James Lee talks working with friends, ‘Falling’ memes, & latest releases [interview]

james lee singer kpop
Courtesy of SubKulture Entertainment

James Lee is taking control of his career and doing things on his own terms. The former bassist and keyboardist for the Korean rock band Royal Pirates is exploring variations of synths and visuals as he brings his music Stateside. Having spent his life performing in rock bands, Lee is using his expertise in producing, writing, and singing for his new projects. 

Last year, the singer released his first solo EP “The Light” thanks to a successful Kickstarter, detailing his journey through recovery after a restaurant’s windowpane crashed into him leaving him with a severed wrist in 2015 while living in South Korea. Despite five surgeries and painful physiotherapy, Lee was unable to regain proper function of his hand ultimately leaving his position in Royal Pirates two years later. Following “The Light,” Lee linked up with NEKO, Amber Liu, and more artists for his following singles. 

To ring in his new career endeavours, Lee embarked on his first Stateside tour alongside rock band Fyke and Kevin Woo, former lead vocalist for K-pop boy band U-KISS. Lee also teamed up with Woo for their first collaboration “Falling.” Originally released in August, the pop track explores a missed chance at love and an unsuccessful attempt at moving on. 

While its lyrics are melancholic, the music video displays a relentless desire of sabotage. The music video, released on Oct. 26, opens with a bloody Lee before cutting to him unsuccessfully delivering a speech to a blushing bride and groom. From there, chaos ensues as Lee and Woo disrupt the wedding with fire, chainsaws and commotion. “Falling” features cameos from Lee’s family and YouTubers Mike Bow and Linda Dong. 

In Lee’s follow-up single “Losing It,” the crooner opens up about his mental health during his rigorous rehabilitation from a life-changing accident in 2015. Backed by pop-synths and subtle bass, the track’s somber lyrics and emotional delivery redirected listeners from “Falling”’s comedic moments. In sharing his struggles, Lee hopes those suffering from PTSD know that they are not alone. 

Since speaking candidly about his injury over the past few years and redirecting his career, Lee is looking forward to making more feel-good tracks. The singer partnered with Thai-German based singer/actress Janine Weigel for an upcoming track scheduled for release on Nov. 22.


Also on KultScene: FANS SAY ‘WE ROSE YOU’ TO THE ROSE IN NEW YORK CITY SHOW


Lee took time from his busy schedule to chat with KultScene via email about new music, support, and his future. 

You and Kevin completed touring together recently. How was sharing that homecoming with him? 

“It was so much fun to be able to play shows with one of my best friends. We all had the same energy and just wanted to make sure the shows were fun for everyone. I hope we are able to do it again in the future!” 

How does opening this new chapter in your career feel? 

“I’ve been working on other artists’ music, and I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to build a career this way, but I would also like to release my own music consistently. I hope that this chapter leads to more opportunities for better music. I also want to be the best version of myself that I can be, and this feels like the right direction.” 

Initially, “Falling” was released in Aug. What made you decide to release the song and music video at different times? 

“At first, we weren’t sure if we would have the budget, but a company called Mydailylive.com graciously stepped in and helped us out! We also had to shoot some pickups, and I was traveling quite a bit, so I had to wait until I got back to LA to film the flamethrower scene.” 

 Where did the concept for “Falling” come from? What was the process like? 

“Everyone knows that feeling of falling for someone, whether it be a slow drip or unexpectedly finding yourself in love —so, lyrically, it was really easy to write. I’ve also been in rock bands all my life, so the arrangement was fun for me to write. I also knew that the contrast between Kevin’s voice and mine would give the song more depth —and obviously, he killed it.” 

“Falling” has dark comedic moments in it. How do you feel about the memes coming from the music video? Do you have a favorite? 

“The memes were the best part. I loved seeing my fans excited and proactive about the video, and the fact that there were so many memes shows that the video had a lot of interesting moments. My favorite was a clip of Kevin singing, ‘I keep coming back every time,’ but the top of the image had the words ‘My Acne,’ basically calling Kevin a pimple lol.” 

How did the blow torch and chainsaw become incorporated into the video? 

“That was actually the director’s idea (Brad Wong). They just seemed like outrageous things to have at a wedding, so we thought it’d be great to throw them in there.” 


Also on KultScene: K-POP UNMUTED: QUEENDOM


How does it feel to have your parents be a part of the music video? What were their reactions? 

“Anytime I can involve my family is such a pleasure. I feel lucky that they get to be part of my projects, and it’s fun for me to see their acting.” 

What was the best part of working on this project? 

“Creating so many memorable scenes with some of my best friends.” 

Earlier this year you released “Mad” featuring NEKO and “Anxiety.” How was the journey from then to now with “Falling?” 

“With NEKO (Erik Lidbom), I wanted him to take the driver’s seat because I respect him so much. Not only does he have hundreds of hits, but he is a great guy and taught me so much in such a short amount of time. I was a bit more angsty with ‘MAD’ and my own track ‘Anxiety,’ and my goal was to make something artistic that represented my journey. However, with ‘Falling,’ the goal was to also have fun, and I think we achieved that!” 

Your fans have provided a large amount of support through your journey. How does that feel? 

“Without my fans, my music means nothing, so I appreciate them a lot. I’m so lucky for the ones that have stuck with me.” 

When will Jerry finally make his on-screen debut? 

“Gotta get him in a video ASAP!” 

What plans do you have for 2020? 

“I am striving to create one new song every week, and I hope to release a new track every other week. I hope that releasing music more consistently will give my fans something to chew on, reach more people, and help me get to the level I want to be at.” 

“Losing It” was written around the same time as “Mad” and “Anxiety.” What was going through your mind during the writing process? 

“I spent a week in a mental hospital after my accident. The track is about how I was unable to fix the anxiety and pain. It’s really about a moment of chaos.” 

How does it feel to be able to share this vulnerability with your fans? 

“When I write my music, it’s like a journal, so it’s quite easy to be honest. I’m just lucky that they reciprocate and support me.” 

You’ve released a lyric video for “Losing It.” Do you plan on releasing an official music video too? 

“At the moment, I have no plans to do so, but I will be releasing a new track Nov. 22 featuring my friend Jannine Weigel. She’s a singer and actress from Thailand and Germany who is a killer vocalist. It’s also a feel-good track, so I can’t wait to share!” 

What message do you want listeners to take from this track? 

“With “Losing It,” I just wanted to share what I was going through. I know a lot of people have some form of PTSD. If you can relate when you listen, I guess, just know that you aren’t alone.” 

Your music gave us a glimpse into you healing mentally and physically from your accident in 2015. What are hoping for yourself as you continue to move forward? 

“For healing, both mentally and physically, and the ability to be the best version of myself as possible —and to see my fans ASAP! I love you guys and miss you!” 

Be sure to check out “Losing It” and Lee’s new track which releases Nov. 22. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to keep up with all his upcoming projects.

What’s your favorite song by James Lee? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Subin talks gifts from heaven, alter ego, & ‘Katchup’ [interview]

dalsooobin subin dal shabet interview katchup ketchup
Just over two years since we last saw her release music, Subin will be returning soon with her biggest single to date, “Katchup.” In those two years, the former Dal Shabet member has remained ever present; she appeared at KCON LA last year and has a strong social media presence. She even changed her moniker and now goes by DALsooobin. The “Circle’s Dream” singer is thriving particularly on Instagram with K-pop girl group covers, unique promos, and constant new ways of communicating with.

KultScene was lucky enough to catch up with her and talk about her upcoming comeback, her alter-ego, and her favourite Dal Shabet track.

Congratulations on your recent successful Makestar. What was the experience of using that website like? Is it nice knowing that your fans can be one of your major backers?

“I was worried that this goal wouldn’t be achieved in the beginning, but I was surprised to hear that it was reached really quickly. Throughout this project, I realized that a lot of Korean and international Darlings are still supporting us. I often felt lonely throughout my solo career but after seeing the success of this project, I felt really supported. From then on, I promised myself to give my best to Darlings who have waited so long.”

