Fall is here, and if you’re an indie music fan in Korea that means you’re definitely excited about one thing – Zandari Festa! Now in its sixth year, Korea’s largest music showcase festival has developed a great reputation both at home and abroad as a fantastic opportunity to check out some of the country’s top indie bands along with an amazing array of international talent. This year’s fest runs from September 29 – October 1 in Seoul’s famed Hongdae district and will feature 140 bands playing for excited audiences filled with music fans, industry professionals and journalists in 10 different clubs.
We spoke with four Korean bands from the lineup – Wings of the Isang, A’z Bus, Reddot, and GoGo Star – to get their thoughts on this year’s Zandari Festa.
Why are you excited to be playing at Zandari Festa?
Jung Min Moon, Wings of the Isang: It is good to be able to perform with various artists from all around the world, not just in one space but all over Hongdae. We’re also looking forward to meeting musicians from Korea and abroad at the festival’s official after party. Another great thing is all the free beer for musicians and lots of Zandari Festa swag too!
Woo Ju, A’z Bus: There are a lot more overseas acts playing this year, which is great. I hope this will allow us to find lot of new music and to see a lot more people at the festival too.
SunNine, Reddot: It’s the biggest and most beloved festival that truly represents the Korean indie scene. It’s also a great opportunity for Korean musicians to play for new audiences and meet delegates and bands from overseas. We toured in Europe last year because of the connections we made at Zandari Festa.
Taesun Lee, GoGo Star: We’re excited that it could be a chance to create a new and interesting project and to collaborate with many professional musicians from around the world.
What do you have planned for your Zandari Festa showcase?
Jung Min Moon, Wings of the Isang: It’s been a year since we released our album, and we’re now working on a single. We are working on two songs and are planning on performing these at Zandari Festa. The titles are ‘No Longer Human’ and ‘Incense’.
Woo Ju, A’z Bus: If you don’t come to see us play, we plan to make you regret it!
SunNine, Reddot: We’re planning a special, longer set so that we can give our fans a fantastic performance.
Taesun Lee, GoGo Star: We’re going to play our best songs and put on a great concert that shows everyone what GoGo Star is all about.
What advice do you have for foreign bands that will be playing in Korea for the first time at Zandari Festa?
Jung Min Moon, Wings of the Isang: We don’t know if we are in a position to give advice to foreign bands, but I hope they will get to enjoy the atmosphere of Hongdae while they’re here. We are actually hoping to play abroad ourselves, and would like advice from them about it. If we get the chance to play abroad for the first time, we will just be enjoying the fact that we are there.
Woo Ju, A’z Bus: Korean audiences are really great. So play with a lot of passion and enjoy yourself. If you enjoy your performance, your crowd here will enjoy it even more.
Arum Kim, Reddot: Korean audiences are a lot of fun. Do your best to get them involved in the show, and they’ll be a crazy and very enthusiastic crowd to play for.
Aside from your own band, what other artists do you think people should try to see at Zandari Festa?
Jung Min Moon, Wings of the Isang: We recommend that you check out ABTB, Julia Dream, and Ironic Hue. They all play amazing music.
Woo Ju, A’z Bus: LudiSTELO!
J.J, Reddot: Galaxy Express. I think they’re the best Korean rock band ever. They’re actually playing at the same time as us. So we probably shouldn’t be recommending them, but they’re a brilliant band that people should definitely experience.
Taesun Lee, GoGo Star: Try to see as many of the Korean acts as you can. The level of Korean bands is so much higher than people expect and we know that many local groups would go over fantastic with audiences around the world if given the chance.
This year’s Zandari Festa boasts the festival’s most international lineup to date and will see nearly 60 acts from 25 countries traveling to Seoul to perform. We spoke with UK acts The Twistettes and Campfire Social along with Spain’s Belako and France’s Sax Machine about their upcoming appearances at Zandari Festa.
Why are you excited to travel to Korea to perform at Zandari Festa?
Jo D’arc, The Twistettes: We have never been to this part of the world, so we’re really excited to experience as much as we can about the country and culture. We want to experience the local music scene as well as check out the international acts at Zandari. We also want to try as much of the local food and drinks as we can and have heard good things about soju! It will be so much fun to have time to become immersed in the city and get a true feeling for the famous Seoul atmosphere.
Carrie Hyndman, Campfire Social: We’re just so excited to be a part of such an inspiring international festival! Until now we have only played shows in the UK so to have the opportunity to play for a completely new audience in a new country, that have such a huge passion for music, is just incredible.
Cristina Lizarraga, Belako: It will be our first gig in Korea, we can’t believe we have the chance to play that far from our home, and we are curious about the reactions we will see in the audience. A festival like Zandari Festa is always a good opportunity for little bands like us to play with local bands and get to know more people than we could on our own.
