In Korea’s lesser-known underground music scene, there’s a crop of talented, independent artists and entrepreneurs who are creating their own alternatives. Amidst the buzz are three foreigners who’ve dedicated years of hard work to developing their own small slice of Seoul’s underground music scene.
Pinnacle TheHustler, MC and CEO, Planet Hustle
Pinnacle TheHustler came to Korea in 2008, and began his Korean musical career after a chance meeting in Seoul with Carlos Galvan, who was a member of the popular Korean hip-hip group Uptown in the late 90’s. Galvan, then just beginning his solo career, asked Pinnacle if he’d like to work together. “I couldn’t say ‘hell yes’ fast enough,” said Pinnacle, who had begun rapping and emceeing in his hometown of Cincinnati. “Through Carlos, so many doors were pened to me. My first gig was actually at a Lamborghini party on a yacht on the Han River.” Pinnacle went on to form innacle & The Antidote—a music-troupefusion of hip-hip, rock, jazz and funk—before launching his own entertainment and booking company, Planet Hustle, in Seoul last year. Planet Hustle brings foreign artists, DJs and dancers to the peninsula, catering to a growing crowd of young club-goers with in interest in rap and hip-hop. Seoul’s supersized-EDM clubs, Pinnacle predicts, will soon have to make way for a different kind of party. “There are people here that really appreciate good art and real music. We want to deliver that just as much as we want people to have a raucous good time.” (planethustle.com)
Yann Cavaille, DJ and Producer, Pute Deluxe
Yann first came to Korea in 2005 from France, wanting a post-university break from Europe. “I arrived with a mate from England and we just hassled the local clubs and promoters, making connections.” His first musical project here was with long-time Seoul resident, DJ Fenner, as electro-house mashup duo Frenchknickerz. Yann says his first impressions of the club music scene here were divisive: “There was the population that frequented soju bars or booking clubs, and then there were those who visited the Western-style clubs.” These days, he muses, it’s far less so. Yann now makes up one half of Pute Deluxe, a local music, lifestyle and events enterprise covering a wide variety of genres. “Pute Deluxe arrived when the initial push for more diverse club music had already been made by collectives like Multi Seoul and Cakeshop, but we’ve helped raise the bar for ‘real music’ in clubs, as opposed to music serving the purpose of just providing a background for drinking and socializing.” (facebook.com/putedeluxekr)
Eric Davis, Table People, Loose Union
Eric Davis, originally from Missouri, began jamming with friends in Korea shortly after his arrival in 2006. His first band in Seoul, Animal Dads, was one of the first foreign ensembles to make a name for themselves playing original music. “At the start, most of the expat bands were cover bands,” said Davis, who went on to state: “Animal Dads had to play a lot of shows with people who had no interest in seeing a group play their own stuff.” The opportunities for foreign projects, he adds, were also limited. “Club owners would act like they were doing us a favor by letting us get on stage, and we rarely got invited to play with Korean bands.” His current project, Table People, is part of Loose Union, a foreign-led music collective that helps bring together local Korean and foreign bands for shows. “Indie music has spread from the confines of Hongdae, out to new venues in Itaewon, Naksongdae and Mullae. Table People haven’t had to swallow our pride as much as Animal Dads did.” (facebook.com/LooseUnion)