A bit of a change this time around. This is my first interview with non-expatriates. So it's not quite "Expat Interviews" this time but more like "An Interview That Might Interest Expats."
This a interview I had with a Korean band called The Ratios. I met them because I interview Lee Juyoung at Seoul Fashion Week back in March. She's married to the lead singer, Kim Bada.
I chose them because their music, I think, can appeal to expat tastes: retro at times, 80s, hard rock and just plain good.
Anyway, check it out.
[Regina’s Walton's Expat interviews] The Ratios - Electronic rock with a twist
This past weekend the Korean band The Ratios were one of the acts featured on the main stage at the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival. There they had a chance to play for a crowd of not just locals, but also plenty of non-Korean faces.
Kim Ba-da was formerly the lead singer of the popular Korean heavy metal band, Sinawe. He was also a member of the Butterfly Effect after Sinawe broke up in 1999. He has now reinvented himself since forming The Ratios.
The style of Kim's new band is electronic rock, which complements the innovation and edginess of his wife's fashion designs (she uses his music at her shows).
"I'm trying to make a unique Korean sound and bring it to another level," Kim said when asked how his band is perceived by fans.
He describes The Ratios music as "electronic, rock and electro-punk." Bands and artists that have influenced Kim's music range from heavy metal groups to electronica acts. When asked to name his musical influences, he identified artists like the Arctic Monkeys, Chemical Brothers, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Ian Brown, Kasabian, Nine Inch Nails, T. Rex and Van Halen. These musical influences mesh together to create a distinct sound.
Kim's brother Kim Jong-june, formerly of the punk band No Brain, is The Ratio's bass player. Jong-june likes to listen to artists like Ian Brown and Oasis.
Sang-jin, who plays the synthesizer, was brought onboard when Kim Ba-da heard his music on the internet. Sang-jin listens to electronic music such as Justice.
Rounding out the group are Kim Yong-sik, their drummer, who listens mostly to classic rock, and Yun-taek, their sound designer, who listens to electronica.
This crisscross of influences explains why the tracks on The Ratios' recently released debut CD, Burning Telepathy, range from '80s-style electronic ballads to tracks with heavy basslines and an alternative rock feel. The CD features songs written in both English and Korean, but the music makes the album worth listening to no matter which language Kim sings in.
Kim is trying to bring diversity back to the Korean music scene, which he feels is currently full of pre-packaged and over-produced K-pop acts.
"The music scene in Korea was much better in the 90s. You could hear all kinds of music and artists were taking more chances," said the singer.
He says that he was "shocked" when he first listened to rock music because it was so different from anything he'd ever heard. He loved artists like Van Halen and T. Rex, and trained himself by listening to classic rock.
"I want to be on the frontier of electronic music in Korea," he said.
He knows that most young Koreans listening to The Ratios don't recognize the influences the band draws on, but hopes to change that. In the future, he also hopes to produce for acts he finds, helping to establish a distinct core of artists.
One way The Ratios are trying to spread the word about their music is by playing a few shows this summer. Their next show will be at M2 in the Hongdae area of Seoul on Aug. 9 at 10 p.m. After that they will play at the Busan International Rock Festival on Sept. 2 and then they'll play the Guro-gu Open Air concert in Seoul on Sept. 27.
Go to myspace.com/werearetheratios to hear The Ratios' music.
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