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Tuesday
Dec032013

E! News Asia Special : Jay Park


From hero to zero: ... and now back to being a hero, Jay Park has his own E! News Asia Special spot premiering today.Jay Park is back and better than ever with a new TV special that focuses on ... him. 

UNLIKE most Korean celebrities who require translators to more or less “speak” for them, Jay Park can hold his own.

The US-born singer and rapper was in Kuala Lumpur recently, answering questions from the press in fluent English, and seemed unfazed by the plethora of weird and zany enquiries into his not-so-personal life.

The “Fresh Prince of Seoul”, as he is often called, now has his own Jay Park E! News Asia Special TV programme, premiering tonight. For the first time ever, fans will get a lowdown on just how much more there is to the controversial K-Pop star.

Filmed over a period of four days, the TV special includes talking heads ranging from Park’s B-boy pals to his family members, with exclusive footage provided by his buddy Hep of dance crew AOM.

Arriving in KL from Seoul just after the second leg of his concert tour around South Korea, Park was exhaustion exemplified, and harboured less zeal than one would expect from a 26-year-old superstar.

“I went to Hong Kong, I went to Thailand ... then I went to Europe, then I went to Thailand, then Europe, then China. I’ve just been on a plane so much. I’ve been doing so much work that I think I’m just starting to get burned out right about now,” he revealed during a one-on-one interview.

With a pierced nose and tattoos running up the length of his left arm, Park gave a hip-hop artiste swagger, accentuated further by his beanie-and-oversized-T-shirt look.

Judging from a media preview of the E! Special spot, it seems likely that the 30-minute show will touch on Park’s dark past, which has much to do with being ousted from top South Korean boy band 2PM.

The programme will likely touch on the K-Pop superstar’s dark past, which has much to do with being ousted from top South Korean boy band 2PM in 2009.

“In the show, you’ll get to see what I’m like on a day-to-day basis – times when I’m not on TV, when I’m in the waiting room, or in my house, or at the office. It’ll also get into what I think about certain situations, certain things that happened in the past. So yeah, you’ll probably find out a few new things about me,” he offered.

Initially the leader of the pack, the charismatic entertainer had a hard time pacifying anti-fans when unfavourable comments he wrote about Korea in 2005 were leaked by a netizen and later taken out of context and misinterpreted by the Korean media.

Famed for his B-boy dance moves, Park returned to the US in late 2009, just as the rest of the 2PM group members revelled in the launch of their first official album – while Park’s vocals could still be heard on some of the tracks, visuals of him were completely removed from the final image compilation.

Conquering all odds, the fallen star rose to fame once again when his bathroom rendition of B.o.B.’s Nothin’ On You, enhanced with his own rap and lyrics, went viral on YouTube and reached over two million views in under 24 hours.

By July 2010, Park was back and bigger than ever, debuting as a solo singer and actor. After winning multiple awards, and topping charts with his first full-length album, the multi-talented performer became a permanent cast member of Saturday Night Live! Korea earlier this year, adding the role of “comedian” to his already crowded portfolio.

Having previously been under record label JYP Entertainment for four years as a tightly-reigned trainee prior to the debut of 2PM, Park is currently enjoying the creative freedom of managing his own R&B independent label, AOMG, which stands for Above Ordinary Music Group.

“Right now I’m making my own music, my own decisions. I get to create my own career path. Back then, as a member of a group, it was the company who had everything planned. I think I’m much more of a free spirit now,” he shared.

Of course, aside from worrying about his own future, Park also has to oversee the musical journey of artistes Jun Goon, Gray, Cha Cha Malone and LO, who are all a part of AOMG.

Aside from working on everyone’s individual album, the company is opening up to take just a few more artistes on board.

No longer the boy who confessed to crying every day for two weeks (due to the culture shock he experienced when he first came to South Korea as a JYP trainee), Park seems to have taken things in his stride – he may have his hands full right now, but he’s not stopping anytime soon.

With the support of his family, who has since returned to South Korea to accompany his burgeoning stardom, Park expressed interest in producing more English titles and to have his songs be known “not just in the world of K-Pop, but internationally.”

“Things can get overwhelming but I take it day by day. I actually didn’t think I’d come back this big. I didn’t think anybody would be interested in me or what I did. I am very fortunate, I guess.”

As for attributing social media with the making and breaking of careers, Park has a smattering of advice for hopeful ingénues: “If you want to be an entertainer, just do it for the right reasons. Social media won’t exactly help you achieve your goals. You’ve got to put in the hard work first, then can you use social media as an outlet to market yourself.”

> Jay Park’s E! News Asia Special premieres on E! (Astro Ch 712) today at 9.30pm.

Featured Artist : Jay Park
Artist Management : Sidus iHQ

Featured Commentator : DFSB Kollective (Bernie Cho)
International Digital Distribution : DFSB Kollective
Social Media Solution Integration (Facebook/YouTube) : DFSB Kollective

Saturday
Nov092013

The Washington Post : A year after ‘Gangnam Style,’ K-pop continues to make its mark in America

First Psy, now six new K-pop bands come to America: Psy broke the mold for South Korean pop bands in America. Now Infinite is following in his footsteps with its upcoming show at the Fillmore Silver Spring. Here are a few other K-pop bands you should check out
In early May, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong posted a photo to his Instagram account of “Gangnam Style” sensation Psy. “This dude is the herpes of music,” the caption read, alongside the hash tags #flareup and #pleasegoaway. “Once you think it’s gone, it comes back.”

That post came nearly a month after the release of “Gentleman,” the 35-year-old Korean pop phenomenon’s follow-up to his first smash hit, a song whose video, with 1.8 billion total views, is — by almost a factor of two — the most watched visual in the history of YouTube.

For much of the past year “Gangnam Style” was inescapable on TV, at weddings, at sporting events, everywhere. That song vaulted Psy — a doughy, good humored outlier in his native country’s carefully moussed, vaguely militaristic music industry — to pop cultural heights no one in Seoul could have ever anticipated. After a decade spent touring almost exclusively for Korean audiences, he was teaching Britney Spears the “horse dance” on “Ellen,” counting down the New Year for us in Times Square, shilling pistachios during the Super Bowl, and, perhaps most impressively, performing for the Obamas at the annual “Christmas in Washington” special. He’d gained entrée to the largest music market in the world. He was a part of pop’s most inner circle. And all of it stemmed from the sometimes maddening appeal of one very viral music video. How could he possibly follow that?

As of this past week, “Gentleman” is the year’s most-viewed video on YouTube with 573 million hits and counting. But have you actually heard “Gentleman” recently? An unabashedly strategic copy of its predecessor, the song is armed with a similarly propulsive, high-wattage electro hook and an equally relentless barrage of outlandish visual punchlines. “Gentleman” has, if the numbers are to be trusted, been an overwhelming success — proof, the narrative would suggest, that Psy wasn’t just a one-hit wonder and that “Gangnam Style” wasn’t just the 2012 equivalent of the “Macarena.” But like the Latin pop surge of the mid-1990s, Psy’s unexpected breakthrough came at a pivotal moment for Korean pop, or K-pop as it’s also called.

Since the late 1990s, Korea has been producing some of the most exhilarating pop music in the world. It is an artform — closer to a science — that in recent years has made cultural inroads outside of Asia. As early as their teens, prospective performers are recruited and sent through a specially designed, deeply competitive training program meant to prepare them for careers as global pop exports. They live together in housing arrangements made by their record label, learn foreign languages, song composition, rapping and dance choreography before finally debuting.

