I came across ‘Vluesy’ the Korean ‘Dynamic Soul’ indie band for the first time when I was at a mini fan meeting for Michelle Lee, sometime last year.
Vluesy members were there to perform their songs on the same day, at the same location, but I was not expecting to be blown away by the female guitarist who sang her own songs along with Michael Jackson’s hit, ‘Bille Jean.’
Personally, I had never really encountered many females who played the guitar so skillfully at such ease, so I was naturally very impressed by the performance, the singer’s voice, the energy and how she engaged with the audience.
Vluesy, the band consists of two members; the founding member called, ‘Eunyoung’ is the vocalist and guitarist. Murphy is currently the drummer that joined her band recently and they hit it off musically from day one.
I was curious about the band’s name and how it was formed. The name ‘Vluesy’ was named that way because they wanted to cover blues music and because there were so many bands and terms related to ‘Blues’ starting with a letter ‘B’ – it was decided that the band was named with a ‘V’ instead.
Some people seem to be of an opinion that indie bands aren’t very within mainstream in terms of their sound and theme because only certain people can enjoy listening to them.
However, Vluesy’s sound and music is not in any way mediocre or drowsy like some Korean indie bands’ music that may have slightly stereotyped the genre. Even Vluesy’s cover versions of songs are very entertaining and will brighten up a gloomy day for those who need it.
A massive ‘thank you’ goes out to the two members of Vluesy for an interesting interview about being a band working independently in Korea, what got them started doing music and which artist are their influences.
Vluesy’s ‘I am Vluesy’
Please introduce us to your band, Vlusey.
EY: Hello, my name is Eunyoung Cha (I don’t usually tell people my real name, but here you go…) and I’m a singer-song writer, main vocalist and guitarist of a dynamic soul band, ‘Vluesy.’
I also work as a coach for vocal training and teach students how to play the guitar. I connect to a lot of people that way, although I am still lacking I do believe I’m skilled in music and teaching.
Murphy: I go by the name ‘Murphy’ and I work at the appliance store, do various jobs on construction checking for safety measures. My major was related to computer programming but my real love was for music.
I also write songs of various genres, from ballads to dance music and my ultimate goal is to become a notable artist one day.
How and when did you get into playing the guitar and music in general?
E.Y: In my case, I was really absorbed in my studies until I was a freshman in High school and I was able to be a top student in the school but then I suddenly fell in love with music.
Back in those days, the rock group ‘X-Japan’ got me so deeply hooked on their songs so I wanted to start learning the electric guitar.
I realized then that how music can affect people to that extent. I was quite serious with playing the instrument because I recall playing for hours and hours on end, practicing over ten hours a day.
The love of music got me spending less time on school studies, but I got into a university in Seoul to major in Music. I worked to pay for my education and started performing in live stages, since I didn’t trust anyone I tried to do everything myself. But luckily for Murphy, the new member has me as a mentor for him.
Murphy: I learned to play the drums when I was in sixth grade in elementary school and I began playing at church when the drummer had to go abroad so I had to replace him. I played drums to hymns and later practiced on Western pop music since I was pretty much into pop.
I came to live in Seoul only few months ago for work and I was able to join this band after getting approval by the founding member.
The instrument I play in the band is called, ‘Cajon’ which is a box-shaped percussion instrument originated from Peru. You can play it by tapping the front or rear faces with the hands, fingers or sticks. I usually use my hands and fingers to play and adjusting to ways to reduce the straining on the hands when playing for a long time.
How did you guys meet to team up as a band?
E.Y: I was playing in a live session in Hongdae area and Murphy, after watching me perform came up and expressed that my sound would be more enhanced if there was a drum beat with it.
We tried out our sound by playing Michael’s ‘Billie Jean’ together and I felt we sounded good and complete which put me in a good mood. So here he is as the new band member of Vluesy.
Murphy: I am usually an introvert so I wouldn’t have normally gone up to a musician and offer to play with them, but at that time I was just very excited by her guitar playing and that got me in the band that very day.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
E.Y: Michael Jackson is probably my all-time favorite, I love performing his songs.
The Korean artist I like is San Ae Kang, who is a folk rock musician.
I believe we have the same tone of voice and style; his songs are very Korean styled blues music. I especially like his lyrics because they are so free and unbounding. Murphy and I are both into songs by Bruno Mars as well.
Murphy: I like to listen to music by Korean singer songwriters like Kwangseok Kim, JongShin Yoon, Lee Juck, Jinyoung Park and many others.
What is it like to be an independent band in the Korean music industry?
E.Y: There seems to be mainly two ways of being a musician in the music industry in Korea, with nothing in the mid-way. Either you get into a big firm that manages all your work or become an independent musician on your own.
I don’t think the system of the music industry in Korea is particularly stable if you look at it from a bigger picture. When you’re an indie artist, you have to do everything yourself from the music, managing, promoting and doing reservations for venues yourself. But it’s good to work independently since I get to control the music and what to work on. You do have to work extra hard.
On the other hand, the burdening and difficult part of being in an independent band is that I have to cover and plan all the financial side of things in order to write, produce and record music.
I think so much of our current Kpop culture relies on popularity and the mass media that do not always guarantee good quality music, fit to be considered as art. I used to be signed to a record label few years, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do in the long run.
I am presently content in making music independently and my wish is to produce and perform ‘til my last day.
What do you do for leisure to get away from stress or tension? Where do you like to go for vacation in Korea?
E.Y: I like taking photos for leisure. But I’m not really the type to get stressed over anything, whether it is related to work or anything else in general.
I like travelling to one of the most beautiful places in Korea that I would recommend for people to visit is Jeju Island.
There is a walking trail in Jeju called ‘Olle-gil~ 올레길’ that is splendid to travel in and there is a sandy beach with rocks, that makes Jeju Island definitely a must location to visit.
Murphy: I also like travelling and I’d also recommend Jeju Island as well. There is so much to see and discover there, the island is great for tourism.
What are your goals as a band for the future?
E.Y: Like I mentioned a little earlier in the interview, I would love to be doing music until the end of time. I think I was born to do music and that’s where my passion lies and it always will.
I would like to make music for our audience, and expand the horizon a bit more, learn along the way to become a better musician and produce songs that really touch people’s lives.
Murphy: I would like to do some things as a solo artist once I have enough experience and practice, because I know right now I don’t have the exact quality to be a solo artist yet. I also want to hear my songs or the ones I wrote playing in public. Whether it is a ballad or a dance genre, I want people to sing along to our songs.
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