This edition of the K-SPOTLIGHT features ‘Drain’ (드레인), a female singer-songwriter who makes folk music with a twist! Borrowing influences from a variety of other genres and cultures, Drain’s music brings the listener a lot more than you would first expect. We were pleasantly surprised by this artist’s ability and openness to create something novel and new, to provide compositions that are both intelligent and interesting. She typically makes folk-rock music, but this year she even incorporated aspects of reggae into a track! Drain’s voice is soft yet has a whispery quality to it that we really like. It’s a special voice that can match a variety of moods! She released some new music in 2017, so it is a good time to present this artist to our Inspire Me Korea blog readers!
As usual, we bring you a special interview and there is also a music review that is published on the blog – we are pleased to help you get to know Drain better! A big thanks to Drain for helping us with the articles – she was great 🙂
Please support the artist! Buy/stream Drain’s new EP on melon, bugs, genie, soribada, Naver or Mnet. You can also find her recent single ‘Sea girl’ on melon.
Let’s get started with the interview!
1. Can you introduce yourself? What is the story behind your stage name ‘Drain’?
I’m a singer-songwriter in South Korea. I usually perform with my guitar at live clubs or cafes, and also do outdoor performances.
I made the decision to use the name ‘Drain’ while listening to Nirvana’s song ‘Drain you’. At the time, I felt like I wanted to drain something from my mind into my songs and music.
2. Tell us something interesting about yourself!
I recently released a digital album containing 4 songs; ‘Return’, ‘Flower on my head’, ‘You are a beautiful person’ and ‘On a day like today’.
This album displays many different colours and styles such as folk, ballad and dub.
[Note: ‘Dub’ is a subgenre of reggae, that typically emphasizes drums and bass guitar instrumentals with the addition of echo and reverb]
3. How would you describe your musical style? And how did you start your journey to do music as a career?
My musical style is generally folk rock. But I also like psychedelic rock, alternative rock, trip-hop and so on. So I like to try out various styles when I make a record.
When I was in my early 20s, I studied composition as a student. I wanted to sing my own songs freely and comfortably, so I recorded demos at home, and applied to participate in several competitions.
I also formed a band called ‘Sae’ with my friends. That was the start of my journey as a singer-songwriter.
4. Where did you learn how to songwrite? Did you find it easy from the beginning?
I learned songwriting at a music academy when I was a teenager. It was not easy, I didn’t understand the feeling of composing at first. I didn’t know how to find inspiration and then how to express that inspiration. That meant that I was hesitant about songwriting.
But I developed a deeper understanding from thinking about my favourite songs, like ‘Whatever’ by Oasis or John Lennon’s ‘Oh my love.’
5. How many instruments can you play?
About four. Currently, I play the acoustic guitar, piano, ukulele and bass (but only a little). And I’ve started practicing the harmonica these days.
6. What thoughts are in your mind before a performance? Do you feel nervous?
I feel nervous sometimes. But when I feel that way, I breathe deeply, and try to focus my mind on the story within the song. While I am singing, I will use my imagination to transport myself elsewhere; somewhere like a forest.
7. What are the most satisfying parts of being involved in music every day?
I think that the best thing is that it allows me to express my feelings. Being involved in music makes me calm and it is very healing. I can also convey things that are in my mind that I might not have been able to, in any usual way. And I also like the fact that I can meet like-minded people and make friends with those who also love music.
8. Is there anyone that you have met, that you felt was an important part of your musical development or helped you a lot?
I received a lot of help from producer Baul on the recent album. He listened to my demos and then made all the arrangements. Furthermore, he recorded and did the mixing in all of the songs. I learned a lot from him, and I am really grateful. I was also helped by Baul’s friend, SangHyun Ko. He played bass and acoustic guitar on many of the tracks, and assisted with the arrangement of the song ‘Flower on my head.’
Finally, I usually get a lot of help from my management agency, Blend Company. They support all the production of my music, so I am always thankful to them.
9. What is your day-to-day life like as a musician? Can you describe a normal day?
I usually work on demos and practice my musical instruments at home. Sometimes I will go to a practice room in Mangwon-dong to play as an ensemble with my friends. I will often go to Hongdae and perform too.
If the time is during an album preparation period, I will mainly focus on recording at the studio.
10. Do you have any involvement in the concept of your music videos? Do you find shooting them enjoyable, or are they hard work?
My latest music video is ‘On a day like today.’ I just told the director (HyoMin Guem) about the meaning to my song, and described the images that entered my thoughts. Then she presented some new ideas, and was able to link together various images and bring a feeling of continuity. She has a good sense of visual beauty, which allowed us to obtain good results with the video.
I do think that filming videos is very enjoyable. This time, it was a little strange yet interesting, to be in the frame of the shoot. It was a special experience for me.
11. What about your album artwork? Do you have any artists or artwork that you like, and do you have an opinion on the look of your albums?
My album artwork was designed by SungSoo Park. He is a representative within my management agency, Blend Company. He is a versatile person. I like his artworks because they fit well with my music.
As to other artists, I like Jose Gonzalez’s album art style. They look like a doodle or sketch; I find the artwork concise and impressive.
12. Which of your own songs would you recommend to new listeners?
I would recommend ‘Flower on my head.’ It is good for dancing because it has an interesting rhythm! The music is based on a reggae rhythm and was made with dub sounds. The song is about my desire to do what I like.
13. What music do you listen to for your own enjoyment? What do you think makes you like a particular song by another musician?
I often listen to the song ‘Pretty pimpin’ by Kurt Vile. Everytime I hear this song, I feel better because of his delightful charm. And I like his unique arrangements.
14. What is the most important thing that you have learned so far? What advice would you now give to your younger self?
I would say, ‘Take care of yourself and love yourself. And never forget how precious the people you love are.’
15. If you could live the life of another musician, anywhere in the world, who would you choose and why?
Jonsi! He is the vocalist for the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, and one of my favourite musicians. I want to experience his way of working, being in his recording studio and the peaceful life in Iceland.
16. What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any other hobbies?
I enjoy watching movies and TV series, and I try to read books. I also love walking along the Hangang river, or going up the hill in my town to relax. Often I will go to watch and support my friends’ performances as well.
17. Where do you think the most beautiful place in Korea is?
Jeju-do. I love the landscape, especially the seaside and I like to travel here alone. I get a lot of inspiration by travelling to nice places.
Image source: Pixabay
18. If you could choose three foods to eat every day for one year, what would you pick?
I would choose omelet rice, smoked salmon salad and an Americano.
[Note: omelet rice is a Japanese dish where the rice is wrapped in egg and ketchup is added on top!]
19. What item could you not live without?
My glasses! I have bad eyesight, so I really need them for daily life.
(Responses from the artist were edited for clarity with given permission)
That brings us to the end of the article! We were happy to be able to help Drain tell a part of her story to our readers in this interview, and hope that you will give her music a chance! Our music feature is available on the blog now so click here to read our description of her songs. Her latest EP is really good so be sure to take a listen!
Feature image and in-article images source: © Drain. 11.06.2017. Photographs of Drain were provided directly from the artist for specific use in this interview article. © coahn. 15.07.2017 In-article image of Jeju was sourced from Pixabay as indicated.
© Interview with Drain. Inspire Me Korea. 19.07.2017.