Tuesday, August 10, 2010

50 Most Influential K-Pop Artists: 49. Clazziquai Project

[Series Index]

Two in a row? Why not? The Korean is on a roll, and good music makes him happy.

49. Clazziquai Project [클래지콰이 프로젝트]

Years of Activity:  2004-present

Members:
DJ Clazzi (Kim Seong-Hoon [김성훈]) - Mixing, producing
Alex (Alexander Hyeon-Gon Chu [추현곤]) - Vocal
Horan (Choi Su-Jin [최수진]) - Vocal
Christina (Christina Yeong-Ju Chu [추영주]) - Vocal (regularly featuring guest)

Discography:

Regular Albums

Instant Pig (2004)
Color Your Soul (2005)
Love Child of the Century (2007)
Mucho Punk (2009)

Special Albums

Remix - Pinch Your Soul (2006)
Robotica (2007)
Metrotronics Original Soundtrack (2008)
Remix - Mucho Beat (2009)

In 15 Words or Less:  World-Class electronica band who made the genre mainstream.

Representative Song:  Futuristic, from Instant Pig (No translation necessary!)


Futuristic

We are in virtual loving time
And I am thinking what a mess
All I want from you baby is just a little dance
I know the world we're living in
All these things we do
You want me I want you 
You hold me you love me

Now now let me out 
I want to take you in my arms I want to feel
Now you dance with me 
Come to meet my arms
Now I set you free 
I want to look in to your eyes to see the magic
Now now come on out 
Futuristic dance yeah

We are in virtual loving time 
We are moving and moving and moving
And the future will make me into a fusion girl

I know the world we are living in
All these things we do
You want me I want you 
You hold me you love me

Now now let me out 
I want to take you in my arms I want to feel
Now you dance with me 
Come to meet my arms
Now I set you free 
I want to look in to your eyes to see the magic
Now now come on out 
Futuristic dance yeah

All this time our love is 
Making you and I
Your kiss and your breath 
Turn me on turn me on... now

Now now let me out 
I want to take you in my arms I want to feel
Now you dance with me 
Come to meet my arms
Now I set you free 
I want to look in to your eyes to see the magic
Now now come on out 
Futuristic dance yea

(Dancing for your love)


Maybe they should have been ranked higher because...  Out of the 50 who are ranked in this list, few can be legitimately considered "world class".

Maybe they should have been ranked lower because...  It is too soon to tell what their imprint will be.

Why is this band important?
Even without regard to its music, the manner in which Clazziquai elevated to its current fame is significant in and of itself. In 2000 when illegal download of mp3 (a new technology at the time) was decimating the music market, DJ Clazzi opened a simple website that did not have much other than his music, which could be freely shared. Of course, DJ Clazzi was not the first to set up such a website -- but he likely is the first K-pop artist who actually became successful that way. The sophistication that he had shown on the free samples on his website was quite enough to lure several big label executives of Korea to make a trip out to Canada. (Kim Seong-Hoon, a.k.a. DJ Clazzi, is a Korean-Canadian who immigrated during his high school years.) By the time the band's first album was released in 2004, the grassroots support for the band was strong enough to overcome the general depression in the music recordings market. In short, Clazziquai embodies the new model of artistic success in the Internet era, in which talent simply wins out in the democratized field.

And what talent that was. Techno/electronica in Korea may as well be divided into two eras -- pre-Clazziquai, and post-Clazziquai. Electronica made occasional appearance in K-pop previous to Clazziquai, but it was never pursued for the sake of itself. Instead, it was essentially a ploy for a singer to bring something different simply for the sake of bringing something different. K-pop "musicians" cheaply purchased electronica to spice up their tired repertoire, and threw it away just as cheaply. Clazziquai is the first band that seriously pursued techno/electronica as an objective rather than using it as a tool. It is regrettable that K-pop had to wait until 2004 to have a band like Clazziquai, but the quality of Clazziquai's music was worth the wait. Clazziquai -- like Jamiroquai to which its name pays homage -- has always pursued music that was relaxed yet groovy. Its music is calm but complex. It is danceable without being intrusive. It can be legitimately considered a world-class band.

But for the purpose of this list, Clazziquai's crowning achievement is not simply that they made high-quality music, but that they made high-quality music accessible, and even popular, among regular Koreans. For all of its artistic merits, Clazziquai never developed the haughty (and ultimately toxic) attitude that their music was too good for the masses, like the way certain other talented members of K-pop pantheon did. While never sacrificing quality, Clazziquai nonetheless made their music (and themselves) easily accessible to Korean public. Making an average Korean music fan to have better appreciation for newer and more sophisticated music might be the greatest legacy that Clazziquai will leave behind, even after their already-promising career comes to a grand conclusion.

Interesting Trivia:
- DJ Clazzi's music education served as an excellent foundation for his later career as a fusion musician. As a child, he learned classical music from his mother. Once immigrated to Canada, he played piano in the school jazz band, and majored in jazz and music technology in his college years.
- Alex and Christina are siblings.
- Metrotronics was a soundtrack made specifically for a DJ Max Portable 2, a music game for PSP.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

7 comments:

  1. So glad to see Clazziquai on this list! I love their music, and I'm not usually a fan of electronica. Too bad they aren't more wildly known in America, they might improve the genre.

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  2. also thrilled to see Clazziquai on this list but they should have been ranked much higher! Incredibly talented musicians with gorgeous vocals and creatively cool beats. Unlike most current Korean musical artists, Clazziquai sounds just as good in live performances (sometimes even better) than on their CD's. If they performed in America, I'd buy tickets in a heartbeat!

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  3. Clazziquai is only 49? 48 better be good.

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  4. I love their song that was included in the My Name is Sam Soon soundtrack. Got it on my IPod.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. As an American I do not know a whole lot about Korean music, just some of the bigger groups like SNSD, Super Junior, Wonder Girls, or whatever. I don't really care for any of their music, however Clazziquai is an exception. Their music is fantastic. In fact, one of the reasons I watched the drama Call of the Country was because I was interested in seeing Horan act.

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  7. Clazziquai is amazing. 'Loverboy' was the first track of theirs I heard and hI've been their No. 1 Nigerian fan since then. Also a big fan of Horan's side project 'Ibadi'.

    Actually if you ever do something on the record labels, Fluxus, hands down, has some of the best bands and artists out in ROK.

    P.S. Does Winterplay get an honorable mention? I know they are new, but they have me liking jazz and they are beginning to catch on...

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