Maybe we expect grand answers from musicians when they are asked with a clichéd question—“Why did you decide to become a musician?”—because many of us think making a living through music is nearly impossible. As an interviewer, I am always compelled to ask rudimentary questions that prompt the interviewee to explain their life choices, such as why they chose to be a writer, musician, or filmmaker. When I was interviewing Manggakwha, I could not help but to ask them the same question. When I did, with a childlike innocence, they answered: “because music is fun.” Like their simple answer, Manggakwha’s music is candid.
The meaning behind the band’s name explains who and what kind of band Manggakwha desires to be. Originally written in Chinese characters, the first letter “Mang” (望) means wishing, the second letter “Gak”(刻) means remembering; and the last letter “Wha” (化) means making. Together the three letters “Mang-Gak-Wha” carry the meaning of ‘wishing to be remembered.‘ People try to remember important moments in life, yet the moments Manggakwha wish to remember appears to be passing moments we easily miss and forget in our daily lives.
Slowly and steadily, Manggakwha continues to tell stories of their own.
If you can introduce the band in one sentence, how would you describe it?
Manggakwha: Our music is honest!
Tell us how Manggakwha came to be.
Jooyoung: The band first began just with my friends. There were several changes in members since the band was created. The band is now composed of three members and they are all from my hometown, Busan. We came to Seoul because we wanted to play music here.
Yoonho: When I was in Busan, I played mostly grudge rock. (I noted in the interview question that Yoonho looks badass with his moustache) Thank you for saying that I look that way. I like to be free.
I heard that Sanggon and Jooyoung went to the same high school, do you remember your first impression of each other? What did you guys think of each other?
Jooyoung: I didn’t really notice Sanggon during high school years. I wasn’t really at school, so I didn’t really see Sanggon. After we graduated, I had a chance to play music with him. I asked him to be part of the band, because I thought he was a good drummer. Also, I personally like and prefer tall and sturdy drummer, so I immediately liked him.
Sanggon: In school, Jooyoung was a famous senior who played in the school music club. So I was kinda afraid of him. But, not anymore. We can talk about anything now.
Is there any incident that made you guys decide to become musicians?
Jooyoung: When I was just beginnning to learn to play guitar, my mom bought an expensive guitar for me.I felt bad to just shove the guitar in the corner of the room, so I continued playing. I naturally began to write songs as I practiced guitar.
Yoonho: Hm, I think it is hard to pinpoint a moment or an incident…It has been a long time since I began. I can’t really think of a memorable incident. But, I loved the sound of bass guitar and I think the feelings from that day continue to this day.
Sanggon: I also can’t really say that I had a special incident, but I started to play the drum after I listened to the album by Oasis.
Do you guys have any role models you look up to?
Jooyung: I always thought it would be nice for Manggakwha to be like U2
Yoonho: Me too. U2.
Sanggon: As a drummer, I want to be like Chad Smith from Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Any song you guys are hooked on these days?
Jooyoung: The band I listened to a lot this year is Meat Puppets. This team affected me in many ways for a long time.
Yoonho: “I stay away” by Alice in Chains. I think the song matches well with the weather these days. I listen to it at least once a day.
Sanggon: I have been listening to “Settle down” by The 1975.
How about a song that can describe how you guys feel these days?
Jooyoung: I would say “Fresh Feeling” by Eels. The lyrics popped into my head just now vaguely: “Birds singing a song, old paint is peeling this is that fresh, that fresh feeling.”
Sanggon: I have been humming “Shoulda Woulda Coulda” by Brian Mcknight.
If you have to pick a song or an album you like the most, which song/album would it be?
Jooyoung: I would say “어어어어,몰라/ uhuhuhuh, I don’t know,” because I get happy when I sing this song.
Yoonho: I like “Coast Travelers.”
Sanggon: For me, “Ordinary Five.” I am very curious to know the meaning behind this song because Jooyung said he did not tell anyone yet. I am very curious.
We want to hear about the song-making process. I am aware that the vocal Jooyoung composes the songs, I am curious to know what aspects you pay the most attention, and where you derive your inspirations from.
Jooyoung: I focus most attention on writing words where sounds can naturally follow along. The thing is, when I compare my notes from before and now, I notice that I used to obssess over words. I think I now focus more on whether the sentences connect with one another, creating a linear story. It is more important for me to tell a story that makes sense. I don’t really have a specific place I pull inspirations from. I try to remember my experiences without distortions. I do think I enjoy writing more than composing melodies though. Oh, I do have this compulsive behavior where the speed of writing lyrics must parallel with speed of writing melodies.
This question is specific to the song “Whale Dolphine.” The song makes allusion to bibilical figures. Some of you guys are Christians, has your religious beliefs influenced your music in any way?