Guillaume Sené, Sax Machine: We are very excited to play at Zandari Festa 2017 because it will be our first time in South Korea!
Why should people come see you play at Zandari Festa?
Jo D’arc, The Twistettes: The bands I have seen from South Korea were exactly the type of music we love. It seems we share a love of fuzzy guitars and driving bass! They really blew us away with a beautiful raw energy and we hope we can deliver a similar reaction to the people of Seoul. This is our biggest ever gig, as far away from Scotland as you can get. We really hope everyone gives us a chance as we think we can give them a high energy show that they will never forget!
Carrie Hyndman, Campfire Social: We all love playing live music. We are great friends as well, and that comes across in our performance. We really do love what we do and hope that everyone in the audience can take a little bit of that away with them.
Cristina Lizarraga, Belako: We are very energetic and every show is different, we enjoy ourselves as if it was our first gig and we like to interact with the people watching us because we feel we are sharing a very special moment with them. Our live show is definitely a much more intense experience than listening to our recordings.
Guillaume Sené, Sax Machine: Sax Machine is three people; two French horn players playing saxophone and trombone and recording live loops with their instruments and effect pedals, and an American rapper. Our live shows are very improvised and each show is a unique experience that mixes jazz, funk and hip-hop.
What would you like to teach people at Zandari Festa about your local scene?
Jo D’arc, The Twistettes: In Scotland, the local music scene is blooming. There are so many talented bands and artist all working together to create a wonderful DIY scene. One aspect of this is the Yellow Movement and involves an eclectic mix of bands, artist, photographers, writers, poets, and gig-goers that support and promote each other while having lots of fun! There is a fantastic female music scene that has been gaining momentum in Scotland and beyond. We are lucky to have played gigs across the UK with super talented women on the bill. It’s fantastic to be part of something so organic and creative.
Carrie Hyndman, Campfire Social: Wales has always had a phenomenal music scene spanning across many genres and we can’t wait to show the people of Zandari Festa that in its true form. We want to show everyone just how passionate we are about the Welsh music scene.
Cristina Lizarraga, Belako: Basque music has been a huge influence in terms of punk rock for the rest of Spain and we have inherited those influences from the ‘80s just like other current Basque bands have. The political context and the post-industrial era were crucial not only in the sound and the lyrics, but especially in the attitude. Right now it’s a very interesting time for our local scene and a lot of great bands unfortunately don’t have the recognition they deserve in this complicated music world.
Guillaume Sené, Sax Machine: Our local scene in Rennes, France is a multicultural scene, a blend of electronic music, jazz, funk, rock and hip-hop. We come from all these influences.
Who do you want to see play at Zandari Festa?
Jo D’arc, The Twistettes: We have seen both Wasted Johnny’s and 57 before when they performed in Scotland so we’d love to see them again, they really were brilliant. We’re keen to check out as many bands as we possibly can –the lineup looks amazing!
Carrie Hyndman, Campfire Social: Say Sue Me are on our hot list for sure! We’re really looking forward to seeing them play in their home country. Also Eyre Llew, another UK band whom our friend Dom at Drowned in Sound works with. Last but not least, AF the Naysayer who we met through Focus Wales have been friends with ever since.
Cristina Lizarraga, Belako: We don’t know every artist in the lineup because it’s huge! But we definitely wouldn’t want to miss bands like Ego Function Error or Nametag and of course Javiera Mena!
Guillaume Sené, Sax Machine: I’m very curious about the local Korean scene, especially about all the K-electronic live shows.
When you get to Seoul, what’s the first thing you want to do?
Jo D’arc, The Twistettes: We have a long journey, and although we should probably just sleep, we will no doubt be out investigating the city as it seems like there is going to be so much to see and do. We will probably be too excited to sleep. This whole gig is a dream come true for us. We are very grateful to the organizers for inviting us and cannot wait to play some songs for everyone.
Carrie Hyndman, Campfire Social: We want to drink soju! Although we may save that until after our performance. Alongside our shows we really want to experience as much Korean culture as possible so hopefully we’ll enjoy a lot of local cuisine and be able do to some sightseeing.
Cristina Lizarraga, Belako: We love food so we want to try all the typical dishes in the places were the locals usually eat.
Guillaume Sené, Sax Machine: The first thing I want to do when I get to Seoul is to taste the local food, especially kimchi and modeumjeon.
For more information about Seoul’s Zandari Festa, check out the festival’s website here: http://www.zfesta.com/en/
Written by Jaiden Mackenize
Edited by Maggie Gogler
Videos © Courtesy of the aforementioned bands