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Wednesday
Mar122014

Los Angeles Times : SXSW 2014 -- A late night of K-pop, pure noise, 50 Cent and Lady Gaga

The band Caught a Ghost performing at Buffalo Billiards in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest festival. (August Brown)

AUSTIN, Texas — The state is known for its stalwart independent streak, but on the first night of music at South by Southwest, Austin was a place for the world to mingle.

From L.A. buzz bands to K-pop superstars and pop-rap titans, Tuesday's late-night lineup proved that, for all the worries that SXSW has become a targeted-marketing snake eating its own hashtagged-and-branded tail, there really isn't a better mile of live music in America than what's happening this week.

Our estimable hometown was well represented Tuesday night. Current Echo residents James Supercave started its set at Empire Control Room with a half-full venue and a meticulous but very slow-burning set of '70s art-pop-laced indie. But by the time the band got around to a more punk-funky and populist portion of the set, Joaquin Pastor's vocals got looser and more invigorating,and the crowds on the street streamed in accordingly. The band doesn't have an obvious standout song yet, but it had charisma and precision in spades, and came out of its set with the room of newcomers thoroughly won over.

The same went for the L.A. neo-R&B combo Caught a Ghost at Buffalo Billiards. There's no shortage of young acts with great suits mining the Stax era for inspiration right now. But Caught a Ghost simply writes better songs than most and plays them with more confidence and camaraderie. The dual-frontperson team of Jesse Nolan and Tessa Thompson traded leads and harmonies with the affectionate chemistry of a '40s screwball comedy couple. While they they're rooted in revivalist timbre of peers such as Nick Waterhouse and Mayer Hawthorne, little electro flourishes and a focus on songwriting substance over era-specific style set them apart (and their debut album "Human Nature" should be a marquee local release of 2014).

We did our level best to make it into the 50 Cent showcase just across the freeway at the 1100 Warehouse in East Austin. While the stutter-step swagger of "I Get Money" sounded reliably rousing from outside, it turns out the mainstream interest in 50 Cent is actually far greater than his recent move off Interscope and to an indie might suggest, and we got stonewalled at the door in a mess of a line. If 50 can actually pull off an indie reinvention, it'll be one of the more inspiring stories of recent rap. To judge by the response outside the warehouse, it sounds like he's off to a decent start of it.

Back across the highway at Elysium, the K-pop Night Out showcase was one of the club-circuit's hotter tickets. Someone who looked an awful lot like Lady Gaga was thronged by an entourage during rapper-singer Jay Park's set (Gaga is set to perform and give a keynote later this week). That's probably no accident, as SXSW has gotten friendlier to pop stars, the hallyu wave has gotten weirder in a way that perfectly coincides with the original missions of the festival — exposing all sorts of progressive new artists from everywhere on Earth.

Park isn't quite the genre-exploding sensation of a peer like G-Dragon, but he capably splits the difference between fizzy K-pop dance cuts and more lascivious, deep-bending modern hip-hop. Park was raised in Seattle but came into K-pop fame as a leader of the boy band 2PM. As a solo artist, his music veers from the nihilistic trap influences suggested by his full torso-tattoos to the pop-trance jams of singles like "I Like 2 Party," which sound incompatible but work together under the crazy umbrella of modern K-pop. He's a gifted MC, and as the genre evolves and figures out its next sonic palette, he's got the chops to take K-pop to new places.

The K-pop singer Hyuna embodies where the music of South Korea is now — a candy-spattered and increasingly progressive strain of pop whose bright harmonies and dance-centric appeal is enough to put Gaga on notice. Hyuna's "Bubble Pop" was an early K-pop favorite, and justifiably — it sports one of teenpop's finest recent choruses in any language. But the very polyglot crowd at her short but packed-out showcase implied that K-pop has crossed the finish line into an established genre in America, and her bemused, sassy and urbane presence should keep her at the forefront of it (even if her set looked like it was almost entirely lip-synced, which is standard protocol for much pop anyway). 

