[Indies] The Healing Musicians Soran Aim to Become the Nation’s Band
I met with the band Soran in a quiet café near Hongdae.
Why does this band not perform loud sounds (soran) like its name implies, but take on sensitive pop and modern rock that lets anyone relate for its many mini albums, singles and first studio album natural?
The band answered simply that it was because they “liked the twist.”
“It seems like we would come out with loud music, but we don’t. We have cheerful melodies, but the lyrics are sad. We like this paradoxical feeling,” the band’s members said in the beginnings of our conversation. That was what the interview was full of: twists and paradoxes. The members introduced themselves as "Hongdae’s visual band", and revealed their ties with not only 10cm, but also with big stars like Choi Kang Hee and Sung Si Kyung. Leader Go Young Bae confessed that he was a variety fan and looked up to Yoo Jae Suk. Enough twists for a Hongdae indie band.
Loved for talking about everyone
The band was formed in 2009, and after getting itself exposed through performances in Hongdae, brought in its friends Kwon Jung Ryul of 10cm, Jung Soo Wan of Serengeti and Gong Tae Woo of Monni to release a mini album, and was honored with a performance in The Stage 2, hosted by the Korea Creative Contents Agency.
The next year, around the time it had released a single and was holding its second exclusive concert, it signed with its current label Happy Robot Records and was chosen as the best rookie at the Beautiful Mint Life 2011 and the Grand Mint Festival 2011 Awards. Its preview track Are You Crazy, featuring 10cm’s Kwon Jung Ryul, made it into the top 10 on music charts, an unprecedented feat for a Hongdae indie band.
When asked why they think they’re loved so by the public, the members came up with answers such as, “Since our music makes them feel comfortable,” “Since it’s like the songs are talking about them and not other people,” “Good looks” and “Go Young Bae’s adlibs, which you can only see at our concerts.”
Surprising ties with 10cm, Choi Kang Hee and Sung Si Kyung
They can’t boast a wide range of friends, but they did get help from some of their close ties. Go Young Bae and Kwon Jung Yeol, who first met four to five years ago as the head of the student body and an unknown band vocalist, still share their ideas about music as close friends. He didn’t directly show it, but he seemed thankful that 10cm, which became more popular earlier, was helping out. On the outside though, he kept saying, “I just don’t like 10cm.”
Go Young Bae is currently appearing on the KBS 2FM radio show Choi Kang Hee’s Night Flight every Thursday.
“I couldn’t see any snobbishness usually found in actresses [coming from Choi Kang Hee], and she was very human. I could see why she has a lot of steady fans,” he said with a thumbs up. Choi Kang Hee even attended Go Young Bae’s wedding last year to congratulate him herself, and is helping with promotions for Soran’s new album.
Soran’s drummer Pyun Yoo Il used same barrack with Sung Si Kyung when he was in the military. When Pyun Yoo Il was the squad commander, Sung Si Kyung was a first class private. “I thought he would be sensitive because he’s a celebrity, but he wasn’t, and he was very funny. Even these days we keep in touch with each other,” Pyun Yoo Il said.
Perhaps because of this tie, the eighth track in the band’s first studio album, Cherry Blossoms Rain Down, seems to be reminiscent of a Sung Si Kyung ballad piece.
Fans of Yoo Jae Suk aiming to become the Nation’s band
The members proved they could be funny when they wanted to. When asked about where the nickname ‘the Lee Byung Hun of Hongdae’ came from, the members answered, “One fan said that to us after our performance. We then spread the rumor ourselves. We threw it out there and forgot about it, but it came back to us. It’s like brainwashing.” The members then showed their confidence in their looks, saying, “We think we’re in the top 5 in visuals out of all the other bands in Hongdae.”
Where does this humor come from? Go Young Bae said he was a big fan of variety programs, and that he especially makes sure he watches all of Yoo Jae Suk’s.
“I’ve seen him too often [on television] he’s like a hyung (big brother) I know. I’m such a big fan. The only time I was envious of 10cm was when they appeared on Infinity Challenge with Yoo Jae Suk. If we get a chance, I want to appear on Happy Together for a rough talk.”
Even without the surprising connections and their humorous words, Soran’s music is firm enough to grab hearts. The members all agree that they want to “produce music that’s natural and that anyone can relate to.” Of course, as the band is one that also plays its instruments live, it wishes to show its expertise as a performing artist. “We want to become a dream team,” they said, and just like the quote implies they want to be the best in their areas. Their ultimate goal is to become the Nation’s band.
“If our music is good, the people like us and the members continue to grow in their areas, the title may come to us naturally someday. We want to produce music that people would like, music that they can listen to comfortably and remember with their hearts.”
Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan