Sickboy Is Far From Being Listed in Critical ConditionIn the underground music industry, surviving two years is a mark of stability. Several years since the kick off of Korea's techno scene, many party organizers have packed it in. One survivor is Sickboy Productions.
Sickboy Productions' two year anniversary was March 4, and the company is celebrating by doing what it does best: throwing a techno party.
Organizers have printed 500 tickets, booked two international DJs and after some searching, found a club for Saturday night. The original venue in Apgujeong-dong was canceled, but the new location in Itaewon, club Hollywood, is an ideal spot; the party will also mark the reopening of the renovated Basement, located on the floor below Hollywood.
These organized parties are an escape from reality, says one of the founders of Sickboy Productions, Robb, who asked that his last name be withheld. "It's about the music; it's about meeting people."
The type of music usually played at Korean techno parties, whose exact origins are heatedly debated but are agreed to come either from somewhere in Britain or Detroit/Chicago, includes house, trance, techno and jungle. The music and atmosphere draws university students, young professionals and Koreans who have lived overseas. Sickboy Productions' biggest supporters are young American soldiers and English teachers.
"Reality" for many who attend Sickboy Productions parties is a long day of study or work and for expatriates, there is the added pressure of dealing with a foreign language and culture. Techno parties are a reminder of youth and pop culture from their homeland, and for some, of the rave scene. The rampant drug use that marks overseas raves is noticeably absent in the Korean club scene.
Sickboy Productions itself is rooted in nostalgia. Several years ago, current Sickboy Productions members started wondering if the overseas party scene they were missing would be viable in Seoul.
They bounced the idea around, contacted possible sponsors, club managers and international DJs, and decided to test the Korean market. The newly minted Sickboy members stood on sidewalks, handing out flyers to promote their first party on March 6, 1999, with DJ Troy Wolfe from Canada. A mix of Koreans and expatriates, 800 in all, attended.
"A lot of people came out of curiosity," Robb said, adding that the music style was new to Korea. "There was no scene."
Sickboy Productions' initial success led to more parties, and visits by "superstar" DJs such as Paul Van Dyk.
Meanwhile, other party organizers materialized, such as Innertech, 02 Productions, Pluralized and the newly launched Reverb, which held its first party earlier this month.
Heightening competition and an unstable economy has made the underground music scene tenuous. Partying is apparently an index of the economy. Whenever the economy is doing well, the party scene in Korea picks up.
But after two years, Sickboy Productions － four DJs, a consultant, a graphic designer and four other main members － have built a solid reputation and a loyal following.
Whether the music catches on and goes mainstream in Korea is questionable. The excitement has recently slowed down. "If you asked me four months ago, I would have said that It's going to take off, move fast and catch up with the rest of the world. Now, well, it's not going to disappear," Robb said.
The upcoming party will feature DJs Lee Burridge and Simon Blackjack. Simon Blackjack, a British expatriate who now resides in Hong Kong, mixes trance and house music. Lee Burridge, also a British expatriate, has a progressive style that includes deep house rhythms. Sickboy resident DJs Andy Newton, Dave Benz, Sal and Fujiwara will spin until 11 p.m., when DJ Simon Blackjack takes over. DJ Lee Burridge's set will follow at midnight. For ticket information, visit the Web site at www.sickboypro.com, or call 016-278-6972.
by Joe Yong-hee