This debut is usually a heavily considered concept, be it a 12-member, half-Chinese, half-South Korean boy band that can split up to tour separately but simultaneously; or a sprawling, nine-member girl group with members come from as far away as Southern California. (Both of those examples, EXO and Girls’ Generation, call Seoul’s first powerhouse agency, SM Entertainment, home.) The songs, like the groups themselves, are constructed for maximum reach: Choruses are built from catchphrase English, verses are in Korean or custom-tailored to target markets. Sounds, textures and visuals are often sourced from various Western hits. The result is a listening (and viewing) experience that is both bewildering and thrilling, one wherein recognizable pop moments from the past (or present) are copied, tweaked, and improved upon before being fused together, side-by-side, in the space of the same, aggressively polished product.

Which is why Psy is such an extraordinary case. He is not a conventionally pretty face and “Gangnam Style” is comprised of very specific cultural signifiers, written in largely untranslatable Korean. It not only transcended the language barrier but also upended thousands of hours and millions of dollars worth of market research in South Korea, where the word “invasion” had become used more and more frequently to describe and package the impending arrival of highly trained, highly disciplined pop brands who were already uniformly famous across the Asian continent.


The march continues, and much of the force behind K-pop’s aggressive outward expansion is that Korea’s own market is, at this point, too small to contain it. Though established Korean pop acts visited the United States as early as the 1980s, when the “godfather of Korean pop,” Cho Yong Pil, performed at Carnegie Hall, there has been a dissonance between attendance numbers and mainstream awareness. “The K-pop fan community keeps up to speed with the touring or promotion visits, so even before these groups become familiar to a wider audience, there have been in-market trips,” says Yvonne Yuen, senior vice president of international marketing at Universal Music Southeast Asia. “Some acts may not have Billboard hits but still manage to sell out Madison Square Garden or the Staples Center.”

More recently, high profile Korean pop groups have continued to test the waters in the United States before, during and after Psy’s rise. In 2005, the renowned solo artist Rain performed at the Garden. Girls’ Generation returned to New York early last year for appearances on “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “Live! with Kelly Ripa” months before Bigbang and 2NE1 — outwardly edgy, fashion-forward labelmates of Psy’s — embarked on brief sold-out tours of the United States. There also have been collaborations with popular American artists, but none have moved the needle in any visibly significant way outside of the distinctly fervent (and always online) K-pop fan network.

Still, Psy’s success has generated an interest that, more and more, expands beyond the Korean-American community. According to data provided by Google, the online viewership among K-pop artists in this country doubled in the year after “Gangnam Style” was unveiled in July 2012. And audiences are increasingly diverse, a development that has made touring more attractive for an increasing number of young groups.

“What’s interesting is that the pace with which K-pop acts are coming to the U.S. has grown faster,” says Bernie Cho, head of the DFSB Kollective, a creative agency in Seoul that specializes in distributing and marketing Korean music worldwide. “Back in the day, it used to take years for them to establish themselves as superstars in Korea and in the region. Going global was an afterthought. But now, because of social media and iTunes, instead of waiting for years, it takes these same acts a matter of weeks and months for them to realize the potential elsewhere. The awareness has accelerated.”

On Nov. 13, Infinite, a spritely, seven-member boy band, will perform at the Fillmore in Silver Spring as part of its “One Great Step” tour. This four-date jaunt also includes dates in Los Angeles, New York and San Jose. It’s an interesting development. While fellow upstarts VIXX and B.A.P. also have planned visits to the United States this year, all three groups have experimented with booking shows outside of the usual markets of the Bay Area, Big Apple and L.A.; the latter came to D.C.’s Warner Theater in May and VIXX plans to visit Dallas later this month. This is not an accident.


“Before they arrive, most young K-pop acts have already done their marketing research,” Cho says. “Whether they’re looking at their Facebook fan pages or their YouTube views, they have a better sense of who their fans are and, more importantly, where they are. When they arrive and they do tour in the U.S., it’s very calculated.”

