DJ pair mix sounds with whimsyAs I dropped a 500 won coin on the floor of a coffee shop, DJ Yong (Lee Yong-ui), 22, picked it up with his right hand, then proceeded to perform a simple magic trick, handing the coin back to me with his other hand. He gave an unaffected, boyish grin and continued talking about his taste in music and the 360 Sounds crew he is a part of in the same casual yet enthusiastic manner.
Next to Yong was DJ Soulscape (Park Min-june), 27, a musician with three albums out on Master Plan Production, the largest hip-hop-based local production company, with one CD under the name of Espionne. The two DJs are founding members of 360 Sounds (along with DJ Jinmoo), a mixed-media group of DJs, graphic artists, photographers, painters and fashion designers. The group has held monthly DJ parties since late last year at Garden, a bar and club in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul.
The pair’s brand of optimistic drive is characteristically youthful, yet their taste is that of people decades before their time. “I would have loved to play music in the popular go-go and live music clubs in Seoul during the 1970s, such as OB’s Cabin or the Myeongdong YMCA,” said DJ Soulscape. “Besides being fond of popular ’70s musicians such as Black Butterfly, Shin Joong-hyun, B6 and Ham Jung-hwa, I grew up admiring the nameless live bands, such as the Oasis Disco Band during that era, that played medleys of hit songs in the go-go clubs. In a way, they played the role of DJs back then.”
The group celebrated their first anniversary with a large party on Nov. 25 at Garden, with around 400 to 500 guests in attendance. Listening to the eclectic mix of old-school hip-hop, jazz, Brazilian music, Korean pop from the 1970s and 1980s, house and lounge music, clearly demonstrates what DJ Soulscape meant. “We named ourselves 360 sounds, referring to the stereo sound of LPs,” said DJ Yong. DJ Soulscape added, “Another meaning, however, lies in the fact that we want to play all kinds of music, with our own unique twist.”
“I think that is what separates a music-lover from a DJ, in that we as DJs need to give that much more feedback to other people while adding our own flavor to the mix,” said DJ Yong.
DJ Soulscape balances being a DJ with other musical ventures, including being the music producer for the movie “The Aggressives,” and collaborating with Korean pop artist Yoon Jong-shin on his 10th album, “Behind the Smile.” “I sometimes think of this analogy. If songwriting and making albums are like painting, being a DJ is like taking photographs. When photography was first invented and recognized, it was only a technological advance that could not take its place as an art form alongside painting or sculpture. It’s the same with DJing with LPs, as they were first received as media technologies that allowed many people to listen to music without having to hear it played live. Like photography, though, I think DJing has become a whole other genre in itself,” said DJ Soulscape.
The pair seem unafraid to take things out of context, recreating and remixing to fit their artistic vision. On the day of our interview at their studio, I spotted a range of LPs, from Mariah Carey and Korean pop artist Lee Moon-sae to the Beastie Boys (DJ Yong’s favorite musicians) and Hawaiian instrumental music, which was used at the 360 Sounds parties, sometimes with heavy, thumping, hip-hop rhythms and sometimes with suave, lounge-style backgrounds.
The two were previously involved with the Afro King parties before they started the 360 DJ parties. “I first got into this world during my sophomore year in high school, when I attended the second Afro King party,” said DJ Yong.
DJ Soulscape said, “Unlike other party brands, which have huge sponsors and feature at big name hotels, I want the 360 parties to just be about music and people having a good time.”
“I would personally love to see a lot of small, whimsical parties with their own personalities in Korea, but at present, most parties, including DJ parties, have a major commercial base. Even in Hongdae, it’s difficult to find clubs that try anything eccentric and new,” he said.
by Cho Jae-eun