I found Kernelstrip through a WATMM video. His album Walking Through The Galaxy wasn’t available online yet, but after talking to him online, he sent a CD through Saebyeok. I was able to meet him during my trip to Seoul and asked if he’d be interested in an interview. As a student, it’s amazing that he’s making music while spending many hours on his education. His talent shows in his music, which everyone should listen to.

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Can you introduce yourself?

Hello, I’m Kernelstrip, an electronica musician based in Korea.

안녕하세요. 한국에서 전자음악가로 활동 중인 Kernelstrip 이라고 합니다.

Is there any significance for the name Kernelstrip?

It’s a combination between Kernel & Strip. The first time I used that combination was three years ago as a student. I made a collection of music called “Kernelstrip Suite” and I’ve been using it since.

There isn’t a huge meaning behind it, actually. I was on a walk and it just came to my mind. I also liked the sound of it. When I looked it up in the dictionary, I found out that it could be translated in many different ways. Kernel can be translated as a computer operating system, or something that’s essential – a core of something.

Kernel + Strip의 조합이예요. 처음으로 사용했던 건 3년 전 대학생 시절 연주 수업할 시절 ‘Kernelstrip Suite’ 라고 모음곡을 발표할때였어요. 그 뒤로 죽 사용하고 있네요.

특별한 계기가 있었다기 보다 산책 중에 문득 생각났었는데, 어감도 좋고 마음에 들어 사전을 찾아보니 다양한 해석이 가능하더군요.

Kernel은 컴퓨터 운영체계의 핵심이기도 하고, 사상 주제의 핵심이라는 뜻도 있잖아요. 그 핵심을 보여준다는 의미입니다.

Your style of music is electronic, but you also describe it as downtempo and chill. How did you decide on this style?

I liked electronica since I was little. But there isn’t many places where I could learn about it and I was clueless on how to make it. Back then, I was learning everything I could since I wanted to learn a lot of stuff.

Around 2010, my friend let me know about a program called FL Studio where I was able to play around with bunch of effectors, or copying some songs that I heard somewhere. There was this huge instant gratification to hear almost-complete sounding music through the speakers. It was almost like the sound was tactile. That’s when I started to save money for more tools and went to see performances to Seoul.

That was beginning of an end to my major, Classical Music. Slowly, I was distancing school and my grades went down to the drain, hahaha.

전자음악은 어렷을 때 부터 좋아했어요. 하지만 딱히 배울 곳도 어떻게 만들어야 하는지도 몰랐었고, 또 그 당시엔 하고 싶은게 너무 많아서 (하하하) 막 닥치는데로 배우고 있었는데,

2010년이었나… 친구가 FL Studio를 알려주면서 저 혼자 이것저것 이펙터 걸어보고, 어디서 들은 걸 흉내내보고 만들기 시작했죠. 그땐 음악을 종이에 사보하면서 만들던 때라 스피커에서

바로바로 멋진 소리들을 들을 수 있다는게 너무 행복했거든요. 소리를 직접 만지면서 처럼 느껴졌달까요. 그렇게 장비를 마련해야겠다는 생각에 돈을 모으고 서울로 공연을 보러 다니기 시작했고

그렇게 전공이었던 클래식을 자연스레 안 하면서 학교와 멀어지고 성적은 곤두박질 치기 시작하고 하하하.

How do you compose songs? What tools do you use to compose music?

I mentioned earlier that I a bit disengaged with school, but the fundamentals and techniques that I knew and learned at school were like a habit, which made me think that some of way to produce electronica music was a bit too complicated. I actually still preferred writing notes on piece of paper, and doodling when I get a writer’s block.

I like finding some rhythm with the piano when I start. The first rough draft is pretty messy and chaotic, but I like eliminating and editing it. The example of that is “Botanical Garden” — there was a lot of editing on that one.

In terms of programs that I use, I’d say I frequent Log 9 and for synth, Novation Ultranova.

앞에서 당시 학교와 멀어졌다는 말을 했는데, 그래도 거기서 보고 배운 습관이 떠나질 않는지 작업방식이 조금 쓸데없이 번거롭다고 생각될 때가 있어요. 여전히 사보를 좋아하고, 진행이 안되면 종이에다가 스케치 하기도 하구요. 우선 피아노로 큰 틀을 잡아가면서 거기에 이런저런 리듬을 만들어봐요. 그래서 초반에 나오는 것들을 엄청 지저분하고 엉망인데, 그것을 마음에 들때까지 계속 수정하는 식으로 작업합니다. 대표적으로 수록곡인 ‘Botanical Garden’ 이 수정을 제일 많이 한 곡이예요. 프로그램은 Logic 9을, 신스는 Novation Ultranova를 사용합니다.

On your newest EP, Dazzling, you have remixes from KIRARA, YUKARI, Stray, Damirat, and HH. How did they get involved with the EP? Are electronic musicians close with one another?

It started with Damirat helping out remixing “LOCK.” It was a hard request for me to make to Damirat as I was overwhelmed — “Whoa asking him to remix music that I made…” But he first suggested to help remixing so I was very grateful. With his help, the right result came. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank KIARA, YUKARI, Stray, Damirat, and HH. I can’t thank them enough! I should really thank them in person…

I would love to work with them soon. Oh also, Korean Indie readers, I hope you like Dazzling!