Though Infinite debuted to tepid response in 2010, with an album titled (ahem) “First Invasion,” they would not perform in front of an audience at home in Korea until early 2012, when they walked out on stage in front of 8,000 screaming fans. In the two years between the album’s release and the live debut, the group work-shopped its repertoire extensively. It developed the “scorpion dance,” a move that spawned a rash of video tutorials and contests. This current tour will visit four continents and their fans, dubbed Inspirits, promise to be there in numbers.

“These virtual tribes connect and ultimately, want to connect with each other in real life,” says Ted Kim, of MNET, a Korean music television channel that now produces English language programming in this country. “Live events and concerts provide a great opportunity for like-minded people to come together and celebrate their mutual interest and passion.”

Cho believes there’s only more to come. “I think we’re going to be seeing more and more new, young Korean acts coming to the United States,” he adds. “Not only to tour, but also to record.”

“Psy has definitely opened the door to a new market, including America, for us and other K-pop artists,” Infinite said via e-mail. “We do appreciate him so much and hope this world tour will contribute to K-pop in some ways as Psy has done. Above all, we are enjoying every single moment of the tour which has given us many chances meeting lots of Inspirits and K-pop lovers out there. It makes us feel proud of ourselves. We are ready to give audience unforgettable moments.”

By David Bevan (Editor at SPIN Magazine)

Tuesday
Aug132013

The Korea Herald : A Look Back at the Changing Tides of K-Pop


K-Pop Exports Grow Some 80 Percent a Year

From traditional Korean folk music and the sounds of pansori, to the heavily Western influence of Korea’s old rock ’n’ roll scene, all the way to the current trends of choreograph-heavy K-pop idol groups, the nation’s music industry has had a number seismic shifts.

After the trend of popular music shifted from folk to rock to pop, the modern era of music gave birth to the continually growing, internationally recognized genre that is now referred as K-pop, or Korean pop music.

Within the first half of 2011, the Korean music industry had grossed nearly $3.4 billion, according to Billboard magazine, with K-pop being recognized by Time magazine as “South Korea’s Greatest Export.” According to the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), the K-pop industry’s exports have been growing on average about 80 percent a year.

The advent and the subsequent expansion of K-pop did not begin with the cheesy and classy manners of the “Gangnam Style” gentleman Psy. Rather, the history of K-pop can be classified into distinct generations, with the first wave of stars paving the way for the hallyu idols of today.

Seotaiji & BoysIn 1992, Seo Taiji & Boys became the first group to usher in a new sound of pop that changed the direction of Korean music. The formation one of the country’s most iconic K-pop groups brought an innovative fusion of musical styles, such as techno, rock, rap and R&B. The eclectic sounds of the boys’ debut single, “I Know,” took the country by storm.

The group’s fresh new sound resulted in an influx of new-generation Korean idol bands, most notably boy groups H.O.T. and Sechs Kies and girl groups S.E.S and Fin.K.L.

A new trend had been set, marking the first generation of K-pop music with English band names ― which at the time was considered the definition of cool ― and synchronized dance moves.

H.O.T. is arguably one of the country’s most representative K-pop idol groups after Seo Taiji & Boys and is widely thought of as the forerunner in the ongoing trend of boy bands in Korea. The popular five-member boy band, whose name stands for “High-five Of Teenagers,” made its debut in 1996 and introduced the new wave of mainstream music for the young generation that was sparked by the group’s first hit single, “Candy.”

H.O.T (SM EntertainmentThe teens captured the hearts of young girls all over the nation with their swanky fashion, boyish charms, rap skills and trendy dance moves.

This boy band craze led to the likes of other popular boy groups including the six members of “Sechs Kies” (German for “six crystals”), who debuted a year after H.O.T. and helped continue the success of boy bands.

However, it wasn’t only the men who shared group popularity during the first generation of K-pop. Representing this generation’s girl groups were the hugely popular Fin.K.L (Fine Killing Liberty) and S.E.S. (Sea, Eugene, Shoo), whose member’s babyish voices, cute schoolgirl looks, synchronized vocals and choreography propelled them to the top of the music charts.

