K-pop set for foreign festival foray

By KH디지털2

From indie to mainstream, musicians hope to showcase diversity of Korean music to global audience

  • Published : Mar 9, 2016 - 11:34
  • Updated : Mar 9, 2016 - 22:36

An eclectic group of Korean musicians will be showcasing their music at festivals around the world this year.

The state-run Korea Creative Content Agency is funding the performances of 12 groups for the K-pop Night Out stages at the music festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in the U.S., U.K. music festival The Great Escape and music trade show MIDEM in France.

K-pop quartet Mamamoo, which has a large global following and will be performing at the SXSW K-Pop Night Out stage on March 16, hopes to change foreign audiences’ impression of Korean girl groups.

“A lot of international fans love K-pop groups for their laser-cut dance moves,” member Solar said at the KOCCA press conference in Seoul on Tuesday. “But we want to show that we’re able to have fun and be free on stage. We want to communicate with the audience.” 

Artists participating in South by Southwest, a major music festival that will take place in Austin, Texas from March 11-20. Clockwise from top left: two members of three-member heavy metal band Victim Mentality; two members of three-member electronic rock band Love X Stereo; three members of five-member pop-band Bye Bye Badman; hip hop artist Zion. T; K-pop quartet Mamamoo; and musical artist Haihm (KOCCA)

The K-pop Night Out stages, launched in 2013, have in the past featured a rich lineup of Korea’s most idiosyncratic artists. The performances have been met with enthusiasm by foreign festivalgoers, according to KOCCA’s vice president Kim Young-cheol.

“(The stage) has become a must-see for foreign music industry insiders interested in Korean music and is also a gateway for Korean artists to expand overseas,” Kim said.

Electronic band Idiotape, who has performed at international festivals over the last two years, will be playing at MIDEM in France this June. Although the band has adopted a genre that originated in the West, Idiotape says there is a distinct flavor to its music that makes it stand out in the global scene.

“When we were in Europe last year, we asked the festival organizers what it was about our music that drew Western audiences,” said a member of Idiotape. “They said, ‘We can’t put our finger on it, but there’s something different about your music, even if it’s the same electronic genre.’”

Female trio The Barberettes, who explained that their renditions of American doo-wop tunes evoke foreign listeners’ nostalgia in an exotic fashion, shared a similar sentiment.

“Foreign fans are always interested to see three Asian girls making old-timey American music,” said a member of the group.

“But we hope we can be more than just a retro-themed girl group. We want to take music from different periods and deliver it in our own original way.”

For soulful hip-hop team Eluphant, though the meaning of their rap lyrics may be lost in translation on many foreign listeners, “there’s fun in delivering the distinct sounds of Korean words,” the duo said.

Artists set to perform at the K-pop stage at the SXSW include Mamamoo and Zion.T, a much in-demand alternative hip-hop producer whose track “Yanghwa Brdg” was a massive hit last year. The performance at the festival in Austin, Texas will take place at 7 p.m. on March 16. Pop band Bye Bye Badman, electronic rock band Love X Stereo, heavy metal band Victim Mentality and sound designer Haihm will also be participating.

Rhythm and blues artist Dean will be performing on March 15 on SXSW’s “Spotify House” stage, which will feature world-class acts such as Kendrick Lamar, Chvrches and Anderson Paak.

The Barberettes and rock band Danpyunsun and the Sailors will be participating at The Great Escape in Brighton, England from May 19-21.

Idiotape, Eluphant, rock band Guckkasten and psychedelic punk group Ego Function Error will be performing at MIDEM in Cannes, France from June 3-6.

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com)