Interview with No Reply

29/10/2010 2010-10-29 22:13:00 KoME Author: Gobbie Translator: Gobbie

Interview with No Reply

KoME catches up with Korea's beloved indie band No Reply

© Happy Robot & no reply
No Reply, a two men indie band has been serenading their listeners with sensibility and beautiful melodies that makes you truly realise that music is another form of communication. Their flame of fame has grown bigger and bigger as now they have been chosen as the face of Grand Mint Festival 2010. We were able to chat with them and hear a bit more about the duo's activities.

Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Jung Wookjai: Hello, we are a boy duo band, No Reply, who recently released a second album. On piano and vocals is Kwon Soonkwan with Jung Wookjai on guitar. We try various genres of music but our aim is to send sensibility.

How did you two meet each other and decide to form a band?

Jung Wookjai: We have been good friends since we were kids as we lived in the same town (Soonkwan's younger brother is friends with Wookjai). After that, we grew up sharing our passion for music until we entered Yoo Jaeha's 17th Music Competition in 2006 which kicked off our music career.
Kwon Soonkwan: I took note of Wookjai's talent in playing guitar when he was a kid. During high school, we formed a band to take part in events to continue sharing our passion for music. Although like Wookjai said, No Reply was formed via Yoo Jaeha's Music Competition.

No Reply is such an interesting name. How did you guys come to this?

Kwon Soonkwan: The concept of not having a reply appealed to us. Something that does not fall in to a category. We also liked The Beatles' song, No Reply.

On the subject of names, could you share with us your nicknames and the reason behind it?

Jung Wookjai: The nickname 'Gopdan' has been following me around since my teenage years, it used to be my pet's name. Although he has passed away now. The other name is 'TUNE' which is a one man band that I created. Through this solo project, I pursue rather strong rock music. In 2009, I released an EP album containing six songs, took part in stages, environment related books, an NGO interview and more through the website,
Kwon Soonkwan: I do not have one except the one Wookjai made to call me more respectfully, Soonkwan ong. (*Translator's note: Soon-kwan's older than Wookjai which makes him 'hyung' to Wookjai. 'Ong' is a Korean slang for 'hyung')

Which Korean and international artists inspire No Reply?

Jung Wookjai: In Korea I would have to say  Seotaeji, Panic, Lee Seung-hwan and many more indie artists. My role models from abroad would be Foo fighters and Jack Johnson. Foo fighters because they have the best way of expressing anger within through music and their 'rock' mindedness to criticise today's society. Jack Johnson's active support on the environment and his way of appealing positive thinking to the public has inspired and moved me a lot. Furthermore, his simple yet beautiful, heartfelt lyrics, melody are amazing. Last but not least, how can I forget Jimi Hendrix being a guitarist myself.
Kwon Soonkwan: I admire artists who sing their kind of music such as singer song writer, Yoo Hee-yeol, Lee Jeok, Kim Dong-ryul and Kim Kwang-min from Korea. Then from else where Pat Metheny, The Beatles, Radiohead, Coldplay, John Mayer, Keith Jarrett and many more.

How would you describe your music and is there a preference to how others receive it?

Kwon Soonkwan: The album may contain our emotion although we hope that for the listeners, our music contributes to something that can comfort them in life. A kind of music that helps in our daily life.

Was there anything in the first album that didn't please you and led you to change for the second one? What can you guys point to as the main difference between the two albums?

Jung Wookjai: In the first album, we have been eager to do everything ourselves. We used a lot of energy during then so in the second album, we decided to work with various artists. Through this, it has been possible to come closer to creating band sound which we lacked during the first and of course more interesting ideas. I believe this has been an opportunity to perfect our music more.

At the end of last year, your Road concerts were greatly successful as all tickets were sold out. In February you held two more concerts, again successful. How does it feel to have such a great response from your fans?

Jung Wookjai: As a musician, we want to thank you for all the support. Furthermore, every time a performance finishes, we feel the need to upgrade even more the next time but for now, we try to enjoy it all.
Kwon Soonkwan: Overwhelming amount of people came to see us which shocks me so much that often I go blank. Though that also reminds me to show even better performance.

No Reply has been chosen to promote this year's Grand Mint Festival, how does it feel?

Jung Wookjai: It is still surprising that our song has been chosen for the festival's theme song and to have Korea's famous actress, Han Hyo-joo to take part. As the festival's face, we would be bringing you more perfected performance in GMF 2010 with great optimism.
Kwon Soonkwan: It is our honor to be promoting GMF through this love theme song with Han Hyo-joo.

A few female vocalists joined you temporarily such as Taru and recently, actress Han Hyo-joo. How do you find working in a trio with female vocalists?

Jung Wookjai: We value female vocal features as there are things only they can express in music. Plus to work with artists of various genre allow us to create a greater synergy. On top of that, it is delightful to see that our collaboration work so far has received good response.
Kwon Soonkwan: We enjoy the concept of duo songs. It is also enjoyable and exciting to be taking part in something that only female vocals can express. As musicians, we like vocals that with soft tone like whispering so we have been working with artists with that kind of voice.