The advent of music television channels like MTV Asia and Channel [v] in the 1990s not only brought in music videos from the West, but also helped introduce Korea’s pop music abroad. “The power and influence of music videos propelled K-pop stars onto the Asian region’s screens, stages and award shows,” said Bernie Cho, head of DFSB Kollective, an agency that specializes in distributing K-pop globally.

Big Bang (YG Entertainment)Although the first generation of K-pop music set the standard for K-pop, the next generation of idols set a new direction for the future of Korea’s pop music. The so-called 2.0 and 2.5 generation of K-pop acts include the still-popular music idols BoA, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, Big Bang and Wonder Girls. It wasn’t until this generation of K-pop idols that the Korean music was thrust into the international limelight.

“The consumption of K-pop has become more and more diverse,” said Shin Hyung-kwan, the general manager of Mnet at CJ E&M. “It is no longer just one single genre, and unlike before, the consumption of K-pop is now reaching into a more diverse set of audience members.”

According to statistics from Google trends, online searches for K-pop began their steady increase in 2009, after the release of smash hit singles “Sorry Sorry” from Super Junior and Girls’ Generation’s “Gee.” Both singles recorded massive sales overseas, particularly across Asia and Japan. And thanks to the growth of digital media and online sharing sites such as YouTube, K-pop has become an increasingly global brand.

Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” not only topped the major music charts in Korea, but it became the longest-reigning single on the KBS music charts. The nine ladies also became the first K-pop girl group to ever go double platinum in Japan.

Since this dramatic shift in international interest, the popularity of K-pop has continued to make its mark in the global music scene. And with the introduction of the third generation of idol groups including SHINee and the bad girls of 2NE1, the Korean pop music scene continues to spread its wings beyond the borders of Korea, resulting in the production of international K-pop album releases and entertainers embarking on world tours.

Needless to say, the introduction of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” ― whose international popularity shocked the nation ― has set a new bar in terms of the future global potential of K-pop music as a brand.

“We keep finding more methods for people to come in contact with our music,” said Shin. “Even now our underground artists are making their way up into the ‘overground’ scene and finding success.”

K-pop artists today have more challenges as well as opportunities. The ubiquity of social networking sites, while it can help K-pop acts make their breakthrough, can also lead to an unexpected breakdown, internationally, in real time, Cho of DFSB Kollective notes.

More is demanded of the artists musically, rather than pretty looks and flashy dance moves as the music industry increasingly turns to concerts and tours to diversify their revenue stream.

The Korean music industry is also at a crossroads. Pointing out that while Korea is a top 10 digital music market in the world, the country’s online music portals sell K-pop music for nearly one-tenth of the international price standards, Cho said, “Unless Korea raises its prices to worldwide standards, Korean artists ― whether they be idol, indie, or icon ― will not be able to earn enough money locally to finance their export efforts globally.”


By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)


Monday
May132013

The Korea Economic Daily : With Hongdae Pins, Korean Indie Rock Goes Global


노브레인이 지난 3월 미국 텍사스 오스틴에서 열린 SXSW축제에서 멋진 공연을 펼쳐 보이고 있다. /서울소닉 제공
한국경제신문·텐아시아 공동기획
싸이에 놀란 세계, 한국 비주류 음악에도 관심
노브레인·갤럭시익스프레스 등 인디밴드들 美·英 등 진출 잇따라


홍대입구에서 활동하던 한국 록밴드들이 미국, 영국 시장의 문을 적극적으로 두드리고 있다. 빌보드차트, 유튜브에서는 싸이의 ‘젠틀맨’이 맹활약하는 가운데 해외 공연장에서는 한국 밴드들의 도전이 이어지고 있는 것.