Will your comeback be self-composed? Would you like to continue composing for yourself or work with more producers?

“Yes, I think it’s essential to include your true feelings in a song. I’ve always wanted to compose my own songs so that I could express my honest emotions. If I can meet more producers with similar vibes and feelings as mine, I’d love to work with them in the future.”


Also on KultScene: THE STORY OF LOONA: YYXY

You’ve had a wonderful career with Dal Shabet that set you up to go solo and has led all the way here. What do you feel when you look back at your time with the group?

“I’ve always thought back to memories of Dal Shabet, but these days I think of them even more before I go up on stage. Before, when I used to be with my members, I wasn’t really afraid of anything, but nowadays, because I’m doing more things solo, I get a bit scared and lonely.”

From the group’s discography, are there any songs you look back on and think that was the best?

“My personal favorite song is ‘Joker.’ I think it’s a gift from heaven that I was given this opportunity to produce this song. I think I was able to go further in my solo career through that album.”

As a part of Dal Shabet, going through all manner of pop genres, and as a soloist working on ballads and more indie-influenced songs, you have experimented with a wide variety of genres. Do you have a favourite genre that you have encountered so far?

“Out of all the genres I’ve tried out, my favorite has to be indie. I believe having your own identity is the most important thing as an artist, and I think compared to other genres, the indie genre allows for a wider range of expression. Just like ‘Kieuk’ by Kiha & The Faces, I think indie is the most flexible and diverse genre.”

Some songs you have produced for yourself have been very personal and I think your work is much better off because of it. Songs like “Hate” are so full of anguish. Is it liberating to produce songs like this for yourself?

“That’s exactly how I felt! I’m so glad that you were able to empathize with my track ‘Hate.’ It seems like I succeeded with that one (lol). I wrote that song to express the suffering I felt from not being able to share with a past partner the pain he had given me. I’m personally the type that has a hard time expressing how I feel, but through writing this song, it was a freeing and healing experience.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

D-5 #katchup #dalsooobin #comingsoon #달수빈 #케첩

A post shared by DALsooobin (@dalsooobin) on

“Circle’s Dream” is probably my favourite of your songs. What was it like producing that? As a solo artist, do you hope to challenge your voice as much as you can as well as your composing abilities?

“I’m so happy that you like ‘Circle’s Dream’ the most, and again, this makes me feel like this track has succeeded (lol)! This song has the strongest personality/identity. I tried my best to make this song something that no one’s heard before, and to work in my own unique voice and feelings. This is the song where I challenged myself the most as a solo artist.”

Where did the ideas come from, especially for the lyrics which are great but strange? In reference to those lyrics, what does it mean to be round or angular?

“In Korea, there’s a phrase that adults commonly say, which is, ‘Live roundly.’ It means to ‘live kindly,’ but today’s world is too aggressive and offensive for us to just ‘live kindly.’ That’s why I wrote about being angular, which is the opposite of living ’roundly’ and means, ‘I don’t just want to live a life where I’m only kind to others.’”

[Translator’s Note: The Korean expression to “live roundly” essentially means to just go with the flow. Subin explains in her answer that today’s society can be so negative and hurtful, and we can be wronged at times. It’s not always best to just go with the flow and be stepped on all over, but it’s good to discern when we need to become “angular”, or to toughen up and stand up for ourselves, instead of just being meek all the time.]


Also on KultScene: BREAKING DOWN RED VELVET’S ‘REDMARE’ SHOW IN DALLAS

Do you feel that you are still “round” today?

“I do think that I’m still ’round’ today, but I guess some might disagree, since the way you perceive others can be very subjective. Instead of thinking, ‘I hate that I’m so ‘round’, or too much of a ‘nice guy’,’ I try to remember that even I can hurt others without knowing it, so I try to stay humble and careful about the way I act and the things I say.”

You were at KCON LA last summer, would you like to come back to America or any other countries outside of Asia on tour anytime soon?

“As far as potential plans for America or any other countries outside of Asia, we’re still in the planning phase, so I can’t really say anything until we have a more solidified idea. As of right now, I am hoping to do something in the States and in other countries in the second half of the year!”

Can you talk a bit about who Nikita is to you? Is she a friend, an alter ego, or something else?

“Nikita is my best friend. We may look alike, but the ways we live our lives are very different. Since my career thrives when the public pays attention to me, I have to pay attention to the public’s opinion. However, that’s not the case for Nikita. She focuses and pays more attention to herself. I hope people like me or anyone who’s going through a rough time would learn how to love themselves through her.”

Finally, what is so special about ketchup?

“Out of all of my babies, Ketchup is the oldest one (lol). From all of the songs I’ve released as a soloist, this track took the longest to produce, and I put the most preparation into it. And because I put so much into this song, I can’t help but feel that it’s the most special to me.”

DALsoobin’s “Katchup” drops Mar. 5. In the meantime, check out the teaser.


Special thank you to SubKulture Entertainment for facilitating and translating the interview 💕

What are some of your favorite Subin songs? Let us know in the comments below! Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Dreamcatcher talk career aspirations at Los Angeles fanmeet [interview]

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angeles

by Christian C.

Freshly debuted, the K-pop-rock girl group Dreamcatcher was a bold choice to play this year’s KCON in Los Angeles. Formed by Happyface Entertainment, Dreamcatcher had never performed in the States prior to the event, but were welcomed with open arms by fans as soon as they stepped foot in LAX. Most of the featured female artists (except fromis_9) have years of experience under their belt, having debuted long before the group. Not to mention, Dreamcatcher’s distinct sound is different from the usually expected guests of KCON. Fortunately, the group, composed of members Gahyeon, SuA, Siyeon, JiU, Dami, Yoohyeon, and Handong, are already loved internationally. The members completed a European tour early in the year, as well as a South American one in late July, so it was no surprise when a fanmeet emerged right before KCON.

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angeles

by Christian C.

Almost immediately after they arrived in the city of angels, the group held their very first U.S. fanmeet on Aug. 10th, organized by their stateside based fansite 7 DREAMERS. As it was planned by the group’s fans and not a tried-and-true production company, many fans were skeptical as to how it would turn out. However, the event proved to be a good choice for Dreamcatcher, as tickets for all spots sold out within two minutes.

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angeles

by Christian C.

KultScene had the opportunity to attend Dreamcatcher’s fanmeet at A-List Music in Downtown Los Angeles, where we got to talk to the seven women about their first trip to the U.S., hopes for the future, and career so far.

Dreamcatcher are fulfilling a niche that hasn’t been explored by other female K-pop groups before with your rock-oriented, guitar heavy music. Who inspires you all musically, whether within K-pop or otherwise?

Siyeon: “Hyolyn.”
Yoohyeon: “Babymetal.”

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angeles

by Christian C.


Also on KultScene: RED VELVET’S ‘SUMMER MAGIC’ ALBUM REVIEW

You all have achieved a lot of chart success here in the U.S., including ranking number five on the Billboard World Albums chart and the top spot on the iTunes KPop Albums chart with your mini album Prequel. You clearly have a large fan base here. Is it shocking to see that?

Gahyeon: “We are so happy to be able to have fans from all over the world and in the US as well. While we’ve been in LA, we were approached by fans while taking photos—”

SuA: “As well as at In-N-Out.”

Gahyeon: “—and we were so surprised that these fans knew who we were. We asked them if they knew us as Dreamcatcher and it was shocking when they said that they were fans.”

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angeles

by Christian C.

Your album sales have doubled in Korea, with Escape the Era selling over 20,000 copies, which is very impressive for a rookie group. It seems like your fanbase is growing very quickly. Did you all ever think that would happen?