Is there any better band for a 1:20 a.m. set time at Mohawk than L.A.'s Youth Code? Nope. The violent, sinuous industrial duo is at the forefront of a rediscovery of primitive synth music in L.A., but minus the goth goofiness that plagued some of its '90s practitioners. The band is a perfect balance of muscular synth drums, white-noise analog pulses and singer Sara Taylor's defiant shrieks. It's harsh stuff, but never less than riveting to watch, and a perfect rebuttal to a festival that looks ever more like a A-list party than a place to truly hear something new. Thank God Youth Code was there to fix that at the end.

By August Brown


2014 KOCCA KPop Night Out Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotions) : DFSB Kollective x SK Planet/SL Communications
International Distribution : DFSB Kollective (Jay Park)

Wednesday
Dec112013

SXSW.com/Music : Four On The Floor - Bands With Seoul

FOUR ON THE FLOOR : BANDS WITH SEOUL (PART ONE)

This week, we're taking you across the world as part of our Four on the Floor series with some SXSW 2014 artists hailing all the way from Seoul, South Korea. A mix of SXSW veterans and newcomers, these guys are a testament to the thriving electro-pop, rock and indie scenes in this beautiful modern city.

YB

YB is South Korea's most popular rock band, with leader Yoon Do Hyun known as a legend in his own right. As the first Korean band invited to SXSW in 2007, YB have paved the way for other artists from the region.

RIYL: Muse, Jimmy Eat World, 30 Seconds To Mars

GLEN CHECK

Funky, fresh and irresistibly upbeat, Glen Check is gaining momentum as one of Korea’s top electro-pop bands. The trio holds a unique place in the scene by creating live performances that are as visually stunning as they are danceable.

RIYL: Cut Copy, Daft Punk, VHS or Beta



GALAXY EXPRESS

This band tore it up so much at SXSW 2011 that they literally blew a fuse. With their electrifying on-stage performances, soaring vocals, and mind-blowing electric guitar solos, Galaxy Express is refreshingly straight up, no-holds-barred, in your face rock ‘n’ roll.

RIYL: MC5, The Stooges, The Ramones



LOVE X STEREO

They may draw from the sound of alt and punk rock from the 90’s, but with a modernized electronic production and lead singer Annie’s powerful, yet girly voice, Love X Stereo has a sound that’s all their own.

RIYL: Cults, Garbage, Phantogram


FOUR ON THE FLOOR : BANDS WITH SEOUL (PART TWO)


Here’s part two of our South Korea-focused edition of Four on the Floor. After you preview these SXSW 2014 bands originating from Seoul, we’re confident that you will make time for all four at SXSW in March! Part Two of Bands with Seoul features a good variety of sounds, from rock to electronic and more.

IDIOTAPE

Seoul's Idiotape have been making waves internationally with their live mix of analog synthesizers and bombastic drumming. It's hard not to imagine a sea of people dancing to their forward-leaning energetic live electronic/EDM.

RIYL: Cut Copy, Daft Punk, Chromeo


NO BRAIN

Punk band and SXSW alumni act No Brain's rock anthems are as rowdy as they are hooky. The band made headlines in Korea a few months back when Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein (Madonna, The Pretenders, Talking Heads, The Smiths) announced that he was signing the band.

RIYL: Andrew WK, AC/DC, The Clash


BIG PHONY

Do you have an Elliott Smith-shaped hole in your life? Look no further than Big Phony, the heartbreakingly hushed project of singer-songwriter Bobby Choy. You may recognize Choy (or you would if he didn't have a bag over his head) as one of the stars of the popular Ktown Cowboys web series, which is currently being made into a feature-length movie with executive producer and The Hangover/Community star Ken Jeong. Expect a new Big Phony record this spring.

RIYL: Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie


ROCK N' ROLL RADIO

This band doesn’t sound exactly like their name. Rock N’ Roll Radio plays groovy rock music with layered instruments that combine to create a sound that makes you want to dance. The band just released their first full-length album, Shup Up & Dance, earlier this fall and will be playing at their first SXSW in March.

RIYL: Bloc Party, Two Door Cinema Club, Foals

Keep up with the list of showcasing artists here.


