Mini-interview with Merry-Go-Round

Merry Go Round  (메리 고 라운드)
As you may have gathered from that Korean twee pop post, Merry-Go-Round used to be a favorite of mine. And as you may recall from that Especially When interview, on occasion this blog will also be used to shine a little light on great bands and artists that are no longer active. So while sending questions for yesterday’s Plastic People interview, I also included a set of question on Kim Mingyu’s old band that he answered just as kindly:

What is the history of Merry-Go-Round?
Merry-Go-Round is the folk rock band that Min Kyu Kim (guitar, vocal) and Eun Ho Doh (bass) started in 1999 and released the debut album Merry-Go-Round in 2000 with Sanbi (vocal, keyboard) and Seung Kwang Shin (drum). We had to go our separate ways unfortunately after the first album since the differences of musical tastes of each member.

How would you describe the music you made back then?
Honestly, I don’t think there is much difference between Merry-Go-Round and Plastic People in terms of the songs, since the structures of the songs that I like are mostly based on the early folk rock and rock n’ roll. But the approach to coat the songs with the band-sound is a lot different.

We would arrange the songs through jamming after I brought some ideas of the songs during Merry-Go-Round period. I usually took charge in the melodies but the main riffs of the guitar of keyboard would reflect the members’ opinions. The arrangements were also more focused on the musical performance rather than the vocal sound since the process took place as we jammed together.

Plastic People, on the other hand, complete the songs through recording various versions of the demo, rather than just jamming together. I believe there are pros and cons for each method.

When I look back, I’m just a bit upset about Merry-Go-Round’s albums. We weren’t flexible or experienced enough to contain all the good ideas in the album.

A large portion of the songs from Merry-Go-Round had a quite distinct sound that has yet to be rivaled by others. Did you have any particular influences when creating it?
The keyboard sounds distinctive to Merry-Go-Rounds was created as we prepared for the first album. In the early stages of the band, we all liked acoustic folk rock/chamber pop like Belle & Sebastian or Tindersticks and also indie rock like The Rentals or Quasi. Our favorite was also BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub, the ones founded on C-86. So before recording our album, numerous styles were all mingled together. I played both electric and acoustic guitar, and the keyboard used various timbres of synthesizer like Electric Piano, Rhoads Piano and Organ. But as we’ve decided on making an album, we started studying the styles of music focused more on the “roots” of the music so as not to produce just common modern rock. And Sung Moon Lee from Cavare Sound suggested making music centered on the unique keyboard sounds. Sanbi purchased the effector from Moog, and fell in love with the psychedelic sounds from the keyboard, somewhat reminiscent of The Doors. So we all agreed on the direction towards the acoustic band with special emphasis on distinguishing keyboard sounds.

What are the former Merry-Go-Round members up to nowadays?
Min Kyu Kim is performing as a member of Plastic People, and Eun Ho Doh has been playing as a bass session player for 3rd Line Butterfly, Golden Pops, and Ji Eun Oh. Sanbi and Seung Kwang Shin are not playing music anymore.

Lo-fi cavare sound
Downloads courtesy of Cavare:
랄랄라
주사위

I really encourage you to check out more oftheir music if you get the chance (last I checked the album was just 8900 won from Hyang, or you could get it from mrkwang), but make sure not to confuse them with any of the other Merry Go Rounds around – the one on Cavare‘s Christmas album is a female duo, whereas the one responsible for last year’s 후애 single is some kind of CCM outfit.