JiU: “We’re so thankful for our success so far. We don’t feel as if our fanbase in particular is growing, but we can tell that people enjoy our concept because of our album sales growth, and we’re really proud of that.”

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angeles

by Christian C.

Dreamcatcher have been known to cover a lot of different songs by different groups, and you’ve become very popular with fans of the original artist. How do you all choose what to cover?

Siyeon: “The reason why we cover groups whose concepts are really different is because we want to show all of the concepts that Dreamcatcher is capable of performing, and to show a different side of Dreamcatcher than the concept that we are comfortable in right now.”

Dami, your magic trick in “You & I” went viral on a lot of websites internationally, including on Twitter and Reddit. It introduced many people to Dreamcatcher. Do you have anything to say to new fans that discovered Dreamcatcher because of that video?

Dami: “First of all, thank you for all the love and support of my trick in ‘You & I.’ I’ve seen people try to imitate it. Please use plastic instead of steel while practicing the trick!”

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angelesby Christian C.


Also on KultScene: K-POP MID-YEAR REVIEW: 3 DISTINCTIVE MUSIC STYLES DOMINATING 2018 SO FAR

If you all could switch positions within Dreamcatcher, what would you choose?

(All say ‘Ahhhh’ in a thinking tone)

JiU: “I would like to be the maknae.”

Siyeon: “I really like rapper’s parts, so that would be interesting to try.”

SuA: “I would like to switch with Handong because she speaks Chinese and it’s really hard.”

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angeles

by Christian C.

Circling back to growing, it has been a year and seven months since your debut as Dreamcatcher. What have been the most memorable moments of your career so far? Are there any things you all have yet to achieve that you’d like to?

Gahyeon: “Our debut [‘Chase Me’].”

Handong: “Our nomination for first place at a music show.” [All members nod in agreement]

Siyeon: “We really could physically witness the love from InSomnia when we were nominated.”

Yoohyeon: “Because there are many international fans, we noticed that the votes grow a lot at night, which is interesting.”

SuA: “One day we hope to achieve number 1 on all charts in Korea (All-Kill).”

dreamcatcher fanmeet fanmeeting usa la los angeles

* Interview was facilitated by a translator.

Check out the rest of the pictures here:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What’s your favorite Dreamcatcher song? Let us know your picks and thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

K-rapper ARTLOVER talks blending music & fashion, British & Korean influences [interview]

Resultado de imagem para ARTLOVER K-POP

The current, up and coming generation of female Korean rappers is made of versatile and open-minded women with the ability to think outside the box. And while the scenario isn’t exactly ideal for them yet, as standards for female and male rappers are not the same, it hasn’t deterred new names from joining the scene. Amongst those names, ARTLOVER is definitely one we should keep our eyes on.

The 25-year-old, whose real name she would rather not reveal, is the typical multifaceted millennial who gathers inspiration from multiple experiences to create something unique. Formerly a makeup artist who has worked with severe fashion magazines, she is now ready to show her own colours through music.

ARTLOVER’s first single “Want U Back,” released on March 2nd, is a melodic tune with a retro sound that showcases her rapping and singing skills. She worked on the lyrics, composition, and art cover design for the single, which just got a music video as well.

But music, fashion, and design are not the only amount of diversity ARTLOVER has her heart on. Being Korean and based in London, she also divides her time between the two countries.  

KultScene talked with her about her first single, her inspirations, and views on being a multi talented artist exposed to two different cultures.

KS: Congratulations on your first release! Please tell us what inspired the lyrics and composition of “Want U Back.”

ARTLOVER: Thank You! “Want U Back” is about young love and the pain of losing it. I started out with a few chords on the piano and the rest just followed so I didn’t really plan it out beforehand. It just happened in the spur of the moment.


Also on KultScene: The 12 LOONA solo singles ranked


KS: How was working with Tae-Seop Lee (producer/mixer engineering; has worked with GOT7, Twice, DAY6, etc.)? How much do you usually get involved in the production?

A: I started out with Swedish writer/producer Max Billion who has worked with a lot of dance artists such as Mike Perry, Paris Blohm, and Cazzette. When we had a solid foundation we took it to Tae-Seop who then put his touch on it. I trust producers that I work with and I always give my opinion.




KS: Your stage name is quite unique. We’ve read that you designed the art cover for “Want U Back” and that you’ve worked as a makeup artist before. How do you think all these passions and talents come together when it comes to your music?

A: I would say that the practical aspect of working as a makeup artist has helped me a lot, especially when it comes to being professional and get things done. The visual aspect has always been very important to me, so it would come as no surprise that I think about this a lot when it comes to my music as well. I creative direct a lot of my videos, etc. I think that music and fashion goes hand in hand and it’s very difficult to separate the visuals and the music.

KS: Being Korean but living in London, how do you see the differences between the mainstream music scene of both countries?

A: Korean music is wilder for sure, more effects, bigger songs, and more parts. In many ways, it resembles western pop music and follow more or less the same pattern of trends, but with more ‘90s soul and more creative arrangements. People take pop music very seriously in Korea. Just as they approach other aspects of Korean society, K-pop has always been about perfection.

KS: It is natural to expect that you will at some point be labelled as a K-pop artist by some people. How do you feel about that? And how do you describe your music and style?

A: I don’t really have an issue with being labeled K-pop, as I think it helps me find an audience, especially outside of Korea. I still think that my music really stands out and doesn’t sound like anything else in K-pop at the moment. If my music was purely European or American, it’s far from certain that it would get as much attention.


Also on KultScene: Ego tripping, & not, in Korean female rap


KS: “Want U Back” sounds heavily inspired by ‘80s synthpop music. What are your biggest influences in music and your favorite artists?

A: It makes me very happy you say that, because we used mainly old synths during the recording. Max Billion brought his collection of vintage gear from the ‘70s and ‘80s so we stuck with those. I love Madonna and Cher, but my favorite artist of all time is Michael Jackson.

KS: What are your plans for 2018? Can we expect more music from you?

A: We are currently working on my debut EP that is due out in June, so that’s very exciting for sure. I’m also looking forward to playing shows.

Check out ARTLOVER’s “Want U Back” music video:

What do you think of ARTLOVER’s debut? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Creator of ReacttotheK talks ‘Classical Musicians React’ & K-pop trends [Interview]

With almost 250,000 subscribers on YouTube, ReacttotheK is a K-pop reaction channel that has been gaining a lot of popularity online ever since its creation in May 2016, especially with its Classical Musicians React series. Some of the reactors, along with the creator and main producer of this channel, Umu, recently held their first panel at KCON LA. We spoke to Umu about her channel, her experiences at KCON, and her thoughts regarding the latest trends of K-pop music.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to Kultscene. To begin with, could you introduce yourself?
Hello Kultscene readers! I’m the creator of the Classical Musicians React series on my YouTube channel ReacttotheK and a Sophomore French horn performance major at the Eastman School of Music. For those who are not familiar with the CMR series, it’s basically a bunch of classical music majors who happily freak out over or criticize the musical composition of K-pop songs. We hope to open the eyes of the K-pop fandom to what makes music so cool sometimes.

What made you first decide to create your YouTube channel?
I originally created the channel for fun when I was about to graduate from high school. I was afraid that no one in a music conservatory was going to be into K-pop. I then began to film reactions with my friends as a way to stay in touch with them, and have them to fangirl with, while I was away for school.

[The] Classical Musicians React series began when I got up the courage ask some [of] my entertaining musician friends react. Hearing the music related comments they had towards the music was a blast to both my channel’s small fan base and myself. Seeing how the first few videos quickly gained a lot of attention, I decided to make it a complete series. As time went on, I began encouraging more musical comments rather than typical comments on the MV, so that my content could be centered around an aspect of K-pop not many other channels focus on.

