Posted on May 10, 2014

Interview

Tierpark is a band that is difficult to pin down. Both the members and music defy any of the easy labels we, as audio-consumers, so often slather on top of bands to expedite our own understanding as well as lubricate the initiation of inductees into a band’s fandom. However, when we peg a band into a genre, we often do a disservice to the diversity or unique nature of our target. Calling Googolplex “Glo-fi” helps us understand that they sound like Washed Out. Calling Toyshop “Post-Rock” triggers our brain to think of widely known acts such as Explosions in the Sky. But when we use these pre-identified points as a base for our understanding of new music, we often experience this music through the haze of prejudgment and bias. Instead of listening to a band on their own terms, we screen a band through our preformed understanding of what we think the band will sound like. This may be one of the reasons so many new genre categories are cropping up every day. Bands define themselves using a new, less worn label, circumventing the trap of audience bias. Tierpark is just such a band. Expertly blending together subtle shades from a plethora of diffuse genres, this is a band worthy of a virginal sonic experience. Along with the difficult to categorize music, the members, two Americans, one Belgian, and a Korean-Aussie, are equally onerous to place into a group in a music scene filled with fairly distinct lines. Performing within the Jarip scene, the art-rock scene, the foreign scene, AND the post-rock scene, Tierpark is able to blend in seamlessly wherever they go. Doindie was able to chat with Tierpark’s lead guitarist, Jonathan Jacobson, about challenges his band faces with their music, his thoughts on the music scene as a whole, and what being a “successful band” means to him.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Jon. The members of Tierpark come from fairly diverse backgrounds musically speaking. Each of you brings to the table something pretty unique. Do you think this has worked positively or negatively when blending your music to create the Tierpark sound?

Jonathan Jacobson : Ultimately I believe it's one of the most positive aspects of our sound. But practically it can also make the creative process a bit of a struggle. All of us have pretty strong musical personalities stemming from different musical backgrounds.  Laurent and Nathan come from a jazz background while I studied classically.  And Sehee has come into the scene as an acoustic singer songwriter.  Combining all of these influences isn’t an easy task but I think the end result is something unique to the music scene.  From the shows we’ve played, the most positive reactions have mainly come from other musicians, who seemed genuinely intrigued by our style. But because of this melange of influence, the process of turning an idea into a full song can be a little long and tiring. Simply speaking we argue a lot.

How do you think that affected your sound?

Jonathan Jacobson : We all have our different styles, but we've had to learn to compromise some of that; to sacrifice a bit of our own individual style for the greater good of the piece as a whole. Early on this was quite a challenge, but I've found we’ve grown more intuitive with each new song. We've learned to become comfortable in unexplored territory. It didn't used to happen, but now that it does it's a pretty special feeling; like we've truly broken new ground and created something original. We love it, but it's often pretty difficult to classify.

When you guys play live what do you think the audience should experience? In other words, what effect would you like your music to have on people?

Jonathan Jacobson : I hope that the connection our audience makes is more personal. Musically and lyrically our music may tell a story but there are always deeper feelings within the text. The experience for me has always been much more visceral and I hope our audience can share that. The type of music where you’re not just jumping around banging your head but you actually stop for a minute to think about it.

That can be dangerous when it comes to audience numbers. The stereotypical rocker dream seems to be to "get known", which I guess means fame and fortune or something along those lines. So then what is your goal as a musician?

Jonathan Jacobson : You're right. Playing in a genre that doesn't exactly exist yet certainly makes our journey an uphill battle. And we all have dreams for success, but for us perhaps that isn't strictly fame and fortune. We really feel like we're doing something new with our music. And at each show we play, if we can make that strong connection with even one audience member, it's worth it. Now of course we want a whole crowd full of these people, but we love playing regardless. Meaning you couldn't pay us enough money to stop playing. We do this because we love performing and sharing our music. If we happen to earn a following and some money in the process, that's a bonus.

Well every genre and band starts somewhere, making those initial connections. One of the hardest things in any scene, though it seems especially hard in Korean indie scene, is to have enough of a following so that the musicians can live some sort of sustainable lifestyle off of their art. And the people who are and are not able to do that is a bit confusing sometimes, almost like it was picked out of some cosmic hat saying, "You will randomly have a large audience, congratulations!". Do you see any rhyme or reason as to why certain bands become successful and some do not?

Jonathan Jacobson : Well certainly you have to work hard. I mean in any scene when you're doing everything yourself you've got to have a strong drive. But honestly if I knew the answer to that we would probably be on our way to fame and fortune.  You are right though, for most bands it can be hard to build an audience. The Korean indie scene does have a lot of very talented artists and musicians among its ranks, but what it often lacks is the right audience. Seoul boasts 10+ million people and still on a Saturday night I'll walk into a half empty club to see a show. I think part of this is the average Korean's perception of what "indie" is, which often isn't strictly independent. And also an over-saturation of music in Hongdae and under-saturation of music everywhere else.

You mentioned walking into a half empty club. What does it feel like. as a musician, after so much work and preparation to write, practice, and prepare for your performance, to perform for an almost empty room? Are your performance different based on the audience?

Jonathan Jacobson : Well yeah of course you want the house to be packed. But actually some of our best shows have been to a handful of people. I remember some time last winter we played a show at Powwow to a house of about five people. But everyone got really comfortable. The audience came and sat in with us on stage and we all shared a moment that I probably wouldn't have experienced otherwise. Our performances are definitely different based on the audience. But for us that is less related to the size of the audience and more related to their interest. I grew up playing chamber music so I'm no stranger to small audiences.

Tierpark just released their self-titled debut album. We talked about how it is sometimes hard to define the "Tierpark sound". Which song would you want to serve as the "gateway song" for someone who has never heard you guys before?

Jonathan Jacobson : Probably the first song we ever wrote, Sylvester. Its structure follows a more standard form and the chord progressions and melodies are all very harmonic. When we first started playing I was doing most of the writing so our songs had a simpler form. Since then our styles have combined and evolved into what has become a kind of progressive post rock.

Well I hope lots of new people enjoy your album as much as I am. Alright then, final question, and I like to ask this from everyone, so I hope you will indulge me. Have you ever found a place where you feel comfortable, as in a place you exactly belong? If so, what is the most comfortable place you have ever been?

Jonathan Jacobson : I guess I'd have to say performing is where I'm most comfortable. I know that it's what I want to do with my life and without it I would surely be incomplete. That and my bed. After putting out this record all on our own, we're all pretty exhausted.

I can imagine how draining it was. But congratulations again on your new record and thanks again for taking the time. Good luck!

Jonathan Jacobson : Thanks for having us!

____________________________________________________
by Alex Ameter

____________________________________________________
For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/seoul.tierpark
DoIndie : http://www.doindie.co.kr/bands/tierpark

You can purchase Tierpark’s self-titled debut album online at Yes Asia or Hyangmusic.

Or alternativly, you can buy it straight from the band at Bandcamp - http://seoultierpark.bandcamp.com/

 

Bands

Tierpark

Comments

comments powered by Disqus