Jooyoung: I wrote this song when I was twenty years old. I don’t question it anymore, but during that time, I questioned whether I am leading my life, or God is. It was a chaotic time for me. It is hard to explain how I felt during that time but I think my stubborness to make music with my power, at times, blinded me from the source of life. Originally, the lyrics of the song were longer. I still play the song pretty frequently.
When I read the comments left by the fans, they usually describe Manggakwha’s music as “nostalgic,” “soft,” and “warm.” I wonder what kind of person Jooyoung is in real life. What is he like?
Yoonho: He makes you curious about what kind of person he will be in the future. He does not stay in one place but always challenges himself. He is someone who tries to stay honest and genuine in all things. And………He is warm-hearted, sometimes.
Do you guys ever clash with one another? If so, how do you guys usually resolve the conflicts?
Jooyoung: I stay persistent to the end.
Yoonho: We don’t really have any conflict with one another. If we do, I think I also stay persistent
Sanggon: I always follow what Jooyoung says.
Is there any worries or concerns you guys have for the band?
Jooyoung: In any circumstance, I want our band to live with a dream.
Yoonho: Music is fun, so I don’t really worry. I wish all the members will care about their health though.
Sanggon: I worry about how to divide my attention evenly while performing on stage.
Maybe foreign fans are not so familiar with the generalizations against guys from Busan as manly and tougher than Seoul men, but all of you guys are from Busan. Would you say the fact that you are from Busan influences Manggakwha’s music in any way? For example, many songs, such as “Whale and Dolphine” and “Coast Travelers,” are related to ocean.
Jooyoung: My home was really close to the ocean. So close that I was able to see the ocean from my house. When I was in Busan, I used to write songs while sitting down on the white sand. So I think it was a natural thing for me to write songs about the sea.
Yoonho: Because we are from Busan, we do hold up to that generalizations to certain extent. But, we knew each other for a long time and we are all living away from home right now. I feel like Jooyoung and Sanggon are my little brothers.
Sanggon: From the bat, our accent is different from Seoul natives. I am glad I get to be in the band with people from my hometown.
All of you guys now live in Seoul. When do you miss Busan the most?
Jooyoung: I miss Busan the most when I miss my mom, when I want to listen to the sound of the ocean, and when spring turns into summer.
Yoonho: Memories of Busan are left in my head like photographs. When I experience deja-vu like experience where reality collapses with the memories in my head, I miss Busan.
Sanggon: When the weather is nice, I think of Busan.
Any memorable episodes from the recent concert, “MOJO BOYS AND GIRLS”?
Sanggon: I was really nervous, but many people came. I felt good about how the concert turned out.
Yoonho: I wanted to play with the new bass guitar, but I am still in the process of getting used to it so I didn’t play at the concert. I plan to play the next performance with my new guitar.
I can see that you guys make efforts to communicate with the fans. Is there any memorable events you guys did for the fans?
Sanggon: I remember the event we did called the “70 days.” We prepared presents to give out to the audience at the concert. As one of the presents, I sang “Faith” by George Michael at the performance.
Yoonho: I remember playing at small cafes. I really liked the atmosphere.
A fan from Turkey manages the facebook page for Manggakwha. Did you guys know this?
Jooyoung: From time to time, I receive twitts from people around the world, which is a special and unique experience for me. I don’t do facebook so I did not know, but when I heard a fan from Turkey manages facebook for our band, I was really shocked. Of course, I am happy to hear that.
Yoonho: I remember when Japanese fans came to our live performances. I didn’t know how to speak Japanese so I panicked, but I still remember how they gave me thumbs up!
How do you wish to be remembered by people?
Jooyoung: Dreamers. As people who never stopped dreaming.
Yoonho: We will continue to play music. I think it is up to the listeners to decide how they want to remember us.
Sanggon: People who lived an exciting life by playing exciting music.
If you guys have a goal for the band, what would it be? What are your thoughts on debuting abroad?
Yoonho: We are planning to release a new album this year. As for debuting abroad..if the chance comes I will leave my life here and go abroad.
Sanggon: I am currently employed at a company, but if I get a chance to perform abroad, I will quit my job and go right away.
Can you say hello to our KROCKISREAL readers 🙂
Jooyoung: I wish more people will listen to our music. I also dream of meeting you guys in the future. Thank you.
Yoonho: It is exciting to know our stories will be told through this site. I really wish we can meet all of you in the future.
Sanggon: I hope to see you!
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For More Information about Manggakwha
FAN FACEBOOK: Manggakwha
OFFICIAL FANSITE: on cyworld.com
LABEL FACEBOOK: The SundayDisco
Upcoming Concerts and Events
-Collaboration Performance with Three Brothers “형형형”- Joohyug will be collborating with HUGH KEICE and Wan from Mushrooms on July 25th, 2014 @ Tungstan Hall.You can buy the ticket starting from July 4th, 2014, after 1PM.