The K-SPOTLIGHT has discovered Ashmute (애쉬뮤트), a three-member group who are making very good music right now! We have been following their activities closely since last year, and have wanted to feature them in the K-SPOTLIGHT series for a long time. We are happy to reveal that the members Dap, Rang, and Oov, agreed to an interview and were very thoughtful in giving extensive answers to our questions. We learned so much about them during this time and found them very interesting and wonderful people. Thank you Ashmute, we appreciate it very much! We hope that our readers will go on to listen to their music and eventually offer support to this very deserving group.
Ashmute are definitely one to watch, their music displays an emotional depth and maturity that listeners can really connect with. You can tell very quickly that they spend much time and energy over the production and the execution of their songs, and that they love making ‘chill-out’ music. That is why Ashmute comes highly recommended by us and fueled our decision to feature them in a special K-SPOTLIGHT feature edition. Remember that as part of this feature, there is also an extended K-SPOTLIGHT music article to bring Ashmute’s releases to your attention! It’s extra special because we have the MV director participating too – you won’t be disappointed 🙂
We would also like extend thanks to Wookwon Shim for helping with translation. This interview wouldn’t be possible without Wookwon’s help so we are very grateful!
Please support Ashmute by buying their music! At the time of the interview, ‘Scenery’ had not yet been released but all three singles are now available to buy via iTunes (‘Dive’ and ‘Heaven’ can be found here, or ‘Scenery’ here) and Google Play.
Now, read on for the interview! Each member answered every question so we are very lucky to hear all of their thoughts!
1. Can you introduce yourselves to our readers and tell us something interesting about Ashmute? How did you all meet?
Dap: I’m Dap, the producer and leader of Ashmute. I was looking for new members to form a 3-member group, inspired by the British band, Portishead. During early 2015, I discovered some of Rang’s covers on an online forum; I contacted her to be a member of my new project, and we formed a group named Ashmute together. Noman joined us later. However, he had to leave the group after we released the track, ‘Dive’. We received an email from Oov when we were looking for a new member, and that’s how Ashmute became as it is now.
Rang: I’m Rang, Ashmute’s main vocalist. I shared my covers, which I made for fun, on the internet, and as a result, Dap contacted me. We formed Ashmute together.
Oov: I’m Oov, (17 years old) and a producer of Ashmute. I contacted Ashmute straight after I listened to ‘Dive’. I had an interview, and joined the group later.
2. How long have you all been pursuing music and what attracted you to a musical career? What would you say are the good and bad parts you have experienced so far in the music industry?
Dap: I’ve never majored in music or anything, but I’ve been making mix-tapes, writing lyrics and performing as a rapper since high school. But my interest in music was never limited to hiphop. I’ve always liked all genres of music. I first started as a producer whilst at university. I’ve always liked a “chill-out” style of music, and wanted to compose it myself. From there, I decided to start Ashmute.
I’d talk about bad parts of my experience in the music industry when and if I get famous. I don’t think there has been any good parts, though.
Rang: I’m also not a music student but majored in motion graphics. I’ve liked English pop music since I was little, and would sing and often record myself. I mainly enjoyed singing English pop and jazz songs until I grew fond of the “chill-out” style after starting Ashmute.
I don’t know much about the music industry yet so I think I need more experience about this area.
Oov: It’s been about eight years, including the time I was into classical music. I was influenced by my father who plays the acoustic and bass guitar. Music was just always around me, thanks to my father, and it felt almost natural that I started to make my own music.
I’ve just started my career in music, so I don’t really have anything to say about the music industry yet.
Dap – Leader and producer of Ashmute © Ashmute. 26.02.2017.
3. Do you think you have already discovered your group sound, or would you prefer to continue developing your own style?
Dap: I think we’re pretty much settled on the concept of Ashmute now, and the direction we’re heading. But I feel the need to study and develop the sound of Ashmute more. I think I’ve been influenced by imagination and sensibility in literature.
Rang: I want to experiment with different vocal styles in Ashmute’s sound.
