Interviews — June 5, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Interview: Korean live electro masters Idiotape discuss why 2015 is looking to be their biggest year yet

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idiotapeKorean indie electro outfit Idiotape are riding high. Having played at pretty much every major music festival in their native Korea including Global Gathering, Pentaport Rock Festival and Valley Rock Festival, they’re now taking on the globe, bringing their signature sound to international audiences.

Whilst they have two full length albums behind them, it’s Idiotape’s explosive live performances that have won them fans across the globe. Their dazzling light shows and unique sound combine twin analogue synthesizers with live drums for a truly immersive musical experience that transcends language and borders. With a healthy amount of momentum behind them, 2015 looks be Idiotape’s breakthrough year, with a European tour organized and dates at some of the world’s most significant festivals coming up including Glastonbury and Exit and a new album in the works. We talked to synth masters Dguru, Zeke and drummer DR about their mutual love of rock music, the future of indie electronic music in Korea and their plans for global domination.

 

 

It must have come as quite a shock to be categorized as K-pop at Singapore’s Music Matters conference. With the Korean music that reaches an international audience so often being pop music, how hard has it been to grow your fan base outside Korea?

DR : In some ways, Idiotape can be seen as a part of KPOP. I believe that KPOP is not just about idol music, but includes popular music of all genres. Also, our music does not have lyrics, which means that each person can interpret the song in his or her own way. I think this is one of the reasons why people from different countries and backgrounds enjoy listening to our songs. I would have never imagined that not having lyrics can be an advantage in spreading our music overseas.

ZEZE : A couple years ago, we remixed a popular KPOP group f(x)’s song “Ice Cream”. We received huge attention from KPOP fans who would have never known Idiotape otherwise. Of course, we cannot say that they became our fans, but it was a very interesting experience. It is never easy to gain more fans. So, we try to continuously have shows overseas.

DGURU : Personally, it is not a big deal how Idiotape’s music is categorized. What really matters is that people listen to our music for the first time, enjoy our music that they keep listening, and in the end, want to see us perform live.

 

 

You all have quite different musical backgrounds – can you describe what are your biggest influences in your music?

DR : We all have different tastes in music. But there is one band that we all like, and that is The Doors. We love the psychedelic sound of the band. We also received a lot of influence from old rock bands in Korea.

ZEZE : Idiotape’s music is somewhere between electronic and rock music. We all like electronic music, but when I was young, I was a huge fan of rock. Being open to new and different things becomes an important motive of our music.

DGURU : Each member’s music preference influences us the most (LOL). Our different tastes in music collide and join together, creating Idiotape’s unique sound.

 

idiotape live

Idiotape playing at the 2014 Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival

 

What is the indie electronic scene like in Korea? Are there a lot of collaborations between groups?

DR : The indie electronic scene in Korea is very small, making it difficult to interact with other musicians. However, it has been increasing recently. We would definitely like to have collaborations if the opportunity arises. Instead, we have collaboratively worked with musicians of different genres. We will be releasing an album with those works this summer.

DGURU : The indie electronic scene may be small but there are a lot of musicians with unique style and amazing talent. Also, there are numerous opportunities to present one’s music and collaborations between groups have been increasing recently.

 

 

You’ve got a really unique, high energy presence on stage, is it tough maintaining that energy for a whole set?

DR : From the moment I appear on stage, energy explodes inside me and I forget everything else. When I see the audience dance to our music, I feel that I am dancing along with them. But, when the show is over, I suddenly lose all of my energy and start feeling down. So I always have a thirst for stage.

DGURU : I have never felt that I need to maintain a certain level of energy. If I cannot concentrate on stage, there is no meaning to my performance or to creating music.

 

 

You’ve been playing more and more international shows now including touring the USA in 2011 and again last year, including playing at SXSW festival – how has your sound been received over there?

DR : I cannot say for sure at this point. After we have a show overseas, we see a lot of comments on the SNS that Idiotape has an explosive power on stage. We also hear that Idiotape album is good but live performance is even better.

DGURU : Some of the comments that I have heard are “Idiotape has both electronic and rock sound,” “There are similar formats but something is different about Idiotape,” and “There is a certain Korean vibe to their sound.”

ZEZE: I have been told that Idiotape’s sound cannot be heard from any other bands. More specifically, some people have said that our music has a Korean vibe which was very surprising.

 

idiotape-the-final-countdown

Bringing the craziness to Idiotape’s performance to ‘The Final Countdown’

 

South By South West (SXSW) is such a huge platform for emerging bands. Were there a lot of opportunities that came out of performing there?

DR : For a lot of opportunities to arise from SXSW, a band would need to perform as many times as possible during the period at nearby clubs and venues. Last year, we planned to do so as well. But due to visa-related issues, most of our shows had to be cancelled, which was very disappointing so we did not get as many opportunities as we could have otherwise.

ZEZE : I am not sure whether SXSW brought new opportunities. However, performing for fans 10,000km away from home was the most exciting and inspiring experience. Going on a tour has difficulties, but it is an enjoyable and valuable adventure.

DGURU : Through SXSW, we had opportunities to meet with promoters and others in the music industry around the world, which led to our Europe tour.

 

 

It seems there’s been an evolution from playing in clubs and festivals to really large scale productions. Do you prefer the intimacy of playing in a small club or being on a big stage at large festivals?

DR : This is a very difficult question. I enjoy both. We prepare in different ways according to the size of the venue so both has its own special points. For example, at small clubs, we use different instruments and prepare a setlist that would give a complete experience for the audience. At large music festivals, we explore with lighting, video, and special effects to create an entirely different show.

ZEZE: When we perform at small clubs where we are very close to the audience, we feel more like a band. Being on a big stage at large festivals gives a different type of thrill. I do not have a preference because they mean different things to me.

 

idiotape-performing-live

 

It looks like a big year of touring this year – tell us how you’re feeling about playing at some of the world’s largest festivals, like Exit in Serbia and Glastonbury in the UK?

DR : It is a dream come true. When I first started playing the drums, it was my dream to perform at Glastonbury. I am both extremely excited and nervous at the same time.

DGURU : I think it is a new beginning for us.

 

 

How have you felt your sound has changed in between albums?

DR : I would like to use the word “evolved” over “changed.” I believe our music style has become more solid over the years. Also, I want to keep exploring to become an artist with a huge spectrum. But of course, keep Idiotape’s unique sound!!

ZEZE : I have always tried to be open to different possibilities and sounds. Also, while increasing the spectrum of the electronic side, the role of the drums is becoming more important. While we continue to change, we want to create a sound that is only possible for Idiotape.