Earlier this year I reviewed GLOWCEAN’s full-length album, ESSENCE. Although I knew a bit about him thanks to his Spotify profile, I was curious to know more about his process and artistry in general. When I reached out for an interview, he had a new release just around the corner – which is out now and linked in this article – which proved to be perfect timing.
If you would, please introduce yourself to our readers in any way you’d like!
Hello Korean Indie subscribers, I’m GLOWCEAN, a music producer in Korea. I’m glad to greet you with my new single, “Zero Gravity.”
You released your first album during the pandemic. Have there been pros and/or cons that have come with that?
Many people around the world are in a difficult situation because of the COVID-19. And I was in that situation, too.
First of all, I make a living by teaching MIDI composition, and because of the Corona incident, many lessons have been reduced. The lack of stable income seems to have been difficult to work on the album. It was also a year when musically interacted with other people decreased a lot. I think those things made me a little depressed. But I think the advantage was that I had a lot of time to think alone about the album as the situation was. The album ESSENCE was not designed to give a strong message in its early stages of creation.
Rather than that, it’s purely started by simply making my favorite sounds, favorite musical compositions. Therefore, I had to think about what I really liked and wanted to make, and at the end of the producing album, I thought about what values I usually have and what messages I want to give to people who listen to my music. I think I had a lot of time to think about those things.
Your first album had a handful of collaborations. Do those songs develop differently for you than your more ambient tracks?
Yes. The collaborated songs are much more popular than other instrumental tracks in the Korean music market. The Korean music market still has little consumption of beat music or electronic instrumental music, and there are few scenes of such music itself. Therefore, I thought that if the entire songs of the album were composed of ambient tracks, it would not be illuminated at all.
That’s why I put in some of the songs that the vocal artist worked with me. Instrumental tracks were technically and sound-greeding songs, the collaborative works tried to leave as much room as possible so that the vocal artist’s tone could be as good as possible. I tried to make the best harmony between sound and vocal.
On your Spotify profile you mention your classical and jazz music education. What was your transition from classical music to electronic like? Were there any particular challenges when making that transition?
I have been playing classical piano for more than 10 years since I was young until high school, and when I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a classical pianist, but I think I became less interested. My favorite music since middle school was not classical or jazz music, but Hip-Hop, R&B music by artists such as Timbaland and Missy Elliott or Billboard pop music.
The decisive reason is that I fell into the music production world after listening to an artist named Tokimonsta recommended by my best friend in middle school. I started to study computer music in earnest in 2017 when I applied to Electronic Production at Berklee College of Music, and it took a lot of effort to catch up with the theories that I had never studied.
Do you think your background and education affects your creative process in any ways?
Yes. I grew up in a family that loved music, so I had to listen to various genres of music unconsciously. I think that’s what made me interested in making experimental sounds. Also, learning classical piano for a long time seems to be my strength.
While learning piano, I seem to have learned delicate delivery skills and I tend to apply them to my music production. I try to pay attention to very detailed expressions, and such work seems to lead to a more creative way of working.
Where do you find inspiration? Are there particular artists you look up to or who influence your work?
I think I usually get it from other artists’ creations (music, images, videos). There have been so many artists who inspire me, and I think there will be many. If I name some artists, Tokimonsta and Flying Lotus and The Internet and Honne. And I like Mura Masa, Kaytranada, Flume, Galimtias, and so on. I think they are mainly artists who are based on hip-hop or R&B soul music and express delicacy well.
In fact, I don’t think there’s only one specific about where I get inspired. I think it’s an inspiration that I like and am interested in. Among the things I see in real life, I think it’s inspiration that I can see in movies, books, or Instagram. I like to see images and graphic designs, and I like shiny elements, chrome, clear glossy metal, and such things as aesthetic.
This is a question I like to ask in interviews for fun: do you have a favorite song you’ve released? Or, one you hope listeners can be particularly attached to?
Maybe my new single “Zero Gravity” is my favorite. I think I like the last piece of work I worked on the most. It is a song about the obsession (I don’t know what word to use in English, but it wasn’t that bad.) with my beloved lover, the emptiness and anxiety of being left alone in space, and the depressed feelings of weightlessness, which I experienced during my first relationship. I made it because I thought it was a topic that everyone could relate to.
Here’s another one for fun: what is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in music?
I would be so happy to be a musician with the modifier “first time.” (In a positive way, of course) And I would be so happy to collaborate with artists in the foreign Billboard market that I have longed. If I were to work with superstars like Chris Brown, Rihanna, and Beyonce, it would be a dream. I think I have a lot of ultimate dreams. lol
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Hello Korean Indie subscribers! It’s an honor to say hello with the release. I hope my music can comfort and sympathize with someone. Lastly, my first single Zero Gravity is released! Please show your interest and I’ll entertain the listeners with more diverse music. Thank you.