2014 SXSW KPop Night Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotion) : SK Planet/DFSB Kollective
2014 SXSW Seoulsonic Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotion) : DFSB Kollective
International Agent/Distribution : DFSB Kollective (Love X Stereo/Rock N Roll Radio/Glen Check/No Brain/Galaxy Express/Idiotape)

Tuesday
Nov192013

SPIN Magazine : 12 Korean Artists Selected As Must See Bands at SXSW 2014

Black Lips are still one of the best live bands in the game Photo by Getty ImagesSXSW 2014: Gary Numan, Black Lips, Blouse, Diarrhea Planet Join Lineu

List of 348 confirmed acts includes Gunplay, Tinariwen, Billy Joe Shaver, Dead C, Phantogram

November 19 2013, 2:00 PM ET

Once again, the fine folks of South by Southwest have let slip a handful — okay, a windfall — of names set to play the Austin, Texas music festival's 2014 edition. Last time we were given 182 names. This time it's 348, once again sorted with our expertise for your referential ease. Among the familiar faces leaked in this wave: New Wave icon Gary Numan, flower-punk purveyors Black Lips, bona fide madmen Diarrhea Planet, New Zealand experimental old-schoolers Dead C, Maybach Music odd duck Gunplay, Malian guitar-masters Tinariwen, and plenty of others. SXSW 2014 runs March 11 to 16. Dive in below, and revist our picks from the first performers list here.

SEE THESE
Idiotape (Seoul, South Korea)

SAFE BETS
Big Phony (Seoul, South Korea)
Glen Check (Seoul, South Korea)

GO ROGUE
Crying Nut (Seoul, South Korea)
Galaxy Express (Seoul, South Korea)
Jambinai (Seoul, South Korea)
Kiha & The Faces (Seoul, South Korea)
Nell (Seoul, South Korea)
No Brain (Seoul, South Korea)
YB (Seoul, South Korea)


Refused leader Dennis Lyxzen will appear with INVSN at SXSW 2014 Photo by Getty ImagesSXSW 2014: Urge Overkill, Lene Lovich, the Men, Saint Rich Top Bands List
Your guide to the first 182 artists, including INVSN, Eliza Doolittle, and more


October 16 2013, 1:00 PM ET

We're still firmly ensconced within the fine year of 2013, but the good folks behind South by Southwest are sharing the first names in a very long list of artists that will perform at the Austin, Texas music festival's 2014 edition. Below you'll find no fewer than 182 names, sorted with our expertise for your referential ease. Among the biggest names leaked thus far: New Wave icon Lene Lovich, alt-rock O.G.'s Urge Overkill, Bauhaus bassist David J, and Brooklyn rock'n'soul hero Garland Jeffreys. Other familiar names include Saint Rich, INVSN, the Men, Eliza Doolittle, and London Grammar. There are a lot of unknowns and also pleasant surprises aplenty. SXSW 2014 runs March 11 to 16. Dive in below.

SEE THESE
Hollow Jan (Seoul, South Korea)

GO ROGUE
Love X Stereo (Seoul, South Korea)

2014 SXSW KPop Night Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotion) : SK Planet/DFSB Kollective X KOCCA
2014 SXSW Seoulsonic Showcase (Planning/Production/Promotion) : DFSB Kollective
International Agent/Distribution : DFSB Kollective (Love X Stereo/Kiha & The Faces/Glen Check/No Brain/Galaxy Express/Crying Nut/Idiotape)

Friday
Oct112013

Korea JoongAng Daily : MU:CON Brings Korean Music to World

Steve Lillywhite, left, five-time Grammy Award-winning record producer for such artists as U2, The Killers and the Rolling Stones being interviewed yesterday by Graham Perkins, director of market development in Asia for Fender Musical Instruments. Provided by Kocca
Gone are the days when you had to stay up late listening to the radio to hear your favorite bands, or when you played your favorite cassette tape so much that it warped and broke. Gone, too, for most people are trips to record shops to discover and buy the latest hits. Now, all the music in the world is available digitally, in just a few clicks.

To discuss those fundamental changes to the music industry and what it means for the Korean music scene, top producers and executives from the world’s record business have come to Seoul for Mu:Con, a two-day music fair and exhibition.

Among the speakers are Seymour Stein, co-founder of Sire Records, the label that signed such pioneering artists as Madonna and the Pretenders, and Steve Lillywhite, the five-time Grammy Award-winning producer of U2 and the Rolling Stones.

Mu:Con kicked off yesterday with speeches and conferences at the GS XI Gallery in Seogyo-dong, western Seoul.