한국 밴드 해외 공연 프로젝트 ‘서울소닉’ 팀은 지난달 5일 출국해 약 한 달 일정으로 북미 투어를 다녀왔다. ‘비틀즈의 나라’ 영국으로 가는 ‘고 리버풀’ 프로젝트 팀은 이달 23일 출국해 약 2주간의 일정으로 투어를 펼친다. 싸이가 전 세계를 강타하고, 조용필이 그런 싸이를 국내 음원차트에서 제치면서 한국 뮤지션의 역량에 대한 외국인들의 관심이 커지고 있다.

< 활발히 활동 중인 홍대 인디밴드들 > 왼쪽부터 임병학(구남과여라이딩스텔라) 조수광(DFSB콜렉티브 대표) 김태현(로다운 30) 이원석(노브레인 매니저) 황현성(노브레인) 김해미(DFSB콜렉티브 과장) 윤병주(로다운 30) 이호원(DFSB콜렉티브 팀장) 이성우(노브레인) 조웅(구남과여라이딩스텔라) 민간 기업 DSFB콜렉티브가 진행하는 ‘서울소닉’은 2011년 시작돼 올해로 3회째를 맞은 프로젝트다. 이디오테입, 비둘기우유, 갤럭시 익스프레스, 크라잉넛, 3호선버터플라이, 옐로우 몬스터즈 등의 북미 투어를 진행하며 해외 음악 관계자들과 네트워크를 강화하고 국내 인디밴드가 해외에 진출할 초석을 다졌다. 이번 투어에는 한국 인디 신을 대표하는 밴드들인 노브레인, 로다운30, 구남과여라이딩스텔라가 참여해 미국 텍사스 오스틴에서 열리는 음악 쇼케이스 ‘사우스 바이 사우스웨스트(South By Southwest·이하 SXSW)’, ‘샌프란시스코 뮤직 매터스 아시아’, 캐나다 토론토에서 열린 ‘캐나디언 뮤직 페스티벌’을 포함해 뉴욕, 로스앤젤레스, 샌디에이고 등지를 돌며 10차례 공연을 펼쳤다.

이 같은 움직임의 불씨는 지난해 11월1일 홍대 라이브클럽 일대에서 먼저 시작됐다. 국제 음악박람회 ‘뮤콘 서울 2012’ 참가차 한국을 방문한 해외 음악 전문가들이 클럽을 돌며 공연을 감상했다. 제임스 마이너 SXSW 총감독도 그중 한 명이었다. 그는 SXSW에서 공연했던 3호선버터플라이, 크라잉넛, 갤럭시 익스프레스 등의 한국 밴드를 기억하고 있었다. 당시 마이너 총감독은 “자국을 벗어나 글로벌하게 활동하고 싶은 팀들이 SXSW에 와줬으면 한다. 해외에서 커리어를 쌓는 것에 대한 뚜렷한 목적과 방향성을 가진 팀들이 도전해주길 바란다”고 국내 밴드들에게 조언했다.

그의 조언은 ‘서울소닉’의 미주 공연으로 이어졌다. 노브레인의 공연은 영국 신문 ‘가디언’과 미국 유력 음악매체 ‘스핀’에 소개되는 등 관심을 모았다. 슈퍼스타 마돈나, 뉴욕 펑크록의 전설 라몬스 등을 발굴한 세계적인 음반 제작자 시모어 스타인 워너뮤직 부사장은 노브레인의 공연을 직접 관람하고 찬사를 보냈다. 노브레인의 보컬 이성우 씨는 “스타인이 우리 공연을 보러 왔다고 했을 때 믿을 수 없었다”며 “그가 노브레인의 앨범이 여지껏 미국에 발매되지 않은 것을 이해할 수 없다고 말했을 땐 어깨가 으쓱할 정도였다”고 말했다.

서울소닉을 총괄하고 있는 조수광 DFSB콜렉티브 대표는 “한국 인디밴드의 수준은 이미 세계적이다. 홍대는 다른 나라에서 찾기 힘든 음악연구소”라며 “미국 팝 음악시장의 시장점유율 1위는 유니버설뮤직, 소니뮤직, 워너뮤직 등의 대형음반사가 아닌 바로 인디레이블의 연합체다. 그런 면에서 한국 인디밴드의 해외 진출은 사업적으로도 잠재적 가능성이 크다”고 말했다.

