Posted on April 15, 2016
NST & The Soul Sauce perform a special performance of <Song For Rico> exclusively for DOINDIE.
Noh Seon Teck (NST) : Hi. We are NST & The Soul Sauce! (claps). Originally I wanted to call the band NST & Doenjang Jjigae (a Korean traditional stew made from soybean paste). I was resolved to make music with a ‘doenjang jjigae smell’ to it, but everyone else vetoed that idea! There said that there was no way they were going to use that name. Anyhow, a band’s name should be high class; at some point you have to let the public know your name, and they decided that Doenjang Jjigae was not a name they wanted to be known by.
NST: If we ever get to play abroad, I would love to go under the name Doenjang Jjigae.
NST: Of course! It’s just like how, over here in Korea, we use foreign words like spaghetti in everyday life, mixed in with our own language. We have a desire to present a Korean image to the world. We hope to someday make a music video in which we are cooking up some Doenjang Jjigae next to the Eiffel Tower or in front of Big Ben. Anyways the name Doenjang Jjigae got rejected and so, with a broken heart, I talked it over with the rest of the band, and at that time Mr Kang (our drummer) showed me the album artwork for Soul Sauce by Cal Tjader.
Seok Heon Kang: If you search for Soul Sauce the only thing that comes up is Cal Tjader.
NST: The artwork is really pretty--you could say that it is ‘saucetastic’! There is a bottle of sauce and a plate displayed in a really pretty way. We decided to use that as our band name. We didn’t think we would be able to come up with a better name, even if we agonised over it for a long time. So we immediately became Soul Sauce.
Simun Lee: If we had ended up being called Doenjang Jjigae I think we would have had to introduce ourselves thus : “Hello. I am (insert name here), the tofu in the soup’ (laughs). Thankfully we became Soul Sauce so we won’t have to say dumb stuff like that!
NST: We all have reggae nicknames we go by. I’ll go first. Hello. I am the reggae version of Hye Soo Kim. My name is Noh Seon Teck.
Soul Sauce: They told you to introduce the person next to you, not yourself!
NST: It’s not me first and then the rest of you?
Soul Sauce: No, once we have been around everyone, the last person in the line will come back to introduce you.
NST: This is reggae’s version of Shin Mina. He is our drummer Kang Seok Heon. (claps)
Taek Hyun: This is Song Young Woo; he is a good percussionist and he always selects good music for us all to listen to. His nickname is Smiley Song. He is the reggae version of Lee Young Ae! You can tell why just by looking at him, but he has super white skin.
Song Young Woo (Smiley Song): Next to me is the reggae version of Dakota Fanning. His name is Jeong Seok. He plays the trumpet and the flugelhorn in our band. Along with me he is the joint owner of a music label called Eastern Standard Sounds (claps). He is also the main contributor on our new album. He was like the band’s midwife for the album.
Jeong Seok: I do all the chores! (laughs) This guy here plays the role of father in Soul Sauce. He also takes charge of all the cooking, plays bass, is the main vocalist and the leader of the band too. He is the reggae version of Kim Hye Soo. His name is Noh Seon Teck.
NST: Hi. I am the reggae version of Kim Hye Soo. My name is Noh Seon Teck. The person next to me is me and Soul Sauce’s pride and joy; here is our guitarist whose name is Lee Simun, the reggae version of Kang Dong-won.
Simun: Next to me is someone who is always fiddling with his hair...
Kim Oki: It comes loose every day (said sullenly)...
Simun: He is always doing that. Every single day.
Jeong Seok: If you watch any of the interviews he has been in, he is always fiddling with his hair.
Oki: That’s because there is so much time when we are doing interviews.
Simun: He is the reggae version of Park So Dam. His name is Kim Oki (claps).
Oki: This is Soul Sauce’s ‘feel’ manager. He has a professional licence for ‘feel management’. He is reggae’s Yuna Kim. His name is Lee Jong Min.
Lee Jong Min: Next up is the reggae version of Moon Geun Young. He is our Violin player, Mr Kim Violin.
