For the past few years my favorite label has been Electric Muse. Since its inception the Seoul based imprint has brought forth some of the most delightful music Korea has to offer, growing stronger every year. As Electric Muse is celebrating its 10th anniversary, I reached out to founder Kim Mingyu with a few questions to reflect on all the time that has passed.
What has been most memorable from this decade with Electric Muse?
It is so hard to tell you just one thing. Over the past decade many things happened to set the direction for Electric Muse.
1) When we started the label most of our musicians were indie rock-based bands, but after singer-songwriter Kim Mokin‘s 1st album Song of Musician’s-self was released, folk singer-songwriters came to be half of our musicians.
2) In 2011, I went on the Seoulsonic North America tour with Vidulgi OoyoO. Seoulsonic was the first US tour for an Electric Muse artist and our participation at SXSW. Performances in American live venues were new experiences for the band and me. From the sound check to the attitude of the artists on stage, it was very impressive. And I got a lot of energy and ideas from SXSW. I was able to change perspective from being the frog in the well and let me think about our underground scene again.
3) The first meeting with Say Sue Me. I met Say Sue Me in Busan and we decided to join forces. I thought about the connection between Korean local and Seoul, and also the charm of Korean local. And the joy of meeting my favorite style of indie band was also great.
4) Electric Muse artworks’ development as we work together with design studio Studio Gomin, and so on.
Above all, the most important thing for our label is which musicians are going to be with us. Now, the most memorable moment is that we have met with our 13 musicians!
What are some things that you, in retrospect, would’ve done differently?
As you know, Electric Muse started with the release of my band Plastic People.
After starting the label I worked both as musician and owner of the label at the same time. Now I’m dedicated to working as the label owner. This is the biggest change for me. Luckily, I’m happy to be able to meet musicians, work on recording songs, release their albums and support their activities. Sometimes I want to perform or record my own music but there’s no complaint :)
How would you say that the Korean indie scene has changed from when Electric Muse was launched until now?
I feel that Korean indie scene is changing as much as the world’s music industry is changing. The Korean music scene has changed a lot over the past decade. First of all, there have been various festivals in Korea. Not only rock, but EDM, jazz and pop festivals are held every season. And ‘K-Pop’ was introduced worldwide. Korean indie was also introduced in the category of ‘K-Pop’. It’s a funny phenomenon.
Showcase festivals such as Zandari Festa and MUCON are creating opportunities for Korean indie to spread throughout the world. The band Jambinai is a representative example. From Electric Muse, Say Sue Me and Billy Carter also went on tour to England and Europe this year.
The biggest change is the new thing that occurred as the digital market became the center of the music industry. Especially, Korea is the first country to start streaming service in the world. Streaming is changing the profit structure for musicians/labels, and the way to release the album has also changed. It’s still early to make any definite conclusion, but streaming is changing the fan’s listening patterns and makes fans focus more on musicians and their live performance than ever before. The Korean indie scene has a mission to be able to create opportunities to meet more fans through live performances.
How will you celebrate Electric Muse’s 10th anniversary?
We have prepared three events to celebrate our 10th anniversary.
The first is an exhibition. From September 5th to 10th, we have an exhibition titled A Musician’s House at Post Territory Ujeongguk. On the first floor, 12 artists will exhibit their collaboration artwork posters around the 12 songs from the Electric Muse 10th Anniversary compilation and reproduced our musical space on the second floor.
The second is a concert with 11 of our musicians. It will be held on September 16th at Emu Artspace over 7 hours.
The final is a compilation. It is a compilation where 12 of our musicians participate with their new songs. Unfortunately, The March Kings couldn’t participate because of personal circumstances. The Electric Muse 10th Anniversary compilation will be released digitally and as a limited cassette tape.
When I interviewed Kim Mingyu about the 3rd Plastic People album he revealed plans for another EP and full-length album within the next couple of years. Eight years later fans are still waiting, but thanks to the focus on Electric Muse plenty of other musicians have gotten a great platform to showcase their music from its best side.
The cassette release of the Electric Muse 10th Anniversary compilation as well as its arrival on Bandcamp and other global streaming services is scheduled for this Tuesday, September 5th. On Korean streaming services, however, the compilation is already available with the Muse side getting released on August 23rd and the Electric side following suit on August 30th.