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Mini-Interview with Jiyeon Kim

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김지연 (Jiyeon Kim)
I think most music loving people have somebody they can rely on for recommendations. For me one such person is icq4ever, so when I found him sharing a new SoundCloud favorite on Twitter I had to check it out. His new favorite was Dear May from Jiyeon Kim and it didn’t take long before it was a new favorite with me as well. Over the last few weeks I’ve been listening more to the music and other recordings offered by Jiyeon Kim on SoundCloud and became curious to learn more:

Who are you?
My name is Jiyeon Kim. I’m based in Seoul. I make tracks, write songs and record environmental sounds.

Where did you find inspiration to start recording sounds and writing songs?
Actually my interest in recording sounds wasn’t related to making music at first. It was around 2009 when I became very much into environmental sounds, soundscape movement and developing a cultural form to convey this idea and practice. I was the editor of a web magazine dealing with sound art and electronic music at that time and as a year long project, I initiated the SeoulSoundMap project, which basically allowed people to upload recorded sounds on the web with locations. Alongside that work, I was making music on and off and continuously learning some programs and languages for computer music by myself, but I couldn’t think of it as my continuing goal at that time. It was more like a hobby in a way. After a while, I found that I have a desire to make music as a mutation of my musical and sonic influences. I took it seriously and started to make stuff with more time and effort.

When it comes to use of field recordings to write songs, it’s very much important as much as choosing a certain instrument which defines the overall atmosphere and tone of the music. Even though every time I use recording sounds, I tweak them pretty hard with sampling, but I try to keep the original aura that I captured. I believe that makes my music unique in a way whether it’s a song or track. It’s always interesting to mix concrete sounds with synthetic sounds to shape musical forms. It doesn’t matter whether it sounds experimental or takes genre format in the end.

Writing songs came to my production quite recently. I used to make some short tracks with my voices on it, but now I try to write a full song. What I’m making is basically electronic music but I’m always captivated with acoustic side of voice and try to explore more musical spectrum with my voice.

How would you like to describe the music you make?
First, I need to acknowledge that I’m pretty new to the journey of finding my musical direction so I don’t want a certain word or referencing genres to pinpoint my production. When I started to focus on music making, I was quite confident about the direction to got but now I see it constantly moves and changes. Also I find it happens quite often that some tracks that I make comes out of my intention or control. I’m quite enjoying that unexpected process though.

I write songs and sing by myself. I use piano as my main instrument in song writing but later in production I replace it with synthetic sounds and add some beats and rhythms on computer. Sometimes I mess around with some atmospheric field recordings that I made with singing on top of it and improvise melodies. I guess the more relaxed and emotional side of me flourishes when I write songs. I still find it hard to write lyrics though. I started to make Dear May when I read a post on my friend’s blog. It was like a short memo, but definitely has some sense in it.( yes, he’s also writing songs) So I adapted it as lyrics and made a song. After finishing it, I made him listen to it and asked for permission to use his writings. He liked the song and generously allowed me to do that!

In addition to that, actually more time and effort put into it at the moment, I make beat oriented electronic music. It’s more or less bedroom style, not like huge bombing at the floor. I’ve never tried out to test whether it works for the floor or not, but that’s a field that I’d like to definitely go further in. It was in a club environment where I experienced electronic dance music back in 2007 for the first time, and now I look back and realize that it gave me quite intense memories of music and how people react to it. A club as an environment has so much energy flowing around and at the same time it keeps reminding of the sad, empty and emotional side of life to emotionally broken people. I don’t go out to clubs anymore, but I locate my tracks in that context.

What are your plans for the future?
Until the end of this year, or possibly the mid of next year, I’ll keep my focus on making tracks, experimenting with styles and finding further directions to go. As I said earlier, I think I’m a mutation of my musical and sonic influences and hope to find my own style within it. I’d like to release an EP sometime in that process, but I’m not sure whether I do it DIY or try to find the right label. After that, I’d like to meet an audience through performances at concerts, clubs or wherever it could be.

As if the music hadn’t already been enough, those words convinced me further that Jiyeon Kim is one of the most interesting artists in Korea right now. And as much as I love what I’ve heard so far I’m really curious to hear what directions her music will take from here.

Listen to Dear May below but don’t forget to also have a listen to Jiyeon’s other songs and environmental recordings yourself on SoundCould – if you’re the least bit inclined towards dreamy, somewhat experimental sounds it’ll most definitely be worth your time!

  1. wow.. thanks for the article.

    i am now doing and endless shuffling thru JK’s untitled tune and static series.

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