This month’s interview is with a producer called Kim Young-jin, also known as Daphnis et Chloé! In creating his music, he takes on multiple roles and chooses to feature guest vocalists on tracks such as Paek Sae Eun who once appeared on a music audition programme. Young-jin previously played as part of different groups before venturing into composing music for TV adverts, soundtracks and games, which brings him into this current project. We were drawn to the interesting blend of styles (classical, jazz and pop), instruments and ideas that he allows to co-exist together as Daphnis et Chloé. He pushes the boundaries a little, making sure to keep the overall sound familiar and comfortable.
Although Daphnis et Chloé vastly contrasts with our recent K-SPOTLIGHT recommendations, we hope that you’ll listen to the songs we’ve included in the online version of the interview and give this style of music a chance! If you are short on time, we’d recommend that you listen to Fade Away. It is a delicate and sad song with reduced instrumental elements; this arrangement allows vocalist Paek Sae Eun to express the feeling of wanting to forget someone you once loved.
Thanks to Young-jin for helping us showcase Daphnis et Chloé!
Can you introduce yourself to our readers? What was the idea that inspired the name Daphnis et Chloé?
Hello Inspire Me Korea readers. Daphnis et Chloé speaking! My name is Kim Young-jin and I am essentially a one-man band, but my main role is a producer. Songs in my debut album ‘Standing at the End’ were all sung by Paek Sae Eun, a guest vocalist. My band is named after the Impressionist composer Maurice Ravel’s ballet work, Daphnis et Chloé. It is also the title of a famous art piece by Chagall.
How did you know that you would fit well as a team with Sae Eun? Will this collaboration be long-term or do you plan to feature different guest vocalists?
I was looking for a singer who could sing as if she was speaking; like Jane Birkin or Francoise Hardy, someone who uses a natural breathing sound rather than fancy technique. I contacted Paek Sae Eun, who was a finalist on a famous Korean TV audition programme called ‘The Great Birth’. I gave her a demo and she gladly said yes to collaborating. She has an excellent ability to calmly interpret my songs without trying to beautify them too much. I would love to have her join me on my next projects, as well as having other singers too.
The music of Daphnis et Chloé isn’t something we have heard a great deal of before. What inspired you to create a blend of so many musical styles?
I studied classical music in high school and made my debut doing electronic music. I was also in a rock band and played in a Hawaiian music band. Due to my work in producing for many different musicians, I learned to read a wide range of musical languages. What I consider to be my favourite genre of music is never a fixed point. I believe that this is the reason why different music styles can co-exist in the first album.
Are you comfortable with the identity of Daphnis et Chloé now or are you still exploring genres?
Although I am satisfied with the current identity, I will try to continuously evolve and strive for better. I think that it is a creator’s responsibility – to keep searching for something new.
Whenever people do new things for the first time, there is always an element of uncertainty. How do you overcome any nervousness that you may have?
Whenever I feel anxious, I listen to music by my role model, Serge Gainsbourg. When I delve into his artistic world, I am able to envisage a fantasy in which his artistic ability is transferred to me. I can find my path to move forward from there.
What do you consider to be the most important aspect of being a producer? What is the critical thing that you do that makes the music whole?
We all need to find the courage to throw everything away to leave the single most beautiful thing behind. Instead of painting strokes over and over, I feel that removal of that which is unnecessary will reveal the beauty underneath. This is my philosophy in producing. I was able to attain that courage to accomplish the track called ‘Standing at the End’.
When do you prefer to work on music, during the day or night?
I prefer the daytime. At night, I get sleepy.
Lots of artists say they write songs based on aspects of life. What do you like to write about?
‘Standing at the End’ contains special stories from my life. In saying that, these stories may be special to me but can be perceived as very common life events that we all go through at least once in our lifetime. Making music from past memories that I don’t want to go through again, is particularly painful. This album is filled with songs from aching memories so it was difficult.
We enjoyed the serenity and warmth of the song ‘Fade Away’ and it was the first Daphnis et Chloé track that we listened to. Are we right in saying that there is a harpsichord brought into the latter stages of the background instrumental? The plucking of the strings in this traditional instrument contrasted well with the strings being hit within the piano. We thought this was very unique and brought together aspects of old and new.
I’m glad to hear that you felt serenity and warmth because that means that my musical intentions were expressed effectively. In fact, the lyrics sing of pushing a lover away, while being completely heartbroken. The instrumental accompaniment warmly embraces that wounded heart. You are right in saying the piano is a modern instrument compared to the harpsichord. I produced and arranged both of these instruments to express a scenario where someone’s heart at present wishes to be apart from a loved one, but the heart of the past yearns to be together. These conflicting emotions diverge in the song.
‘Misunderstanding and Leaving’ has a faster tempo and different feeling to other Daphnis et Chloé songs. Reading the title, we expected a slow ballad. Did you deliberately wish to surprise the listener with an upbeat melody paired with sad lyrics?
In life, lovers come and go. I delivered this song in a cheerful manner in the hope that people would look forward to their upcoming love rather than being overwhelmed by grief from a previous relationship.
Do you think that music videos enhance the enjoyment of your music? Is this why you have videos attached to many of your tracks?
Videos are a clearer medium to use for communicating musical messages. YouTube also provides opportunities to interact with more people. For these reasons, I want to have as many music videos as possible.
You have a specific style in your MV and concept art, using a lot of black and white alongside softer hues. What kind of feeling are you trying to capture and show to listeners via your images and media?
