We had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Annie Ko on the weekend about her love for music, her rock band Love X Stereo, and their upcoming performance at Rockdo, the free music festival happening at the Floating Stage on the Han River this Saturday (8th September).
My name is Annie and I do vocals and synthesizer for my band Love X Stereo. All of our members are into 90’s alternative music so we infuse this style with dance music to make something different.
Can you tell us about the history of the band?
We actually started as a skate punk rock band. Our band was called Skrew Attack and it started in 2001, although I wasn’t involved with it at the time. I joined in 2005 and we figured that we wanted to develop our style into something more interesting. Also, our band name was so old that everyone expected something from us that we didn’t want to be anymore. We wanted to make a change, get some attention, and bring new music to the table.
You mentioned that you’re influenced by 90’s music, but what artists specifically?
Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Blood Honey or Smashing Pumpkins. I saw Billy Corgan around two weeks ago actually, but there weren’t that many people at his gig. I think there were too many festivals going on at the time. It was nice, though.
Speaking of festivals, didn’t you play at Jisan this year? How was that?
It was weird! There was a hip hop band competition on at the same time as us from a show called Show Me the Money. It was 2am in the morning and we had to compete with those guys so we didn’t get a big crowd. It was still really good to have an opportunity to put ourselves out there and play somewhere other than in clubs. The Jisan guys did a really good job with our visuals, which we saw some cool photos of later on.
Are you looking forward to playing Rockdo, the free festival at the Floating Stage this weekend? The venue choice is awesome.
Personally, I think it’s really cool, I thought that the Floating Stage was Seoul city’s property, who never involve rock bands in shows they put on. It’s always jazz bands or busking bands, but never rock bands. I don’t know why. I think whoever runs the shows doesn’t like rock!
When foreigners like something new and original it’s really cool because we never get that from Koreans. They (the guys behind Rockdo) wanted to make a show in a very specific venue, right in front of the Han River, with a mix of Korean bands and foreign bands. So they did.
If you could create a dream festival line-up in Korea who would you choose to play alongside?
AC/DC! For Korean bands…the thing about Korean bands is that it’s very rare for us to be inspired by fellow Korean bands. I don’t know how it works in other countries, but in our opinion it’s really hard to see originality in bands here. We can see that it’s happening, that there are a few bands that are really great and very fresh, and we like to play with those bands.
What do you think of the Seoul underground scene?
I said that we never get inspired but slowly that is beginning to change. It might take a while for crowds to notice it, though, because indie music still doesn’t have enough publicity or popularity in Korea. The Korean music scene is a very limited, with a small pool of people who are not so friendly to one another. I think the main reason the scene doesn’t happen is that it’s too small. If it’s going to be a business then there needs to be a certain amount of people into the scene, but that’s really hard to get in Seoul.
There are 4 of you in the band but you’re the only female. What’s that like for you?
Well, it’s nice to have guys around. When most bands include a female she has a certain look that guys in the audience are drawn to, but I don’t think our band’s like that at all. I think everyone likes the guitarist. Whenever we have a show guys flock to him and tell him he’s 최고 (the best)! Girls immediately like our bassist because he’s tall. Anyway, I kinda like being the only female in the band.
Why did you want to become a singer?
I’ve sung my whole life. I can remember singing when I was three years old. I always thought I would sing when I grew up. In our generation, our parents didn’t like us wanting to be a singer or an entertainer. I had no chance to show my talent at school or at home. My teachers stopped me from doing music and my parents didn’t like me doing it either, so I had a lot of rejection and anger, which made me determined to do it professionally. I think if they had let me be I could just enjoy music like everybody else. It’s my favourite thing to do in the world. Not just singing, but doing music. It’s what I like to do.
Do you write Love X Stereo’s songs yourself?
We write songs together. Sometimes our guitarist brings a cool riff, he plays it and we add stuff to make a whole song. It takes a while to make a song that way but that’s how we like it.
I really like your catchy song ‘Free Ass‘ which includes the repeated lyrics, ‘I wanna have sex with Americans.’ Is there a story behind this line?
We just thought it was a cool hook and it’s really fun when you get to play that song in front of audiences because every person who can understand English does a double take and it keeps their attention on us, We like that.
Do you have a favourite Love X Stereo song?
We’re working on a song called Soul City, which is about Seoul. It’s a really long song: it’s about 7 minutes, which we’ve never done before. I think it’s going to come out in September. You can listen to it at our shows but it’s not recorded yet. It’s about our honest feelings towards Seoul; the good and the bad side. It’s sort of like a dedication.
Do you have anything else coming up soon?
We want to release an EP in September. It will be in stores around Seoul.
What do you hope for the future as a band?
Hopefully we can get a tour in Europe or somewhere else. That would be so cool. We want to make it happen and go places other than Korea. Our final destination is Glastonbury. We really want to play Glastonbury!
Love X Stereo are performing at Rockdo festival this weekend at the Floating Stage, near the Han River. The concert is free and runs from 12pm till 9pm.
Images courtesy of Love X Stereo.
Interview by Loren.