If you could choose anyone, who would you ask to join you next?

Jung Wookjai: We have not thought about that yet. Though if an opportunity is given, we would like to work with great vocalists. Just like jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny and vocalist, Anna Maria Jopek's album, through great synergy, we wish to create new kind of music.
Kwon Soonkwan: Corinne Bailey Rae or have I reached too high? Haha.

Jung Wookjai's main role is known as guitarist and programmer.
 In your solo project,
TUNE, you showed stunning vocals which brings me to ask have you ever considered swapping roles with each other?

Jung Wookjai: In No Reply's album, I believe Soonkwan's voice suits better. Plus our role has been decided since the early band days so we do not think about that. However, during performances I take on a number of vocal parts myself. My low and heavy vocal seems to go with TUNE better too.
Kwon Soonkwan: We often change our instruments during performances which is rather fun and interesting though a little rustic as well.

Are there any plans yet for a new release?

Jung Wookjai: There is not a specific plan for No Reply's new album just yet. On the other hand, TUNE's album is planned to be released around beginning of the new year at the earliest though it would depend on No Reply's schedule.
Kwon Soonkwan: At the moment, promoting the second album and performance is the most important aim so no plan yet.

Which Korean dish and place would you recommend to our readers and why?

Jung Wookjai: It has to be Korea's authentic spicy flavor. Personally I love collaboration of dduk-bok-kee and sundae. If you get a chance to visit Korea, I highly recommend trying out dduk-bok-kee, sundae and deep fried food sold by stall keepers. If you want more traditional dish rather than hot spice, there are royal cuisine dish, galbee stew and sam-gye-tang. Korea offers beautiful natural environment. The stunning west sea with small islands nearby, The east has a long queue of mountains that creates beautiful lines. Recently I visited Suncheon bay in Suncheon, Jeollanam-do which proudly represents one of the world's top five swamps. Seeing migratory birds visiting every year, the horizon of open field and the sky along with raining stars at night would welcome you all.
Kwon Soonkwan: Aside from Seoul, places like Sokcho and Kang-reung offers peaceful seaside. I suggest you try local food or si-gol bapsang (a set table of countryside food) which has more than twenty kinds of side dishes.

The Korean music scene is currently dominated by K-pop and idols with a few indie artists gaining more recognition. This brings me to ask where do you think the Korean music scene is heading?

Jung Wookjai: Even few years back, Korea's music scene was based around idols from entertainments. Though musician's music are slowly achieving its goal lately. Of course Korea's entertainment groups have top notch quality valuable in all markets but when it comes to having various cultures, there is lack of it in comparison to Japan, Europe and America. As an individual of today, artists like us recognise this and try to improve this within the society.
Kwon Soonkwan: That is true but there has been increase in number of musicians and fans  trying out different kinds of music. Thereby I believe there will be more various and interesting music.

KoME is a K-pop magazine for International fans; were you aware that you had fans outside Korea and how does it feel?

Jung Wookjai: We often receive messages from International fans. I feel great happiness to find out our music is also heard and supported by people from whole different culture. If possible, I would like to pay a visit for performances abroad.
Kwon Soonkwan: There are not many but for those who like our music, thank you so much. Since we all speak different languages, understanding the lyrics's message would be hard but liking us just for our music is amusing which shows the almighty power of music.

Some International fans have difficulty accessing Korean indie music, can you share with us a way to make this easier?

Jung Wookjai: Since we are only musicians, our knowledge around music release system is not strong. Many of the third World musicians use popular social networks in order to promote themselves abroad. We also feel the need to take part in this to have listeners from varying cultures. Furthermore, I feel a lot of Korean albums or agencies have not reached the International market yet which thereby effect artists like us so I agree this problem should be solved soon. Although the quality of music you access via YouTube or other illegal download sites or websites is not top notch.
Kwon Soonkwan: I hope for more variety in main stream but most importantly, we should visit more places to share our music.

This is a rather cheeky favor but would you consider tweeting in English sometimes for the International fans?

Jung Wookjai: Soon I will be using I phone 4 so please look forward to that!
Kwon Soonkwan: My English is rather short but I will try to reply in English.

The new year is close, what is your main goal as a band and as individuals for 2011?

Jung Wookjai: I feel that No Reply is receiving a lot of love from the two
albums. We will try harder to live up to that. On a personal note, TUNE is going to release a type of rock music that is rare in Korea today, powerful, simple yet stylish. I hope this could be actively released internationally too so to do this, I will get to work soon.
Kwon Soonkwan: The biggest goal is to successfully finish all kinds of activities and performances for the second album. Then to live well and happily with people around me. There is no greater goal than that.

Do you have any final messages for our readers?

Jung Wookjai: Korea offers more beautiful and amazing musicians besides us. We hope that you also pay attention to them like Korea's idol groups. Thank you very much.
Kwon Soonkwan: It has been my dream to share our music not only in Korea but across cultures. We hope for your continuous interest and by all means check out our music. Wherever you might be, we sincerely hope your dreams will come true as we will also be living today to the fullest. Be happy!

Special thanks to No Reply and Nina from Happy Robot.


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