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Interview with The Finnn – K-SPOTLIGHT (Special)

We are bringing our readers something different with this month’s interview – we spoke to Im Jang Hyun, also known as The Finnn. He is a musician coming to the end of his career and has decided to move onto a different path. Jang Hyun has made some wonderful indie rock music over the years, including a lot of memorable upbeat numbers as well as slower songs too. We especially enjoy his rock vocals, a little rough around the edges but never veering into husky territory. Some of his tracks are full of melodic energy, as if he’s managed to trap little pockets of sunshine. It’s bittersweet to see him leave the music scene, but he’s found something else he enjoys doing and so we wish him the best!

The Finnn bows out leaving a final album for fans called 19860205. That doesn’t mean it is too late to listen to his music though! Please check out the album – it’s available to stream in full on Spotify or you can buy tracks online on Google Play or iTunes.

To whet your appetite, we recommend listening to our favourite track from The Finnn, which is ‘Cello’! Feel free to listen while you read the interview 😀

 

A big thanks to Jang Hyun for making time for us!  

 

1. Can you introduce yourself and your style of music? What was the idea behind the name of the band?

Hi, my name is Im Jang Hyun. I sing, play the guitar and also write songs; I am a singer-songwriter.
I made my first album in 2010 and when it came to choosing my band name, I wanted to use a new word, one that you couldn’t find in the dictionary so that it would stand out more easily to someone who is searching for my band. In the end, I picked FINNN because Fin and Finn are already in the dictionary.
The type of music I make falls under college rock and indie rock. I didn’t study music at school, but when I was young I would listen to music by Kings of Leon, The Smiths, REM and Hard-Fi. People have asked me whether I am influenced by Japanese music but I would say no since I am not familiar with it.

 

2. How did you develop the band from the start?

I first started with a company called ‘In the Label’ which is famous for signing the band, Guckkasten. At the time I was working alone, so whenever I performed, it had to be together with a part-time team. It was hard to practice together because the other band members did not have contracts with the same company. This made is difficult to perform and to develop my music. I released albums in 2010, 2011 and in 2018, but I haven’t performed live shows since that first year so I am more like a studio musician.

 

3. What was it about music that you liked from the very beginning?

I just like music. I don’t know why but when I’m writing music, I just have that confidence that I’m going to be better than other musicians.

 

© Im Jang Hyun. 18.06.2018

 

4. What other types of music did you listen to when you were younger? Is this different to what you might choose to listen to now? Is there any genre that you dislike?

During my second year at high school, I bought the second album by Led Zeppelin and I didn’t like it, but I liked Deep Purple’s best of album and RATM because of the simpler guitar riff. It made me want to listen to it more. These days, I like to listen to Carla Bruni’s music whenever I go to sleep. I still find it hard to listen to death metal and EDM.

 

5. Your tracks have a wonderful energy about them! Do you ever think that your music provides a way for people to escape from their daily lives?

I usually want to make music that has a fresh and happy sound because I want to help people to escape from their day-to-day lives. My third track ‘Romance with a dancer’ and my sixth track ‘Shield‘ are those types of songs. Sometimes life feels too long and difficult so it is good to listen to music to relax.

 

6. Does songwriting become easier or more difficult as time progresses? (Is it easier when you have more experiences and get older?)

When I was 22, it would take me more than 20 days to write one song. Now if someone asks me for a new song, for example, to write one for a friend’s wedding, then I can put something together in one hour. I think that even though I am faster at composing now, I wouldn’t say that I am a better writer. Time isn’t an important factor to writing a good song. There have been bands who have had a famous first album, yet their second and third ones didn’t do well, even if they have improved their skills and gained more experience.

I think the most important part to writing a song is finding the feeling that you want the song to have. That part is 90% dependent on talent. You just have that sense or you don’t.

 

The second most important thing is to use parts of demos from your other songs when you can’t think of a good verse. I usually save a lot of my demos (even really old ones) because there might be a day where I can use a part of them.

 

The third thing is that if you need help with a part of a song, to not be afraid to seek outside help. You can hire someone to do something with that part to make the song better.

 

© Im Jang Hyun. 18.06.2018

 

7. How do you decide on the titles for your songs?

My song titles don’t have a lot of meaning behind them, I usually just pick a name that sounds like it matches with the song.

 

8. There is a change of pace with tracks ‘Orange’ and ‘Daddy & Daughter’. Can you talk more about the ideas behind these songs?

I needed something in the album with a slow tempo, like someone singing to a person they love, whether it be within families or couples. When I make that type of song, I try to use less instruments to allow it to become a pure love song. ‘Orange’ and ‘Daddy & Daughter’ are that type of track.

