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[Interview] Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio talks repping Korea, recording in France, and new material

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The Midem Festival took place last weekend June 5-8 in Cannes, France, and it welcomed a wonderful selection of Asian artists to perform in the festival portion of their music “ecosystem” this year. One band, the “neo-psychedelic disco” quartet Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio from Seoul, South Korea was kind enough to give us a little peek into their schedule this month, as they prepare to perform a few more shows in France and squeeze in some session time for their upcoming album.

Asian Junkie: Hey there, Rock ’N’ Roll Radio! For our audience members that don’t know about your band, please tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Jinkyu: Hi! We’re Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio from Seoul, Korea. But we’re writing you from France right now! We’re here to play at Midem Festival in Cannes, and we’ll do a few club concerts as well in other cities. And while we’re in Paris, we’re going to record a new EP too. This is going to be a really fun tour!

Minkyu: This is our first time playing in Europe. Last year we did two American tours and played at festivals like SXSW, CMJ, and Culture Collide. All of those concerts went great, and hopefully all our shows in France go just as well.

Minwoo: Our band won Rookie Of The Year at the Korean Music Awards last year too. Our friend Annie from the excellent Korean band Love X Stereo recently described our music as being neo psychedelic disco. We like the sound of that, so that’s how we’re labeling ourselves now. We hope you get the chance to hear our music or see us play soon!

AJ: Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio has received a lot of success and recognition in a relatively short amount of time. What do you think your music brings to the Korean music landscape that’s uniquely different from everything else out there?

Jinkyu: I don’t think we’ve had a lot of success yet. There are too many places in the world we haven’t played yet. I want us to be able to travel to many places and for many people to hear our music. Then we’ll be able to say we’ve had a lot of success.

Naehyun: I think the vocal range in our music is very different from other Korean music. In Korea, people put a lot of emphasis on vocal range. People love high notes and only go crazy when they hear high notes. I think this is ridiculous. Our music is the opposite from that. We focus on low notes adorned with fancy choruses, which is pretty rare in Korea.

AJ: It’s been announced recently that you’ll be flying to France to play at Midem Festival in Cannes in June. First off, congratulations! How does it feel to represent Korea overseas this year?

Jinkyu: Whenever someone asks us about representing Korea overseas, I feel weird because I think they are asking the question for another band — not us! But I think just being ourselves is the best way to represent Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio and Korea. That way people get an honest view of what we’re trying to do as a band.

Naehyun: I feel relieved by showcases like this because I think it’s a sign that the Korean indie scene is growing. But I think the scene needs a really powerful, famous band like EXO to keep attention on it. I hope we can become that kind of band. I think if we can find success abroad, then that will shine more light on Korea’s indie scene, which will help other groups grow as well.

AJ: You’re also taking time in France to record a new EP with one of the guys from the French band Modjo. How did that connection come about?

Jinkyu: Annie from Love X Stereo heard our demos for the EP and suggested we use him as a producer. She knew him already and contacted him for us. Along with Romain Tranchart from Modjo, Gregory Louise from Aloud is also going to work as a producer on the EP too. We self-produced our past material, so this will be our first time working with producers. We’ve got high expectation and are excited to get into the studio with those guys.

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AJ: Could you talk a little about what we can expect from your new material?

Jinkyu: The new material is going to be more electronic sounding and dancier. We’re using synthesizers on the tracks, something we hardly did on our first album. The EP should be out in late summer or early fall. We’re really looking forward to people hearing it. I hope everyone likes what they hear!

AJ: With such a packed touring and recording schedule lined up for you the next couple weeks, how will you guys be spending your downtime in France?

Jinkyu: I’m not sure if we’re going to have much downtime. After Midem, we’re going to play shows in Saint-Étienne at Thunderbird Lounge on June 11 and on June 15 at Le Buzz in Paris, and we’ll be recording the EP between those dates too. So I think our time in France will be pretty busy.

AJ: Any chance we can catch you in the United States again?

Jinkyu: Maybe next year? We had a great time in the US last year and would love to play there again. If many people want to see us in the US again, we’ll do our best to come back!

AJ: Thank you so much for your time! I’m excited to see what Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio has in store this year. Any final words you’d like to share with our readers?

Minwoo: Please listen to our music and follow us. We promise we’ll work really hard to surpass your expectations. I hope we can meet all of you at a show somewhere in the world one day. And for now, I hope you enjoy our music on our “Shut Up And Dance” album and on our upcoming EP! Thanks so much for taking the time to read about Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio!

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Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio will be playing in Saint-Étienne, France at Thunderbird Lounge on June 11, and in Paris, France at Le Buzz on June 15. Check them out if you’re in the area!

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