sEODo band have made their mark in the Korean music industry with their renditions of Korean for songs like Ganggangsullae, Arirang, Sarang-ga to name a few. In addition to these, the band has blended the Joseon-era singing with fairly modern instruments like a drum set and guitar. sEODo band consists of six members, namely Seo Jae Hyun, Yoon Tae Hee, Kim Seong Hyeon, Jang Yang Hoon, Park Jin Byeong, and Kim Ti Joo.
sEODo band released their first EP Moon: Disentangle on June 21, 2021. The EP contains five songs, each with a musical fusion that showcases their stellar skills. In this exclusive interview with KHIGH, the members of sEODo band spoke about the music, their personal styles, and what influences them.
KHIGH: Please walk us through the journey of sEODo band’s preparation up to the release of their mini-album ‘Moon: Disentangle’. What served as an inspiration for the album?
sEODo: We often make wishes while looking at the moon, and that is what inspired this album. When there are frustrating things in life, our purest minds look for an unconditional existence and wish for a solution. We wanted to illuminate our fans like the moon shining brightly with our music.
KHIGH: Musically speaking, how different is ‘Moon: Disentangle’ from your previous release ‘Influencer’?
sEODo: Comparing the two, one can say that the previous album Influencer sported fewer shades of the Joseon Pop genre. Moon: Disentangle on the other hand fits rightly into the genre. This demarcation between the two is what sets both releases apart.
KHIGH: As an artist who is regarded as the pioneer of Joseon Pop, how do you feel carrying this identity forward? What challenges did you face initially?
sEODo: Our band’s Joseon Pop music is painted in colours that are natural. We don’t intentionally follow the set patterns and characteristics while making music. Speaking of challenges, there are no difficulties in the genre itself, but one always faces certain challenges in the inner workings of the music. We would say it is not Joseon Pop that is difficult, but rather Joseon Pop is born out of those difficulties and challenges! (laughs)
KHIGH: Joseon Pop genre is a fusion of Joseon music and pop. Similarly, have you thought about trying our different fusion styles with Jazz, R&B or perhaps, rock even?
Seo Jae Hyun: We have already included several genres in Joseon Pop. One can rightfully say that other genres flow as music through sEODo band in the form of Joseon Pop.
KHIGH: What is the difference between Yoon Tae Hee as the member of sEODo band and Yoon Tae Hee the guitarist who makes his own music? What do you think about mixing the Gayageum with a guitar for a fusion track?
Yoon Tae Hee: First of all, Yoon Tae Hee as a member of sEODo band, and Yoon Tae Hee as an individual is does not lose his own colour in either scenario. When I am with the band, I always listen to the members’ opinions. I personally feel that I am a person who is more self-expressive and not shy to show my true colours as a musician.
Interestingly, I was a member of a band previously which also had a gayageum player. There was a good distribution of roles, and things went smoothly. While playing a fusion of Gayageum and a guitar, one has to be careful with the notes. If a gayageum is played in the low range, then the guitar must be played in a high range to emphasize and bring out the musical beauty of both instruments. I think that next time when I write a song, it would be fun to use the gayageum as well.
KHIGH: You have arranged songs for other musicians as well, what difference do you find when you make music with the band and for other musicians? What is your work process?
Kim Seong Hyeon: Having worked with different artists, I always try to understand their work. Each artist has their own feeling, say a melancholic feeling, a cute feeling, an emotional feeling, etc. Each artist and each feeling is different, so I try to base my process according to the artist. The base music process of working with other artists and with sEODo band is not different, but of course, there is a variety of shades in each of them.
As a band, we paint the blank white canvas with our own colours and shades, but at the end, we come together as a group and we wield the brush strokes together to paint a unified picture. We plan to study more and bring vivid rainbow-like colours to our music.
KHIGH: As a percussionist, which percussion instrument do you like the most? Have you tried your hand at any Indian instruments like the tabla?
Park Jin Byeong: My favourite percussion instrument is the conga. I have practised a lot on it, you can even say that conga is my best friend. We use it the most in sEODo band’s music to fill out the music in more colourful palettes. Besides the conga, I like the chime bell, an instrument that many others also like besides the conga. (giggles)
I have been interested in tabla for a long time, but there are very few table players in South Korea. There aren’t any good places to get a good tabla set either. Once the pandemic situation takes a better turn, I would like to go to India to play on the tabla along with sEODo band! 🙂
KHIGH: Between the electric, acoustic and bass guitar, what made you choose bass? Additionally, you have also worked with Hyuk of VIXX and Play Kim, what was that experience like?
Kim Ti Joo: I feel that a bass gives every musical instrument support from behind the scenes. Additionally, I chose bass because I think that the bass’s ability to change the atmosphere according to how it is played a reversal of the charm.
I have maintained good relationships with all the artists I have worked with. Speaking of VIXX’s Hyuk and Play Kim, both have their own musical styles and charm. VIXX’s Hyuk is part of a K-Pop group, but as a solo artist, he is an accomplished singer-songwriter who showcases another dimension with British rock. We have performed together quite a few times now, and it has been great fun so far. Play Kim and I have been working together since we were high school classmates. I admire Play Kim’s skills as a singer-songwriter, who has a soothing and comforting voice. From the album to various small performances, we have worked together quite often.
I want to perform even better in the future, and I plan to work harder as the bassist in sEODo band!
KHIGH: In addition to being with sEODo band, you also play the drums for two R&B/ Fusion Jazz bands Redcof, and CHSVERYHIGH. What is your takeaway from each performance? Is there any other genre you would like to try next?
Yang Jeong Hoon: Each band has its own persona, but one thing that is common is that they are fun to work with. Each band has different fun aspects, and sEODo band’s fun aspect is the new experiences through traditional music. It is really fun to be around the members and it feels like I am playing with my friends.
Coming to my work with Redcof, it presents challenging situations that often require improvisations during the live performance. CHSVERYHIGH’s music gives a leisurely feeling and it feels like one is travelling. Lastly, instead of trying new genres, I would like to try and find music that touches the heart.
KHIGH: For a person who listens to sEODo band for the first time, which song of yours would you recommend and why?
sEODo: We would like to recommend our new album Moon: Disentanlge’s title track City Lights. The song can be enjoyed while watching the passing city lights on the way home from work, or at night.
KHIGH: Please share a TMI about the members or any memorable incident that happened while recording?
sEODo: We’ll share a recent incident while recording for Moon: Disentangle. Initially, while producing the songs Boat Song and Ganggangsullae, the members recorded the chorus. Since we were always playing the instruments, it was initially awkward while actually recording the song. But, since we had to quickly finish the recording, members finally produced a perfect harmony! (laughter)
KHIGH: What does the next step for sEODo band as a group look like?
sEODo: There was a certain amount of greed and also a responsibility to deliver good music. For now, we are not sure what feelings or colours will be seen in the music, but one thing is for sure that you (fans) are going to enjoy it! If we were to have a goal, then in the future, when our voice will be even bigger, we want to be good influencers. We shall live with this goal, and continue in our philanthropic endeavours and support social causes. We (the band and the fans) are together in this era, in these times and we want to share a lot of things with our fans.
KHIGH: Please leave us a message for the fans.
sEODo: These days, because of the pandemic, many of you are going through gloomy days and so are we. But one we have noted that, as humans, we have always shown resilience and worked through our problems. If you believe in yourself, support each other and do your best, then soon the pandemic will not be a problem. We are all healthy and doing fine, and we wish that we can meet our fans in person soon. Thank you very much! Take care and stay safe everyone!