When it comes to remembering 2020 in a decade's time, many will rightfully labor the pandemic, social upheaval and climate issues currently plaguing the globe.
However, even in chaos beauty can still shine and the level of creative output of bands and artists this year has been both outstanding and constant.
My latest musical addiction is Korean indietronica, art-rock duo Wedance. Oh my, my. . . I've fallen in love with this band. Hard!
Like a couple of music alchemists, the pairing of Wevo and Wegui have been a hidden secret of Seoul's underground scene for more than a decade, producing 20-plus albums/ EPs in that time (but only made available the old-school way; at their live shows in the form of vinyl, cassettes, and CDs – did I mention I was in love?).
Their passion for crazy dancing and oddball, Grandparent fashion will further endear them to new audiences.
But with a lack of shows owning to the pandemic, Wedance (which Wevo and Wegui proudly declare is a 'statement and a warning') have been forced to accept 21st century technology, releasing their latest record, 'Dance Pop' on DSPs.
'Dance Pop' is one of the albums of 2020! Mixing industrial rave, minimal techno, pop with a punk attitude (not pop-punk, ha), indie rock and tied together with a DIY ribbon, Wedance have mashed together the aesthetics of The Stone Roses, The Prodigy and LCD Soundsystem and lashed it together with '80s pop influences. Even hints of Spiderbait/ Regurgitator resonate at times.
Ahead of their virtual tour of Australia that kicks off next week at BIGSOUND, Wevo and Wegui were kind enough to answer a few of my questions.
Wedance are undertaking a number of virtual showcases to Australian audiences in the next few weeks; what do you think of first at the mention of Australia? WEVO: I think about the festivals we came to play there in the past, OZ Asia and BIGSOUND. I remember the sights and sounds from those cities as well.
WEGUI: I think of the wide, endless landscapes, the oceans, the southern hemisphere and forest fires. We see a lot about the forest fires on the news here. It is really sad to see the destruction they cause.
These upcoming showcase performances; what can we expect to hear and see from Wedance? WEVO: I guess you won't ever know if you don't tune in and check it out. I don't really know what to expect either as we have never taken part in anything digital like this. I do know you should look forward to it though.
Even coming to you through a screen, our music will get your feet moving through digital signals. Our music will touch you, one way or another.
WEGUI: We will be appearing at BIGSOUND (21 October at 7pm EST) and as an opening guest for Jaguar Jonze as part of the Open Session Program at The Tivoli (20 November).
We had a lot of fun recording the live videos for these performances. We went to a friend's little farm outside Seoul and played our music in a sinkhole and a greenhouse. I doubt you have ever seen a band playing in a sinkhole before, so for that reason alone, you should probably check it out.
We are also doing a live stream performance for ISOL-AID festival (31 October) as part of a Focus Asia showcase they are putting on. We are playing with some really cool bands.
You showcased at BIGSOUND in 2018; how was that experience and what was the highlight of your visit to Australia? WEVO: The venues that were part of BIGSOUND were hidden all over the city. I visited many of them. One Of the roads we went down was adorned with pink balloons and large installations made of fabric. It looked like a fairytale to me.
WEGUI: BIGSOUND was great fun. Unlike bigger commercial festivals we were able to mingle with and meet a lot of the audience. I like playing in those smaller, intimate venues. The best part of the trip was of course the concerts.
At that time, we used a CD player with backing tracks, it skipped a few times during the performance because of the thumping vibrations on the stage. That, of course, made everything go offbeat, but it didn't matter, it was funny. We were all having so much fun.
The sound of Wedance is as far-removed from typical K-pop as you can imagine. It's like you've mashed together the aesthetics of The Prodigy and LCD Soundsystem. What influences do you bring to your own creative endeavours? WEVO: The phrase 'mashed' is interesting/ funny.
Try listening to The Prodigy when you want to stare at a tree-lined street or the subway train doors for no reason. What most influences me to create is not the final product itself, but people's attitudes toward life and creation. Or nature.
WEGUI: These days I think that something deep down in music itself is material for creating. Not something you can think about in your head, just something deep down in music. It is there in all music. And in things that are not music as well.
I listen to lots of different kinds of music, but I do like The Prodigy and LCD Soundsystem as well. I don't know much about K-pop, so I have nothing to say about that.
Let's talk your new record ‘Dance Pop’; it's a brilliant album IMO mixing industrial rave, minimal techno, pop with a punk attitude (not pop-punk, ha), indie rock and tied together with a DIY ribbon; how did the album come together, the genesis of the songs? WEVO: We were in a little bit of a slump. Perhaps for personal reasons, perhaps just because of the atmosphere in society.
It was invisible to the naked eye, but we were obviously being affected by some kind of strong magnetic field. We started making songs to try and find out what the problem was. Because that is what we always try to do.
The origins of the songs on this album are from a mixture of things, to put it simply the origins are everything from reinvigorating ourselves to our struggles and experiments to find a new vision for ourselves.
