When the complete lineup for Lotus Carnival earlier this spring was announced, I spotted several names unknown to me. One of them was 잠비나이 (JAMBINAI), a recent signee of Estella Records, and after what I could make out of their bio at SSamnet I was really curious to hear them. A month later Estella’s Kyono kindly bestowed a couple of live mp3s upon me and I found them well worth the wait – the next few days I would put them on repeat before going to bed, in spite of work the next day listening until my laptop ran out of batteries at 4AM or so. I never did make it to Lotus Carnival to check their live performance out for myself, but even so I got the opportunity to ask them a few questions over email with translations from Kyono:
Who are the members of Jambinai?
EERU : I am EERU (이일우) and play piri, guitars and more.
Bomi : I am Bomi Kim (김보미) and play haegeum and more.
EunYong : I am EunYong Shim (심은용) and play geomungo. I am also a music director at a drama company called 달과 아이 (Moon And Child). I have been trying to find our own music by experiencing collaborations in many diverse genres : modern dancers, choregraphers and others.
What kind of backgrounds do you have in traditional music?
EERU : I have been playing traditional Korean music since I entered Junior high school. Now I’ve got a few semesters left before graduating from graduate school.
Bomi : I am attending graduate school too, and I began playing traditional Korean music in Junior high school just like EERU did.
EunYong : All three of us attended the same special Junior high school for traditional Korean music and we’ve been playing traditional music thus far.
We’d like to speak a contemporary JAMBINAI language while mixing the emotions found in traditional Korean music stemming from its pure and unique instrument sounds.
How would you describe the sound that you have created?
EERU : This can’t be traditional music, but for this music we have to use traditional musical instruments.
Bomi : We are trying to get a fresh and natural sound from traditional musical instruments through our emotions. The reason why we are co-writing music for JAMBINAI is that each of us know the texture of each sound from our instruments and when it’s better not interfere with it.
EunYong : I think JAMBINAI’s music has the power to make a space – call it natural space or inner space or a space of reality – I hope listeners feel the same way we do.
What can we expect from you in the future?
EERU : I am not sure what things are going to pop up. Now we are doing music in the post-rock genre, but we might be playing grindcore later on.
Bomi : I don’t think JAMBINAI’s music fit within the boundaries of either traditional music or western music. It could mean that we are in the middle of creating a new kind of genre. We are going to perform some more musical experiments and personally I hope to later on be able to includes ome environmental message in the music.
EunYong : We will release our debut EP album in late July so you guys can sample what we have to offer. JAMBINAI has a solo performance scheduled for the 21st of August during the Seoul Fringe Festival. We’ll try to have many more shows after the album is out. Please do have great expectations on us, JAMBINAI ^^
Can’t wait to hear more from them!
The stunning “Miro” was my selection for the June edition of MAP, but I’m also very fond of the ambient, drone pop-ish “Hand To Hand”. When I first listened to “Hand To Hand” I did like it a lot, but couldn’t really understand why they’d be under Estella. While listening to “Miro”, the strength of it made it all obvious and I can only congratulate Estella on tying such an interesting and special band to its name.
When people without a knowledge of Korean music find out that that’s what I usually listen to, they will always ask me why – what makes it so special? My response is usually something lame about how it’s not all that different from music available in other parts of the world before I briefly explain why that’s all I listen to anyway. With 잠비나이 I can finally give an example of something that is uniquely Korean and so far everybody I’ve played their music to have given a positive response.