|Sire Records chairman Seymour Stein (center), Korea Creative Content Agency President and CEO Hong Sang-pyo (second from right) as well as members from local punk band No Brain pose after the MU:CON keynote address on Friday at the GS Xi Gallery in Seoul. (KOCCA)|
American music industry legend Seymour Stein carefully walked across the stage with his cane in hand and shared his colorful past as one of the last remaining old-school “record men” left in the game on Friday, the second day of the annual MU:CON global music conference in Seoul.
“I’m here for the music,” said Stein, one of the keynote speakers at the forum. “If I didn’t believe there was great music here, I wouldn’t be here.”
Stein, a vice president of Warner Music Group and co-founder of Sire Records, went a step further in showing his confidence in the Korean music industry after he made the surprising announcement that he had decided to sign the local punk rockers No Brain. When asked what it was about the band that caught Stein’s eye, he replied, “You know, if you like something, why decipher it? ... I know when I like something... I don’t really scratch my head and ask why I like it.”
With more than five decades of experience in music, the 71-year-old has made a name for himself as one of the most influential record producers, having worked with iconic artists such as Madonna and the Ramones. He was one of the leading figures that put punk and new wave music on the map.
“I have always been a big believer that music knows no boundaries internationally ― at Sire, we’ve put out music from all over the world,” he said. “From what I’ve seen and from what I’ve heard from this country, I think that you’re destined to play a part, not only in the region, (but) in the world.”
On his second visit to Korea, Stein attended this year’s MU:CON event not only in search of hidden talent, but to speak about his firm belief in music knowing no bounds. The producer said throughout his keynote address that music in its simplest form supersedes the so-called barriers of culture, language and genre.
“It’s all about the song,” Stein said.
“K-pop is a category here in this country, I don’t go for categories anymore,” he explained. “When I was a kid, yes... but I think categories are for the birds, I’m sorry to tell you. There are only two kinds of music that matter: good and bad.”
Korean rock band No Brain formed in Hongdae in 1996 and have since become one of the nation’s most popular and successful rock groups, releasing six full studio albums to date. No Brain is scheduled to start recording its first album with Sire Records, possibly as soon as next January, at Stein’s studio in Burbank, California.
By Julie Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org)