NST: I give them these nicknames as I see fit, according to how I feel. But there are are some rules behind the nicknames. Males are given female names and females are given male nicknames. Also, seeing as we are all musicians, I do not name anyone after other musicians, only people in different fields. When Taek Hyun plays the drums he gets all sweaty and his gestures look quite sensual. That sensual image he projects is similar to the image of Shin Mina when she appears in commercials or when she is acting. Obviously, it’s my own interpretation of reality. In the case of reggae's Lee Young Ae, he has really milky white skin. There was one time he was completely smashed off his face dunk--at that moment he looked just like Lee Young Ae to me. She has an elegant and beautiful appearance, right? That’s what I saw in him that day. Ordinarily, he is a fiercely loyal person and he’s of those guys with a tendency to be really masculine, but unconsciously he has Lee Young Ae’s really pretty appearance. Jeong Seok has some of Dakota Fanning’s cuteness. At first, his nickname was IU. Reggae's IU (haha). However, a while ago IU fell in love with someone, didn’t she? Well, Jong Min plays for her boyfriend's band, Kiha & The Faces, as well as us. So we are now indirectly connected to her in a way, right? So we decided not to use IU’s name. Instead we changed his nickname to Dakota Fanning.
NST: That is because there is no one in Korea who projects the same image as him. I was looking and looking for the right person and Dakota Fanning was the most similar to him. I had originally planned to give reggae's Kang Dong Won (Simun) the nickname Ha Jung Woo. I was really impressed with the way that Ha acts his eating scenes. Simun plays guitar really well; you could say she plays it ‘deliciously’. I thought they were similar in that respect but when I introduced her like that at a show she told me she hated that nickname and that she liked the actor Kang Dong Won. And thus, she became the reggae Kang Dong Won. As for Kim Oki,I didn’t really know who Park So Dam was at first. But I was watching a program that recommended movies and saw her on it; she gave off a similar vibe to Oki. I didn’t have to think about it for too long. He just became Park So Dam. Reggae's Yuna Kim (Jong Min) has a special characteristic when he performs. He does a thing where he plays all the notes from the bottom of the keyboard to the top. It reminds me of Yuna Kim when she performs a triple axel jump on the ice rink. He is the keyboard version of a triple axel. Kim Violin is known as reggae's Moon Geun Young. In her golden days she gave off a lovely and pure vibe, much like Kim Violin does. At some time or other I would like to make a music video where all these people (whose names we have borrowed) appear playing instruments in place of the Soul Sauce members. I guess for Dakota Fanning we might have to use computer graphics. Who could we get to direct it, I wonder? Park Chan Wook? Director Park, are you reading this interview?!?! If you are, drop us a message; we would love for you to make our music video!
Pictures : Jin Kim
NST: The first time around I wanted to make an album, but I couldn’t do it alone, so I asked my friends if they would help me out. In actual fact, I don’t have any friends other than these guys! They were really keen to get involved and passionate about helping me out, so I was really thankful for that. Once the album was done, of course, I needed to play some shows, so they ended up helping me out with that aspect as well. However, to just continue doing the shows under my name seemed a bit disrespectful to their talents, so I wanted to perform under one name together. That name was going to be Doenjang Jjigae. At first, because we all had other bands that we were part of, this was just a project band. As time went by we made lots of decent music together, and during that process a good bond formed between all the band members and so we finally made it to this point.
NST: I think that as you go through life you learn that relationships are really important. To me, I consider us ending up in a band together as a really lucky thing. The rest of the band might disagree though! They might consider it too much hassle to be involved in a band with me. Of all the reasons we are in a band together I guess the biggest reason might be that I am a bass player. Bass players are quite valuable these days, because they are a bit of a rare breed. So, even if they hate playing with me, they don’t really have a lot of choice. That’s probably the main reason why we have all ended up playing in a band together.
Kim Violin: Japanese reggae has a lot of violin. I don’t think there are any boundaries in music really. I think the violin suits reggae music pretty well. It is unique. What do you guys think? I guess I’d better quit the band if you don’t think it works well (haha).
NST: Kim Violin is the icing on the cake for our band. You know that part in the song when the violin melody comes in? At that moment the song becomes really ‘sweet’. It feels a bit like drinking coffee and eating a piece of cake around 3pm after lunch. Imagine life without dessert. Kim Violin is Soul Sauce’s dessert.
