Goonam Brings in the Retro Folk Rock Music

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As Korea Rocks comes to the UK we will be providing you profiles on the bands that will be playing in the Camden Barfly on the 28th. In this first instalment we profile a great band with a unique sound.

The folk rock indie band Goonamguayeoridingstella or Goonam for short, play a mix of rock, 70s, reggae, folk, blues and smooth melodies. They released a debut EP ‘We are Pure’ in 2007. The band consists of Ung Joh (Guitarist/Vocalist), Eem Byung Hak (Bassist), Park Tae Sik (Drummer), and Kim Na Eun (Keyboardist). They were nominated as the Best Modern Rock Album at the 2012 Korean Music Awards. They have also performed internationally: Summer Sonic Festival in Japan, SWSW, and Canadian Music Week.

This band plays soulful music which reminds me of the theme of the traditional. It brings us back in time and focuses on the ‘culture’ of Korea which can be seen in the music video for their song ‘Blood’. You could say they are the perfect mix of modern, groovy, and retro music. Could they be the next Korean indie group relieving the importance of Korean culture through music including folk music? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure they create beautiful music.

We spoke to vocalist Joh Ung to find about their music, K-indie and their unique style.

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Lu Yin: What does Goonamguayeoridingstella actually mean?

Joh Ung: Our band’s name means an old man and woman riding in a Stella car. When I was a child my parent’s car was a Hyundai Stella. I used to drive around with my dad in that car and listen to old Korean music like Sanullim. Those are really good memories to me. And when it came time to choose a band name, I thought that the Hyundai Stella was a unique symbol of Korea, kind of like the Cadillac in the US. So that’s another reason why I made our name like that. Our full name is Goonamguayeoridingstella, but now we’re just going by Goonam outside of Korea to make things a bit easier on people.

Lu Yin: What is the reason behind putting ‘70s-era and retro elements in your music?

Joh Ung: It wasn’t my intention to put ‘70s-era elements in our music. But growing up I listened to a lot of 1970s and ‘80s Korean music and I think those sounds naturally influenced me in many ways.

Lu Yin: In the music video ‘Blood’, was it the intention to show the essence of Korean culture?

Joh Ung: Yes, it was our intention to show the essence of Korean culture in that video. We worked with Hyundai Card for filming the video for ‘Blood.’ The filming team suggested we wear traditional clothes as they thought it fit well with the mood of our music. We thought it sounded like a cool idea, so we went ahead with it.

Lu Yin: What inspired you to create great music?

Joh Ung: I think we’re inspired by everything around us. We’re inspired by a lot of great music from all over the world. And we’re inspired by all the things we see and the people we meet.

Lu Yin: How much freedom you have in promoting your music without the control from the commercial music industries?

Joh Ung: We’ve got a lot of freedom in promoting our music. We’ve been signed to an indie label in Korea called Cavare Sound since we made our recorded debut. We don’t really make any unreasonable demands to the label, so they let us basically do whatever things we want to do.

Lu Yin: How would you describe the K-indie and K-rock scene in Korea at the moment?

Joh Ung: I think the Korean indie and Korean rock scenes are the brightest they’ve been in a long time. Most of the music in the indie scene is centred around Seoul’s Hongdae area. It’s a really small area, but the bands inspire each other and grow as musicians in this place. The talent level in Hongdae is really high right now, and more bands are pushing themselves to play in other parts of the country and overseas as well.

Lu Yin: How do you feel about having the opportunity to tour across the UK with the other Korea Rocks artists?

Joh Ung: It’s a huge honour for us to be a part of this tour. The other bands we’ll be touring with are all great bands, which make the Korea Rocks line up really strong. I think all of the bands are really excited to explore the UK together.

Lu Yin: Who are your favourite UK rock music bands?

Joh Ung: We really like David Bowie.

Lu Yin: You are going to perform at Barfly, London on the 28th April. Are you excited?

Joh Ung: We’re very excited. Barfly is a really well-known venue, so we’re looking forward to checking it out. And we’re excited to play for new people and to hopefully have the chance to meet and talk with them after the show.

Lu Yin: What kind of performance can the audience look forward to?

Joh Ung: We try to make our shows really fun. When there’s a fun atmosphere during a show, I think it makes easier for us to try different things on stage to try and liven things up even more.

Lu Yin: Could you tell us more about any upcoming albums/songs?

Joh Ung: We’re hoping to release a new album later this year. The songs we’re working on are more fun and straight-forward than some of our past work.

Lu Yin: Which songs from your current and previous albums do you think represent you best as a band?

Joh Ung: We think “Shadow Dance” from our 2011 Woojung-Motel is a good representation of Goonam as a band.

Lu Yin: Any messages for the UK audience?

Joh Ung: Please come and check out the Korea Rocks shows if you can. We’re really looking forward to meeting you and sharing our music with you!

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Thanks to Joh Ung and the rest of the members of Goonam for taking the time to answer these interview questions. We hope that they will enjoy their performances in the UK.
We are definitely looking forward to see their upcoming performance at the Barfly, London and other venues in the UK. For more information about the date and venues, you can check out the Korea Rocks Facebook Page to see where Goonam will be performing. To find out more about the band check out their details below


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