Every now and then, we get introduced to an act that blows our socks off in ways that words can hardly do enough justice. While away in Korea recently, we were introduced to a four-member unit based out of Seoul that’s been rocking out in underground venues for nearly ten years. With their rock aesthetic and no-nonsense flair, Juck Juck Grunzie (comprised of members Ahreum Lee, Jeehye Ham, Boong, and Kyunghyun Lee) is set to take on the world, including a spot at the prestigious Glastonbury Festival in the UK. Without further ado, here is our interview with three of the members of the Korean rock outfit Juck Juck Grunzie.
Juck Juck Grunzie is a four-member psychedelic noise-rock band from Seoul, South Korea. Their sound is something very much their own – mysterious, chaotic, strange and beautiful all at once. Since their underground debut in 2007, this group has been climbing up the ladder in the Hongdae indie scene, and has performed at festivals in Korea and Taiwan. With an upcoming European tour as well as a spot at Glastonbury, the group took some time to sit down with us and talk about who the group is and why they want to take the world by storm with their music.
For those who aren’t familiar with who you are, please introduce yourself briefly.
Jeehye: Hello, my name is Jeehye. I’m the guitarist!
Ahreum: Hi I’m Ahreum. I play synthesizer and I sing.
Boong: Hi I’m Boong. I play bass. Hi!
How long have you guys been doing music together for, and how did you come together originally?
J: Ahreum and I were friends before we started the band. We talked about forming a really fun all-girl band. At that time, Boong was playing bass for another band, and we happened to be looking for a bassist at that point. We found her and asked her if she was interested in joining, and that’s how she joined.
Initially, JJG was an all-female band. But with the addition of a male drummer, has the dynamic of the group changed at all?
J: There’s not really any difference in our dynamic, regardless of gender. Everything is still pretty chill.
You guys made your underground debut back in 2007 at a Nirvana tribute show. What has been the biggest change for you since that time, artistically speaking?
J: Our idea for when we first formed the band was not to be your average rock band. We wanted to do something fun and different. The essence of that idea remains the same today as it did when we first got together. Back in the day, Ahreum played guitar but now she plays synth.
B: Since there was member changes at different times, our sound has evolved with each member change. But the essence is still there. We still want to play music that’s fun and unique.
You’ve played at a couple major festivals in Korea, as well as in Taiwan. You’re now getting ready for your first European tour, including a stint at Glastonbury in the UK. Talk about that.
All: We’re very excited as this is our first time to perform in Europe.
J: We started as an all-girl band with a different approach to music, which some people here in Korea might view as ‘too out-there’, but we wanted to be able to make our sound unique. We want our European audience to expect a unique sound when they see us perform.
Your last major release was your 2013 effort ‘Psycho’. When can fans expect new material from the group?
All: We’re aiming for our next release to be out sometime in the spring next year, but we’re 100% certain right now. After our Europe tour, we plan to head into the studio to record for our next album.
The Korean indie scene has grown exponentially in the last ten years or so. Since you have been around performing for a while, what would you say has changed about the indie scene since you started performing live as a unit?
J: It has changed a lot. There are a lot more bands now, and more options now for indie bands to market and promote themselves and their music. Back when we started out, it was more about having fun and playing music we wanted to play. But nowadays, there’s a lot of bands who are more interested in making it big as supposed to having fun with music.
B: Jeehye mentioned the positive effect of the indie scene growth. On the flip side though, I feel like the pure spirit of music making, especially for indie bands these days, has been lost due to a pursuit of fame.
Is there anyone in the indie scene that you’ve kept a close eye on in terms of enjoying their music or interest to collaborate with?
B: Sillica Gel hasn’t been around too long but they’re really good. I have seen them perform a couple of times.
A: There are so many good bands in Hongdae, but one of my favourites is Apollo 18.
What are your top two most played songs currently?
B: I like OUGHT. They’re a band from Montreal, Canada and I saw them perform once. I like their most recent album.
A: I like Gong. They’re a French band. I can’t remember the name of any song of theirs right now, but I like them.
When you have spare time, what do you do to relax?
J: Watching Korean dramas!
B: I love zoning out!
What is your guilty pleasure currently? It can be anything!
J: Watching Korean dramas~ haha
B: I love cake! Trot is also a guilty pleasure. One of the first songs I ever played on piano was a trot song.
A: Do you know Adventure Time? I love that cartoon. I had a backpack but I lost it. But I do have a Finn purse and a Jake mug. In the mornings I’ll have coffee in my Jake mug.
Name one thing that fans may not already know about you.
A: I have a pet at home!
B: My house is really messy. They say that you can know a lot about a person’s lifestyle just by looking at their closet.
Any advice for aspiring indie artists?
J: You should goals to work towards as an artist, and an idea of what your sound will be like – what will make you stand out from other artists. You should also know why you’re doing music, whether it’s because you enjoy it and are having fun or if it’s to become famous and successful.
Any final words for the readers?
A: We hope to perform in Canada next year, and we hope to see you all at our shows then.
J: We hope to meet our Canadian fans next year. Please look forward to our next album! And for those in Europe, please come see us at our upcoming shows out there.
Big thanks to Vivian (Juck Juck Grunzie’s manager) and Shawn Despres for organizing this great interview. Check out the band’s work on YouTube, and for those in Europe – make sure to catch the band on tour on the following dates:
June 25 Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Pussy Parlure)
June 26 Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Gully Outernational)
June 30 London, UK @ Windmill Brixton
July 1 Berlin, Germany @ Kantine am Berghain
July 4 Berlin, Germany @ West Germany
Until next time, this has been a rhythm.connection exclusive!