 

9. What is your opinion on advances in technology? Does it benefit musicians?

Yes, I think that technology allows for better music to be made, but I also feel that older style albums from bands like The Beatles are good too because they convey a good feeling.

 

10. Why did you decide that this would be the last album release? Are you hopeful about a different future or is it bittersweet to bring this road to an end?

I decided that this album would be my last because I have found something that I want to do more than music. In 2010-2011, I bought stocks with all the revenue I received from my music activities. It was very interesting for me to share profits with a company and get shares back. Then I wanted to concentrate more on my assets while I have a little more room to invest. I do love music, but one person usually lives for 90 years now; I think it would be too long a time for me to only have one career before heaven comes. I feel that my fans will understand my reasons for ending my music career to move on to the next page of my life.

 

The funny thing is that I have been working for a short period of time, yet still have my songs played on TV and the radio, so I have profits from music coming in every month. I wanted to release this album as a last present to the fans that have been patiently waiting for it.

 

11. What are your best memories from the last 5 years? Is there something that you are most proud of?

I grew up in Gaepo Dong, Seoul (in South Korea). I remember walking with the people that I love and hugging them in front of traffic lights on the street.

As a stock trader, I also like the vibe when I am talking about the stock market with colleagues.

I recorded this album together with many performing musicians from 2015, so I am proud of myself for being able to finish this album.

 

12. Did you have a specific sound that you wanted to achieve with this album? There is a sense of nostalgia within some of the tracks. Which are your favourites?

I was trying to achieve a fresh sound which I feel that I pretty much accomplished. Perhaps the reason you feel that nostalgia from the album is because I wasn’t using many trendy instruments. Even for me, it sounds like and feels like an album that is 4 years old. Even after 20 years, I think it will be that way. Honestly? I love every track but today, I would choose to listen to track 5 (‘Hug’).

 

13. Are there any songs by other musicians that you think of fondly?

Sometimes I listen to Gipsy King’s ‘Volare’. The bassist of Koxx and Like and Time, Sun Bin Park played for this album. I am really appreciative of these bands.

 

© Im Jang Hyun. 18.06.2018

 

14. Do you have any ideas about how to get the Korean public to be more open-minded about different styles of music? Do you think that the music market is too saturated with musicians trying to be noticed?

Many competitors might create too much competition for this industry. But I personally think that those competitive moments stimulate the creation of something new, because people will try to create different songs to stand out from everyone who is doing similar things.

 

I think Korean indie music has become known to the public in recent years, but it seems to be known mainly for the lyrics, rather than the music as a whole. Anyway, people are listening to more varied music now compared to the past.

 

15. What do you think is the most important thing that you have learned so far? What advice would you give to your younger self?

The price of living is becoming more expensive and the human body only gets older, so people and companies should share their profits. If I could give advice to my 10 years old self, I would say “do whatever you want but you should invest in some stocks’ and ‘as you are getting older, you will discover that good people and good friends are the best asset of your life.’

 

16. Everyone has something they are chasing for in life. What are the dreams that you are running towards?

When I was 25 years old and released a Korean indie music album, I already knew that most Korean musicians weren’t wealthy. Nevertheless, I convinced myself that if I died, I would go to heaven. But when I closed my eyes and thought about myself being the same as others around me, I felt like that I would be scolded by God if I did not do something that I really liked in this life. I think that people should live doing what they really like to do without harming others. Sometimes it can be a tough decision that is not very economical. I am satisfied with being both a musician in my past and becoming a stock trader now.

Although my job has changed, the direction of my life has not changed much. I still want to live happily with the people whom I love. In the short term, I would like to go on a trip to Hungary in two years time.

 

17. If you could choose to do anything you wanted, how would you spend your time?

I am really enjoying the moments where I take a nap with my dog after a hard day’s work. If I could have double the time in life, I would like to enjoy both careers as a stock investor and a musician. But it is a shame that I can’t do that.

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. Thank you and I wish Inspire Me Korea the best of luck.

 

© Im Jang Hyun. 18.06.2018

 

Thanks again to Jang Hyun for giving us some insight into his music career as a whole! We hope he does well in his new ventures!

Featured image and in-article images source: © Im Jang Hyun. 18.06.2018. All photographs were provided by the artist for use in this interview article. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.

© Interview with The Finnn. 20.06.2018. Inspire Me Korea.

Louisa Lee

Enthusiastic writer and foodie. Enjoys discovering new music, films and books, as well as travelling, trying various cuisines and learning about different cultures. My music player is never too far away - life just isn’t complete without music!

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