The newest instalment of our Kpop Creators takes us behind the scenes of YG artist’s concerts through an interview with their live band – The Band Six.
The Band Six greets UnitedKpop readers
Whether you’re an avid YG stan or not, The Band Six are definitely a band we should be keeping an eye on. They’ve been busy touring and creating for several big names in the Korean music industry such as BIGBANG, 2NE1, and PSY as well as hinting their wishes to expand throughout Asia.
Although they’re keeping themselves busy in the Korean music industry, The Band Six originate in the U.S. They’re a six piece band, lead by music director Gil Smith II and have been working with YG artists since BIGBANG’s Alive Tour back in 2012, which took them to various places around the world – including right here in the UK! They’ve more recently been working with BIGBANG’S Made Tour, which still has dates to be announced.
Since including a live band in YG artist’s concerts, fans have noticed a lot more freedom within the show as well as a complete rearrangement and a new take on their favourite songs. These versions are usually exclusive to the live show and won’t be on any of the studio albums.
In the midst of their preparations for the tour, The Band Six managed to take some time out to answer a few of our questions. Check out the interview below!
“Hello, everyone! We’re The Band Six. Our members consist of Gil Smith II (Music Director), Adrian ‘AP’ Porter (Pro Tools Programmer), Dante ‘Inferno’ Jackson (Keyboards), Bennie Rodgers II (Drummer), Justin ‘Guitarslayer’ Lyons (Guitar) and Omar ‘O-Dub’ Dominick. The bulk of us have played with each other off and on for different artists throughout the years, and we’ve been doing it so much recently that we decided to make an official name.
What’s the story behind how you began working with YG?
“A friend of mine (and one of the best creative directors in the business) Laurieann Gibson called me for the project, which was BIGBANG’s ‘Alive’ Tour. She explained what kind of musicians were needed, then AP and myself pulled the band together. It was a really great process. We found Justin on Twitter! He’s been rolling with us ever since.”
Who is your biggest inspiration?
“We like everyone that makes good music! It’s hard to say who our biggest inspiration is. We pull from everyone… not just in music, but in sports, politics and other areas of life as well. However, I think it’s pretty safe to say that BIGBANG is a huge inspiration for us all.”
What’s the process you take to rearrange a track for the live instrumental, and how much creative control do you have over it?
“It just depends on the scenario. There are a few different processes… but basically it starts with the music director sitting down with the artist and/or management and getting an idea for how the artist would like the rearrangement to sound. Sometimes they already have an idea for a rearrangement, and sometimes they just want something different from the original. The live rearrangements for LIES and LOVE SONG during BIGBANG’s Japan Dome Tour 2014-2015 were among rearrangements that The Band Six created from the ground up. The creative control varies from song to song and from artist to artist. We love being able to create from scratch, but we also love when an artist knows exactly what they want, and we can help their ideas come to life!!
How long on average does it take to rearrange and perfect each song?
“It takes a while. We’re all perfectionists, and it seems like there’s never enough time. We’ll try a few different concepts. Once we find one that sticks, we’ll develop it further. AP has a library full of sounds, samples; everything needed to help build our idea. Then, we sit behind our instruments and practice the idea until it starts to feel natural, like we’ve been playing it forever. It’s a bit of a process.”
When it comes to working in Korea, are there any problems with the language barrier? If so, how do you overcome these problems?
“Working in a foreign country is always tough in the beginning. Not only were there language barriers, but we also had to get accustomed to each other’s culture, do’s and don’ts, business practices, etc. Thankfully, we have translators that not only help us get work done efficiently, but they’re also extremely helpful with anything we might need otherwise. We don’t know what we’d do without ’em!”
You’re most well known amongst Kpop fans for working with Big Bang and 2NE1, but are there any other artists – in or out of Korea – that you’d like to work with?
“Well, we still consider ourselves newbies when it comes to K-Pop, but from a listening perspective, we can definitely say that YG is probably the most urban of all the management companies. We’ve worked with most, if not all YG artists including PSY, and they’re all awesome. We’re all currently working with American artists as well, and although there may not be any particular artists in mind, we know that the music scene in China is on the rise, and it’d be great to have a presence there in the near future.”
What are the biggest differences you’ve personally noticed between the Korean and American industry?
“The style of music lends itself to many styles of Western music (Pop, R&B, Hip Hop), yet still maintains a certain authenticity you can only find in Korea. The number of artists to choose from seem much more vast than in America. The fans…omg! We’ve never seen anything like it. The only word to describe it is “INSANE!”, and we mean that in the best possible way. We LOVE the fans! We can say the same about the work ethic in Korea. Everyone works extremely hard. That’s the reason why fans can go to a concert and expect an amazing production featuring their favourite artists, the best sound, lighting, set design and live arrangements.”
What are your personal views on the Hallyu wave, and why do you think it has become so popular amongst international fans?
“It’s great to see the Hallyu wave taking place. We’ve been paying attention for a couple of years now, and it’s really catching on. The music, fashion, production and attention to detail are what make us consumers of the Hallyu wave. It’s great to see other nationalities catching on and joining the movement.”
As you’ve visited Korea a few times now, what places/food would you recommend to other foreigners planning to visit?
“Hahaha. It’s funny even answering this question. Anyone who has gotten to know The Band Six knows that we absolutely love Korean BBQ! Any place that has Korean BBQ, we recommend! Shopping at Doota and hanging out in Hongdae are awesome as well, and if you’ve never seen a movie in 4DX, you’ve GOT to try it. The went to see Furious 7 in 4DX… Amazing experience!”
After visiting London back in 2012, do you have any fond memories here that you’d like to share?
“Well, I don’t think it’s a secret the TB6 loves Nandos Chicken and that it is only avalible in selected countries. The UK, being one of them, had us walking in the freezing cold and rain, in the wrong direction for about an hour and a half just to get our chicken “fix”. We were so far that when we finally found out were it was, we had to take a train to it. The killer part is, it was located 2 minuets from our hotel, which is where we started! Lesson learned: Never follow Bennies directions!”
Is there anything you can reveal about BIGBANG’s upcoming Made tour?
“We don’t want to reveal too much because we want you to be just as surprised as the VIPs were on day one. But we can tell you that MADE is very exciting, its more mature then previous tours, a lot of fun, and the best part is, The Band Six will be joining! Along with new music from BIGBANG and new, fun arrangements!”
And lastly, do you have any plans of visiting London in the future?
“Do we have permission to come back? Haha. Just stay tuned!”
Would you like to see The Band Six perform in the UK, maybe alongside BIGBANG?