Seoul’s Zandari Festa is gaining recognition as one of East Asia’s coolest music festivals. It started in 2012 and is South Korea’s largest music showcase event. Now five years old, 2016’s outing will feature more than 160 Korean and international acts playing in a dozen live clubs across Seoul’s famed Hongdae entertainment district from September 30 – October 3. In addition to all the bands that will play, music professionals from around the world will also be at Zandari Festa to check out all the showcases and share their knowledge at conferences the festival is organizing.
To gain more insight into the festival, we asked the Korean bands We Hate JH, Monoban, and Phonebooth some questions about Zandari Festa. Here’s what they had to say.
What are some of the things you like the most about Zandari Festa?
Hate Park (We Hate JH): One big advantage of Zandari Festa is that you get to meet a lot more people and perform for a different crowd than you usually would at club gigs.
George Durham (Monoban): Zandari is getting bigger and better each year, which is awesome! I love that bands get a long set to play – around 50 minutes I think – and the stages are at all the best venues in Hongdae.
Laser (Phonebooth): The tickets for the festival are really affordable and there are so many great bands each year. Lots of music festivals in Korea are held outside of Seoul, but with Zandari Festa you can enjoy this awesome festival right in the city.
What do you have planned for your Zandari Festa showcase?
Hate Park (We Hate JH): We’ve got a new EP coming out on October 18 and will be playing a track from it at Zandari Festa. We hope everyone likes what they hear.
George Durham (Monoban): We have been writing and recording during this summer’s heat wave, so now that it’s cooled down Zandari will be our first show in over a month. We’ve got a lot of energy built up and can’t wait to play at Steel Face Rooftop during the fest.
Laser (Phonebooth): We’re playing at Club FF during Zandari. We’ve been playing at the venue for more than 10 years now. We’ve grown up on that stage and it feels sort of like our home now. Being somewhere we’re very comfortable, I think we’re going to sound great and are going to satisfy a lot of people with our music at the festival.
What advice do you have for music fans attending Zandari Festa for the first time this year?
Hate Park (We Hate JH): My advice to first timers at Zandari Festa is to fill up your timetable as tight as possible, and run around to all the different clubs to check out as much as you can … for one day at least!
Laser (Phonebooth): It doesn’t matter how many bands you see at Zandari. I think it’s more important to see bands’ whole performances. I think this will help you to enjoy Zandari more deeply.
Aside from your own band, what other acts would you recommend that people check out at Zandari Festa?
Hate Park (We Hate JH): …Whatever That Means, they play great pop-punk and have been protecting the Hongdae scene ever since they formed. And also You Are Amanda. Their music goes well with the refreshing autumn weather.
George Durham (Monoban): I would say go see Kim Sawol, but unfortunately she’s playing at the same time as us. So don’t see Kim Sawol! Check out the visiting bands from England too. They’re coming a long way and if they have a good experience it will only mean more and better visiting bands next year. I recently also saw Ego Function Error and they were great.
Laser (Phonebooth): Dead Buttons and The Veggers
Along with spotlighting the talents of many of South Korea’s best indie acts, Zandari Festa will also see musicians from 18 different countries travel to Seoul to perform. We connected with a pair of UK groups of very different sizes – the 16-member Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5 and the duo Atlas Wynd – and the France’s Eat Roses to get their thoughts on Zandari Festa too.
Why are looking forward to traveling to Korea to play at Zandari Festa?
Colonel John Thomas McMustard (Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5): We can’t wait to come over and get involved with Zandari. We’ve heard great things from our friends at Liverpool Sound City and Korea looks like a very happening, vibrant, creative place right now. We’re looking forward to immersing ourselves in the culture and interacting and collaborating with the other artists and hopefully spreading the yellow movement and our message to a forward thinking, receptive crowd.
Célia Huet (Eat Roses): When we tour in France or in Europe, we really enjoy meeting new people, discovering other bands, and talking about music with the audience after the shows. Doing all this in a country which is located at the other side of the planet is very exciting for us. For me, playing in Korea is a dream I have had for a very long time. I was born in Daegu, then was adopted by a French family. Having the opportunity to share my music with Korean people is really important for me, a kind of accomplishment.
Peter Chapman (Atlas Wynd): We’ve never played outside of England before so getting to travel across the world to play is really special to us. Also we’ve never travelled to Asia before so it’s going to be a really exciting time for both of us!
Why should people come see you play at Zandari Festa?
Colonel John Thomas McMustard (Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5): We are a massive joyful yellow blob of happiness and enthusiasm! We will entertain and get people dancing and singing, with a guarantee that everyone will leave with a smile on their face and the barrier between band and audience will be taken away. The audience becomes the 6th Dijon in much the same way a football crowd becomes the 12th man.
Célia Huet (Eat Roses): Because our music is really sincere, it comes directly from the heart!
Harry Sotnick (Atlas Wynd): People don’t have to come see us if they don’t want to, but we don’t know when we’re going to be playing in Korea again so I guess that’s a good reason.
What would you like to teach everyone at Zandari Festa about your local music scene?
Colonel John Thomas McMustard (Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5): The Scottish music scene has never been better! Our own collective of bands and friends, known as the yellow movement, spread love and positivity with a social conscience and a sharp sense of humour wherever we go. The underground scene are selling out venues that well established acts would struggle to fill because people feel connected to something dynamic and important. All the bands bring something different to the table and bands from other parts of Britain are asking to join the yellow movement. We are an inclusive DIY collective who value the importance of music as a force for positive change. Check out Springbreak, Jamie & Shoony, the Girobabies , Crash Club , Henge , Have Mercy Las Vegas and The Twistettes if you want to experience the vibrancy and variety of what is going on.
Célia Huet (Eat Roses): Rennes, the French city we come from, is full of musicians. But with Eat Roses, we don’t feel like we are part of a music scene. I think we could be the exact same band in another city or in another country.
Peter Chapman (Atlas Wynd): The music scene in Brighton has a really cool sound, it’s grunge mixed with psych which is a really cool environment to be a band in. There’s quite a lot of experimentation so there’s no limit to what you can do as a band. There’s no rules really.
What other bands are you looking forward to seeing at Zandari Festa?
Colonel John Thomas McMustard (Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5): Sugarmen from Liverpool, Tirikilatops from Korea look like great fun, Uhnellys from Japan and Kill3r-K from South Africa are also on the radar. I’m really looking forward to seeing loads of bands and discovering new acts from Korea and the rest of the world.
Célia Huet (Eat Roses): When we are on tour, we often don’t listen to the bands we are playing with before their show. This make the discovering more intense! As a lot of great bands are going to play, it will be difficult to choose. Maybe we’ll just follow our instinct!
Harry Sotnick (Atlas Wynd): We’re really excited to see Coquin Migale. We both started in the same music scene up in the North East of England and have quite a lot of mutual pals, we haven’t seen them play in a couple of years! We’re intrigued to see what seeing a Korean band is like live. We’ve heard the crowd atmosphere is mad.
Zandari Festa 2016 will take place from September 30 – October 3 in Seoul, South Korea. Learn more about the festival at Zandari Festa’s official website (http://zfesta.com/en/) and its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/zandarifesta/).
Written by Owen Parker
Edited by Maggie Gogler