Oov: I would like to try new concepts within Ashmute’s style. I think the fact that I’ve been listening to a wide variety of music since I was a child helps my ability to take in different genres of music.
4. Are there any lyrics to your songs that you think especially enhance the overall impact of the melody on the listener? Can you translate any small parts for us?
Dap: [Lyrics to the single ‘Dive’] – “I wish to give my everything to you, though when I am gone, want not for your sadness.”
Rang: [Lyrics to the single ‘Heaven’] – “I close my eyes, drawing my heaven.”
I like this part because I think that the crying-like melody suits the lyrics.
Oov: [Lyrics to the single ‘Heaven’] – “There are no observed imperfections, and no end to fate.” It’s hard to translate into English. But this is what the heaven looks like to Ashmute, (a place where there is neither suffering nor death) and it’s impressive to me, personally.
Rang – Ashmute’s vocalist © Ashmute. 26.02.2017
5. What do you do to promote your music at the moment? Are there many opportunities out there for you?
We try to promote our music through different forms of social media, such as YouTube. There aren’t really many opportunities for us since we are not associated with a professional music management agency or a record label, but we’re hoping that we’ll get more recognition someday if we keep making good music.
6. What kind of venues do you usually perform in?
We have received several requests from different places, but we think we’re not ready to perform live yet. After we release an EP, we plan to start to prepare for stages and performances.
7. We really enjoyed Rang’s cover versions and versatility in tackling many different genres of music, from Beyoncé to Ella Fitzgerald on Soundcloud! It is amazing how you manage to place your own identity to the track to make it into your own style. Rang, is this something that comes naturally when you sing someone else’s song, or do you plan the way to sing your covers in detail before?
Rang: I think being able to sing comfortably is the most important part. I think my strength is in creating a comforting sound with my vocals, compared to other singers who may have more powerful vocals, so I try to focus on that. I always keep in mind, whenever I sing, that I should feel comfortable first in order to allow listeners to feel comfortable as well. I’m planning to make lots more covers.
8. What are your favourite songs, artists and bands on your own music playlist? Can you suggest any new music that you have discovered recently?
Dap: Hmm… Gesaffelstein, XXYYXX, James Black, and FKA Twigs. Also, I recommend Wings of Isang and Saram12Saram. The last two are Korean musicians.
Rang: Troye Sivan – ‘Fools’. Plus one of the new songs that I recently discovered and thought was impressive is by Mable, and called ‘Thinking of You’.
Oov: Dirty Loops – ‘Hit Me’, and music by Stevie Wonder. I’m also recently enjoying a Korean band, called XXX and their music.
9. What have you planned for 2017? Is there anything that new listeners discovering Ashmute can look forward to?
Our priority is to finish an EP album by the end of this year. Our goal is to make albums that people won’t get tired of listening to for a long time. We feel confident about our new music videos as well. We’re going to post many covers on YouTube and Facebook, and some of them will sound very “Ashmute-like” and in keeping with our style.
Oov – Producer in the Ashmute team © Ashmute. 26.02.2017
10. We loved both of your tracks ‘Dive’ and ‘Heaven’! Did you have fun shooting the music videos? Did you find filming to be a long process or did you get the results you wanted quickly? And where did the concept for the music videos come from?
Rang: It almost took us an entire year to make ‘Heaven’ (from the very beginning, when we first discussed the concept of it). From making decisions about locations to set decoration, and finding staff members, there was not a single thing that was easy. The MV for ‘Heaven’ is very special to me. I’d like to say a special thanks to the camera crew, Clavis GN for the amazing cinematography and also to my friend, Nayeon Kim who was the director of the MVs, for ‘Heaven’ and ‘Dive’. Her ability to interpret the concept of Ashmute is exceptional.
Dap: In terms of art work (including the MVs), our director Nayeon Kim and Rang are doing a great job. I’d like to say thanks again to everyone who helped us. It’s a bit of tangent, but like I said earlier, we’re not with any music agency or record label, so we have to generate all content ourselves from start to finish. We also have to deal with all the costs of making the MVs by ourselves, and that’s actually the hardest part. I couldn’t have done it alone, so I’m grateful and, at the same time, feel apologetic to everyone who helped me.
