The music business in South Korea is worth billions, with K-pop earning about $5 billion per year. K-Pop is widely appreciated in Europe and it is still, and probably will remain, a global phenomenon. The fact that K-Pop has reached people thousands of miles away from its homeland, and settled in people’s hearts in Europe and beyond, goes to show that it has an unmistakable influence. However, there is more to K-music that just K-pop. With various other genres pushing through into the domestic and foreign markets, the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) in conjunction with the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) has found the way to combine different types of music and organized MU:CON a.k.a Seoul International Music Fair to introduce, to show to the wider audience, the music we might have been missing out on.
GIFT – Photo © View of the Arts (Sanja Struna)
MU:CON has become a tool in promoting and discovering “the next wave of Asian indie, idol and icon music acts”, who might, one day, become a sensation in South Korea and beyond. Apart from short performances by the artists on the first day, each artist had just two songs to play and so they were under pressure to impress those who gathered on both the fan side and those gathered on the delegates’ side, there was also a matchmaking, where delegates and artists were able to mingle and learn more about each other and the artists’ work. MU:CON offered conferences during which it emphasized the power of international music while chatting to the industry insiders who shared their experience and knowledge on the current music trends and issues within the business itself. MU:CON Pitching Sessions, MU:CON Choice Interview and MU:CON Showcase also added to the busy schedule of the four-day festival.
SAM KIM – Photo © View of the Arts (Sanja Struna)
The first day of the MU:CON was filled with some impressive performances from many young artists. The Opening Show began with GIFT‘s performance, a band that combines soft rock with the sublime, pitch-perfect vocals of Lee Joo-hyuk. With Lee, drummer Jung Hwi-gyeom and bassist Kim Hyung-woo the group kicked off the show with a big bang. Followed by SURAN, a singer and songwriter, and the high level of those first performances set a high bar for the rest of the night. LABOUM, a girl group consisting of five ladies, disappointed with their lazy performance and lip-syncing while showing off some, not so synchronized, choreography. If there is one thing that irritates a person when it comes to K-pop it’s often the lack of strong vocals; and LABOUM struggled with their harmonies as well as high notes. PRSNT, HA YEA-SONG and PLUMA ameliorated one’s mood with the sound execution of their songs, but this was ruined again when WETTER got on stage. With a Nirvana wannabe image, an image that ought to never be copied, WETTER were slightly off-tune; one could get the impression that the group follows the likes of Beck or Pearl Jam, but in a negative sense of it. One was also praying for the rest of the night to go smoothly, luckily, it all changed with the superb performance by BASICK, a rapper who shined with his own style; he fired verses off with the speed of light at times and was able to consistently rap for a decent period of time – he owned the night!
W24 – Photo © View of the Arts (Sanja Struna)
The show swiftly changed its pace when W24, a five-member pop-rock boy group, appeared on stage. Jung Howon’s strong and faultless vocals brought silence into the outside venue for a few seconds; W24’s visible passion and love for music, including the lead singer’s striking vocal capacity and great live performance, showed that their future is as bright as a morning star. Taiwanese artist OZI and Singaporean AISYAH AZIZ rocked the audience’s socks off with their stunning singing as well. EYEDI, a retro R&B singer-songwriter, also delivered. But sadly, when JBJ95‘s walked on stage, one could notice the lack of that special sparkle; also their short, dry performance was in need of improvement. SAM KIM and DAYBREAK‘s impressive singing closed the first day of MU:CON, and created an exhilarating atmosphere that remained throughout the rest of the festival.
Written by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Roxy Simons
All Photos © View of the Arts (Sanja Struna)