When did you plan to become a singer/songwriter? When did you realize that music was going to be such an important part of your life?
I think it all started back when I was still living in South Korea. I was in primary school and it was a weekend away school-trip thing, and people/ a person from each class needed to do something as a part of performance in front of the whole people we went trip with. Nobody signed up for it from my class and I did because I wanted to sing. When I was on stage singing, I could see people looking at me in the eyes listening to the song I was singing. I just plain loved that feeling of togetherness in that very moment. That feeling of togetherness is what I see in music, and that’s when I realised music was going to be such an important part of my life. It is thanks to my dad that I began writing songs, since he bought me a handmade acoustic guitar, before I headed to the UK when I was 13 or 14. I wrote a couple of songs in school which I don’t remember exactly what they were- probably because they were bad haha.
A singer whom I once interviewed described the musical process as an “inner need” or else it would be “a short-lived love affair”. How would you describe your musical/creative process?
That’s an interesting way to describe the musical process. Personally, I see a piece of music as the invitation from different realms where melodic tunes represent the phenomena of the world that we are in. But these representations are rather unique to the individual, so it is very subjective to an extent. Yet, I believe some elements in the songs are understood objectively, in the sense that it is something people will share on common grounds. I believe, these common grounds that we share are pain and suffering which is undoubtedly ever present in every aspect of life. That being said, experientially, we understand pain and suffering differently. It’s part of the reason why I believe that that is why sometimes the emotions music elicits in our hearts are different from how music elicits emotions in other people. Anyways, my musical process involves the designing of the characters and the stories, in the hope that people could relate to the elements in the story to let them know that they are never alone in their own particular struggles unique to the individual. Hence, for that reason, I like writing stories and reading philosophy books in my spare time, and when I get those random melodies being played in my mind, that is when I decide to plug my guitar in the amp and hum along with my guitar.
What was your inspiration for writing “Luna: The Invisible Irony”?
I really enjoyed writing Luna: The Invisible Irony, and it is based on the dream that I once had when I was in college studying A-levels in the UK. There was this feeling of something transcendental, and alien but beautifully ethereal when I held hands with a girl with blonde hair. There was no one else in the city, nothing to worry about, but just the two of us under the moonlight smiling at one another with our eyes picturing each other faces. Then when I woke up, everything I saw was mundane but colourless reality.
Uncertainty the monster is an additional character I added to the contents of the dream, in making of the track. I wanted to convey that emotion of anxieties and feeling you get when a formidable monster is chasing you. For that reason, my hope is that you get those energetic but yet ethereal feeling from the track. As the story goes, as I wrote it down on my blog, the city of Reality is the representation of the colourless, bleak and bitter world we are living in. Personally, I find the world I’m living in to be rather excruciatingly full of repetitive things to an extent it is extremely painful, because whatever you do you seem to end up making the same mistakes that you regret over infinite number of times. So does the boy being chased by the monster in the story, which I shall not reveal that in detail just yet. But he meets a girl who is rather transcendentally different from the colourless everyday experiences he is accustomed to. She is so lovely, sweet and she is someone who saves the boy from the monster by blinding Uncertainty’s eyes. Eventually, he is drawn to his own illusion that this city of Dream and Happiness is where he truly belongs, not knowing that he is only in denial of what he truly needs to face in Reality. The question is raised “exactly why is the monster chasing the boy in the first place?”. The answer to that, I believe, is rather unique to all of us. When people are in pursuit of their dreams, there is always a sense of uncertainty making us anxious about something. Uncertainty is a monster waiting to eat us alive, because we are infinitely sceptical about whether what we are pursuing is the right thing to do. In most cases, things that we seek at the end of the day provide us with regrets.
When you pause to reflect on what your life has been like, you may feel that you understand your life, but that understanding is subject to the momentariness, because life is in a forward motion in which you must always make new choices millions and infinite number of times, which will have changed your understanding by the time you reflect on life again later in future. Like Should I go to Sainsbury’s or Tesco’s, and you regret going to Tesco’s because Sainsbury’s had a better deal, let’s say, and vice versa.
You see, the boy is trapped in his own idea that his experiences in the city of Reality have always been daunting. Is his experience and understanding of the past the guide to which his future actions should be oriented? Just because the world boy understands is daunting and scary, should he hide himself from Reality? I believe that, knowledge and experiences cannot always be relied on to guide your actions as you move forward in life. Then something else must step in to motivate the choices you make, and that is where you lose your mind and take a leap of faith; in other words, passion. That’s why I believe when you’re passionate about something, it can be a beautifully powerful force behind the urge to continue.
This is rather nerve wrecking, however. Like what is it exactly that I want to do? So there is a sense of Uncertainty. Sadly, there are no manuals which can guide you in the process of becoming what it is that you need to become. You are on the path to selfhood alone, and you need to be walking without meeting one single advisor. For no one else can live your life. You are left alone in this balancing act of human existence, and a dizziness rise up as you stare into the infinite number of possibilities which confront you. Choices are infinite, but your life is yours. For sure, the boy likes Luna Moonlight a lot, but is he sure about leaving Reality to choose Luna instead who may or may not exist? Deep within our soul there is a constant yearning for something that is everlasting and eternal. What is eternity to you? I believe it is the urge to continue life with Passion. What is Passion? That’s for the individual to discover in life. But in order to do that, you shouldn’t be in denial of reality. It is what the individual needs to experience and not avoid.
