Mini-Interview with Swann

최수환 (Swann). Photo by by Sei Rhee
Picture taken by Sei Rhee

The first experimental rock band in Korea was Yellow Kitchen and the band soon became something of a pioneer in electronic music. The split album they did with Crying Nut, Our Nation, was the first Korean punk album. Almost a decade after I first came across the band I still find myself coming back to the 1998 album Mushroom, Echoway, Kleidose, playing Toves in particular over and over again. It’s been many years since I last heard something from the band, so I was more than a little excited upon learning that main songwriter Swann was about to release a brand new album. I reached out with an interview request and Swann kindly agreed to share a little something about himself and his music:

Who is Swann?
Swann is a sound artist and researcher. Music is a part of the universe of sound and I would love to explore the whole universe rather than to enjoy the small planet. So I regard myself not as a musician, but as a sound artist. As a researcher, I am currently interested in topics such as music technology, history and theory of the electronic & experimental music, sound archive and acoustic communication.

How does the music you make relate to the research you do?
For me, art is for art’s sake, it is valuable in itself. Therefore, the aesthetic value is the first and most important concern when I compose music or manipulate sound objects. But, in some cases, I get some inspiration or help from my research. For instance, several pieces in Dispersion Temporelle have been composed automatically by rule-based algorithms which I am studying on.

Why did you decide to release an album as Swann instead of reviving the old Yellow Kitchen name?
Basically, Yellow Kitchen is a band which was composed of several friends and it is no more exist. The attitude towards music and sound at the moment is quite different from those days, although The style of music in Dispersion Temporelle is similar to Yellow Kitchen.

What does Ornamental Accessory Music for the Revenge of the Velvet Gentleman sound like?
It could be beautiful, embarrassing, unusual, mysterious, sarcastic, confusing, schizophrenic, tranquil, ridiculous, rich, boring, eccentric, nostalgic, distracted, lunatic, sad, or aesthetic. I think, the way it sounds depends on the way you listen to.

최수환 (Swann) - Dispersion Temporelle
Although Swann’s Dispersion Temporelle made it on to my to-buy list the moment I spotted it, the urge to pick it up as soon as possible is even stronger now. The release has been pushed forward a few times, but it looks like the album will finally be out tomorrow, October 6.

Not included on the album, but if you didn’t hear it before here’s the Swann Professor Remix of Trampauline‘s Anthropology: