Posted on January 19, 2017

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Over the last few years, a certain phrase has seen a growing number of frequent users. Loosely translated, it means: “It is my taste, please respect it.” It means that you shouldn’t judge someone on their preferences. To someone from the West, this might sound like a strange and even unnecessary thing to have to say to someone. Here in Korea, however, if your tastes clash with someone else’s, they’re much more likely to try and make you conform. In English, it’s known as interference. In Korean, it’s much more akin to outright intrusiveness. As a result, it can be hard to discern one’s personal taste from the taste they’re expected to have.

Personal interests are not only an expression of what you like and dislike, but symbols that indicate who you are as a person, and how you interpret the world around you. French epicure and politician Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin famously said “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Everyone's tastes — whether it’s food, aesthetics, music or any number of other aspects of daily life — are unique to themselves. Everyone has a guilty pleasure — don’t deny it, embrace it, even if you don’t say it out loud.

To encourage personal cultivation, there’s been a new kind of concert series last winter: Taste Collection Project. Organised and promoted by Music And People, it gives you a sneak peek into the preferences of some of your favorite musicians. Held in a small cafe in Sungsu-dong Cafe Sungsu, Seoul every Friday night from Nov 4th to Dec 9th, each show features a different band or musician. For the first hour, the artists take the audience on a curated tour of their favorite YouTube videos and music clips of the moment. Before and after sharing each one, they discuss exactly why they liked that song or band so much. The second hour of the show is an acoustic set, often including a cover or two. It’s uniquely intimate to hear them play right after hearing them talk about their artistic and personal influences in a small venue. Fostering a connection between the audience and the bands made the experience all the more meaningful.

The band Ggot Jam Project introduced artists so talented that they appeared to jokingly make the band angry. Kim Sa-wol shared a playlist of female artists she enjoys listening to late at night with beer. Theater8’s members all live together and love watching YouTube videos on their big screen TV at home. The band shared clips of the music they’re listening to, and joked about their personal lives. Mystery Curtain shared stories about music and movies along with novelist Jeong Ji-don. Blues musician Ha heon-jin talked about the artists who influenced him and shared the soundtracks from computer games that impact his work. Lastly, Low End Project talked about the musicians who inspired them to make “low-end quality” music rather than “high-end.”

Series organizer Baek Byeong-cheol of Music and People said, “Everyone has their own tastes, but they are often easily determined by money, media and commercial rules. I wanted to make an opportunity to consider whether something is in your own natural taste, or a predetermined one.”

This marks the end of the fourth series, but the next line-up is currently in the works. If you are sick of intrusive people telling you what you should and shouldn’t like, come listen to some great independent musicians and other artists tell you about their own lifestyles. Our tastes in different kinds of media make us who we are, so checking out this concert just may change the way you see yourself.

Live Video

Theatre8 - 'The First Day of Love'

Mystery Curtain - 'Late Summer Night'

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Article: Doyeon Lim
Translation: Song Hee M. Roh
Edited: Alex Ameter 
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