Tag Archives: music

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Far East Movement Releases K-Town Mini-Doc Ahead of New EP

by JAMES S. KIM

Far East Movement has been touring all over the world and the United States in recent years, but they’re bringing their music back home to Koreatown, Los Angeles for their upcoming EP.

In anticipation for K-Town Riot, which drops next Tuesday, Oct. 28, Far East Movement premiered the first part of a mini-documentary series exploring the 1992 L.A. riots through L.A. Weekly. It features a number of first-hand accounts from individuals who were in Koreatown during the riots, including Paul PK Kim and Roy Choi.

“When we were on tour, we honestly just felt like we were losing touch with where we grew up, with the community that really shined us a light when we didn’t have any opportunities,” Nish said in an interview with the L.A. Weekly. “After two years of touring, we came home and saw how much it had changed. … So we were like, why don’t we try to do something about it?”

With K-Town Riots, Nish said the group brings a “harder sound,” influenced by the gangster rap songs from the era. He mentioned that the group had around 30 songs recorded, but after a good amount of deliberation, they managed to select six songs. “We felt like these six best represented the vibes for K-Town Riot,” he explained.

The documentary had to be stripped down as well, from nearly five hours of footage in order to keep things “tight, concise, to the point.” Part two of the mini-documentary will feature a more light-hearted look at the growth of Koreatown, Nish said, and that should be out in a few weeks.

You can check out Part One of the five-minute mini-doc below. Be sure to read the full interview with Kevin Nish at L.A. Weekly here.

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[VIDEO] U.S. Marines and South Korean Army Bands Battle in Drum-off

by REERA YOO

The drums of war have never sounded so friendly.

The III Marine Expeditionary Force Band (III MEF) and the Republic of Korea Army Band (ROK) recently engaged in a lighthearted drum-off to kill time before a parade. Both bands gave impressive performances and seemed to enjoy themselves as they were seen cheering and smiling throughout the entire match, which was later ruled by a band leader as a tie.

The video has garnered more than 800,000 views after being uploaded last week. Majority of the viewers praised the two bands’ enthusiastic performances and good sportsmanship. One commenter even wrote, “This is how wars should be fought.”

Watch the epic drum battle below:

Janice Min

Janice Min Talks About K-pop’s Global Impact and Future

by JAMES S. KIM

K-pop is currently the best known product after Samsung, according to Janice Min, co-president and chief creative officer of Guggenheim Media’s Entertainment Group, which includes The Hollywood Reporter (THR) and Billboard. But as hallyu gains more international recognition, Min said K-pop still has a few more hurdles left before it could be fully embraced among Western audiences.

“Half of the top ten news reported by THR is related to K-pop,” Min said at MU:CON Seoul 2014, an annual festival for Korean music. “The world is getting more and more interested in Hallyu content.”

Psy’s international hit “Gangnam Style” was a turning point, Min noted. The song got casual music fans interested in K-pop, and it played right into the hands of an industry that was already heavily powered by social media. But in order for K-pop to stick, Min said K-pop artists need to come off as genuine, not manufactured by a larger entertainment company.

“I would say the weakness of K-pop is that it feels inauthentic and prepackaged … so there needs to be authenticity,” Min told the Korea Times, referring to Justin Timberlake as an authentic artist who gained more creative freedom after leaving NSYNC. She emphasized that music fans want to know that their favorite artists are genuine and passionate about their music, which includes writing their own songs.

In addition, Min said K-pop was still in a good place to compete in the music industry as the genre incorporates dance, fashion, beauty and music all in one.

Moving forward, Min said she expects K-pop diversify even further, with different acts that carry different sounds. In terms of breaking into the American audience, she cited Crayon Pop and G-dragon as prime examples, since the former opened for Lady Gaga at her U.S. concert and the latter is set to release collaborative tracks with Justin Bieber.

“The fact that Lady Gaga promoted the act on social media was probably the most powerful thing any Western artist could have done for a K-pop artist,” Min said. “Collaborations also get a lot of attention. The validation of a K-pop artist by a popular Western artist helps break through the clutter.”

