to only have live concerts, so now that we have an EP, we can expose many people to our music and people can learn more about us, what kind of music we play and all about our music. So I guess the best part is that now people can learn about our band and music. The hardest part is basically what Seung Min said for the last question, that we had to do everything by ourselves. After we finished recording, we felt a great sense of accomplishment to have created something all by ourselves.
EH: Me? Everything was good.
SM: I learned many things from recording. I have recorded demos and singles, but this was the first normal album recording. So, before, the mixing was kind of lackluster, but this time was different. By recording this EP, we feel one step closer to being “professionals.” The hardest part was playing live while recording. We felt exhausted both physically and mentally. But we feel happy because we were successful.
JK: We are not an acoustic band, and so we use electronics. An adaptor does not look like an important thing, but because we use electric instruments, adaptors are very important to our music. We wanted the title of our EP to show that we use electric instruments. I think an adaptor is a very beautiful thing. It connects two different things, like an amp and guitar. So, it seems like a beautiful thing, like it creates a harmony between things.
SM: I also feel like an adaptor can connect the audience and the musicians.
SM: We released on the 27th of March and the show was on the 28th, so we couldn’t really enjoy the moment because we were sort of in a daze. After the show on the 28th, we felt relieved, because everything was finished successfully. As for the fans, we had prepared unusual settings for some sounds and tones, a unique set-list and a different style. We wanted to show the fans something different. The composition wasn’t perfect, but the fans were happy to see another side of our band.
JK: We finished recording well, we had a successful album release, and many people know our band and want to feel the harmony among us through the music. I feel real success is determined by a connection between us and the fans.
SM: For me, I feel like we must wait to talk about the success of the EP. We need to keep playing, and release another album, and that is when we will know the success of this album. If we can release another album, it means people want to hear our music.
SM: I was just getting ready for a show at Freebird, and was talking to a friend of mine who is majoring in guitar. So we talked about how we could write a song. So we just played a few chords and talked about writing a song. The melody was great, so I introduced it to the band and Jin Kyu added his voice. Everybody helped arrange the song and finally we wrote “Human.” As for the lyrics, Jin Kyu~
JK: Last year, Su Bin joined our band and we started to write this song. Last year was a very hard time for us. Two members changed, which was emotionally difficult, so we wanted to write a new song. Also, I wanted to write some lyrics that were very meaningful for our members because we were tired emotionally, so I started to write. All of our band members felt weak but they still wanted to play music together, so I wanted to let them know how I feel about them. This song is very meaningful within the band because it was written for us.
SM: That the audience likes this song makes me very happy. We didn’t expect the fans to like “Human” and “Nothing is Change” so much. Many people like “Nothing is Change,” so we are very thankful to the audience for that. We usually play it last, and at the ending, people sing along to the chorus and it makes us feel great. At first, there was not a lot of audience participation, but nowadays, many people sing, so we feel awesome. We all feel awesome.
EH: I feel great.
SM: When I was a teenager, I had an image of a rock star, with everybody shouting at them. So these days, I feel a bit like a rock star because many people sing along with us.
EH: Jisan last year. It was a memorable time for me.
ALL: It was Su Bin’s first performance.
JK: Jisan was a great experience because we learned a lot.
SM: Last year, December 28th, Soundholic City’s “Dance with Rock” show. It was really fun, with Reflex and Beatniks, performing together, that was really memorable.
JH: Now I play rock music, but I’m interested in other genres as well, so I watch other band’s concerts a lot. The best thing I saw was Hiromi the Trio Project. That was the best.
EH: It was at Ansan Valley Rock Festival (2013). The band Fun was the best I’ve seen. I just feel like they were the best.
JK: At Jisan, Jamiroquai. When I saw them, before I was playing music, I really liked them. I thought I would never get to see them, but then I got the chance. Also, I could play at the same festival as them, like we were sharing a stage.
SM: At Supersonic (2013), Two Door Cinema Club. They were so amazing, I cried. Really, they were that good. Before, I saw John Mayer live, and he is my idol, so I was very happy just to see John Mayer.
EH: I like everybody, too many to pick just one. But if I have to choose one, I’ll say Two Door Cinema Club. I’ve listened to every one of their songs. So, for my favorite band, it’s Two Door Cinema Club.
JH: Me too, I like so many bands. But visually, I like effects… oh, band? Oh, then my favorite is Nirvana, because they made me start playing.
SM: I heard My Chemical Romance play a cover song I like. I liked their album cover, and when they played that song, I really liked the aura. I usually like songs and their feeling when people play a concert, so I like them the best.
JK: Everyone is talking about the same bands, so I want to pick a different style. So, I like Sigur Rós.
Intro / Questions : Brian Gilbert