We’re back with another Korean Indie interview, this time with a group who are poised and ready to hit stages at Glastonbury Festival later this week.
Juck Juck Grunzie is a psychedelic noise-rock band from Seoul. Their sound mixes jarring rhythms and irregular soundscapes to create a distinctive style. Exploring the subconscious realm of dreams and nightmares Juck Juck Grunzie have created something mysterious, and hauntingly beautiful.
Their group name is equally irregular in English, though its meaning in its native Korean (적적해서 그런지) relates to being lonely and is tough to capture in translation. Though given their affinity to the punk and grunge scenes Juck Juck Grunzie may not be as strange, for the indie music scene across the globe embraces self expression and the strange.
The group was originally formed as an all-girl post-punk quartet in 2007, though has changed over the years to their current line up of three women; Ahreum Lee, vocalist and synthesiser player, Jeehye Ham on guitar, and bass player Boong; and a male drummer Kyunghyun Lee.
We spoke to Juck Juck Grunzie about feminist punks, Glastonbury and more:
Jeehye: We’re a Korean psychedelic rock band. Our music contains elements of other things such as electronic music and noise rock, but at its core its psychedelic rock. In our songs we often try to paint pictures of different images or try to express different concepts. We’re working on music for our second full-length album right now, and in one of our new songs we try to explore the concept of “danger.”
Who and what influences your sound?
Ahreum: We’ve all been influenced by a wide array of things so that obviously impacts the music we make together as Juck Juck Grunzie. Some of the mutual musical influences we share include King Crimson, Sonic Youth, Bjork, and Gong from France.
Boong: Before making our first EP in 2011, I think Juck Juck Grunzie drew a lot of influence from grunge, post-punk, and noise rock. But our 2013 full-length debut, Psycho, was more inspired by psychedelic rock, ‘70s classic rock, and electronic music.
Western music has seen a rise in strong female role models, with feminism re-emerging as a hot-topic social movement. As a predominantly (and originally) female group, often compared to strong feminist role models such as Bikini Kill, do you feel you have been able to make an impact like that of your predecessors?
Jeehye: The first song we practiced together was actually a cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.” But I don’t think we’re a feminist band and none of our songs are related to feminism. But I think diversity is a concept that is related to feminism. Diversity is something that is really important to us, so in that way we are concerned with feminism.
Did the inclusion of a male drummer change the dynamic of Juck Juck Grunzie?
Ahreum: Although our original idea was to form an all-female band with Juck Juck Grunzie, and for the first five years of our group we only had female members, we’re not really concerned with gender anymore. So having a guy in the group doesn’t really change anything about Juck Juck Grunzie for us. We enjoy playing music with Kyunghyun and we’re glad he’s a part of our band.
How does it feel to be able to be playing at the famous Glastonbury Festival?
Ahreum: All of us are super excited! We feel really honored and grateful to be invited to perform at such a prestigious festival. In fact, when we first got the news we were actually crying! This will be our first time performing in Europe, but we hope it is the first of many visits there for Juck Juck Grunzie. After playing at Glastonbury, we’ll also be doing concerts in London and Berlin. But hopefully we can return to Europe for a much longer tour soon!
Do you plan to see anyone else perform at the festival?
Boong: Definitely! We’d love to see as many bands play at Glastonbury as we can. We’re all especially looking forward to checking out Funkadelic, FKA twigs, Goat, and Alabama Shakes.
In conversation with Vans’ Off The Wall you spoke about the disapproval of your parents towards a musical career, Boong’s bass even being thrown away – yet you never gave up on your dreams. Do you have any words of advice for those who may find themselves in similar situations?
Kyunghyun: In Korean we say, “Fighting!” It means “keep going” or “don’t give up.” It may sound like simple advice, but it’s what has worked for all of us so far.
Why would you suggest the readers of UnitedKpop check out your music?
Ahreum: We think that diversity is important in art – and in everyday life as well. I hope people outside of Korea who are interested in the Korean music scene know that there’s lots of different things in Korea, not just K-pop. So please check out lots of different styles of Korean music, including indie music and Juck Juck Grunzie!
Jeehye: And if any of you will be at Glastonbury, or live in London or Berlin, please come check out our upcoming live performances. Concerts are always a great place to discover new music and we’re certain you’ll have a great time! And if you do come, please say “hi” to us. We love meeting new people!
You can see Juck Juck Grunzie on their following 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 [TICKETS]
July 1 Berlin, Germany @ Kantine am Berghain
July 4 Berlin, Germany @ West Germany
Can’t make it to one of their shows? You can stream Juck Juck Grunzie’s 2013 full-length album PSYCHO on SoundCloud or why not purchase it via iTunes.