Dressed smart in a clean button-up, suspenders, gray shorts and a Noah and the Whale bag, lead singer of Wagwak Daehyun Kim met up with us last week to talk about his upcoming travels across Europe, Canada and the States. With Wagwak’s last gig in Korea coming up, it was great to get a chance to talk about his influences, his aspirations, and the reactions he gets to what ‘Wagwak’ really stands for.
What are you most looking forward to while travelling throughout Europe?
We’re hoping to get signed, travel around Europe and go to New York or somewhere in the States to just play at shows. We want to play as many as we can. We don’t play that many shows like we used to, right now. In October we played like nine shows. We want to do that again in Europe. When we finally get to perform at a festival, I’m going to cut off my Glastonbury Festival 2009 bracelet!
Why are you playing less shows?
We were mostly playing in Hongdae and the crowd was always the same so we just started to play less and less shows. Now, we are leaving.
What places will you be heading to? Any particular countries you’re excited about?
We’re going to start in Stockholm but it’ll be like a holiday; we’re just going to relax. Then London and then we’re going to Montreal, Canada. I played in Montreal in 2009 at Pop Montreal Festival, but back then it was just me without my drummer. It’ll also be easy to go down to the States in November and then maybe back to Europe. The city I am most excited for is London. I want to live there. The music scene is awesome.
You’ve been to Europe before to promote your music, so what do you think will be different this time?
This time I’ll be with my band. Also, my music is different from two or three years ago.
What made you decide to leave Korea?
I grew up with your (Western) music, not Korean music. Maybe listening to bands from the UK has influenced me? I always wanted to go Europe anyway, so it was good to start from here (Korea). But now it’s time to leave. This isn’t a last minute decision; we’ve been preparing for the last two years.
What music influences you the most?
I listen to so much music. Mostly indie folk like Mumford and Sons. I’ve been to many of their concerts and I’ve met one of the members. When I was at one of their shows, he (Marcus Mumford, the lead singer of Mumford and Sons) remembered me. He was like, “you’re Darren, right??” Darren’s my English name. I’ve also seen Laura Marling play many times. I want to ask her, like, “oh my God, can I buy you a beer??” I’m also friends with a band called Slow Club from Sheffield and they’ll be supporting Mumford and Sons this summer.
Will you be meeting up with them when you’re in Europe?
Yes, of course. I just sent them my new demos so they can help us book some shows.
Where is your first show?
We haven’t booked any shows yet. We’ve just finished our demos, which we are going to sell at the shows. I’ve been sending off demos in the last few days to book shows with. In Europe it’s Summer festival season so it’s difficult to book local shows right now. Maybe we’ll have to wait till Fall.
What do you hope to accomplish abroad?
Get signed to a label and play and support some bands. By supporting and touring with others we won’t have to try so hard to get our own shows. And it’ll be good to meet so many people.
When will you be back?
We won’t be back for at least a year. We’ll go there and we’ll try our music out. It’s possible that we might not feel like we’re that good, that our music isn’t working out. So we’ll tour around for a year, come back and try to work on our music.
How has your music changed over the years?
We are still folk. Before we formed Wagwak we were actually a four-piece band band, but two of the members left for reasons like work, etc. We are still folk, but our sound is getting heavy; heavier than before.
What will you miss the most about playing gigs in Korea?
Friends. Friends. We will miss friends.
What are key essentials from home you can’t leave without?
Just instruments. I don’t have anything that I feel like, “I have to keep this”.
In a previous article in UNSCENE magazine the meaning behind your name, Wagwak, was brought up. Wagwak stands for We-Are-Not-Gay-We-Are-Korean. How do you think this will be perceived in Europe?
Sometimes people get really offended. But we don’t mean it in a homophobic way. If they know the background, people laugh about it. If they just don’t know, then people are like, “oh, they are homophobic”. We were originally called 20th Century Boys, you know, because of our long hair and style. People would ask if my bandmate and I were together and we would say “no, we are not gay”. One day, we were talking to our friends about coming up with a new name because when you google 20th Century Boys so many different things come up, like the Japanese animation. Our friends said to make “we are not gay” our band name, but longer – “we are not gay, we are Korean.” So we just took the first letters of each word and made Wagwak.
I was on a music forum and someone wrote about us, saying we were a homophobic band. I was like, “What! Really??” But minutes later, I forgot about it. It’s okay because it’s not true and those people who said it listen to K-pop, shhhh!
Interview by Brittney Wilson and Rina Kim.
Images courtesy of Daehyun Kim and Brittney Wilson.