The song 'Dance Steel Works' is a song with a very important meaning for the album. Making this album felt a bit like being in a factory with tools in our hands. With the help of the body's muscles and the old machines (this is similar to how it feels when riding a bicycle too), we have made things that have the characteristics of raw materials, like iron, voice, fire, and charcoal.
WEGUI: Firstly, thanks for listening to it and thinking such positive thoughts about it. If we talk about it musically, I think it is fair to say it is deeply immersed in the genres you mentioned in the question.
I don't have anything specific in mind that I wanted to use when we started writing these songs, but things I liked just seem to pop out impulsively when writing each song. So I don't know the origin of each song exactly. I think it was all just on impulse.
I had kinda fallen in love with fuzz guitar around the time we wrote this album, I think that is reflected in some of the songs.
How does this release compare to your earlier work? WEVO: The work of Wedance is nonlinear. Just as human emotions are uneven, so are our works. The characteristics of emotion is a powerful energy for us to create. Just a simple change in one's facial expression can lift even the heaviest of worries.
Just showing an honest facial reaction to someone can help relieve them of even the heaviest worries. That feeling is the core of all the music we make, and it is the core of this album as well. Aside from that, everything else has changed with this album.
WEGUI: I think this album is a little more skilful than the old ones. I fight with that feeling a lot of the time, but I accept it at the same time. The biggest difference that can be heard by your ears are probably in the mixing and mastering parts.
You've been together for almost a decade releasing music (almost 20 EPs/ album), but 'Dance Pop' is the first album you've made available on DSPs; why have you steered clear of the digital format? WEVO: The days we play shows, those are the days where people can buy our music.
When you go to the market that opens every weekend, it is not just a time to buy things, but also a time to greet people and have pleasant or upsetting experiences as well. That's what we like.
I think these experiences are rich and precious and I think we should move more in that direction. I wouldn't choose to do it if I got a half experience just by saving time and money. I want the full experience.
However, I recognise that we can not stay that way forever. I think it is probably the same in Australia, but right now there are almost no performances happening in Seoul. It's too dangerous a situation to get a lot of people together in one place. We are trying to find new ways. I still love the way we used to do things.
Your past releases; any plans to transfer them to the digital world? WEVO: If there is a really cool platform that comes out to put them on, but at the moment we don't really have any concrete plans to do so.
You mash a lot of different genres together, yet it works sublimely; is it a case of throwing things together and seeing what works? WEVO: It is always necessary to make various attempts. We need to be exposed to various different senses because my vision may naturally be set in one direction, but I just don't know it.
But it's not easy because we have to force ourselves to go in the opposite direction of inertia. I don't know much about physics, but I'm enjoying learning about it a little these days. Attempting something is a process and the path to results, at the same time it serves the function of being a warm-up or stretching session.
In the end, the moment of decision is the most important part of getting a result. It's the same when you move from one process to another process. Starting randomly and finishing randomly has nothing to do with creation.
WEGUI: No. It's just an impulse to add certain guitar lines to certain beats. For example, I thought it would be great to put fuzz guitar on a track like 'Ironism'. It is often influenced by the song's lyrical content as well.
Dancing is a big part of Wedance. What inspires you to dance? WEVO: In the moment when I dance, it just flows through me and talks to me. There are many possibilities hidden in dancing. It doesn't matter if you don't dance well. There's magic in a dance that doesn't look beautiful.
Dancing speaks. As soon as I dance, it flows constantly through me and talks to me. I can hear it and that's one of the reasons I like it on stage.
WEGUI: Funnily enough, I thought about this yesterday. Firstly, I think it is just the will to dance. Secondly, our feelings. Music encourages and stimulates those two things The Wedance fashion sense is unique. . . in a very good way.
How much energy, creative thought goes into what you wear onstage? WEVO: I really like clothes. Words and clothes have many similarities. Clothes and words are the two things I can use to show my feelings to the outside world, but they can both generate unsatisfactory feelings as well. They both use bodies and can contain an infinite number of nuances.
There are many possibilities to be found within alienated fashion styles. I like things even if they are not expensive fabric, don't have superfluousness designs or charismatic edges. Of course, I like those things too. On stage, I want to find and show other possibilities.
Where do you usually like to shop? WEVO: I like shops that sell work clothes, shops that sell clothes for middle-aged men, small, local shops that sell used clothes, shops that sell clothes for grandmothers.
Actually, I like to swap clothes with my own grandmother as well. These days, because I am riding my bike a lot I often visit bike clothing shops. I often go to a shop called Rafa. They sell lots of Australian brands there.
Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add? WEVO: The questions in the interview were fun. If I had more free time, I would have liked to write more, so I feel sorry the answers are a little brief.
WEGUI: If I make it out to Australia sometime, please come and say hi. I am a little shy!
Wedance's virtual tour of Australia lands at BIGSOUND on 21 October (8pm EDT), Iso-Aid Festival on 31 October (3.40pm EDT) and supporting Jaguar Jonze at The Tivoli (Brisbane) on 20 November.