We spoke with Eundohee about her latest album ‘Unforeseen’. The Korean indie singer-songwriter has been releasing music since January 2018 with her debut single album ‘Weak’. We featured the new release in our July Korean Indie DisKover.
‘Unforeseen’ is the first full-length album by Eundohee. “During my twenties, I felt overwhelmed with all the unforeseen circumstances. I couldn’t deal with all of them so well, so I decided to channel all of that energy into my music.”
Q: You’ve released your first full album, congratulations! How was the preparation for that? Was it different from creating a single album or EP?
I think that I might have been a little impetuous when I first started to work on ‘Unforeseen’.
I was planning to release my first full album in 2 years because I wasn’t sure what kind of music I wanted to create. But in December 2020, I made the third track ‘Songbird’, and I realized that that’s the kind of music I wanted to try to create. In some ways it can sound sort of like folk music, but it also incorporates some aspects of electronica. So about a week after I wrote the song, I made up my mind to release the first full album this year.
Surprisingly, the process of making all the tracks wasn’t as stressful as the other former albums. It was the first time that I felt completely content with my songs. Also, I tend to start worrying about the feedback I’ll get after releasing an album way before the release date. However this time, I found myself just getting out of that kind of mindset, so I felt more liberated and I really enjoyed the process of making this album.
Q: What’s your favorite song from ‘Unforeseen’ and why?
Actually, it keeps changing. At first, ‘Les Augen II’ was my favorite one, then it switched to ‘Songbird’. But these days, I listen to the sixth track ‘Superficial Conversation’ more often. I think that it’s because they all have something in common. For me, they are like a film which contains all of the sadness, happiness, anxiety and other emotions that I kept in the past. They put my mind at rest by letting me feel them again but in a calmer way. And so I think in that sense, my answer to that question might keep changing constantly.
Q: What do you want listeners to take away from your album ‘Unforeseen’ after listening to it?
I hope that all of the tracks can be interpreted as their own personal experiences, not mine. In that way, they could gain some sort of consolation or closure through the songs. I like when listeners tell me that they felt like a song of mine reflected their own story and emotions, and also that it helped them in many ways.
The eyes of time
On the album, three of my favorite songs are ‘Time’ and the two ‘Les Augen’. They’re an interesting blend of folk with some rock inspired instrumentals. ‘Time’ has an interesting pattern in the vocals with a lot of repetition that portray the passage of time really well.
Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about the song ‘Time’?
I wrote it while thinking of the moment that flew by the quickest in my whole life. It was the time when I was in college. At that time, I had a backlog of assignments, practices and studies but I thought that putting them off wouldn’t be such a big deal in the future. So I just spent my time hanging out or talking on the phone with friends from my hometown instead of getting around to finishing them. It became very exhausting to go through all of the work I put off, but at the same time it felt nice to forget about some of that college stress.
As I said earlier, I wanted to record my life in the 20s in this album. As I get older, I also became more responsible and diligent which is normal of course. But I just wanted to remember the old me who didn’t worry about anything and lived life innocently with this song.
Q: Can I ask about the meaning behind ‘Les Augen’? What does the title refer to? What is the correlation between ‘Les Augen I’ and ‘Les Augen II’?
I chose the name ‘Les Augen’ from French and German. ‘Les’ is used to mean “the” for plural nouns in French, and ‘Augen’ refers to “eyes” in German. I was going to release both tracks as a band with a friend who learns German. As I learn French, we thought that it would be nice and unique to blend two languages for the band name. Unfortunately, I felt like I wasn’t ready to start it for some reason so we just put it off indefinitely.
I made 4 songs for it. One day, on my way home from work, I just listened to all of them and I just wondered what it would be like if some of them would be part of my first full album. Then I picked two of them, and named them “Les Augen I” and “Les Augen II” just in case I decide to try it again as a band someday.
The trouble of singing in Korean
Q: In the album description you state that it is more awkward to sing in Korean than in English. Could you tell us why?
Seeing as Korean is my mother tongue, of course I feel far more comfortable speaking in Korean. But when it comes to talking about myself, for some reason, I can be more candid when I speak in other languages. I reckon that it’s because I remain more conscious of what I say and of the way that I speak when I talk to people in Korean. I don’t want my words to be misinterpreted and to hurt anyone. But sometimes it happens unintentionally and when it does, I can’t stop blaming myself. It’s difficult for me to overcome my feelings of guilt so I tend to be excessively careful and can neglect the important things I want to say.
In that regard, I found that speaking foreign languages could be a better way to talk about myself. I speak English and a little bit of French. When I speak in those two languages, I just try to express myself as much as I can. And since they aren’t my native language, I usually focus on how I can say things more clearly and express myself properly. Writing lyrics is one of the best ways to present myself.
I don’t want to hide anything when it comes to it. That’s why I feel awkward singing in Korean. My Korean lyrics are more ambiguous and not 100% candid because I don’t want to open up about certain things. So when I wrote the songs in Korean, I sometimes felt like they were not properly conveying what I wanted to say. But knowing which languages are the most comfortable for me isn’t the important part, I just want to choose a language I can sing most honestly and sincerely in.
Eundohee started music in high school by playing the piano. She didn’t particularly enjoy it until she created her own song. “I made a song that was very awkward and even quite ridiculous but it was a refreshing experience so I made up my mind to keep doing it.”
Q: What drives you to make music?
I normally write songs out of the blue so it’s totally unexpected for me as well. So I actually don’t know what exactly motivates me to do it. There’s a sort of gut feeling, an inner voice you can say, that tells me “you should make music right now!” then I usually just go with it and try to create new ones. On the other hand, when I write lyrics, I usually get inspired by my daily life like relationships with many different people, work, my personal issues, or something like that.
Q: How would you describe your own music? Because there’s a little bit of folk, a little bit of electronica and a little bit of rock to it?
I would say that it could be pop. Because I think that in the genre, there’s also many different kinds of music styles in it. However, I think that it’s kind of tricky to classify my own songs as only one genre to be honest.
Since I’m a Korean who was born and raised in South Korea, I believe that there are some innate Korean qualities within me as well that gets translated into my music. Many Korean songwriters usually have it, like in the way they make melodies or chords. It has its own good sound and I think that when it’s combined with other genres, it becomes more special. So I don’t want to just define that as a single genre which already exists, including my own music. I just would like to add a new genre like K-pop, then call it that, If I can.
Q: Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Over the past few years, Elena Tonra, Billie Marten and Adrianne Lenker have been the most inspirational songwriters for me. I was very impressed with how they arranged instruments or give off a vibe that is complex. It’s subtle but also clear for some reason. Apart from them, people in my surroundings who keep pursuing their music inspire me to do the same as well.
Q: How would you describe your growth musically since your debut in 2018?
Actually, I hadn’t listened to my old albums in a while. I started doing that little by little a couple of months ago to check where I am now.
My first single album was rock, and then I released some folk albums afterwards. The following two albums were slightly different from the former ones and I also made some gradual changes in the ways that I sing, play the guitar, and arrange other instruments. Looking back, I think that I have built up my abilities to make an album like ‘Unforeseen” which preserves my own characteristics but can still integrate a new sound. I always keep looking for some new ways to develop my music. I’m still evolving and I would like to keep it for a long time.
You can find Eundohee on Instagram here.