I received an email from DISQO VOLANTE a month back about his music and his upcoming EP. I listened to his single “Pretend For A Day” and found it really interesting. His EP, re: lit, released today and I thought it would be great for him to introduce himself so people would have an idea of who he is as an artist and his music.

disqo volante

Can you introduce yourself?

I was originally born in Seoul, and shortly thereafter adopted by an English father and an Italian-American mother. I grew up just outside Washington DC. I’m currently based in Carrboro, NC. I originally came to North Carolina to study jazz saxophone at UNC Chapel Hill, and I’ve stuck around since I graduated in 2015.

Where did the name DISQO VOLANTE come from?

I came up with the name right during the period when the K-drama My Love From Another Star was really popular; I got this idea of “music from another star” in my head, and I wanted to have a name that reflected that. “Disco volante” means “flying saucer” in Italian, which I thought was a nice nod to my mom’s side of the family. Plus the name has the added tie-in with the James Bond villain, and the Alfa Romeo car. Not a bad collection of associations, I think!

How would you describe your music?

I always have a bit of trouble qualifying my own stuff – I’d probably put it somewhere on the synthpop spectrum: I listened to a lot of Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra growing up, but I’m sure my love affair with punk rock and my background in jazz make transient appearances from time to time. I hope so, anyway!

Any specific influences in your music?

Definitely. One of my all-time heroes (no pun intended) is David Bowie; I could listen to his music all day and enjoy it as pop, or listen a bit deeper and notice something different about it every time. That’s the sort of depth I want to create in my own music, where it’s approachable to anyone who bends an ear, but there’s enough substance to keep someone engaged.

A big moment for me was discovering the Korean indie scene, and starting to listen to artists like Aseul and OOHYO who are doing some really incredibly cool stuff, in blatant defiance of the K-pop machine. It was so inspiring to see a community of musicians really taking their craft to different places from where the status quo had settled.

Is there any message you want to send in your music?

I wouldn’t say that I try to send a specific message. Naturally, someone listening to my songs might discover the inspiration behind them, through the lyrics or what have you, but mostly I aim to create songs that people can relate to, and sort of take personally through a perspective that makes sense or is relevant to them.

For me it’s really about sharing human experiences in a way that’s a bit more visceral than just speaking or writing to someone, being more human with one another through the shared experience of listening to music. On top of that, I try to keep my music engaging, but still very danceable. If you can’t move your body to what’s going on in the music, then I’m not doing my job!

re: lit is your upcoming EP. How long did it take to record? Were there any challenges during the recording?

The concept of the EP came about roughly a year ago – I was working on a project called “Digital World” that was a sort of jazz-EDM hybrid, taking some of the improvisatory aspects of jazz, and blending it with a more modern electronic aesthetic. I left that project alone for a while, but being in Japan and Korea this summer really inspired me to look back in that direction.

The actual material of re: lit came together in about 3 or 4 months; I started writing when I got back from Asia in July. As with any self-produced product, making sure everything I record is up to snuff technically is always a challenge, although I think the hardest part of recording on my own is getting too close to the music. I work on it so intensely for so long, I stop seeing the bigger picture and get hyperfocused on details that either don’t matter or actually detract from the final product.

That’s when I have to bounce the mixes off friends or family, they’ll be able to tell me almost immediately what’s good, what’s terrible, what needs to be tweaked. It’s a crucial part of the part of the process for me.

Did your trips to Japan and South Korea heavily influence the re: lit?

In a big, big way. To be honest, in the months leading up to my trip to Asia, I was kinda down. Musically, personally, just uninspired. But being in Japan, and especially Korea, and getting just blitzed with so many different people creating so many different things, DJs in Itaewon dropping some of the dirtiest house music I’d ever heard, record shops full of old American hip hop vinyls, there was a hidden artfulness in so much of the everyday life I had an opportunity to explore. That really got be back into the groove of things.

I tend to get most inspired by putting myself in places where I run into creative people on a daily basis – when you see people around you doing awesome things, you don’t want to be the only one caught doing nothing.

As an adopted Korean, what were your first impressions of Korean independent music?

It was definitely one of those “where has this been all my life” moments! As a musician I’ve strove to bridge the musical and cultural gap between Korea and America. Hearing some Korean music further out of the mainstream got me a lot closer to understanding what that might be like.

Where there any bands that stuck out when you started exploring Korean music?

Love X Stereo were the band that really started making me pay serious attention. The first song of theirs I heard was “Fly Over,” with that fucking incredible synth sound, and I thought, oh my god, this is what modern music is supposed to sound like!

If you could collaborate with any band or artist, who would it be?

I’d love to collaborate with Neon Bunny. I seriously dig her vibe, she has a lot of breadth as an artist. I think my music tends to be a little hard-edged and pyroclastic – a dose of the subtlety Neon Bunny has in her tracks could be a really cool thing.

Anything to say to readers?

Thank you for supporting this community of artists, and if you decide to give re: lit a listen (and it really would mean the world to me :3) I hope you hear something you enjoy!

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Korean Indie Editor-At-Large The person in the background watching over everything.