As for what K-pop has meant to Koreans, Min said in some ways, K-pop felt like a “move forward” among the younger generation of Koreans who won’t harbor bitter memories of the Korean War and the rebuilding period.

“K-pop seems to represent total youth culture to Koreans, for reasons both good and sometimes bad,” Min continued. “But I think there is a big national pride in the phenomenon that is K-pop and the fact that it has traveled so far and wide in the world.”

The Voice - Season 7

Q&A: ‘The Voice’ Contestant Clara Hong Talks About Her Musical Journey

by JAMES S. KIM

When KoreAm got in touch with Clara Hong yesterday, we were supposed to discuss last week’s blind audition on NBC’s The Voice, in which she brought down the house with her stellar performance. The young singer was trying to process what had happened since then, including random strangers raving about her on social media, her much-talked-about “You’re silk” comment, and of course, Pharrell Williams.

Then, she realized what the date was.

“Today is Sept. 30, right? Oh my gosh,” said Hong, apparently slightly freaking out over the phone. “I moved out of my house to Atlanta exactly a year ago. That is so crazy! I remember I moved in on Sept. 30 and went to the studio the very next morning. … But that’s so crazy!”

It’s been a long and explorative year for the Georgia resident, who put her college education on hiatus and moved to the city to pursue a career in music. But even before her recent milestone on The Voice, Hong said she was exponentially happier than when she was in school.

Despite the “silk” comment, Hong surprisingly chose Maroon 5’s Adam Levine over Pharrell to be her coach. Her sessions with Team Adam haven’t started yet, but whether The Voice plays a significant part in her future or not, the vocalist says she is definitely glad to be in her current position.

How do you feel about your blind audition, now that you’ve had some time to digest what happened?

Clara: I think when you’re onstage, you know what happened, but it’s almost like now, it didn’t happen. It’s been overwhelming, and it’s really cool to see the reactions on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — it’s surreal. It’s really cool to see the reactions from legitimate strangers.

It’s almost like you can’t believe you can do it sometimes, for us musicians. I talk about this with my friends all the time, but we’re so used to the idea of — and this is not to sound negative — things not working out sometimes, so we almost prepare ourselves for the worst in a way.

Music isn’t … an instant gratification kind of industry where things always work out the way you want it to. In my case, you almost have to be like, whoa, that’s me. That’s not someone else’s life. That’s my life. So it’s been really nice and cool to believe in myself again.

How have your parents responded to your successful blind audition?

It’s been positive. It’s been nice. My parents were very keen on me pursuing education since I came here [from Korea] when I was 8 years old. It was never something where they pushed me to take piano lessons, or pursue music. As soon as I got the idea to leave school and pursue it, they were really against it.

Eventually, I was like, you know what, I’m an adult, so I’m going to move out regardless, but it would be nice to have their support.

It was kind of a struggle for a year. The only reason they were okay with me pursuing music before The Voice was that they saw how happy I was as a person. The light changed on my face, my attitude on life — I felt like a really beautiful person. I felt like I had purpose, and I felt really OK. And then when the three judges turned around for me, that was [my parents’] way of knowing, she’s going to be OK.

The Voice has been a gift in many ways, but I think that’s one of the biggest ways it has been good to me. It opened my parents’ eyes to my potential.

Why did you choose “Chuck E.’s In Love?”

There’s a process that goes into choosing the song. It’s not 100 percent the producers; it’s not 100 percent me. It’s kind of like this conversation we have going. Ultimately, I really wanted that song. It probably was a risk … because it’s not a tune everyone is familiar with. It’s a song that parents nowadays, they reminisce about that song, and might say, “Hey, that came out while I was in high school!” I really love Rickie Lee Jones, too, she’s cool and funky, and she’s always done her own thing.

In hindsight, I’m really happy I chose that song, but really I think I picked that song because I love it. … I think when you find the song, and you sing it once and it feels right, you know that’s your song. When I sing it, it just feels really good to me.