How do you see the current rock/metal scene?
I think we have a list of amazing people who are constantly making cool music, and that is amazing. I went to Bullet for my Valentine concert in London a month ago or so. It was the first time I’ve been to a gig in a while since the pandemic, and when they started playing their new song- I think the song was called ‘Knives’, and man, I wished that exact moment to never end. For real, Rock is never dead, and I hope the rock/metal scene to stay invoking the exact ‘wow’ reaction I got. Also, there seems to be a steadily growing trend in pop punk genres like Avril Lavigne for example. It’s almost as though it is a calling from the world 20 years ago. As someone who grew up listening to emo/ pop punk bands, I think it’s really cool.
When you create a song, what are the emotions that you are trying to evoke in the listeners?
I don’t know exactly if there is a particular emotion or emotions that I want to evoke in the listeners. But you see, this is why I think storytelling elements in the song is so powerful. You can almost see through the lens of the character being audibly portrayed throughout the song, whether the status of the character be ‘in despair’, ‘anxious’, or ‘in agony’. That’s where the beauty of representation happens. Because, for me, I often find myself in the shoes of the character in a film to understand what the character is going through. I would be happy if my stories conveyed via the means of melodies the driving force to help individuals go forward in life passionately.
You mentioned that you started writing songs since the beginning of the UK lockdown, how did the state of the world affect your creative process?
This might come across as counterintuitive to some people, but I don’t necessarily think the pandemic per se affected my creative process back then. I was going through many different things, and I guess the pandemic was the last thing I was worried about, except getting food from the shops. But I can tell you back in the first UK lockdown was when I decided writing songs is perhaps one of the passions that has been the driving force behind me and my own answer to the meaning of life question ‘why do you get up in the morning’. Philosophy was my degree at uni, so I do a lot of thinking in general, but I guess since I was forced to stay indoors during the lockdown I did even more thinking, which undoubtedly led me to think about writing songs. So, I guess the pandemic did affect my creative process to an extent after all. That was roughly the same time I discovered the newly emerging artist Holly Humberstone with her song Deep End on her official YouTube channel. I was like ‘man, I think she is really cool’, and then it reminded of that moment back in primary school when I sang in front of my school friends. Then I questioned, ‘can I look in the people’s eyes, and have that musical moment of togetherness again with perhaps a wider audience?’. ‘Do you know what. I want to do that. I want to tell people a story of some sort that people find relatable!’. That’s how I started writing metamorphosis.
How is “Luna: The Invisible Irony” different from “Metamorphosis (2020)” and your rock rendition of “AURORA’s Forgotten Love (2021)”?
Everything started with Metamorphosis. It was my attempt to reach out to the world – the wider audience for the first time. Back then I was deeply in love with the experimental aspects found in the Beatles songs like Sgt Pepper’s lonely hearts club band which is an amazing album. Towards the end of the song, you can hear a guitar being played but it sounds like a sitar, giving you that psychedelic vibe almost. AURORA’s Forgotten Love was also a special attempt in transitioning her original Norwegian alt folk feeling to a harsher rock sound. I thought this would be a more accurate representation of the bittersweet feelings you get from her lyrics. It’s a beautifully bitter song. That being said, Luna: The Invisible Irony gives off an entirely different feeling, I think. It is my first attempt in my music to introduce characters in the tracks to draw parallels with the story I wrote on my blog and the daily phenomena happening in people’s lives. For sure, both Forgotten Love and Metamorphosis have its own story in a way, but the notion of storytelling is not something that is being emphasised in the song.
How do you think art helps during times of crisis such as the COVID pandemic?
As you have probably guessed from my name, I love Kierkegaard. At the core of his existential philosophy is subjectivity and indirect communication. I don’t think he was talking about this in the context of music or art back then. But I believe Art can also serve as the indirect communication to people, conveying the message unique to each individual. Objectivity- something that can be stated as a fact, is the ever-present pain and suffering. With the aid of art being the driving force relating to people’s uniquely different stories and memories, I believe that people can find their own answer for ‘why do you get up in the morning’ questions – hopefully, one that is eternal enough to help them continue constantly.
Is there any other artist/band that you would like to shout out?
Definitely. Particularly, I would like to shout out a producer and an audio engineer Lachlan Smith. I’ve been working with him since Forgotten Love (2021), and it is truly amazing working with Lachlan. My lack of music engineering understanding has always been my obstacle in fully expressing what I want to portray in my songs, but he finalises the unfinished tracks that I have. And that is amazing.
What are your upcoming projects?
This is the most exciting part. Luna: The Invisible Irony is merely the first chapter of the story. Or to put it simply, you will hear another single singing the tale of the boy, Luna Moonlight, and Uncertainty the Monster. Keep your eyes peeled and thanks for checking out my music!