The Korean music industry is forever growing in size and expanding into new genres. While K-pop and hip-hop still dominate the Korean music scene, K-indie is gaining international fame, with many Korean punk and rock stars now becoming as well-loved as mainstream performers. I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview PATiENTS when they performed in the UK during a mini tour in May, and got to know the band a little bit better whilst exploring a whole new world within the K-indie scene.
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Hi guys, could you please introduce yourselves?
Hi there, I’m Sumin Jo and I play bass and handle lead vocals in PATiENTS. Hyuckjang Kwon is the keyboardist and Jaehyuk Lee is our drummer. PATiENTS is based in Seoul, Korea and we play a style of music we like to call “hybrid punk”. In April, we released our second full-length album, called “18.” And last month we did a UK tour, playing concerts in London and at Liverpool Sound City.
This wasn’t your first time playing in the UK: is there anything that was particularly memorable for you from your previous visit?
Our 2014 UK tour went great. We got to play for some great crowds in London, Liverpool Sound City and at WTFest in Southampton, we met some really cool bands, and made some new friends. Things went even better during our shows this past May. It was great to catch up with some of the friends we met in 2014, and some people who saw us play in 2014 came back again to see us this year. We’re so grateful for their support. One really cool thing about our second UK tour was that we actually sold out of the CDs we brought. We filled a suitcase full of copies of 18, but we sold them all during our first two concerts. I thought I had packed more than enough albums, but we didn’t have any for our final gig in the UK! Thanks to everyone who bought our new album. You guys made my luggage much easier to carry on the way back to Korea! Next time we come, we’ll definitely need to pack a lot more albums.
Korean Indie music is becoming a hot topic, not just in the UK, but throughout the whole of Europe. Do you feel the market growth as performers in the middle of the bustle? What impact do you feel PATiENTS has on the way Korean indie music is portrayed in Europe?
We’ve definitely noticed an increase in the international attention Korean indie music is receiving, and we’re very happy about this! The market is still very small, but it’s cool that more and more bands are getting to share their music with a worldwide audience. As for PATiENTS, we’re trying hard to make a good impression on audiences with our music and our performances. Hopefully, if someone likes us, they’ll check out more Korean indie music too and discover the wealth of talent in our country’s indie scene. We’re learning lots every time we tour outside of Korea. We’re trying to share this information with other bands so that the whole indie scene can grow together.
My personal favourite song of yours is “Hybrid”. Which song is your ultimate favourite to perform?
I really love playing all of our songs, but if I have to choose favourites, I’ll say “Sipalsegi” and “Let’s Drive, Let’s Go!” I think the hardest song to perform is “High Level Darling”. When we wrote the song, we wanted to make it great so we made it kind of difficult. But thanks to lots of practice we’ve gotten used to it and we think we’re performing it well.
Unfortunately, other kinds of music besides K-pop, K-ballads and K-hiphop are not promoted a lot (if at all) within the Western Korean music scene. So when people hear your Korean punk music, what are the initial reactions? What do you feel could be done to change people’s preconceptions about Korean music?
We toured in Korea, the UK, and Taiwan and the reactions to our music have all been very positive. I’m not sure what can be done to change people’s preconceptions of Korean music. I guess Korean bands doing more tours and getting more media attention would help. It would be great to have more people know about PATiENTS’ music, but that’s not our goal. We just want to share good music and a positive attitude with anyone around the world who wants to listen. Even if the number of people is small, that’s okay. The most important thing is being able to do what we want, having fun, and living happily.
You’re pretty unique to the scene. Who are you inspired by when creating your music? And if you could collaborate with anyone at all, who would you chose?
Yes, our keyboard, bass, and drums set-up is definitely different in Korea’s indie scene. And each of us has different taste in music, which adds even more variety and colour to PATiENTS’ sound. If we could collaborate with anyone, I’d like for it to be Beethoven. It’s obviously never going to happen, but that’s still my dream pairing for us.
What can your fans in the UK expect to see from you in the future? Do you have any special plans for the rest of the year?
They can expect us to keep getting better and better. Our ultimate goal is just to be a band that has lots of awesome songs and puts on awesome live shows. Our plan is to keep working hard to make this happen. But this is actually a really good question! We’ve never thought much about fans’ expectations, but maybe we should. We’ve always just wanted to bring lots of fun to stages to share with them. If fans want PATiENTS to try to do other things in addition to that, please let us know! We love talking to people and are open to suggestions.
If you could say anything to your fans what would it be? Do you have a message for the readers of MCM Buzz?
Thanks so much for reading about PATiENTS. We’ve had a blast playing in the UK in 2014 and 2015 and want to try to come back again next year. We hope to see you in Korea, the UK, or somewhere else in the world soon!
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If you get the chance to check these guys out live, I definitely recommend it! They know how to make a crowd move, and they rock it out pretty hard! As you can see from the interview, this band is a little different in terms of why they do what they do: it’s not always about the fame and the money, or the lavish lifestyle and the travelling. For PATiENTS, it’s all about conveying a sound, a song, or a movement to people around the world and introducing them to unexplored areas of the music industry. Yes, we all love our K-pop, but when you find bands like PATiENTS who are a whole new ball game both musically and personality-wise, it leads you to wonder what else might be out there.
PATiENTS’ latest album 18 is available to download from iTunes for $9.99 and is also on Bandcamp, priced at $5. Be sure to show your support to the band by following their Facebook page, or check out Sumin Jo on Twitter. A big thank you to Shawn Despres for his help.
Check out the video below of the band playing “Sipalsegi” and “Spanking Jenny” live at the Liverpool Sound City event: