Thursday, March 13, 2014

SXSW Interview: Jambinai

Blending hard rock and Korean traditional music, Jambinai is one of the most unique Korean indie bands. They were extremely well received by SXSW, as they made an appearance on the official International Day Stage as well as a number of other shows throughout the festival. The Korean met Jambinai during K-Pop Night Out for a brief interview.

The interview was conducted in Korean; the translation was the Korean's own.

TK:  Please say hello to everyone.

Hello, I am Jambinai's Lee Il-woo.
Hello, I am Shim Eun-yong, geomungo player for Jambinai.
Hello, I am Kim Bo-mi, haegeum player for Jambinai.

TK:  Can you please introduce yourselves? What does "Jambinai" mean?

Lee:  We are a crossover band that combines traditional Korean music with rock 'n' roll.
Kim:  "Jambinai" doesn't have a meaning. We just liked the sound of it.

TK:  How did you come to form Jambinai?

Lee:  We were all classmates at Korea National University of Arts, majoring traditional Korean music. We kept in touch after we graduated.
Kim:  One day we got together for drinks, and decided that we wanted to play this kind of music.

TK:  This is your first SXSW festival. What do you think of it? How did you like the way the audience reacted to your music?

Shim:  We love it. I heard that the American audience responds quickly and directly, that they would just get really quiet or leave right away if they don't like what they were hearing. But the audience seemed to focus on our music, which was great.

TK:  What bands are you influenced by?

Lee:  Obviously we do traditional Korean music, so we were influenced by those musicians. On the rock side, Nine Inch Nails is a big influence.

TK:  To a lot of international fans of Korean music, "K-pop" means something like Jay Park or HyunA, who are also performing in this show. Do you think Korea's indie music will grow in popularity?

Shim:  Well, it is not as if we began this band to become popular. We always knew that we will be outside of the mainstream, so even having this much public attention was not what we expected. It's a strange feeling.
Kim:  I think there is plenty of great indie music in Korea, but lack of exposure is a problem. I think SXSW is a great opportunity to introduce our music to the larger audience, and I think this exposure will cycle back to Korean market as well.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at

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