Daphnis et Chloé’s music claims to be analog. I intentionally used analog tapes during every aspect of the process: from recording, to mixing and mastering. I wanted to create a soft and realistic sound. Then I thought to myself that any videos and photographs associated with this music should be expressed in a similar way. Although I had to create videos digitally due to not having access to older tools that have become obsolete, the profile photos were made using tintype photography, an old analog photographic technique which involves developing on steel plates. Lighthouse Pictures is the only place where you can achieve full-analogical tintype photography now, and they made it possible.
Do you think your music will transition well onto larger stages and venues? How would you strike a balance between achieving stillness and restraint in sound, yet being loud enough to fill the space? Is this something that you’ve thought about or experienced already?
I have not tried to create sound in a big stage yet, though I feel that Daphnis et Chloé definitely has a sound that is good enough for large venues. My music contains a lot of empty space but I don’t treat it like something that doesn’t exist or doesn’t have a presence. I embrace its ‘sound’ as another element. It always exists like the air which surrounds us.
What has been your best musical experience so far?
It definitely has to be the release of the first album. It is the very first complete album that I’ve produced without a record label. For the past few years, I’ve wholly thrown myself into the forefront of this project. It would have been difficult if I had to work under a record label. I feel like I was able to make a wholesome album that I am very proud of.
Do you feel comfortable portraying your true self on social media or do you create and present a version of yourself instead (like many western artists do)?
Image is very important to us as artists. I am careful when I post things on social media. When gaps emerge between my image as a musician and my self-identity, I find it uncomfortable. This actually is my biggest concern.
Are you friends with other musicians and producers? Have you ever worked or performed together?
Yes of course. I am a friend to all artists who love music and I can openly work and perform with them.
What is your opinion on acceptance of diversity in Korea, both in terms of people and music? Are Koreans more comfortable with familiarity and tradition or are they willing to accept different opinions and other cultures?
Korean music is hugely diverse. The indie music scene in Korea is particularly accepting of different cultures and tries to combine them with our own. These days I can spot many multi-cultural teams with members from other countries. Personally speaking, I think idol-groups in K-pop are somewhat shallow in terms of music genre. Anyhow, what is special about Koreans is that we can generally embrace various cultures and develop them within our own traditions.
What are your thoughts on the future of Korean music? Will music that is popular now still be popular in 5 years time, or do you think that something else will catch the attention of the public?
I have a positive feeling about it. What is popular now will continue to be popular, and I see styles widely expanding. Collaboration between indie musicians and idol groups is already gaining favour in Korea. I think idol musicians admire the musical diversity and uniqueness that indie musicians have. This trend will definitely enrich both K-pop music and its visual attraction. Evolving Korean music will continue to be loved globally.
We have heard that streaming music and albums does not help artists to make a good income. Is attending a performance the best way to support an independent artist?
Yes, for indie musicians, the income from a performance is much better than the income from retail sales or royalties. The sales revenue distribution structure in Korea is less profitable for producers compared to other countries. However, at the moment, Daphnis et Chloé is unable to have concerts due to personal reasons.
What are your favourite snacks and meals to eat?
I like Pyeongyang Naengmyeon (Pyeongyang cold noodles) the most. I could even have the same meal three times a day! As for snacks, I like Orion Choco pies.
How have your own musical tastes evolved as you have grown older? Do you enjoy listening to a variety of genres? Do you still buy CDs and vinyl or are you a person of the digital age now like many people of this generation?
I have listened to and liked many genres since childhood. My taste in music has changed as I’ve grown older, however, it has no particular coherency. Every day is different. I might start listening to Erik Satie and move onto Deadmau5. But I make precise choices when it comes to the format that I buy music in. If I want to listen to something, I will first look for vinyl. If that isn’t available, I will choose a CD and then I would go for a high resolution digital version as a final option. Whenever I see a cassette tape album, I will just buy it regardless of whether I know the musician. All musicians proudly present specific physical versions of their music because they want listeners to experience them in a certain way. As a producer, I have an in-built desire to understand an artist’s musical intentions as accurately as they wished them to be portrayed. For that reason I do not listen to MP3 files or stream online. I like the physical design of records so I prefer to possess them in physical forms.
Do you draw any inspiration from visiting different places?
Yes, I gain a lot of inspiration while travelling and taking photos. I often watch television travel shows too. New places always give me new ideas.
What do you consider to be the most important things in life? Is there something that you definitely want to achieve in this lifetime?
A sound sleep is important. If you can sleep well, the next day you can see the world with clear eyes. My goal in life is to maintain a pure soul, to enjoy music and to make good music. My life goal would be achieved if many people seek out Daphnis et Chloé.
What does success mean to you?
I don’t usually think about success. I honestly don’t know how I would define it. I am just a regular person who faithfully makes music every day. I think that having an interview with Inspire Me Korea is my biggest success.
What can we look forward to from Daphnis et Chloé for the rest of 2018?
I will always be here to say hello to you with good music. Thank you for listening to my stories.
(Responses have been partially edited for clarity)
Featured image and in-article images source © Kim Young-jin. 08.08.2018. Daphnis et Chloé. Images were provided by the artist for use in this article. All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior permission.
© Interview with Daphnis et Chloé. 12.10.2018. Inspire Me Korea.
Concept artDaphnis et ChloéFade Awayguest vocalistsInterviewK-indieK-musicK-spotlightK-spotlight specialKorean foodMisunderstanding and Leavingmusic artist introductionMusic VideoMVPaek Sae EunProducersocial mediatrack recommendations