What did you think of the judges’ individual pitches? Adam, Gwen and Pharrell each went all out to try and recruit you.

That was really cool! To be honest, when I saw the episode on TV, I remembered a lot of the things they said to me, but when I was up there, there’s so much adrenaline, one, and two, it’s also a very out-of-body experience. I remember when I was singing, I almost saw myself in a bird’s eye point of view where I watched myself. It was really bizarre. I just remember hearing a lot of words, and I did comprehend them, but I don’t think I really heard them. I do remember the whole “silk” part, and I’m still like, “Why did you say it like that?”

I just remember feeling very overwhelmed and wowed by these coaches giving me compliments and … I was just in disbelief the whole time. Of course I knew it was happening, but it was a lot at once. I just remember feeling so bad and awful having to pick someone. I really wanted to work with all of them. It’s hard! It’s a funny role change, because you would think it would be the other way around, where you beg them to take you in, but the chairs are turned — pun intended — and the coaches fight for you.

The Voice - Season 7

What have you been able to do in the past year since you moved to Atlanta?

I’ve been trying to put together an EP, [but] because of The Voice, I wasn’t able to finish that project. But outside of the studio, I’ve been going out as much as I can and meeting people and making connections. Meeting inspiring musicians around the area, and jamming with them — it was really cool.

“House shows” are probably my favorite thing. They’re really casual. You can mingle with people, and then jam to really original music. The best part about it is that you’re so close to the artists and you see every facial movement that they make, and I love watching people’s faces when they sing because all the emotion is right there.

I think they really inspire me to always write genuine songs. That kind of setting, you can’t fake your way in with this song you wrote because you thought it was catchy. It’s not a fancy stage set-up with lights and mics; you really just have your voice and your instrument to impress the crowd.

I’ve done a few house shows in Atlanta where it’s just a bunch of twenty, thirty-somethings having a really chill time. I really think that’s where the real music scene is. Atlanta is packed with so much talent, it’s hard not to be inspired.

The Voice - Season 7

What have been your greatest challenges?

My biggest struggle [is that] I’ve never had consistent support, so I really wasn’t sure if anything was going to work out. And I’m pretty sure that’s the question I’m going to ask for the rest of my life. One moment or one blind audition isn’t going to change that mentality, but it has worked out well, and when I say “worked out,” I don’t mean that I made it or I crossed the finish line, but I think it’s a lot easier when you don’t worry too much.

If you’re centered, and your head is in the right place, and you wake up with a smile and do what you need to do … things will always fall into place.

It’s weird. Sometimes I feel really overwhelmed, but other days, I think, it’s quite simple really. You get up, you show up, you do life, and you call it a day. But it really depends on how you look at it and how much you want out of everything.

Photos courtesy of Tyler Golden/NBC

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[VIDEO] #HappySeoul’s Contribution to ’24 Hours of Happy’

by JAMES S. KIM

When Pharrell William’s “Happy” comes on the radio, take heed: You may find yourself clapping along, whether you are happy or not.

Cities and countries around the world have been uploading hundreds of music videos as a contribution to Pharrell’s “24 Hours of Happy” campaign. South Korea already submitted several of their own, but we think that this one, which was uploaded yesterday, might be the best of them all.

The video features several prominent locations, including Gangnam and Hongdae, while also showcasing Seoul residents of all ages. We’re pretty sure most don’t break out into song and dance all the time, but they certainly look capable of doing so.

Also, the hanboks and sunglasses pretty much sealed it for us.

Image via Happy Seoul

Clara Hong

[VIDEO] Clara Hong Kills It at ‘The Voice’ Blind Audition

by JAMES S. KIM

Have you ever heard a voice that made you stop and turn and find its source? Atlanta’s Clara Hong did just that with her voice on this week’s The Voice. Her rendition of “Chuck E.’s in Love” got judges Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani and Pharell Williams literally spinning in their chairs within seconds of her first effortless note.