“Great music surpasses borders, religion and race,” said Hong Sang-pyo, president of the Korea Creative Contents Agency, the group that organized the event, as he kicked off the event. “It thrills everyone throughout the world and, in turn, is appreciated for its values. That is why, the theme for this year’s Seoul International Music Fair is ‘Beyond Borders, Beyond Genre, Beyond Music.’

“During the fair, we are going to have in-depth discussions on subjects such as the digital music services that have allowed borderless music distribution and the new platform YouTube. Moreover, we’ll listen to what’s happening in other countries, including Japan, China, Australia and Russia, from representatives from each of those countries.”

A conference yesterday about online music streaming presented different aspects of how those services are evolving. Speakers included Bernie Cho, president of DFSB Kollective, a Seoul-based creative agency that specializes in digital media, Clement Gosse, APAC sales director of Deezer, a music streaming service provider, from France, and SK Choi, global head of Content Operations of Spotify, another music streaming service provider established in Sweden.

While many artists have criticized services like Deezer and Spotify, both Choi and Gosse said that people need to realize that we are in a “transformation period.”

“We are changing from one business model to another,” said Gosse. “Every change creates noise. It’s just a matter of time.”

Choi also added that streaming music services do cannibalize other music services, but mostly they are “cannibalizing piracy.”

“We’ve done all the research,” said Choi. “Streaming services don’t cannibalize downloads. What we did was bring those who download songs illegally through P2P sites back to legal environment. They are now paying, legal users. I would definitely say we are cannibalizing. But we are cannibalizing piracy.”

Kim Young-min, CEO of SM Entertainment, one of Korea’s largest music companies, delivered a speech about the transformation of today’s music culture.

“The existing music industry has been divided,” he said. “First, there were those who make music and then those who have the master rights, for instance, entertainment agencies like us in Korea or globally, the record labels. Also, there’s media that promotes and delivers music, such as radio and television. After listening to music from either one of those mediums, people went to record shops to purchase CDs or LPs. There were distinctive divisions in the music market. Now, existing media crosses over with the new media and lets people of all generations be exposed to music. When this crossover of existing media and the new media mixes together well, that’s when we have a massive explosion of great content.”

For Korea musicians, the showcase gave them an opportunity to impress the international experts, as well as get an invitation to one of the major international music fairs, such as MIDEM in France or South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

For the showcases held yesterday at Mecenatpolis Mall and Sangsang Madang Live Hall in Hongdae, western Seoul, some of the teams that were chosen included electronic band Idiotape, rock group No Brain and Jambinai, a group that plays a fusion of post-rock and traditional music.

In addition, Korean hip-hop pioneer Drunken Tiger had a performance, together with his wife Yoon Mi-rae and longtime collaborate Bizzy, and boy group Exo also performed.

Tonight’s showcases will be held at Ellui and Beyond Museum in Gangnam, southern Seoul, starting at 7 p.m. They will feature artists Lim Kim, Rainbow, Verbal Jint and Chang Kiha and the Faces.

Korean modern rock band 3rd Line Butterfly will also play on stage at Ellui with Sieon, a singer-songwriter from Belgium.

Like yesterday, their performances will be aired live through YouTube worldwide. For more information about Mu:Con, visit www.mucon.kr.

By Yim Seung-Hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

Featured Panel Moderator : Bernie Cho (DFSB Kollective)
Featured Artists : Drunken Tiger, 3rd Line Butterfly, Chang Kiha & The Faces, Idiotape, No Brain

Friday
May242013

THE AU REVIEW : Digital & Music Matters Conference Day 3 - The Ritz Carlton Millenia, Singapore (23.05.13)

Words by Larry Heath. Photos by Johnny Au.It was our final day of the conference and it was a jam packed one so let's get this coverage rolling... Kicking things off early in the day, we spotted our friends from Eat Your Kimchi filming a segment for HP with K-Pop stars SPICA. Stay tuned for photos from SPICA's performance and our exclusive interview with Eat Your Kimchi! Moving on...


In one of the many panels of the day, pictured here is moderator Stephen White (CEO, Gracenote) with Simon Wheeler of Beggars Group, Prashant Bahadur of The Orchard, Bill Wilson of NARM, Bernie Cho of DFSB Kollective and Raoul Chatterjee of 7digital. This discussion was in regards to metadata, which ensures revenue streams work successfully for artists. It was certainly one of the day's drier panels, but a fascinating one. An earlier panel on Sync deals, alongside a talk by Eric Sheinkop of Music Dealers, regarding the process of sync deals; the pairing of brands and music, was an enlightening one. We sat down with Eric and you'll be able to read that interview soon to learn more!


Pictured above is UK artist Little Boots performing her latest single for the conference crowd, and LIVE onto the Music Matters website. We only got the one track out of her, and we would certainly have loved to see more. She had so many gadgets set up that we didn't even get to see her use! Here's hoping she's brought back to Australia soon for such an opportunity. Unfortunately she told us there's nothing on the cards at this stage...


Australia's music export office, Sounds Australia, has a fantastic director in Millie Millgate. She's pictured here being introduced by Jasper from Branded (the company who put on Music Matters), as she explains a bit of what Sounds Australia do for the Australian music market, and what brings them to Singapore - promoting Australian talent and exploring new export opportunities for the whole Asian market.


Pictured here is the full Australian panel with Millie Millgate on the far left as moderator, accompanied by Scot Morris of APRA/AMCOS, Nick O'Byrne of AIR and BIGSOUND, Brett Murrihy of Artist Voice and Vijay Nair of Only Much Louder, who worked with Sounds Australia on the Aussie BBQ tour of India last November, that I was proud to be a part of. It was a fascinating look into the great things Sounds Australia are doing for our market, and explored what we need to do for the region to continue growth in Asian export.


Vice President of ASCAP and author of the book Murphy's Law of Songwriting, Ralph Murphy dissected the last 12 months of pop and country number ones in the USA and analysed what was unique to this group of popular tracks. He talked about the importance of tempo, the word "you", the concept of love and repetition, all of which were features of the vast majority of the hits. He pointed out that Gotye's #1, however, was quite the anomaly in many ways, though left it to us to work out why.


The first ever MIDEM panel outside of Cannes featured the heads of some of digital music's most successful companies to discuss the future of Digital Music in Asia. For some regions, it's clear that digital music is the obvious way of the future, and for others it's a more difficult path. But with digital streaming and sales being the economic model for the industry moving forward, the clear message was that they're on the right path. Members included Jeff Hughes from Omnifone, Chris Lin from KKBOX, Gary Chen from Top10.cn, Darren Tsui from mSPOT and more.


Melbourne's own Dub FX performs in the foyer while we ate a snack, had a coffee and awaited for a couple of bands to soundcheck on the main stage...


...the first band of which were Canada's Faber Driver who performed their "energetic pop rock" predominantly acoustically and impressed the crowd.


We learnt about Asia's #1 Music Market, Japan, from Ken Ohtake, President of Sony Music Publishing (Japan) and Vice Chairman of the Music Publishers Association of Japan. We were treated to a lot of fun facts about their predominantly insular music economy, which features 87% in sales. But even at 13%, the international market still equates to almost $500 million in sales, so there are plenty of export opportunities there - though it's clear their priority now is trying to export their own acts.


Live Nation Korea tells the incredible success story of K-Pop megastars BIGBANG, through their 2012 world tour, which lasted 10 months and saw they perform in front of hundreds of thousands of fans in massive stadium and dome concerts over four continents. They left us with the question - who would they be touring next? And we wanted to know: when will BIGBANG tour Australia!!

Closing out the conference were YouTube sensations Boyce Avenue who performed a few of their most popular songs, alongside a cover of "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry. With their easy listening tunes and brotherly charm, it's no wonder these guys have made it so popular with their YouTube audience. Though as they approach ONE BILLION YouTube views, you have to give them a lot of credit for making it all work so well for them. You can learn more about the three brothers in our interview with them coming up on the AU soon.

With the final day of the conference behind us, tonight it's the last night of the Music Matters LIVE event at Clarke Quay, with the K-Pop showcase being the highlight of the main stage performances. Given today is a public holiday, and the main stage being open to the general public, we're expecting nothing short of mania! Stay tuned to our Twitter feed for live coverage from the event. Or watch it yourself HERE.

Featured Panelist : Bernie Cho (DFSB Kollective)

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