Back To Top

[Herald Interview] Samuel Seo, a musician who owns the moment and lives in the now

Encounter with a boom box unlocked musical passion inside of cross-genre vulture

Singer-songwriter Samuel Seo (Culture Think Management)
Singer-songwriter Samuel Seo (Culture Think Management)

Samuel Seo’s artistic identity could be a little understated. He dons black from head to toe, large portions of his body are shaded in pitch-black ink and the look is completed with several piercings. Yet in contrast to his simple look, the singer-songwriter draws upon a wide range of musical genres to produce songs worth the listen.

Scavenging for music

Six years ago, a budding rapper in his mid-20s introduced fresh tunes to listeners that were somewhat offbeat. But now his distinctive, rich music styles are a gem, and today the wunderkind is a virtuoso as a vocalist, lyricist, producer and composer.

This time, Seo took his love for music a step further by opening up about the narrative with his recent song “Vulture,” featuring American singer-songwriter DeAndre, released Oct. 6.

“DeAndre is a singer who rose to fame by featuring on American Idol, and my music became completed by adding his voice. He’s barely released an album, but he is really one of a kind. Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with him for my song,” the 30-year-old said.

The title of the track refers to the large carrion bird that eats the flesh of dead animals. But Seo said he felt he was on the same page as the animal while coming up with his recent music.

“I came up with the title after making the tune for ‘Vulture.’ I just wanted to blend the emotions I felt at the time and then came up with the title, and I could identify myself with it,” reminiscing about how he first floated the idea of likening the bird to his music.

Seo said many musicians are in his shoes, referring to them as “musicians in the blind spot.” He continued, saying he was angry at first with the music scene because lesser-known artists often encounter difficulties in making music not common in the mainstream.

“I had this fury inside me before, but now, I’m trying to enjoy this stage in life and do what I want to do, which pretty much sums up the emotions of my song. To put it simply, I felt as if I was on the same page as the vulture,” the artist said. 


Singer-songwriter Samuel Seo (Culture Think Management)
Singer-songwriter Samuel Seo (Culture Think Management)

Music is the answer

In his sixth year, Seo is enjoying the musical journey more than ever after muddling through trouble over the years.

“I’m not attentive to how people think about my piece, especially because music is out of my hands as soon as it’s released. Every song I write and its lyrics are unique and special in its way -- they are like the apple of my eye,” he said.

He added that this is why he doesn’t go on social media or online communities that often, especially after dropping a new song, to check fans’ or listeners’ reactions. The music maker echoed his stance that it’s natural to have different views about a song -- some could love it, some could not.

“But I have a creed that I want to see a more visible outcome regarding my music because I think music is finalized when it connects itself to people at the end.”

Asked about where he sees himself as a musician in the future, Seo said he dreams of becoming a member of American singer-songwriter D’Angelo’s production team in 30 years.

“That is the reason why I keep on pushing the envelope because I want to experience more things to make my dream a reality. If the pandemic eases, I would like to cross over borders and perform in a festival to learn the musical atmosphere of that particular country and have a little chat with local musicians about their music industry,” he said.

The singer-songwriter went on to say that hopefully, one day, he will also build a concert venue for singers like him who pursue music that is not so familiar to music lovers. He added that his plan is not far away and he will make his dream feasible within 10 years.

Also, although Seo labels himself as a lesser-known singer in the music scene, surprisingly, he describes himself as a lucky musician.

“As corny as it sounds, It’s hard to survive in an industry where nonmainstream tunes are unfamiliar to people’s ears. But my music has gained some attention. And as a person who makes music that is not widely heard, I want to set a good example for those in my position so that they can follow in my footsteps. And hopefully, I could help draw a vision for singers who are feeling lost.”
 
Singer-songwriter Samuel Seo (Culture Think Management)
Singer-songwriter Samuel Seo (Culture Think Management)

Samuel, last name Seo

Growing up, Seo had various musical and cultural landscapes tailored to him. He was born in Korea but spent most of his time in Japan, Canada and the US. And in high school, it was a boom box that led the singer to realize his ability as a musician.

“After spending my time overseas, I came to Korea for high school. And one day, I saw some students who were carrying the boom box saying ‘yo, yo, check it out’ and rapping to the song that came out from the player,” Seo said, recalling his high school memories.

The musician said he was in awe at first, but he soon became smitten with the boom box and explored Korea’s hip-hop scene. “I started going to concerts since then and made my mind up that I’m going to pursue my career as a musician,” he added.

Apart from how Korean hip-hop music influenced him as a child, the artist said growing up in different countries and places contributed to his wider musical taste as various costumes and lifestyles played a pivotal role in making his music and lyrics.

“There’s a clear difference when it comes to depth between tailoring the smell of different cultures to yourself by living in that place and learning through the media,” Seo said. “And one thing for sure is that being surrounded by diverse ways of life as a child gave me a better understanding of the world.”

Besides being a singer who performs on stage and makes music, the 30-year-old has set his heart on being a rut-buster, describing himself as a “person who seeks freedom from making music to daily life.”

“I want to act and think outside the box, and live life to the fullest and then bid farewell to the world because life is short, but time flies,” the musician said. “I’m in my early 30s and three decades went by real fast, and I can see the next 30 years coming, so I want to seize every moment.”

By Park Jun-hee (junheee@heraldcorp.com)
MOST POPULAR
LATEST NEWS
padcast
Korea Herald Youtube
subscribe