(From left) Bassist Kim Jae-young, guitarist Kim Byung-kyu, drummer Lim Sung-wan and vocalist Choi Sumi, the members of Say Sue Me (Electric Muse)
When the Busan-based indie band Say Sue Me released their debut album “We’re Sobered Up” in 2014, they never expected the international attention they would get.
“Byung-kyu, our guitarist, was already playing in a band and I was a huge fan of that band. Since there were not a lot of indie band fans in Busan, we naturally got to know each other,” Choi Sumi, the vocalist of Say Sue Me, told The Korea Herald in an online interview Wednesday.
When Kim Byung-kyu was looking for a vocalist for his new band in 2012, he chose Choi. Drummer Lim Sung-wan and bassist Kim Jae-young make up the rest of the four-piece band Say Sue Me.
Global indie rock band
Although Say Sue Me is based in Busan, it is easy to find videos of their global performances on YouTube. The band came to local and global listeners’ attention with the 2018 album “Where we were Together.”
The band performed in London, Bristol and Leicester in the UK in 2017 and the iconic pop star Elton John, in early 2018, introduced the band on Apple Music’s radio program “Rocket Hour.” The members were the first Korean artists to perform on KEXP Live, a dream radio stage for indie bands in Seattle in December 2019, right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Choi attributed the band’s global listenership to the kind of music it plays.
“I think we are a band playing western music from the 1960s through the 1990s. This is because, we are greatly influenced by the music from these periods as well,” the vocalist said. “The nostalgic music and playing style might have appealed to the western music listeners,” Choi added, after jokingly suggesting that it was the band members’ looks that attracted foreign listeners.
The band’s songs have mostly been in English.
“We simply started out writing the songs in English out of no specific reason. Byung-kyu and I were listening to a lot of foreign rock bands and thought it natural to make our songs in English as well,” Choi said.
The vocalist had started out singing in a pub, where the bands mostly sang western music. She believed that she was capable of doing the same and loved how many foreign visitors reacted to her songs.
“Since the listeners felt good about it, we could not find a reason to change our style,” added the singer.
While many refer to Say Sue Me as a surf rock band, Kim, the guitarist, explained that their music style cannot be described as a single type of music.
“We definitely are a surf rock-inspired band, but I think this is highlighted with our home being Busan, Korea’s famous port city. Listening to our songs, people can definitely hear different style of rock music,” said the guitarist, who has been in charge of composing the band’s songs.
Say Sue Me members during an online interview with The Korea Herald on Aug. 11.
“I think I may look like a dictator, but it’s not true. I always ask the members for suggestions and check their opinion when composing a new song. In Say Sue Me’s upcoming album, we also chose a different method of making the songs as well,” the guitarist explained.
Fresh start after a break
With its digital single “So Tender,” which came out Aug. 7 in the soundtrack of the Korean TV drama series “Nevertheless,” the band is looking forward to starting on a new journey.
“It will be a lie to say everything is OK. Our band is heavily hit by the COVID-19 just like many other musicians, with most of our concerts and tours canceled. But we decided to face the situation with a positive view,” Choi said.
The band is taking this time to recharge and get ready to play again.
Meanwhile, the Busan-born-and-raised members kicked off the virtual tour “The Time in Between” via the online music community Bandcamp on Friday, playing in a local pub called OL’55. The band will have two more online performances at the music venue and pub Ovantgarde and Basement in Busan at 8 p.m. on Sept. 3 and Sept. 24, respectively
Say Sue Me’s virtual tour “The Time in Between” poster (Electric Muse)
Say Sue Me is working on its third album, aiming for an early 2022 release.
“We hope that everyone around the globe is staying safe from the COVID-19 and enjoying our music in online. I am currently recording a song for the new album, so I hope our fans continue to show their interest and support our band,” said Choi.
By Lee Si-jin (email@example.com