The Korean indie band Asian Boys, Crying recently released their latest single ‘I’m a kid’. We’ve been super intrigued about their music, so we reached out to ask a couple of questions! Keep on reading to get to know the band and their music a bit better.
I’m a kid
What’s the theme of ‘I’m a kid’ and What does the song mean to you?
Looking back, I think it’s a song about depression and trying to find a sense of meaning in everything. I was in a pretty dark place personally when I wrote this one.
But I like the song in that the narrator in the song isn’t just dejected. He is actively trying to choose to look for meaning and love, despite all the meaninglessness he feels. He doesn’t blame the world, but has the courage to look inwards. I think it is generally much easier to simply say “I’m sad and depressed and I want to die” when you are very sad. I feel that transcending that depression and admitting that “you have love to give” – takes a lot more courage.
And while retaining such a perspective is a constant struggle for all of us (myself included) in real life. And I do find pride in that I had the power and courage to write that line – at least in song.
How did you come up with the idea?
Music wise, I really don’t think there was an intentional process of “coming up with an idea” at least for this song. As I say in the question below, the magic of this song is that it was so spontaneous. So for this song I don’t think there was a process where I actively tried to “come up with an idea”. The song basically wrote itself – and I just tried to preserve that moment of inspiration the best I could.
The idea for the music video, on the other hand, was a lot more intentional. Since the song was so personal, I didn’t want to make the video just about me. I wanted to connect the song to a broader human context. Because this feeling of being uncertain, struggling with meaning, and also wanting to find love, I think that’s a universal human thing. The intention of the video was to overlay people in different conditions and positions but by doing so to ultimately explore that weird common humanity that connects all of us.
Can you tell us a bit more about the significance of the audio take as mentioned in the album description, “first vocal take as it is- recorded in a college dorm in the outskirts of oxford with an audio interface and sm7b microphone- flaws and all. An audial photograph of that random moment— of the drinks, the depression, and hopefully the sincerity.”
It’s funny I guess. We tend to think of music and songwriting as a kind of conscious skill set. But I don’t really think it is. I think the best songs just come in a moment of inspiration. Your body and brain becomes a vessel for that specific moment or emotional state you are in. And if that moment or that emotion is meaningful – I firmly believe that the song will also be meaningful – regardless of how technically rough it is.
Of course translating that moment would be lots easier if you are voiced well in musical vocabulary – but just because you have technique doesn’t mean you always have something meaningful to say.
For ‘I’m a kid’, I was super drunk and trying to transcribe the chords to a Current Joys song. I ended up getting an idea for something different. I just got the basic chord progression down, the entire song is like only 2 chords so that wasn’t that hard and I just sang whatever melody and words came to mind.
If you look at the second verse, during the falsetto section, you can really tell I don’t really enunciate a lot of the words properly since I don’t know what the words are either. I’m just making them up at the moment.
I think it’s very clear in the lines during the second verse: “winter away, breaking at another sign – a sad sad reality. I was sworn that I was breaking out of a moment but I’m here a moment and I’m gone”. It’s basically broken English. The grammar is all off and the singing goes out of tune.
You can tell I didn’t have a clue what I was singing about, at least on a conscious level. At the same time, I think I can see and analyze what I was going through when I listen to those words now. Had I been in a slightly different mind state – the words would have been completely different.
I tried for like another year with the demo to re-record the vocal take with better microphones and better singing. But you come to a point where you have to make the trade off. Do you want to make a polished sounding record or do you want to keep the emotional sincerity of the moment?
And sometimes you have to have faith in the power of that moment – instead of relying on things that sound polished or good.
How does ‘I’m a Kid’ tie in with your other singles ‘embraces 23’ and ‘Citipop’?
Well, ‘Embrace 23’ is sort of a spin-off. I wrote it when I was a teenager. It has a more “Outright” kind of sound with more humorous lyrics. So I don’t really see it as part of the “canon”- if there is any.
‘Citipop’ and ‘Im a kid’ were written around the same period. I was living in the UK, it was constantly rainy, and I felt as if I was going through a very bad phase in my life. Music wise, I was listening to a lot of sad lo-fi folk and very direct 90s alt rock while also listening to a lot of overly optimistic Japanese fusion, indie pop.
I think both songs have an overarching theme of discontempt with my current position — expressed stylistically opposite directions. One attempts to hide the pain behind a polished, groovy, corny saxophone filled pop sound; the other wears it upfront in its rough, and raw garage rock sound.
This is your third single since debuting as Asian Boys, Crying. How has the journey been so far?
Quite difficult to be honest. We are making our first full length album. And all of us have our own projects, work, jobs outside of music. Combined with very high standards, it makes the entire process of making music quite slow.
But at the end of the day, we do believe that we have something interesting and meaningful to say. And since we’re confident in what we have to say — everything else sort of dissipates. Like just a couple years ago, I think we did care about things like how fast we were getting things done, how much attention and recognition we we’re getting, whether we should play shows to generate more of a “live fan base” within the scene.
At this point, all those external factors have just stopped being relevant. I am really confident about the songs we’ve written. And since I like the songs we’ve written I honestly couldn’t care less if anyone else doesn’t. The only thing that matters is getting the songs and sounds in my head to sound the way they are through the speakers.
So hopefully we’ll keep working and can release this album by 2023 (fingers crossed)!
Asian Boys, Crying
How did you come up with the group name? How did the group come together?
Me, Ikkie, and Yune were in the UK together during college. We were quite depressed and bored so we decided to do some gigs around town at local pubs. Oxford is quite a bougie college town. And most of the crowd is white and posh. We were quite an odd group demographically speaking. We were a group of Asian kids who had quite emo songs. So we jokingly introduced ourselves as “Asian Boys, Crying” and since people don’t usually expect a group of Asian kids at a good preppy school to go around singing emo music, it was sort of an attention grabbing name if you ask me.
For the other lads, Seho went to the same highschool as Ikks. Doyune and Seho went to the same middle school and they were bandmates back then. When we did gigs in Korea Seho hooked us up.
What kind of music would you like to create?
Juntae: I want to make music that says something. I’m tired of music that is just pleasing to the ear or songs that rely on “Muscle memory” and “technicality”.Other members have different ideas – Ikkie especially is more interested in “the experimental and abstract” side of art, so let’s see how the next album comes out.
How would you describe your own music?
Sincere and hopefully a little bit daring as well.
Are there special projects in the pipeline you can give us a hint on?
An EP is coming soon, probably around march. These are songs and demos I wrote back a few years ago like ‘citipop’ and ‘I’m a kid’. I decided I didn’t want to release them since I thought it might detract from the kind of music we wanted to make now.
But recording the next album is taking a lot longer than I hoped- so I changed my mind again and decided to release them in the meantime. While they are not what I have to say at the moment, I guess the songs are sincere in that they convey the emotions and thoughts I was having a couple years back.
You can find the discography of Asian Boys, Crying on Spotify here.
Go say hi on Instagram here.