I may be dreaming but I think I am close to all of them… (as spinner keeps on spinning like the movie Inception…) Currently, I am swamped with my graduation piece so I can’t go to shows as often as I would during the breaks. I’m really looking forward for the graduation to be over.

According to my memory, I promised coffee and lunches to many people… I am going to call them up soon.

Damirat가 ‘LOCK’ 리믹스를 해주시면서 시작됐어요. 그때까진 ‘내 음악 리믹스 라니… 말도 안돼….’ 같은 생각이었던지라 부탁드리는게 그렇게 힘들더라구요. 그래서 먼저 리믹스 해주겠다고 말씀해주신 Damirat가 너무 고마웠죠. 그렇게 힘을 얻어 한번 만들어보자고 마음 먹고 결국엔 이렇게 결과물을 내놓게 되었습니다. 이 자리를 빌어 KIRARA, YUKARI, Stray, Damirat, HH에게 정말 고맙고 고맙다는 말을 꼭 하고 싶어요. 사실 이런 말 얼굴보고 해야되는데… 다음에 또 작업할 기회가 있었으면 좋겠어요. 그리고 코리안 인디 독자 여러분 ‘Dazzling’ 많이 사랑해주세요!

저는 친하다고 생각하는데 왠지 옆에 팽이가 멈추질 않네요?! 요즘엔 제가 졸업 작품 시즌이라 방학시즌 만큼 자주 공연장에 못 가고 있어서 얼굴보기가 너무 힘들어요. 어서 졸업 시즌이 끝나길 빌고 있습니다.

제 기억에 제가 밥이든 커피든 마시자고 한 분들이 여럿(…) 계시는데 어서 연락을 드려야겠어요.

Do you have a favorite song that you’ve composed? Why is that your favorite?

I particularly love “LOCK.” This song was written three years ago when I had a lot of personal hardships so this one really holds close to my heart. Also, it was a very first song that I worked on for my album and oldest as well.

I got to know a lot of amazing people through “LOCK.” But the biggest reason is that the song really got me started with my music and slowly changed my career. After all, this song was my beginning.

LOCK’ 을 제일 좋아해요. 이 곡은 만들었던 3년 전엔 유독 개인적인 일도 많았던 시절이라 더욱 애착이 갑니다. 앨범 수록곡 중에서도 제일 먼저 만든 곡이고 가장 오래묵혀 놓은 곡이기도 하구요.

‘LOCK’을 통해서 알게 된 고마운 분들도 많고… 가장 큰 이유라하면 역시 ‘LOCK’ 을 시작으로 작업의 중심이 잡혔고 저에게 변화가 일어나기 시작했다는 점이예요. 저 곡이 시작이었으니까요.

Are there any other musicians that you recommend? Is there a musician that you would like to collaborate with?

Do I have to pick one? If I were to list all the artists, there’d be no end. But if I were to recommend ONE musician, it’d be First Aid. I’ve been a big fan since “Nobody Makes Sound.”

First Aid is really good at having various sound and narrating them in their own way, such as “Drift to Hide” or Informations as well as F.W.D. It’s just fantastic and admirable. I would love to work with them one day.

한 뮤지션만 이야기 해야되나요? 너무 많아서 일일이 열거하면 끝이 없을 것 같은데… 한 분만 추천한다면 First Aid 입니다. 예전 ‘Nobody Makes Sounds’ 때 부터 너무 잘 듣고 있어서….

하하하 ‘Drift To Hide’ 라던가 ‘Informations’ 같은 작품들부터 F.W.D 까지 다양한 사운드를 자신만의 정서로 풀어내는게 존경스럽고 멋져요. 정말 함께 작업해보고 싶습니다.


Do you have any goals with your music? Or are you still exploring the genre?

I’d like to keep continuing on music with full energy and be able to do it for a long time.

지치지 않고 계속 작업하고 활동하는 거요. 오랫동안 음악을 하고 싶어요.

What do you see as the biggest challenge being a musician?

Recently, I am realizing that my Everest is my lazy and irresponsible self. As I start officially as a musician, I started seeing what lacks in me.

In order for me to work on the new music, I would have to invest in new tools and new types of experiences. Mostly importantly, I need to surround myself with books and music.

요즘들어 드는 생각인데 가장 넘기 힘든 산은 바로 게으르고 대책없는 ‘나’ 입니다. 활동을 시작하면서 저한테 부족한 부분이 엄청나게 많이 보이더군요.

새 작품을 쓰기 위해 좀 더 다양한 경험을 하고 새 장비를 구입하고, 무엇보다 책과 음악을 좀 더 가까이 둬야겠어요.

Anything to say to readers?

Thank you for reading! Please listen to my newest album “Dazzling”! I will always try my best to bring good music. Thanks again, really!

여기까지 읽어주셔서 고맙습니다. 이번에 발매된 ‘Dazzling’ 많이 사랑해주시고 더욱 열심히 하겠습니다. 정말 고마워요!

Kernelstrip on Facebook.
Kernelstrip on Twitter.
Kernelstrip on bandcamp.
Kernelstrip on iTunes.

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