Oki: I’m not gonna play my solo stuff any more... (haha). I don’t even like reggae that much… I am a bit skeptical about music these days. Soul Sauce is mainly something I do just for fun. Because I get lonely if I am at home alone. It’s not something I am completely in love with doing, but it’s always fun to come hang out and chat, right? Because it’s too lonely to be alone. That’s why I am doing Soul Sauce. I’m not lonely these days. (haha)
Jeong Seok: The original idea behind Eastern Standard Sounds was to make a label. However there are not that many reggae fans here in Korea, so in a bid to try to bring what fans there are together, we started by importing music. Eastern Standard Sounds is run by Smiley Song, Lee Neung Keum and myself. We import music from abroad and introduce it to the Korean market and at the same time we wanted to also be able to introduce music made here in Korea as well, and so we became a label as well.
NST: Honestly, because we all play in other bands as well, we are all super busy and don’t have time to fight really. We don’t really even have enough time to smile and have fun hanging out together. Where would we find time to fight? It’s not like we have only been playing in bands for one or two years either, we all have a lot of experience of being in different bands. It feels as though we are entering our middle ages as a band so I think we are past the point of in-band fighting.
Smiley Song: hummm …I think that the new album contains all the main ingredients of reggae music. There is a full brass session, violin, keyboard, percussion, guitar, lead guitar … everything you need is there. It is a cool album. The drums and the bass sounds are especially prominent and clear in the songs, I don’t think there are too many albums like ours here in Korea. Also, there are lots of bands who make separate albums for the dub versions of the songs, or simply add them as bonus tracks at the end of the album. As far as I know, I think we are the only band in Korea to put out a release where the original track is immediately followed by the dub version of the song. Taek Hyun and I did the dub version mixing. The A side of the EP has the original version of the song, followed by the dub version. The B side has a different original track, followed by its dub version. By making the EP like this I think we have managed to express typical 70s / 80s style reggae pretty well.
Jeong Seok: All in all, I think we managed to do everything we set out to achieve. We had no restrictions. For example, we didn’t record in a studio; instead we recorded in a bar called Strangefruit. It made it feel very natural, like a live performance. On the cassette tapes we have also included some live rehearsal versions of the songs as well as some outtakes of natural conversations we had before and after recording.
I consider the ‘dub’ versions of the songs to be more than just a version of the song; they are really completely separate creations. Personally I consider them different songs. We have reflected that in the titles of the tracks; for example, rather than calling the songs ‘Heaven Is Here - Dub Version’ or ‘Song For Rico - Dub Version’, we named them ‘Heaven is Dub’ and ‘Dub For Rico’.
NST: People who seriously make music never do it half-heartedly. They worry about and decide the smallest details before they make the album. Our recording contains the worry, the joy and the energy of eight people. If you listen carefully to each track one at a time you will be able to feel all the little details we spent so long worrying over. You will enjoy the finer details of our songs. For example a single kick drum beat, the conception of a melody... All those things are fun details. I think it is a bit similar to food. Pyongyang naengmyeon (cold noodles) for instance, when you happen to bite into a small piece of spring onion there is something really satisfying about that taste. Just like that, a single kick or snare beat can give a song a ‘tasty’ texture, and a ‘delicious’ sound for your ears. I hope that people enjoy these small details in our songs. Soul Sauce! Soul Sauce! Mainstream music tends to have a fixed style. It starts out calm and reaches a climax that has a high-pitched vocal line of three or four bars. If you don’t fit into that framework then you won’t be getting much applause from the public. Personally, I think the fact that that kind of music is in the mainstream shows that the current music market is in a bit of a crisis.
Smiley Song: A dub track is usually a track with the vocals removed and an emphasis on the space in the songs. In essence it is an instrumental track. It is often referred to (in Korea) as MR these days. At first someone just removes the vocals from a track, then bit by bit they begin to remove other parts as well, like part of a guitar riff, or the odd drum beat here and there. Meanwhile reverb and delay is added here and there and the song begins to feel more interesting. These technical effects are added to parts of the track and it ends up sounding like a completely new track. This style branched out to form a completely new genre of music and culture that is still going strong today. Dub beats are used a lot in techno music as well. We were keen to get involved with that side of music as well, so we decided to give it a try.
