In the Seoul indie scene, there has been some exciting news! Juck Juck Grunzie, a Korean psychedelic noise-rock band will be performing at the world famous music festival, Glastonbury, this month. While they are in Europe, they will also be playing gigs in Berlin and London. I was very excited to talk to Juck Junk Grunzie about their music, the Seoul music scene and playing at Glastonbury. Thanks so much for the interview!
Juck Juck Grunzie made their debut as an all-girl post punk quartet in 2007 with a bang by playing a cover of Nirvana’s “Hairspray Queen” in their underwear. They quickly became known for their music but also unique costumes; they performed in anything from soccer uniforms to pajamas. They continued to be different when in 2011, they recorded their first EP, “Soundchecking” in one take at a live indie club in Seoul instead of at a recording studio. Since they started in 2007, they have played many festivals such as the Jisan Rock Festival, City Break Festival in Korea and Taiwan’s famous Spring Scream Festival. In 2013 with the release of their first full-length album marked Juck Juck Grunzie’s transformation from post punk to their current psychedelic noise rock. In 2014, this band was one of the main bands featured in the Van’s “Off the Wall” documentary series about the South Korean indie scene. This month, they will get to add playing in the famous music festival, Glastonbury to their resume.
1. Your music is described as “exploring the boundaries between dreams and nightmares”, where does the inspiration for your music come from?
Jeehye: We often get inspired by dreams when making songs. For example, coal briquettes were widely used in the ‘70s and ‘80s in Korea, and my mom once got gas poisoning from them. She said she blacked out and dreamed somebody was shouting “Psycho! Psycho!” and that’s how she regained consciousness and survived. I thought it was such an interesting story and made our song “Psycho” – which was the title track on our 2013 full-length – from that. Also, the song “Walking in a Dream” describes a nightmare where someone is being chased by many people. I think dreams are amazing because they exist between reality and the surreal and are not logical.
2. You have been a band since 2007, what changes have you seen in the Korean Indie scene during this time?
Jeehye: The Korean indie scene is linked closely with Seoul’s Hongdae neighborhood. Since the late 1990s, Korean indie musicians have played in Hongdae just making music and enjoying it with a kind of DIY/punk attitude. But Hongdae has emerged as a hot place and has become too commercial, like Gangnam. Many artists are moving to other places and trying to build different scenes.
I think many bands have become quite goal-oriented these days. On the one hand, there are now many opportunities for indie musicians in Korea like corporate sponsorship, overseas showcases, and big music festivals. There are also more musicians who have majored in music at school and their skill level is very high. But there seems to be a bigger divide growing between the mainstream and the fringe scenes in the Korean underground.
3. In the beginning, the band was all women. How were you treated in the music world because of this?
Jeehye: I think some people were curious about us since we were an all-female band, but I don’t think people reacted or treated us differently because we were all girls. We were treated just like any other indie band.
4. Playing at Glastonbury is a huge deal for a band, how are you feeling about playing at the festival?
Ahreum: We’re really excited! When we started Juck Juck Grunzie, we knew we wanted to play together for a long time but didn’t have any specific plans for the future. We just wanted to keep making music and have a good relationship with each other. I hoped things would go well with the band but didn’t know how things would turn out. And now we’re going to Glastonbury! We actually cried when we heard the news about going to the festival. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a really special moment for us.
5. This is your first time to tour in Europe as well. What are you excited about? What are you nervous about?
Ahreum: It’s going to be a great chance for us to connect with new audiences as well as other artists from all over the world. South Korea is a difficult country to tour from and it can be difficult to connect with other international bands. It’s just so far away from so many things and it can be difficult to make the logistics work. This is our first time playing in the UK and Europe. But hopefully it’s the first trip of many, and we feel lucky to be making our first step over there at such a renowned event. Many bands would love to be in this position so we are grateful for the opportunity.
6. What bands are you excited to see at Glastonbury?
Ahreum: This is the first time for all of us to attend Glastonbury. However, I’ve heard so much crazy stuff about the fest so we’re all definitely excited to check out the craziness for ourselves. As for bands, we’re excited to see Funkadelic, FKA twigs, Goat, and Alabama Shakes.
7. When new people are introduced to the Seoul indie music scene, what bands do you recommend them to see?
Jeehye: I’d recommend they check out Seoul act Table People. Table People are a unique rock band in that half of their members are Korean and half are American. They’re simple and sort of poppy and their lyrics are really funny, but since they look kind of nerdy on stage, there’s also sadness to their music.
Today, June 14, they are holding a fundraiser concert at Mudaeruk in Sangsu to help them cover the costs of their tour. Tickets are 15,000 won and the show runs from 2 pm – 9 pm.
There is a great line-up for this event:
2:00-2:30 Juck Juck Grunzie
2:40-3:20 Apollo 18
3:30-4:10 Danpyunsun and the Sailors
5:50-6:30 Ankle Attack
6:40-7:20 Vidulgi Ooyoo
8:20-9:00 Victim Mentality
If you are still interested in Juck Juck Grunzie, please head to their different sites!
Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juckjuckgrunzie
Two great Youtube videos:
And if you have friends in Europe, please let them know about their gigs.
Here’s the band’s European tour dates:
June 25 Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Pussy Parlure)
June 26 Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Gully Outernational)
June 30 London, UK @ Windmill Brixton
July 1 Berlin, Germany @ Kantine am Berghain
July 4 Berlin, Germany @ West Germany