What is the most memorable reaction video you have ever filmed?
There are many different videos that I recorded that were memorable in different ways. Often the most extreme reactions are to MVs with a interesting plot or to a song with unexpected content. K Will’s “Please Don’t,” VIXX’s “VooDoo Doll,” LYn & Leo’s duet “Blossom Tears,” and BAP’s “One Shot” had the most memorable reactions to the MV. For memorable reactions where the music surprised them, my favorite reactions are to 4Minute’s “Hate,” f(x)’s “Red Light,” EXO-CBX’s “The One,” 2NE1’s “Come Back Home,” and MAMAMOO’s “Don’t Be Happy.”

What difficulties have you faced along the way while creating new content and managing the channel?
The main thing I’ve struggled with running this channel is deciding whether to prioritize the channel or my school work/personal life. I have extreme dedication to projects I start, so I often put the channel in priority over my own health and work. This has made my life very stressful at times, so I am currently learning to balance both my time directed towards the channel and school.

Another difficult thing I’ve come across is fan’s disappointment in me when I make certain decisions with my channel. I have a vision and goal for my channel: I want fans to be super happy and proud of their favorite K-pop group when we react to a song by them. But in order to put out content where the reactors are amazed by the music, I have to be picky with what songs we react to. This has created a ton of hate towards me, and makes me look like a stuck up classical musician. I understand this is not a step I should take if I want to become a more popular channel, but it is what I have to do to put out the content channel viewers enjoy seeing (aka the musicians actually saying music theory related comments vs just talking about the MV because they have nothing to say about the music).


Also on Kultscene: Taemin’s ‘MOVE’ Song & Music Review

From what you have seen of K-pop so far, how do you think it will continue to develop musically?
Good question! I’m not the best with naming genres, but I’ll try my best to point out certain trends that i’ve been seeing a lot lately.

Boy groups groups have been delving in the EDM & hip hop genres a lot lately. I have a feeling groups will be doing a lot of those style of songs since they seem to be the most popular genres at the moment and are also the best genres to choreograph hot dances to.

I’ve heard a lot of “tropical pop” lately (WINNER’s “Island,” CHUNG HA’s “Why Don’t You Know,” KARD, etc) where groups use the same style of synth samples and stick to diatonic, catchy melodies and a constant dance-oriented beat.

Some thing that I’ve seen become more popular with girl groups ever since Red Velvet’s “Rookie,” is “speak” singing trend. Cosmic Girls, Pristin, Lovely, ELRIS, and a few other groups have continued this trend and are starting to get creative with it, which is fun to see!

Another genre of music i’ve seen a lot of with girl groups is orchestral funk. GFRIEND, LOVELYZ, WJSN, APRIL, Oh My Girl all have the pop-y string/synth/electric funky guitar instrumentation along with treble heavy mixing.

What I love about K-pop is that most songs are a mix of multiple genres. Blackpink’s “As if it’s Your Last,” Dreamcatcher’s “Fly High,” Weki Meki’s “I Don’t Like Your Girlfriend,” EXO’s “Ko Ko Bop,” MAMAMOO’s “Don’t Be Happy,” 2NE1’s “Come Back Home,” LOONA’s “Cherry Motion” and many more all have multiple genres smushed into one song. I see this trend as a gateway to many new unique songs and hope to see more of this in future K-pop releases.

Current reactors for Classical Musicians React (via Umu)

You and your reactors recently held your first panel at KCON LA, how was the experience?
It was amazing! Our following has always been numbers on a screen to me, and it didn’t occur to me how /real/ everything was until we arrived at KCON and were approached by fans every few minutes. Getting to meet our fans was a great experience, and definitely left an impact on both the reactors and me. When reflecting back on KCON, the reactors told me their going to take reacting a lot more seriously now! We are hoping to get invited many more times, and each time make our panel more fun and interesting!


Also on Kultscene: K-Pop Unmuted: Talking Girls’ Generation

Some of your initial reactors have moved on from the channel since they have graduated from the university, so what are your plans for the channel when you yourself have graduated?

All I can say now, is that I’m definitely not throwing the channel away. I don’t have exact plans for the channel after I graduate yet, but I’m slowly starting to brainstorm ideas. A few reactors have volunteered to keep reacting on their own when we’ve all parted ways, so I can say that even though we won’t all be together, you won’t be seeing the last of us!

Is there anything else you would like to say to KultScene readers and to your fans?
Thank you so much for taking your time to read (and hopefully enjoy) my answers. I am extremely honored that there are so many wonderful humans out there interested in and enjoying my channel! I hope you all get something out of it, whether it be laughter, entertainment, or learning something new (I expect y’all to know what modulations are by now if you’ve seen the majority of our videos ;)). Thank you so much for your love and support and I will continue to work hard to put out good content!

Check out ReacttotheK here!

Have you watched any of the “Classical Musicians React” videos? How do you think K-pop will continue to evolve from here? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Aeon Dream Studios talks ‘To The Edge of the Sky,’ BTS, & dreams [interview]

It’s only been about a month since their visual novel demo To The Edge of the Sky was released, but Aeon Dream Studios has already achieved great success with a 4.9/5 user rating on Google Play and over a hundred thousand installs. With beautiful graphics and an intriguing storyline set in 2077 featuring BTS members as characters in an enigmatic government organisation, the demo has definitely whetted the appetites of fans who cannot wait for more. We spoke to the game’s creators at Aeon Dream Studios about their new game as well as their future plans and dreams.

Kultscene: Thank you for taking the time to talk to Kultscene. To begin with, could you all introduce yourselves and your roles in the company?
Ajané Celestin: Hello! I’m Ajané Celestin. I’m the CEO, Creative Director, and I also write and act as the Editor.
Chieu Nguyen: I’m Chieu Nguyen. I’m the Art Director and Lead Artist responsible for most of the visuals in our games, mainly character art and user interface.
Eglė Dilytė: I’m Eglė Dilytė. I’m the Lead Creative Writer, main scriptwriter, and I also work as our Social Media Coordinator.

How and why did you decide to found this company?
AC: Chieu, Egle and I met up on Tumblr as fans of visual novel games. We became friendly with each other and since Egle and I were writers and Chieu was an artist, I asked them if they wanted to make a game. We decided to see what would happen and go as far as we could go. We didn’t imagine things would get this far, but we’re very happy it has.


Also on Kultscene: The Sonic Identity of K-pop girl groups: Implied Meanings and What The Future Holds 

What first inspired you to create To the Edge of the Sky, and more specifically, to model your main characters after the BTS members?
AC: We’re fans of BTS’ music and their concepts and aesthetics constantly inspired us last year. As creators, we began to see more ways we could flesh out some of their story concepts in a visual novel game format and also thought that ARMYs would probably be interested in such a game.

Characters of the game modeled after BTS members (image via To the Edge of the Sky)

What were the challenges you faced in your creation of To the Edge of the Sky?
CN: Definitely time pressure. We had about two weeks for this demo while still planning on our previous game, so it was rough trying to get the assets done while still maintaining our usual quality. Fortunately, the first part of the demo was finished like how we envisioned it.
AC: As Chieu said, it was mainly time. Chieu had already done promotional artwork because we were gearing up to create the demo, but I suddenly came up with the idea to do it before I headed to their Newark concerts in March so we could hand out the promotional artwork. We challenged ourselves to create a concept from scratch as well as artwork within roughly a 10 day period. However we were able to achieve it and are grateful to receive the positive responses.

You’ve posted online about your plans to present the idea for To the Edge of the Sky to BTS’ label, BigHit Entertainment, how do you intend to achieve that?
AC: As anyone who has been paying attention to BTS knows, they are reaching their peak right about now, so it is very difficult to contact them. Right now we are in contact with someone local to Seoul who may be able to assist us with that further.

