[Interview] Juck Juck Grunzie on their origins, their sound, and playing Glastonbury

JuckJuckGrunzieProfile

Juck Juck Grunzie is a psychedelic noise-rock band that hails from Seoul, South Korea, and the band consists of four members: Lee Ahreum on the vocals and synthesizer, Ham Jeehye on the guitar, Boong on the bass, and Lee Kyunghyun on the drums. The quartet marry irregular rhythms and chaotic soundscapes, and aim to explore the boundaries between dreams and nightmares to create something dark, mysterious, and hauntingly beautiful.

The quartet first emerged back in 2007, released their first EP, ‘Soundchecking‘, in 2011, and debuted their first full-length album, ‘Psycho‘ in 2013. Juck Juck Grunzie further rose to prominence in 2014 as a central subject of the VansOff The Wall‘ docu-series about the indie scene in Korea, and now in 2015 they will be embarking on a tour of Europe, including playing at the Glastonbury Festival.

Ahead of their tour, Juck Juck Grunzie took the time to talk with Asian Junkie about their origins, their sound, and their future.

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Asian Junkie: Hello, Juck Juck Grunzie! Would you please take a minute to introduce yourselves to Asian Junkie readers.

Jeehye: Hi, everyone! We’re Juck Juck Grunzie from Seoul. My name is Ham Jeehye and I play guitar. Our bass player’s name is Boong, Lee Ahreum plays synthesizer and sings, and our drummer is named Lee Kyunghyun. It’s great to meet you! Our band formed in 2007 and in 2012 we came in second place at the Hello Rookie finals in Korea. In 2013 we toured in Taiwan and released our debut full-length album, ‘Psycho.’ In a few weeks we’ll be embarking on our first European tour. We’re all really excited about the trip and the experiences we’re going to have there.

AJ: It’s not every day that you hear about a female-fronted post-punk band from South Korea. What were you all doing at the time when you decided to come together to form such a badass band like Juck Juck Grunzie?

Ahreum: Jeehye and I started the band. At the time, she was playing in the Korean shoegaze band Vidulgi Ooyoo and I was in college. We just wanted to make an all-gal group that did really cool and fun performances. Boong joined the band in 2010 after playing in an indie pop band called Pikomachiri. And last December Kyunghyun joined Juck Juck Grunzie too. He’s only the second male member to play in the group. Our previous drummer, who played with us from spring 2012 until last fall, was also a guy.

AJ: You are sort of known for debuting as Juck Juck Grunzie at a 2007 Nirvana tribute show, where you performed wearing nothing but lingerie. What was that all about? Did you have that planned in advance or was it a spontaneous kind of night?

Jeehye: We’d heard that Kurt Cobain used to sometimes play gigs in his underwear. So since it was a Nirvana tribute concert, we thought it would be fitting to do something similar to what Kurt did. We also thought it would be fun and would get people excited, which it did!

AJ: The music that you make is highly expressive and a bit experimental in a way. For listeners like myself who can’t quite grasp the full intention of some of your music, what are some of the statements you make in your songs that you’d like listeners to come away with?

Ahreum: We actually never try to intentionally make our music experimental. We just set out to make music that we enjoy. And I think if we tried to explain the intentions behind our songs or the statements in them it would just make things more complicated. Instead, we’d rather just have people listen to our music with an open mind and form their own impressions on what they hear.

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AJ: Year after year, the Korean underground scene becomes a little more diverse and unique in styles of music. It’s also making its way overseas a lot more frequently to some pretty awesome festivals, with Juck Juck Grunzie being a perfect example of this. Is there anything that you would like to hear happen in the Korean music scene, genre-wise, that just isn’t happening that you think would be unexpected and well-embraced by international audiences?

Jeehye: There’s a lot of exciting things happening in the Korean indie scene. And it’s great to see how the scene continues to grow and develop. But there’s nothing in particular genre-wise that I’d like to hear happen. I think that everything that does happen needs to happen naturally. However, in that regard, I’m very interested in seeing what kinds of styles continue to emerge naturally in the scene.

AJ: Speaking of Korean music overseas, you’re going to be touring in Europe pretty soon. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s running through your heads knowing that you’ll be playing at UK’s Glastonbury Festival this year. How exciting!

Kyunghyun: We’re all incredibly excited about playing at Glastonbury. And I think we’re all still a bit shocked that this is actually going to happen. In fact, when we got the news that we were officially booked some members started crying. Juck Juck has gigged abroad before, but I’ve only been in the band for several months now so this is my first time playing outside of Korea. And I can’t believe my first overseas gig is going to take place at a festival like Glastonbury!

AJ: What other international music festivals would you like to perform at? Any chance we will catch you in the United States any time soon?

Jeehye: We’d love to play at CMJ, Pitchfork, Coachella, and Bonnaroo. I’ve played some shows in the US before with Vidulgi Ooyoo, but Juck Juck Grunzie hasn’t gone there yet. To be able to tour the US and play at some major festivals there would be really cool.

AJ: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Do you have any parting words for Asian Junkie readers?

Jeehye: Thanks for reading our interview! Please check out our music and we hope we can meet you in Europe, Korea, or somewhere else in the world one day.

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Here are the band’s European tour dates:

June 25 – Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Pussy Parlure)
June 26 – Pilton, UK @ Glastonbury Festival (Gully Outernational)
June 30 – London, UK @ Windmill Brixton
July 1 – Berlin, Germany @ Kantine Am Berghain
July 4 – Berlin, Germany @ West Germany

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HeyArrrrnold
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