갤럭시 익스프레스, 아폴로 18 등은 단독으로 북미 투어를 벌이는 등 이미 적극적인 해외 활동을 꾀하고 있다. ‘로큰롤의 본고장’인 영국 무대에 도전하는 것은 이번이 처음. 고 리버풀 프로젝트는 5만명 이상의 음악 팬들이 참가하는 ‘리버풀 사운드 시티 2013’, 영국의 주요 록페스티벌 중 하나로 손꼽히는 ‘포커스 웨일즈 2013’을 포함해 런던, 맨체스터, 웨일스 등지의 라이브클럽에서 공연을 펼친다. 이와 함께 비틀스의 프로듀서로 유명한 조지 마틴이 설립한 ‘에어 스튜디오’에서 레코딩도 진행할 예정이다.

영국 현지에서는 벌써부터 고 리버풀에 대한 반응이 이어지고 있다. 최근 조용필의 앨범 ‘헬로’를 마스터링한 영국의 세계적인 스튜디오 겸 프로덕션인 메트로폴리스 측은 한국 밴드들에도 관심을 표했다.

고 리버풀 기획에 참여한 디렉터 공윤영 씨는 “조용필 등 한국 뮤지션의 음악을 작업하면서 댄스음악 중심의 K팝 외에 다양한 한국 밴드 음악에 관심을 갖게 된 메트로폴리스 관계자들이 한국 밴드들을 보기 위해 런던 클럽을 방문할 예정”이라며 “이러한 관심은 국내 인디밴드의 현지 프로모션에 도움이 될 것”이라고 말했다.

대중음악 평론가 김작가 씨는 “싸이를 포함한 기존의 한류가 공군의 폭격이라면 인디밴드의 해외 투어는 거점을 마련하기 위한 지상군의 행군과 같은 것”이라며 “현재 한국 인디밴드들은 예상했던 것보다 빠른 속도로 해외 관계자들과 네트워크를 만들어나가고 있다"고 말했다.

권석정 텐아시아 기자 moribe@tenasia.co.kr

Thursday
May092013

The Hankyoreh : Korean Indie Bands Following Psy's Footsteps


지난 3일 영국 리버풀에서 열린 ‘리버풀 사운드 시티 페스티벌’에서 국내 인디 밴드 아폴로18(왼쪽 사진)과 갤럭시 익스프레스(오른쪽 위)가 공연하고 있다. 이를 보고 현지 관객들이 열광하고 있다. 현대카드 제공
인디 밴드들, 싸이처럼 될랑가몰라

인디 지원 프로젝트 등 통해 세계적인 무대에서 가능성 엿봐
로다운30 등 3팀 올해 북미투어외국 유명밴드와 합동공연도

지난 7일 갤럭시 익스프레스·아폴로18·게이트 플라워즈·구남과여라이딩스텔라 등 4개 인디 밴드는 인천공항으로 금의환향했다. 지난달 24일부터 지난 5일까지 영국 런던·맨체스터·웨일스·리버풀을 돌며 공연하는 투어를 마치고 온 것이다. 현대카드뮤직이 인디 음악인들에게 영국에서 공연과 녹음 작업을 할 기회를 주는 인디 지원 프로젝트 ‘고! 리버풀’에 선정됐기 때문이다.

