Musical duo looks past nationality, even age
TJ, otherwise known as Cho Tae-jun, 27, is a heavy-metal vocalist and guitarist from Busan; his partner Hatchi, whose original name is Kasuga Hirohumi, 52, is a Japanese guitarist who initially came to Korea to learn more about samulnori, a Korean traditional percussion genre. Their music seems to be as unaffected by their difference in nationality as it is by their difference in age.
They first met in the autumn of 2003. Hatchi, who had produced albums for the singers Kang San-e and Jeon In-kwon, said he wanted to work with TJ after hearing his “clear and frank” voice at a university festival. At that time, TJ was an apprentice sound man. Before their first album, “Haengbok” (Happiness), was released in May, they worked together to compose music and play in clubs. The album’s songs combined folk, bossa nova, Hawaiian, reggae and Okinawan traditional musical elements.
When asked about the meaning of “Jangsahaja” (“Let’s Start a Business”), a single whose animated music video became famous, Hatchi said, “Love can’t be sustained without economical foundation. That’s just reality. I still can't forget the moment when my wife said, ‘Do you think I’m next to you just because I love you?,’” he added, laughing.
Hatchi, though, is intent on becoming a real businessman. “There is a line in our lyrics that says, ‘I resent the lightness of my wallet,’ and we really do. A million people watched our music video, but we couldn’t sell 5,000 copies of our album.”
The song is about how trade is a dignified way of living. It’s a theme that’s found on the cover of the album, which depicts a market, crowded but fragrant with life. Hatchi, who lives in an inn next door to Moraenae Market in central Seoul, got the image for the album cover by simply looking out his window.
“I can feel the warm sentiment of the 1970s or ’80s in Moraenae Market,” he said. “This sentiment greatly influenced our music. After coming to Korea, I felt a warm sense of humanity, which is disappearing in Japanese urban life.”
The songs on the album focus on peoples’ simple but healthy lives, underscored by relaxed melodies.
“We congratulated ourselves for making a meaningful album, and felt a sense of satisfaction for creating our own palette rather than going with popular styles. Isn’t old-fashioned, analog music an intriguing thing in a busy society?” TJ said.
Hatchi, who jumped into the Korean music industry 10 years ago, said he had advice for the industry. “Although borrowing Western music can give something more variety, why is it necessary to write even the lyrics in English? It seems that Korean singers don’t know how beautiful Korean lyrics can be.”
by Jung Hyun-mok