To the Edge of the Sky has become very popular on the Internet, especially among ARMYs (BTS’ fandom). What would you like to say to the new fans of your game?
ED: Well, first of all, hello and welcome! Thank you for playing our demo and thank you so much for your kind words and support. This might sound a little cheesy, but we feel energized by all the love and we’ll continue to work hard for everyone.
AC: I’d like to say that we’re really, truly grateful for all the kind and positive comments we’ve received. We had no idea To the Edge of the Sky would be so well received. We put everything we had into it during the short time we had and are so grateful for the ARMYs that gave us positive responses at the Newark concerts and through social media and emails. We can hardly believe it but To the Edge of the Sky is nearing 400,000 downloads within two months of its release and we’re really grateful for the thousands of positive reviews so far. Thank you for also becoming fans of the game and we promise we will do our best to develop this game for you.
CN: Thank you so much for your generous support thus far, it means a lot to us. We will continue to work hard and hope that you could see this game come to fruition with us.


Also on Kultscene: Introducing KultScene’s K-Pop Unmuted: Produce 101 

So far only a demo for To the Edge of the Sky has been released, what will come next following this release?
AC: After we finish our current project, we are planning to work on developing the next part of To the Edge of the Sky. We want to give ARMYs more while we continue to work on making this a full game.

Where do you see your company in the next five years?
ED: With a much larger games library and still creating more, it’s been my wish and I think all of ours really to be able to work together and create together until we die of old age. And I hope we’ll be able to produce more content than just visual novels.
CN: We would have more games out with higher quality, and it would also be nice to have a larger fanbase. We are never satisfied with the status quo and are always seeking to improve the quality of our work. Therefore, it is my hope that in 5 years time, we will create even better games and be able to reach out to a wider range of audience.
AC: In five years…It’d be really nice if we had a few different series. It’d be really nice if we could produce more games like To the Edge of the Sky, where genres are crossed over, as well as our own, completely original work. I want us to continue to become better developers, writers and artists and make a variety of different games for all kinds of people. It would be interesting to do work outside of games as well, under our brand name.

Check out Aeon Dream Studios and their current works here!

Have you tried out To The Edge of the Sky? Are you a fan? Tell us what you think in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Kevin Kim talks ZE:A disbandment & new beginnings with radio show ‘SBS PopAsia Live’ [interview]

Kevin Kim, SBS PopAsia, SBS PopAsia with Kevin Kim, ZE:A

Courtesy of SBS PopAsia

As K-pop fans who know the bare minimum of the Korean language, it’s always a struggle to try to tune into a radio show whenever our faves are on. Unlike K-dramas or other TV shows, live radio shows don’t have subtitles — unless a merciful fan translates and uploads a bootleg version (#Blessed). But like the dramas and TV shows, these subtitled versions always come days or even weeks later. Moreover, what’s usually even more difficult as a foreign fan is living in a country that doesn’t necessarily accommodate your daily K-pop fix. However, that’s about to change — or at least for Australia, and therefore English speaking fans all over the world — thanks to ZE:A’s former member Kevin Kim. With his new radio show, SBS PopAsia Live with Kevin Kim, the K-pop star will answer all your Hallyu questions and fulfill your all your fangirl and fanboy needs.

Kevin has been in the entertainment industry for well over a decade in both Korea and Australia, where he spent most of his adolescent and teenage years. He’s always carried an enamoured passion for music, since his early days in Australia when he took part in an array of musicals and a choir that went onto doing international tours. He carried his love for everything entertainment with him back to Korea, where he joined idol group ZE:A as the lead singer. Fans were gifted with Kevin’s talent time and time again, even if the Korean music industry failed to recognize his skill during his time there.

It’s unfortunate that things didn’t pan out the way they perhaps should have, but everything happens for a reason, right? They say opportunity doesn’t come knocking on your door twice, but in Kevin’s case, it did. We recently caught up the K-pop star over the phone from Australia as he makes his big move from Korea. He talked about his most missed Australian foods, life after ZE:A, new solo music, and what we can expect from the radio show.

Hi Kevin! Thank you for setting aside time to do this interview KultScene Congratulations on hosting SBS PopAsia! How do you feel about becoming a daily host?

Kevin Kim: Hello! Well, I’m very honored to be with SBS and doing PopAsia Live starting on the 29th. I’m very excited about it and I’m looking forward to it!

Can you tell us a little bit about SBS PopAsia Live with Kevin Kim?

KK: I’m going to play a lot of K-pop songs and also V-pop, C-pop [on the show]. I’ll also be sharing all my thoughts with the fans and try to give [them] more information about K-pop. [The show will] mainly [be about] Asian pop, fans, and stars.

You were the host of Hotbeat on Arirang for over four years. How and do you think your previous experience hosting has helped you prepare for this new MC gig?

KK: As you said, I’ve been doing radio for four years now with Arirang radio station. [Going into this,] I’m very confident because I’ve been sharing a lot of thoughts and messages with our fans, [receiving their feedback], and I think it will be great to see what the outcome will be like. I just want to feel the vibe here in Australia. You know, the K-pop fans here, they’re also very excited about Korea, the stars, all things Hallyu as well, so I would love to share [my knowledge with them] and see how everything will turn out.


Also on KultScene: Artist Spotlight: Kevin Kim (ZE:A)

What prompted your decision to leave Korea and to go back to Australia and start MC-ing?

KK: The main thing was I wanted to just, you know, after [ZE:A’s] disbandment, I wanted to come back to take a rest because I’ve been away [in Korea] for about 10 years. I wanted to restart myself with something special, which is SBS and the radio show that I’m hosting. I’m going to be doing more of my music and I’m working on my solo album as well, so hopefully I can turn that out sometime this year.

How’s it like being back in Australia as an adult after pursuing your career in Korea?

KK: Oh, good question! You know, a lot of things have changed. I was surprised by all these shops and restaurants. There’s been a lot of changes [from 10 years ago]. It’s been a month now since my arrival [back in Australia] and I’m still adjusting [laughs], but also having fun.

What’s your favorite or least favorite thing(s) about being back?

KK: Well first of all, I missed the food; Meat pies, sausage rolls! You just cannot find — well, they did have Australian food there in Korea as well, but not as good as here in Australia, so food was my thing! And also, my friends. I haven’t seen them for years. I never had the chance to come to Australia to perform as ZE:A, so [now that I’m back], I want to see what it’ll be like.

What will you miss most about living in Korea? The fast internet connection? Just kidding, but really…

KK: Well, obviously that [fast internet] [laughs]. I miss basically everything, [like the] members. It’s only been a month but still… I don’t know, it kind of feels weird, I guess. Just leaving everything there and being here by myself. I’m used to sharing everything with the members and all, but now that I’m here by myself, it’s a bit lonely. But I’m A-okay! You get used to it [laughs].

You’ve been apart of ZE:A for seven years, so how is it like to transition back to daily life in Australia?

KK: It’s not hard, actually, because I was born in Korea but I was raised here [in Australia], so I’m basically used to the culture and the people here. Except for all the changes, you know? So I’m trying to [figure out the changes and] all that. Aside from that, everything is like a daily thing to me.

How did the members react/feel when you told them you were moving back home? Do you have any plans to go back and visit any time soon?

KK: Well, they are doing their own thing now, so, I guess — We still keep in contact through a messenger app, so every time we come up with the motion [idea/concept] for movies, albums, we just share it all in our chat. We don’t really feel sad about being solo and doing [our own] promos; we’re always happy for each other [and seeing each member] do their own thing. That’s how we feel right now; we’ll always support each other.

It’s not a definite goodbye to Korea, I mean, [moving back to Australia] is just another challenge for me. I’m also trying to expand. I had a great opportunity that came through to me, which was SBS. Also, my old agent, Martin Bedford, I knew him from when I was in high school, he contacted me about a year ago when I was in Korea and I was surprised that he still remembered me, so maybe it’s all destiny [for me] to be here again. To tell you a little detail about Martin Bedford, [he runs] the agency that Russell Crowe was in and Olivia Newton John [is currently under], and now I’m here with Martin and SBS PopAsia. Like I said, I’m going to expand my career as Kevin from now on.


Also on KultScene: Top 5 English Covers By Korean Male Singers

How does it feel seeing all the outpouring amount of support from your fans on your new endeavor?

KK: I’m so excited to see [what’s to come] and like I told you, I haven’t been here as a solo artist or as ZE:A, so I think the radio show that I’ll be doing will be a great gateway [for me] to be connected with the K-pop fans here in Australia. I think I’m going to show more of me and share everything that I’ve been doing and [have] experienced in Korea as well. It’s very exciting!

It’s been over a year since you released Collection.” Can we expect any future music projects?

KK: Well first of all, I’m so looking forward to making a single or maybe a full album here in Australia. I’ve worked on a lot of songs throughout my career as [a member] of ZE:A when I was in Korea, so I have a lot of things to share and a lot of things to show. There’s a lot of exciting things that I am getting ready for ,so I hope I can show our fans my style of music. With the Collection album, I really wanted to show [listeners] what I was capable of. That song was inspired from a fashion show that I went to; I just had the idea of this word,“collection,” and that’s how it lead me to creating the song.

Just for fun, what’s your most played song right now and who are some of your current favorite artists?

KK: My number one is Michael Jackson. He’s always been my favorite artist and biggest inspiration. There are tons and tons of artists I’d like to recommend, but right now my favorite artist is Chris Brown. I’ve been listening to his latest song “Privacy” [a lot]. I also like Justin Bieber too.

Any final words for KultScene’s readers?

KK: Thank you for having me! I hope you guys are ready to hear my show on SBS PopAsia Live, which starts on the 29th, Monday through Friday, every day at 6 p.m. AEST. I am also working on my songs and I’ll be releasing my singles and album here in Australia and also in Korea in the near future. Hope you guys will be ready for that!

* Interview was edited for clarity.

SBS PopAsia Live with Kevin Kim will be a one-stop show to stay tuned for all things Asian pop, featuring the latest music, news and interviews from Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand. It will air Monday to Friday at 6 p.m. AEST on SBS PopAsia starting May 29. Listeners can also tune into SBS PopAsia Digital Radio by downloading the SBS PopAsia mobile app or by streaming live on their website.

Kevin Kim, SBS PopAsia, SBS PopAsia with Kevin Kim, ZE:A

Courtesy of SBS PopAsia

Do you have a favorite K-pop radio show or podcast you listen to? Share your experiences in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Jambinai on blending Korean & western music styles to create unique post-rock

Courtesy of Nah Seung Yull

You may not know them yet, but Jambinai is a post-rock Korean indie band to take note of. The five-member group blends traditional Korean instruments with western rock to create hauntingly dramatic music. Inspired by the world around them, they’ve created a unique, experiential sound that sets them apart.

Though they’ve had countless acclaim in the past for their releases, Jambinai has never performed in New York City before. But on May 17, the quintet will head to NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge for their first ever Big Apple show.

Ahead of their NYC debut, Jambinai’s Lee Ilwoo and Kim Bomi did a Q&A with KultScene:

Thanks for taking the time to talk to KultScene. How’s everything going lately?
Lee Ilwoo: We are touring in Europe for a month and have a show everyday. It’s tough but really exciting.

You’re making your NYC debut next month. I know you’ve toured quite a bit, but how does it feel to be playing in New York?
Kim Bomi: I’m very happy. Because New York is the center of all culture, as everyone knows. So I’m looking forward to our first show in NYC.
LI: We have toured Europe several times, but this is our first time in NYC. So [I think that] just a few people are going to come our show. But we are going to do our best!

Any things you want to/do see while you’re here?
KB: I want to visit Blue Note [Jazz Club] again, personally. Actually, I went there seven years ago. I spent a lovely time there and I’ve never forgotten those memories. So I want to try again of possible. But I’m not sure because we don’t have much time. We have to move to Chicago the day after.
LI: After the show in NYC, we are going to have to head to Chicago immediately. So it’s so sad not to have some time in NYC.

You have a unique approach to post-rock that looks different from just about everything else coming out of Korea nowadays. How did Jambinai get started?
KB: When we first met, we just wanted to try make some new sounds. Because nowadays, Korea has so many bands who make some new blend [of] local music with western styles. But it’s not a good match for Korean traditional instruments. For example, in that music, Korean traditional instruments just follow or copy western [styles]. We thought about that, [and it’s] not good. So we talked about how can we find different way and better sound.
LI: I like post-rock music and I’ve [been] inspired from [it]. Some bands blend post-rock sound with violin, cello or other western classical instruments. It was so nice and fresh to me. Actually, I tried to blend Korean traditional instruments with rock sound so people listen to Korean traditional sounds, but I didn’t know how. But the bands who blend classical instruments with rock sounds gave me some ideas.

What’s your creative process like?
KB: In my case, playing the haegeum, I’m influenced by Ilwoo. Because he composes all [of our] songs first and then I have to arrange my part; [I] can blend good on songs [sic]. And sometimes I’m influenced by a movie or novel or other genres [of] music. Recently, I’ve read a novel. The name is “EXPANSE.” It’s [a] sci-fi novel. It was very interesting and I can use the feeling[s I felt from reading it] when I play.
LI: I’m inspired by many bands and Korean traditional music. Korean traditional instrumentation is really unique. By Western standards, some Korean traditional sounds are just noise or [have a] weird pitch. But that gives [me] many ideas to make us unique. And issues around me also inspired me.

“They Keep Silence” was one of NPR’s top songs of 2016, which the writer said it was because of the “righteous anger” the song evoked in relation to the Sewol Ferry, which was a national tragedy. Why do you think such a locally aimed song resonated with one of the US’s most prominent media outlets?
KB: Because the song’s story is just about humanity and justice. Even if you don’t know what that lyrics mean, the song has some powerful emotions. Because when we play that song, we pray for the [deceased]. I think that emotion has been passed on to people.
LI: There are a lot of English pop music fans in Korea. They don’t understand what that means, but they feel the image of the song. “They Keep Silence” has Korean lyrics, but I think it can give the image of the tragedy or make people feel sadness and anger, even if they don’t know Korean.

Why do you think now, almost a decade since you began, your sound resonates with people across the globe?
LI: I don’t know. Maybe [because] we use traditional instruments for post-rock and it looks unique. Many people are used to western instruments like guitar, piano, keyboard, etc. So, I guess people feel our instruments are fresh.

Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the idea for the “They Keep Silence” video? It begins with a quote by Martin Luther King Jr., and then shows Jambinai playing, first calm and then eventually descending into more of a metal sound. What sort of feelings did you hope the video would evoke?
KB: We want to never again [feel] like this tragedy[sic]. So we want people remember the tragedy and think about justice, at least [the people] who listen to that song.

Though that song was extremely popular, are there any other songs of yours that you think new listeners would, or should, listen to?
KB: Recently we’ve [re]arranged our old song called “Paramita” from our first album. But you can only listen to this song at our show. So please come to our show!

Jambinai’s music is so tied to Korean sounds and history, so how will the recent political shakeup influence your music now?
KB: Actually I’m not sure. But we’ll always sing about justice [while] the world goes wrong. This is a basic duty of human beings.
LI: If something is going to happen, it’s going to inspire me to make music or lyrics.

Korean indie music is gaining in popularity, but what are some difficulties that you guys have faced as performers?
KB: It’s very hard to survive as performers only. I hope it gets better.
LI: The fandom of the indie scene in Korea is really weak and small. And many Korean people think that using acoustic guitars and singing a love song is indie. So if someone tries to make their own sound, it’s obviously very hard to live and play in Korea.

What do you think of the Korean music scene in general?
KB: Korea has many music genres in the indie scene, but most people don’t know about that, because media broadcasts only play K-pop. So I hope that [indie] will be broadcasted more widely.
LI: K-pop and K-hip hop are the best popular music in the Korea.