이들은 지난해 음악전문지 <엔엠이>(NME)가 영국 최고 공연 클럽으로 선정한 ‘더 포럼’과 유명 클럽 ‘더 바필리’, 세계적인 음악축제 ‘포커스 웨일스 페스티벌’ 등에서 공연했다. 특히 전설적 밴드 비틀스의 고향인 리버풀에서 열리는, 영국에서 가장 큰 규모의 아트 페스티벌인 ‘리버풀 사운드 시티 페스티벌’에서의 반응이 뜨거웠다고 한다. 이 무대를 지켜본 영국의 세계적인 음악축제 ‘글래스턴베리 페스티벌’ 매니저 맬컴 헤인스는 “한국 인디 밴드들의 매력과 실력에 크게 놀랐다. 이번 투어 공연처럼 영국 음악팬들과 만날 기회가 지속적으로 마련된다면 케이록이 영국에서도 충분히 통할 것”이라고 말했다.

앞서 지난 3월 미국 텍사스 오스틴에서 열린 세계적인 음악축제 ‘사우스바이사우스웨스트’에서는 노브레인·국카스텐·로다운30·이승열·정차식·갤럭시 익스프레스·3호선 버터플라이·구남과여라이딩스텔라 등이 공연했다. 특히 노브레인의 무대는 음악전문지 <스핀>과 영국 일간지 <가디언>에 소개될 정도로 강렬한 인상을 남겼다. 2011년부터 3년째 이 축제에 출연한 갤럭시 익스프레스는 지난해 미국 일간지 <뉴욕 타임스>가 ‘2012 사우스바이사우스웨스트 하이라이트 10개 팀’ 중 하나로 꼽기도 했다.

음원유통사 디에프에스비(DFSB)는 매년 인디 밴드 3팀씩 선정해 사우스바이사우스웨스트를 포함해 북미 투어를 하도록 지원하는 프로젝트 ‘서울소닉’을 3년째 해오고 있다. 올해는 노브레인·로다운30·구남과여라이딩스텔라가 참가했다.

다음달 14~21일 영국 런던에서는 한국 음악만으로 채워지는 ‘런던 케이뮤직 페스티벌’이 열린다. 판소리에서 케이록까지 다양한 한국 음악을 소개하는 자리로, 문화체육관광부 산하단체인 해외문화홍보원이 주최한다. 공동주관사로 나선 유럽 최대 음악기획사 시리어스의 데이비드 존스 대표는 지난 2일 서울 광화문 케이티올레스퀘어에서 연 기자회견에서 “최근 한국 음악에 대한 높은 관심이 이번 페스티벌 개최로 이어졌다. 한국 음악을 소개할 절호의 기회다”라고 말했다. 록 밴드로는 어어부 프로젝트·이승열·장기하와 얼굴들이 참가한다.

국내 인디 밴드와 외국 유명 밴드가 대등한 자격으로 합동공연을 펼치는 사례도 늘고 있다. 장기하와 얼굴들은 12일 서울 한남동 블루스퀘어에서 미국 펑크록 밴드 텔레비전과 ‘얼굴들과 손님들’이라는 제목의 합동공연을 한다. 텔레비전은 1970년대 벨벳 언더그라운드·라몬스·토킹 헤즈·패티 스미스 등과 함께 뉴욕 록을 널리 알린 거물급 밴드다. 국내 모던록 1세대 밴드 델리 스파이스도 오는 31일 서울 홍대 앞 상상마당에서 일본 정상급 모던록 밴드 에이치와이(HY)와 합동공연을 한다. 두 나라 음악인들이 서울과 일본 오키나와를 오가며 음악적 교류를 나누는 프로젝트 ‘커넥시온’의 첫 무대다. 두 밴드는 9월 오키나와에서 또 공연한다.

박은석 음악평론가는 “미디어의 외면 등으로 국내에서 의욕을 잃은 인디 밴드들이 외국 진출이라는 대안적 돌파구를 모색하고 있다. 실력을 갖춘 몇몇 밴드들은 외국에서도 충분히 통할 수 있다는 사실을 확인했다. 경험과 노하우를 꾸준히 쌓아가면 싸이만큼은 아니지만 지속적으로 외국 활동을 이어갈 토대를 만들 수 있을 것으로 본다”고 말했다.

서정민 기자 westmin@hani.co.kr