GOND is a Korean indie singer-songwriter that has been on my radar since his debut release. We even featured him in our Indie Pick series. There’s a freshness to the sound of every new release that captivates and ensnares. After his January release ‘I don’t care about your love life’ GOND was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
I don’t care about your love life
Q: How did you come up with the theme for this album ‘I don’t care about your love life.’?
I became more interested in expressing the emotion of “love” through music these days. Although people all know what love is, they all have their own different stories. I wanted to make an album showing both what you know and what you haven’t seen.
Q: There’s a certain melancholic vibe to all three tracks on the album. Is that part of the storytelling that you imagined?
In fact, I thought only the first track ‘f**ked up’ involves melancholic vibe, haha! It’s about a break up, which makes you feel down.
I hoped the second track ‘Moon’ would make you flutter with joy and the third track ‘Hotel Room’ to give a peculiar and mysterious vibe. I guess the melancholic vibe on the album was shed by my musical taste or atmosphere.
Q: Could you explain the concept for the music video of ‘Hotel Room’ a little bit?
You can find a metaphor of something peculiar and tense, which you can feel in a hotel room. I tried to create a mysterious and delicate mise-en-scène in the video, linking with the metaphoric feeling that I mentioned.
Q: I noticed that most of your videos (whether they’re self-directed or not) usually have this very electronic, very edited feel going back all the way to your debut with ‘Drunk on you’. Is there any specific preference for this style and why?
Not necessarily, I prefer electronic sounds or images. I just love something completely new, something extremely unique, whether visually or auditory, I feel less excited or inspired by ordinary instrumental sounds or common video clips. I chase a new technique or a new mode of expression, which happens to render an electronic texture. That’s why my music, artwork or videos turn out to look or sound more electronic.
Q: How was the filming process with COVID restrictions?
I was lucky. The filming day was just one day before the social distancing rule was raised to ban gatherings of five or more people. I had seven people (including me) to film this video. We tried our best to comply with all safety guidelines and social distancing rules, and luckily we finished all safely. Other than filming, COVID-19 didn’t have a huge impact, as I was wholly in charge of planning and post-production works. Anyhow I really hope this COVID-19 pandemic situation ends soon.
Q: Do you have a favorite track/lyric/music moment on your new album?
I love the instrumental interlude of the first and the third tracks. These parts were intended to be interludes from the very beginning. I put more effort in when I arranged these parts, to give off a dramatic sound and express a metaphoric vibe without any words. Luckily, they worked, as I expected.
Instrumental tracks are one of GOND’s strengths. He has a very interesting way of working with samples to create a mesmerizing soundscape that will hold your attention tightly till the very ending second.
Q: What inspires you to write music?
Mostly I get inspired by dramas or books. I reflect my story in theirs. Then I further expand my thoughts and write them as music for my own themes. But of course, I get inspired in my daily life, too.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the music writing process?
I normally write beats first and heap up melody and flow on the beats. And then I come up with lyrics. I want an “ear-catching” sound on my beats and melody. I believe music should be tempting and interesting, when you first hear it. That’s what I always focus on when I write my music.
Q: How would you define your music?
Frankenstein, the creation by experiments for this and that but not beautiful.
Q: You often work with a lot of samples, however you also play piano. Is there a reason for the preference towards samples and more electronic sounds?
I do play the piano and synthesizer to develop the main theme and the structure, and then use samples fit with the main theme, as accessories or decorations. Indeed, there are so many well-produced samples these days.
However if I use samples as the main theme, I feel like I’m losing the DNA of my own style. I use electronic sounds, as they help me design sounds out of cliché. And actually, I tend to create electronic sounds after experiments and variations with non-electronic sounds. I guess it’s because I normally design the sounds with plug-ins.
Q: In this album there aren’t any instrumental tracks while in ‘Typeface : Grotesque’ there were quite a few. Would you say that that is part of the musical evolution, or is it rather that for the new single album, it didn’t feel right?
I would say, I didn’t need them this time. For this album, I tried to take out anything disturbing the flow of storytelling. Frankly saying, ‘Typeface: GROTESQUE’ was my showcase of talent and potential towards other artists and listeners. I wanted to show off, to show to what extent I can play with different genres and to what extent I can experiment with different sounds.
The instrumental tracks in “Typeface: GROTESQUE” serve to exhibit my technique for musical arrangement. But instrumental tracks can serve other functions, too. I may have instrumental tracks again for my future albums.
If you’ve checked out GOND’s Instagram, you might have noticed that he often works on art for other artists. He’s also directed music video shoots. He’s creating art works in all these different disciplines.
Q: You’ve collaborated for the artwork of album covers for other artists. Is it a very different process from creating artwork for your own covers? Is there a preference? Do you have a favorite piece you’ve created so far?
For my own album covers, I create the artwork after developing a concept or a theme for the album but before finalizing the songs. When I have a sketch of the artwork and some idea of colours and image, I can reflect such colour in the music. Then, I build up both the music and the artwork together, so that they can match better with each other.
When I collaborate for the artworks with other artists, the sequence of works is different, and the source of inspiration may vary, too. For the album covers for other artists, I listen to their music to imagine and draw up any image to be linked with the music. Or, I give shape to an abstract idea suggested by the artists, by arranging with colours and textures that I like.
I don’t have a particular preference. I like to work independently, but at the same time, isn’t it wonderful, if I can add a stroke on the masterpiece?
My favourite artwork is one I created for ‘Analog TV’ by Hyunjun Lee. I created it to kill time, and it was not chosen to be the official album cover eventually, but I really liked it, and I still feel attached to it. I even considered using it for my own album. ‘Analog TV’ is my first album I produced, and Hyunjun’s first official EP.
Q: You work in a lot of different artistic fields. Is that something that you studied for? Or is that something you’ve taught yourself?
My parents helped me learn the piano since I was six for several years and the cello for a few years in elementary school. Back then, I didn’t think of becoming an artist or a musician. I recall that I first dreamed of becoming a musician when I was around 15. I started to teach myself producing since then, and finally took some classes to learn more techniques for around six months, a few years ago.
I’m doing a double major in design (the other one is Korean language and literature). I was always interested in visual arts, but somewhat didn’t have a chance to try out. The more I learn it, the more I love it! I also took a course on video editing at college, but I could only use basic tools. Instead, I taught myself when I first produced my music video, and since then I am still learning through trials and errors.
Q: You’ve also worked on the MV for ‘Friend’ by Chaeree. How was that?
ShahgooN, who helped me with mixing and mastering my recent album, referred me to Chaeree. I participated in editing, and I worked with film clips and images. I was confused between the energetic Chaeree in the video clips and her lyrical melody, but in general, it was relaxing and comfortable to work on.It wasn’t boring or tough at all, since the music was really nice.
GOND has a couple of goals for 2021. He’d like to be more widely known and he’d like to have listeners from far and wide. GOND also hopes to have a chance to perform his music in front of people. Since his debut he hasn’t been able to do that.
In the end GOND creates music so that he can wake up their dormant feelings. “When you are touched by something unexpectedly, you may feel something awkward or even strange at first. But such feelings can be stirred up more often, and you may end up being addicted. I hope my music can incite people’s curiosity and rouse such unfamiliar but unique feelings.”