What do you guys draw inspiration from?
KB: All of this world!

Are there any artists you’d like to work with if you get the chance?
KB: In my case, personally, Thom Yorke. I love him.

What’s next for Jambinai? Are you guys working on any new music?
KB: Nowadays, we are talking about some new album casually.

The artist’s written responses have been lightly edited for clarity. Interview facilitated by 7000Miles.

Jambiani make their NYC debut at Le Poisson Rouge on May 17, at 7PM. Buy tickets here, and let us know what you think about the band in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

You too can be a k-pop producer thanks to Makestar [Interview]

makestar interviewEvery minute nowadays there’s a new service disrupting one industry or another. For the hospitality industry, it was Airbnb. For the taxi industry, it was apps like Uber and Gett. And for K-pop, it’s Makestar. The crowdfunding service is about a year old, but has already started to shake up the Korean entertainment industry.

Through a variety of fund-raising campaigns, running the gamut between things like photobooks for well-known acts to funding the debuts of rookie K-pop idol groups, Makestar has been giving the less-well-funded Korean acts a chance. K-pop acts like Crayon Pop, 24K, Nine Muses, Astro, and the recently-departed Rainbow have benefited from Makestar’s unique approach to connect, both financially and on a personal level, Korean stars with their fans. By having fans pledge funds ahead of production of an album or special project, Makestar is helping Korean entertainment companies ensure that there’s an audience for their production. And a profit.

According to Brian Kim, Makestar’s chief product officer, the company’s goal isn’t simply to fund K-pop projects, but actually better the K-pop industry. Makestar’s not just about K-pop, but it is the company’s main forum of business right now. They have also featured a handful fundraising campaigns on the site for films and musicals, but the majority of their current projects are geared towards music fans.


Also on KultScene: From ‘Genie’ to ‘Wolf’: Dsign Music believes the future of music begins with K-pop [INTERVIEW]

“We’re really focused on what the fans want,” Kim told KultScene over the phone, explaining that a lot of his job revolves around communicating with the pledgers. “We’re trying to make new opportunities for fans to have their voices heard a little bit more by the industry. I guess that’s the foundation where we started.”

Foundation or not, Makestar is definitely helping fans — particularly international K-pop fans — get their voices heard. Kim’s most notable example was a recent interview with Stellar that an Australian fan got to MC, which featured questions the fan had gathered from Stellar fans from around the globe. Practically unheard of in the K-pop world, the interview was part of a fundraising campaign for Stellar that featured fans spreading the word about both Stellar and the Makestar project. According to Kim, Stellar’s willingness to try new things with Makestar has helped the crowdfunding platform grow.

“Because of Stellar’s projects we’ve tried new things, like mashing up the fans dancing with Stellar’s music video and having it officially sanctioned and so on, to even basic things like Ask Me Anything kind of thing,” explained Kim. “We’ve tried new things where fans get to feel closer with them and [Stellar] have been very receptive.” Kim also added that the other Korean management companies have been more receptive of Makestar’s suggestions on whatever project they’re pursuing through the site as a result of Stellar’s example.

Even KultScene’s staff got on board: Joe showed off his production cred on Twitter earlier this year.

 

Convincing Korean entertainment agencies to try out Makestar wasn’t the easiest thing at the beginning, despite Makestar coming with powerful backing. The CEO, Kim Jae Myun, was a co-founder of FNC Entertainment. “He was the one who created CNBLUE and FTISLAND,” Kim interjected. Nearly a decade after FNC’s founding, Kim created Makestar to see if mass fundraising would work in Korea’s rigid entertainment environment. At first Makestar met with little success, but as the company started seeing success with their campaigns, entertainment companies started approaching the service about setting up their acts with a fundraising project.

Makestar’s success relies on the popularity of K-pop, and the relative small market that Korea’s estimated 300 entertainment agencies have to partake in. “Before Makestar, it was kind of understood, you know, ‘we just don’t have the funds, we don’t have the resources, that’s not the way it works.’” Single after single was the only way many small Korean agencies felt they could promote their act, hoping for a hit to compete with the bigger acts.

“A-listers will always be A-listers. They’ll always have concerts, big events, and their albums will do well. The name value itself will carry,” Kim explained, mentioning some of Korea’s largest entertainment companies like SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. “One way we discovered [potential] disruption was [by asking], ‘Is this the only way?’ If funds are a problem, crowdfunding can kind of solve that. If getting word out is a problem, the project can help with the premarketing and marketing, and we’re getting into postmarketing.”


Also on KultScene: This is the hardest K-pop quiz ever

International fans are very different than Korean fans, which Kim and Makestar are very conscious of when creating their campaigns. Boy bands will typically garner pledges primarily from middle-aged Japanese women, but well-known acts internationally, like Crayon Pop, will see about a third of their funding coming from the US and other English-language markets. Makestar’s services are offered in English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, but they want to make it even more internationally focused. “American fans are very different from French fans because Americans and French people are very different,” said Kim. “What we’re trying to do now is involve fans in what we’re doing at Makestar, whether it be suggestions, whether it be engineering a project. So if you like BTS and you’d like BTS to run a project at Makestar, what would you think as a fan would be a really good project to run? We’d really like to start crowdsourcing those ideas as well because at the end of the day who knows better than the fans?”

Through a variety of campaigns and offering different rewards, ranging from production credit to meeting and spending a day with K-pop stars, Makestar guides the fundraising efforts of K-pop acts. Kim reassured KultScene that it was Makestar acting as a consulting service, not Makestar acting as a secondary managing company. “At the end of the day, the management companies have the final say as to how the project proceeds. Sometimes it comes out pretty much as we expected, but other times, because of some additions that the management company has made on a whim, basically, made based on nothing, we do tend to have burps here or there.”

While there may be slight issues Makestar seems to have figured out a way to ensure that campaigns succeed and they’ve had few failures recently, although a high profile campaign for Xia Junsu failed last December when it came about $300,00 short of its $838,000 goal. Garnering more than two times the goal isn’t uncommon: Stellar’s “Sting” album production project was funded more than 500 percent times the initial goal of $10,068.97, and brought in more than $53,000. The projects range varies, with smaller ones aiming for around $10,000 and larger ones by more popular acts, like Astro and Rainbow, angling closer to $30,000. Makestar recently saw its first crowdfunded debut from Momoland, who raised a little over $12,000.

What’s next for Makestar? Not concerts, said Kim. “We do have plans for concerts, but we do really want to make them special. We don’t want it to be just about money, money, money for [the stars] and the management company, because if that happens, we know that it’s not going to be a special occasion [for the fans], other than the concert. So we’ve been racking our brains about creating a project style where the stars can visit different corners of the world and have that special connection with the fans. We’re holding off on that.”

What do you think of Makestar and their campaigns? Reach out to them via email if you have any ideas about campaigns! And share your thoughts about this article, and K-pop fundraising, in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Run River North Is Walking To The Beat of Their Own Drum, All the Way To The Top [Interview & Review]

run river north, monsters calling home

KultScene sat down with six member Korean-American indie folk-rock band, Run River North (previously known as Monsters Calling home), before their set at Brighton Music Hall, in Boston, last Wednesday. The group is no stranger to the city, having already been here several times and had actually performed at the very same venue earlier this year in April. We talked about the weather, to which they were totally digging, performing in Japan, touched base on being Asian-American, and some other insightful topics.

KultScene: Our audience might not know you, can you introduce yourselves?

RRN: This is Run River North, my is name John, I play drums.
I’m Daniel and I play guitar.
I’m Sally and I play keys.
I’m Alex and I sing and play guitar.
I’m Jennifer and I play the violin.
I’m Joe and I play bass.

KultScene: You’re about a fourth of a way into your tour with “Finish Ticket” and “IronTom.” What’s this tour been like? Are there any funny/weird habits your bandmates have that you never noticed before?