Jeong Seok: One of the songs on the EP is called ‘Song for Rico’. Rico is a legendary Jamaican trombone player. He was active from the 50s/60s until last year when he sadly passed away. Reggae musicians all know who he is and respect him a lot. Noh Seon Teck wanted to make this song as a tribute to him. It is a really good song. That was our main motive behind making the EP. The artist from Mexico, Chema Skandal, also knew of Rico and respected him a lot and so he said that if we were going to make a tribute to him that he also wanted to be involved. He doesn’t usually offer his help to people quite so freely, but we happened to all be on the same page over this and so we ended up working together on it.
NST: Smiley Song, Jeong Seok and Taek Hyun are into reggae even more than I am. I learn a lot from those guys. They always listen to their music on vinyl. They always listen to really high quality music and so they have a good sense about music texture. So...we better ask this question to them!
Smiley Song: Originally we were thinking about doing an analogue press. In the case of vinyl pressing, the best thing to do to ensure high quality is to get it done abroad and then sent back to Korea, but doing it like that begins to get a bit expensive. So we wondered how else we could get that analogue feel, and we decided tape was the best way to achieve it. We should have got it all done last year, but for various reasons it kept getting postponed. Now it looks like we are doing it just to fit in with the current trend, but in actual fact, we had been planning to do it since last year.
Jeong Seok: I love limited edition things. Sometimes people release 100,000 or 600,000 copies of a record and call it a limited edition, but ours is a really limited edition! You better buy a copy fast! We are selling it on the Eastern Sounds website. Offline, you can get it at Kimbab Records, Toy Records, Setere Records, Jamaica Wang bar and Zion Boat restaurant. We plan to distribute it in other places as well.
Limited Edition Cassette Tape (+ Download Code) : Eastern Sounds
NST: We are going to add French and Japanese soon as well. Then we will be doing it in four languages.
Simun: Smiley Song is good at Japanese.
Jeong Seok: Smiley Song speaks Japanese so well that Japanese people think he is Japanese.
Smiley Song: Jeong Seok speaks English.
Jeong Seok: I speak Itaewon (a district in Seoul popular with expats)-style English. Simun studied over in America too.
NST: She ate loads of Domino's pizza in Boston.
Simun: I don’t help at all with the SNS posting. haha
NST: A short while ago we made a new friend who speaks French. We were really lucky to get to meet him, he is a French singer called M (Matthieu Chedid). His translator lives in our neighbourhood and he agreed to help us out with posting in French postings.
Jeong Seok: He came over to Korea to play a show to celebrate the 130th anniversary of Korea / France relations. Two days before the show Matthieu Chedid ended up drinking with Noh Seon Teck and Jong Min and they became close and had a jam session together as well. He ended up inviting them to come and play as guest performers at his show. We didn’t know it at the time, but we ended up being written about in the French press.
NST: Is there anyone that knows the answer to that question? Even if you make solid plans, they often don’t work out exactly how you wanted them to. We recorded in November and planned to release the EP in December, but already half a year has passed and we are only releasing it now. I can’t make any guarantees but if any good songs or good opportunities naturally emerge then we will grasp them with both hands and have fun doing them. That is our plan.
Jeong Seok: Firstly, we all individually play in other bands as well and so working out how to control our schedules is going to be a key issue. Jong Min also has a solo album coming out really soon. All the members of this band are support specialists, so if someone is doing something we will all stampede over and help them out where we can.
NST: In two or three years’ time, I want to be helping out with Jeong Seok’s solo album. For the last few years I have wanted to help Smiley Song out with a solo album as well. Simun is already hard at work making one. Among all the people I have met making music, these guys are the weirdest and the most talented of the lot, so even when we get together with no real plans, good things tend to happen. Even in a 15 minute jam session we often come up with the basis for three or four songs. Whenever we play naturally like this, we end up coming up with lots of decent stuff. I think our band can be a symbol of fertility. Ah, also I hope that my wish of having Park Chan Wook direct a music video for us comes true. It would be an amazing video with Kim Hye Soo playing guitar and singing my song, Shin Mina would be on the drums, Lee Young Ae on percussion and Yuna Kim playing the keys (haha).
Interview : Jin Kim, Jung Nuri
English Translation : Patrick Connor / Doyeon Lim
Edited by : Rock N Rose
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