Oov: Honestly, it was harder that I thought, but it was quite fun to see in person, how MVs are actually made.
Note: You can find more information about Nayeon Kim at her website: http://nayeon-kim.com or check out her Instagram (@nayeonkxx) to see more of her work. We will be featuring Nayeon in our music feature next week, so look forward to hearing her thoughts on the MV shoots!
11. What kind of activities and projects do you take part in, between releasing music? And what do you like to do/where do you go to relax after a hard week?
Dap: I don’t really feel excited after releasing an album. I don’t go anywhere to relax after a day of hard work or anything, either. I think about our next concept for new albums and try to discuss it with other members ALL OF THE TIME! Of course, I’m not trying to peer-pressure the other members or anything here…trust me!
Rang: I give it my all when we make MVs, so I just don’t go out at all after new MVs are done. I usually make cover songs to relieve my stress. There are so many that I haven’t posted through Ashmute. I’m planning to post covers that I personally made on my personal Instagram account (@h.w.rang)
Note: Rang’s cover versions are fantastic, she is so versatile so be sure to listen to her!
Oov: I also make my own music aside from Ashmute. I will also practice some musical instruments, or rap and sing. Sometimes. I would go camping with my family before, but now I love staying home.
12. Are there any groups, artists or bands that you admire? What are the reasons for your choice?
Dap: Portishead. They are the reason I started as a producer in the first place. I always have respect for them. I know it sounds petty, but I feel happy that my birthday and the birthday of Geoff Barrow (the producer of Portishead) are the same, but 20 years apart.
Rang: Rihanna. Her voice is soft and powerful at the same time, and it suits any song that she chooses to sing. Also, her attitude of confidence is my everything. She is girl power personified.
Oov: Stevie Wonder. His vocals, melodies and lyrics are so beautiful and vivid. I want to make songs like Stevie Wonder’s in the future. His songs are easy to listen to, but when you analyze them, they are beyond amazing.
13. What are the best things about living and working in Korea?
Rang: It’s easy to meet with people and work together from different places thanks to the well-maintained public transportation system.
Oov: The fastest internet in the world.
Dap: I can’t think of anything. Would you invite me to UK please?
Transport links are good in Korea. © Inspire Me Korea. 20.05.2017.
14. And a few questions just for fun! Describe the most recent situation that made you laugh out loud! 🙂
Rang: I went to a restaurant the other day, and there was this kitten I saw for the first time, being cute and all to me. It was so adorable that it made me so happy and laugh a lot.
Oov: My family is a sitcom! There’s so many LOL moments that I’ve lost count.
Dap: The moment when you realize you haven’t laughed out loud in a while… I’m so dead inside.
15. If you had to eat only one dish or food every day for a whole year, what would you choose?
Rang: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio.
Oov: Bibimbap wouldn’t be so tiring.
Note: Bibimbap is a Korean-style dish where you mix vegetables, ground meat, rice together in a bowl, with condiments like Korean red pepper paste.
Dap: Sea Food Pilaf.
Tasty bibimbap, Oov’s choice! © Inspire Me Korea. 20.05.2017
That brings us to the end of our interview with Ashmute! Thanks again to Dap, Rang and Oov for answering our questions! Remember to read our music feature to listen to some great music.
Please support the group by buying their music via iTunes (click here for 1st 2 singles ‘Dive’ and ‘Heaven and here for latest single ‘Scenery’) and Google Play!
Responses have been edited for clarity with permission from Ashmute. The lyrics from their songs have been interpreted (with the assistance of Wookwon Shim) and expressed in a manner that attempted to strike a balance between good English sentence structure whilst keeping close to the meaning of the original Korean text.
Featured image source: © Ashmute. The image was kindly provided by the members of Ashmute for use in this interview.
In-article image source: © Ashmute (where indicated) and Inspire Me Korea. Member photographs were provided by Ashmute for use in this article.
© Interview with Ashmute. Inspire Me Korea. 20.05.2017