Watch her performance here:

When it came down to choosing which team to join, Hong found herself being fought over by the three judges.

Pharrell was enamored with her tone, comparing it to silk, to which Hong replied, “You’re silk. … Your voice!”

“[Your voice] feels very you,” remarked Gwen Stefani, who, after complimenting Hong on her stage presence, gave her an impromptu coaching display of how to command it. “Your singing voice, it’s so alluring.”

Adam Levine went all out and wrote a poem for Hong as the other judges gave their pitches. “Clara is great, and so am I. Why should I coach you? Let me tell you why. I’ve been in this chair for three solid years. I know what it takes, so please, have no fear. So Team Adam it is. So glad you could be the triumphant victor. Let’s make history.”

“I’m a really competitive person, and I will kill for you,” Levine later emphasized.

In the end, Hong chose Levine–her gut feeling, she said–over Pharrell, who she had been a fan of since middle school.

Hong, whose parents moved from South Korea to the States when she was eight years old, took a break from college after two years to pursue her passion in music. After moving into the city, she also took on a banquet server job to pay the bills.

“There’s some pressure to prove to my parents that I can succeed with music,” Hong said. “They came here initially to give us a fine education, and I think it would be a relief to know that they feel okay with me doing this.”

You can watch Clara’s full blind audition segment below:

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Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn To Make Directorial Debut with ‘Mall’

Joe Hahn has directed more than 30 music videos for Linkin Park, along with a number of other projects, so turning his skills over to film probably was a pretty natural transition.

The Linkin Park musician will be making his directorial film debut with Mall, based on Eric Bogosian’s 2001 novel. The story follows five dissatisfied suburbanites who find themselves in a shopping mall when a man begins firing at people. The incident not only radically changes his life, but also those of the others who are forced to deal with the life-threatening situation.

“It’s about the cycle of self-destruction,” Hahn explained to Mashable. “I find it refreshing to see this kind of point-of-view in contrast to today’s society that interacts digitally.

“The thing with life through devices, Internet and apps is that people are self-editing themselves. They are picking the best selfies and showing how cool they are, very one-sided. … When I read this script, it felt real and refreshing to show how ugly people can be, as they hide their inner beasts after cracking their facades.”

Mall will receive a North American theatrical release on Oct. 17, according to New Noise Magazine. The film will be distributed via Paragon Pictures. The movie stars Vincent D’Onofrio, Gina Gershon and Cameron Monaghan.

Hahn hosted an exclusive screening of the film, plus a question-and-answer session, during the 5th annual Nerd HQ event at Petco Park in San Diego. The video for the Q&A is below.

Image via Mashable

SPICA

VIDEO: Girl Group SPICA on U.S. Debut at KCON 2014

by JAMES S. KIM

Many K-pop acts have tried to play their hand in the U.S. market, all to varying levels of success. Girl group SPICA, however, may be one of those to catch on here in the States, as they got a running start with their American debut at KCON 2014 this past weekend.

KoreAm had the opportunity to interview the ladies before their set on Saturday. The group, which features Juhyun, Boa, Narae, Jiwon and Bohyung, were just as excited as we were to see them hit the stage for the thousands of fans who made their way out to Los Angeles this past weekend.

SPICA’s English debut single, “I Did It,” is an empowering song that fits their vocal talent and nothing-held-back personalities. In our exclusive interview, the ladies talk about what they’re proud of so far, and what they’re looking forward to as a group. Check it out!

SPICA debuted in 2012 under B2M Entertainment with their single “Potently.” Since then, SPICA has released four singles, including “Tonight,” which shot to the top of Korean music charts. Former Fin.K.L member Lee Hyori served as a mentor figure for a time, and she collaborated with Boa to write the lyrics for “Tonight.”

“I Did It” is just one of the tracks on a yet-to-be named, full length English LP. We’ll keep you posted on any news. Meanwhile, check out the music videos for “I Did It” and “Tonight.”