John: I think we know a lot about each other, it’s kind of hard to find new habits that you know people have picked up. Being in a band, with this band, for two or three years of touring, you kinda get each other pretty quick but yeah, I think by now we get most of it. The tour has been great so far. I think it’s like our first, kind of like full support run with a band that is great. I mean, we’ve toured with great bands before too but this is kinda something that we wanted for a while, to tour with some like minded friends.

KultScene: What’s your favorite song to perform live?

Alex: “Beetles” is always my favorite.
Sally: “29” is fun because we added this crowd participation part, so we all sing together. It’s unique so we try to involve [the audience] as much as possible.

KultScene: In a recent interview, you mentioned that your first album was about looking back at the immigrant story. And in your most recent album, you guys talk about looking forward and finding your identity. Are there any themes or concepts you wish to tackle next?

Alex: I haven’t really thought about that. I don’t think the concept came pre-planned, it just naturally happened. I mean, it could go back, if the songs are good. It could go back to immigrants, it could go back to ourselves.

Daniel: The common thread isn’t predetermined. It’s usually just consistent and it just shows up at the end of the songwriting process, you just kind of see “oh, there’s a general theme here” and I think that’s what it’s been for two albums.

John: That’s kind of the beauty of making albums; you see a snapshot of that period, that moment and that phase.


Also on KultScene: 5 Rising Female Acts At Zandari Festa ’16

KultScene: You recently performed at SXSW this past summer. How was that experience in comparison to when you performed on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”?

Alex: SXSW is an interesting set. There’s hundreds of shows going on at the same time so it’s not really like it’s your time to shine, it’s barely your time to shine and you just gotta play in front of whoevers in front of you and hope that someone’s there, but you can’t expect anything out of that. You just gotta go in there with low expectations and hopefully you’ll get a nice showcase and hopefully someone comes through. And for us, we were lucky this time around where one of our showcases, we got this promoter who does festivals in Japan, and because he was there, we were able to go to Japan. Those things are never guaranteed. And with Jimmy Kimmel or Seth Meyers that we did this year, there’s this focus of everyone watching you; there’s one mission and one opportunity, so it’s a little different I guess. SXSW just feels like doing a tour but a little more focused. You can’t really compare the two too much. Both are pleasant in different ways.

John: Our agent, our managers really set us up; there’s a path, a goal for each showcase. We wanted to bring different people to these showcases, so if you’re just an indie band with no fame, it’d be very difficult to stand out, but because we have such an amazing team behind us, they’re setting up all these paths and opportunities for other people to interact with us and I think that’s the key with SXSW. With Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel and stuff like that, that’s more for exposure. All of this is going towards a plan, it’s progressing towards a plan to be more successful, to be more exposed to different types of people. So all of it is working for us.

Alex: There’s really no negative side to it.

KultScene: You auditioned for Kollaboration in 2011, I’m actually apart of Kollaboration Boston. How have you turned any initial failures ultimately into success?

Alex: That’s how we got started, actually. Kollaboration is a great way to play on stage, but it should only be a platform. And if you want to be an artist and want to perform, then you should keep singing. You should never let Kollaboration be your judge, unless you like being judged for your work like that in a competition sense, at least for our band, that’s not what we want to be doing. It was a great way to get started, it was a great push for us to say “okay, if we’re going to perform on a stage, what do we need to do so that..” you know, regardless if we get the money, it’s fine, but would people want more of us after that?

I think that if it’s your job and it’s your life career and to go around doing Kollaboration. That’s just not for us. I don’t really encourage that for people. If they want to better themselves in their art and use that then yeah; it’s another platform, and if it’s a cool stage, if it’s going to expose you to more people, especially in the Asian-American community where you can inspire people that way, then yeah, do what you can and be good at it. But I think the goal is to get the people that do the Kollaboration shows, to come out to actual venues, to actual shows that people do for a living and see what it’s like and that includes the audience as well, as the artist. Everybody, if we’re talking about empowering Asians, go to wherever everyone is doing shows, go to where there are galleries, where there are people who have been doing this forever I think that’s the main thing about Kollaboration, to be the gateway for those audiences or artists to go out there to support those who make music or make art.

Daniel: I think Kollaboration is a great service to the community; a great opportunity.

KultScene: What are you hoping your Boston audience will be like tonight? Is there a message(s) you want them to leave with tonight?

John: Personally for me, like any show, we want to create fans where people will see us 15 years later and say, “oh man, I remember seeing them in high school and I still love them” or the ones who will follow us no matter what, keep up with everything that we do, fans that will, you know, follow us on Instagram or Twitter, fans who just love everything about us. That’s our goal, to be loved; to be loved by hardcore fans who love our music, not just one song.

Daniel: I hope people leave the show inspired to pursue their craft, to just be good at what they do in life. Seeing six Koreans or Asians on a stage in a world that, you know — [some people think] it’s not our place to be here, I think, but I hope people feel encouraged to push through. For 45 minutes or whatever the show length is, they’ll get to enjoy our music for what it is.

*Interview was edited for clarity.


Also on KultScene: Rock Bottom On Top In London [Interview]

run river north, monsters calling home

And they did just that. Run River North gave an awe-inspiring show, performing what felt like a greatest hits/ repackaged masterlist set, with a total of eight songs. The sextet opened with bright lights and “Excuses,” (if this festive folky beat alone doesn’t get you hooked, then check out the music video, you won’t be disappointed). They hit the ground running! There was really no easing into it; RRN accelerated at high speed. This band meant business. RRN quickly shifted gears, transitioning from folk to rock and got the crowd bopping away with “Run or Hide,” which is off of their second album “Drinking From a Salt Pond” — definitely a crowd favorite.

Now, my personal favorite, “Monsters Calling Home.” Their debut/self titled debut album, “Run River North.” is about the “immigrant story.” Well, what does that actually mean, you ask? In case you read this far and still haven’t looked them up, the members of Run River North, Alex, Daniel, Jennifer, Joe, John and Sally, are all second generation Asian-American; it wasn’t planned, it kind of just happened that way. They drew inspiration for that album from their parents; parents who had to start over, “digging for worth, in land under a foreign sun” when they left their homeland. RRN has become a voice for a generation that’s kept quiet. They’ve become this light, for a community that thought certain instances were only happening to them and no one else. No one should ever feel like they’re the only ones experiencing some sort of turmoil, let “Monsters Calling Home” be your outlet.

One of my favorite things about live concerts is when the band performs not only their hits but also their b-sides. Sometimes, the b-sides are the best songs on an album, like “Superstition” and “Seven.” Run River North showcased such captivating harmonizations in “Seven” that it left the crowd breathless. Maybe it’s the countless years they’ve been together and all the shows they’ve performed, but the chemistry and dynamics between these six could make anyone envious!

Their last three songs, “Pretender,” “29” (as mentioned by Sally earlier) and “Anthony” were very interactive for the audience and for the band; RRN had the crowd singing and clapping along to the beat. Even had us with our hands up in the air at one point. There was a part towards the end of “29” where Alex and Joe were facing one another duking it out on their string instruments, then Alex leaned his forehead into Joe’s T-shirt and wiped all his face sweat on Joe. That’s how you know you’ve got a friend for life. They pulled out all the stops for their last song “Anthony.” Jennifer traded in her violin for guitar and, well, she absolutely slayed. I’ve seen a few photos floating around the internet of Alex’s hair, but since he had it tied up during our interview and throughout 90 percent of their set, when he finally released his luscious locks (I’m pretty sure this guy had better hair than most of the females in the audience), it was the final icing on the cake. Concerts can’t be entirely serious, right?

Even if you think folk, rock or that combination in general isn’t your thing, go and give Run River North a listen. Even if their style isn’t what you’re used to, their story telling through their lyrics should be more than enough to lure you in forever. And don’t forget to check out Run River North, as they tour a city near you!

For more photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Read more