Flash Flood Darlings released an excellent album Vorab and Tesero. As a musician not originally based in South Korea, his music blends with the different electronic music that numerous other artists are releasing. I didn’t know much about Flash Flood Darlings and since he’s part of Floating Island, I thought it would be great if he introduced his personal work.
Can you introduce Flash Flood Darlings? Where did the name come from?
Through Flash Flood Darlings I am essentially exploring my emotions through melody and sound. I think sound is powerful way to express emotions. Ever since I was a teenager I wanted make melodies and soundscapes that resonated with my emotions. Before when I was making music, I hadn’t thought about commercially releasing it or playing it to people. It always felt so personal to me, like a diary.
The name Flash Flood Darlings came to me by chance. When I was living in Bangkok there was a flash flooding one day. It wasn’t so serious and I was quite excited to experience it. It happened as I was out with my boyfriend and I suddenly said to him “aren’t we a couple of darlings in a flash flood!”
You grew up in New Zealand before coming to South Korea. Did this have an influence on your music?
Christchurch for me was a quiet, gray, cold city. I was a bit of a loner as a teenager. I often drove to the seaside or up the hills where I couldn’t see another person and just be alone in nature. I think this sense of a cold empty city surrounded by wide open wilderness is my lasting impression of New Zealand. When I listen to my own music I can feel New Zealand like it’s an emotion.
Why did you decide to live in South Korea?
My boyfriend and I were living in Canberra, Australia – another cold and empty city – when he got a job in Seoul. We thought it’d be something new and exciting to live in Seoul together. I hadn’t made concrete plans when I came, so I spent the first 6 months in Seoul doing nothing. It almost drove me insane.
According to Young, Gifted & Wack, you publicly announced your sexuality on Naver OnStage. Was there a particular reason?
When I do my shows I always talk about what my songs are about, because for me Vorab and Tesoro is not just music, but a story. And the story of “Byeol” is about realizing my sexuality when I was a young teenager. The producer of Naver OnStage saw one of my shows and actually requested that I do the same for OnStage. Beyond telling my story, I really want people to see that being gay is nothing weird or strange; that I’m just a person. As a queer person living in South Korea I want to be a part of the discourse that moves LGBT issues to the public consciousness in an approachable way.
For LGBT people, is there an acceptance in South Korea? What difficulties do you see?
I am almost always open about my sexuality if the topic comes up, and in real life I have never had anyone show a negative reaction. But say “almost” because in certain situations I try to “pass” as straight to avoid any unnecessarily difficult situations, like if some ahjumma asks me why I don’t have a girlfriend. I think this is the reality of LGBT people in South Korea. To feel safe from prejudice we have to negotiate our identities with the people around us.
What influences your music?
The first music that I fell in love with was late 90’s early 00’s trance. I think this still influences my music. I love the emotional melodies and the sense of space of this music.
Vorab and Tesoro is a complex album. Is there a particular message you were aiming for?
Vorab and Tesoro is a record of my teenage years. It’s my coming of age story. I had a traumatic childhood which kind of got worse as a I became a teenager, but this was a period where I experienced so much and learned so much about myself. I couldn’t fully make peace with this period of my life until a few years ago. When I was ready, it felt therapeutic to recount my painful and blissful experiences through melody. Now I see this period as an extremely important time of my life when I learned many life lessons. I think for most people their teenage years are one of the most transformative periods of their lives.
Is there new Flash Flood Darlings music in the works?
I am working towards another album, but I don’t have deadline, so I don’t know when it will be complete, but I want to continue to explore the human condition through my music.
Electronic music in South Korea is a wide genre with a lot of different artists, do you think there’s a growing community?
I definitely believe that the community is growing. I think this comes with the fact that people in South Korea these days feel more free to break out of the mold and explore.
How do you compose music? Either new songs or remixes of other songs?
I only work on music when I have inspiration because otherwise I don’t make any progress and end up just feeling frustrated. I would often suddenly get a rush of ideas while humming to myself or just feel a sound that I want to make. It’s the same with remixes. I only did the remix for the Floating Island’s Parade, because I already had in my mind what I wanted it to sound like.
What tools do you use to compose music?
I use Ableton Live 9 for making music, but I often use an iPad app called Gadget by Korg to quickly sequence melodies that come to me.
Are there are South Korean artists that you recommend?
I was recently involved in a remix project where 10 different artists remixed tracks from Telefonist’s Another Day album. I was really refreshed by Damie’s remix of “Like You.” I love the sense of space and the chaotic yet controlled hi-hat/clap combination.
Anything to say to readers?
Thank you supporting Korean indie music!