Posted on September 01, 2014


Grunge is a tough genre for originality. Living in Kurt Cobain's long and intimidating shadow is a liability for any band attempting to carve out their own niche. With such a dynamic figure and a history that has practically entered the realm of the mythological, new bands who are even slightly associated with the world of grunge are filtered through our preconceived aesthetic notions of who and what they should be. It is refreshing then when a band, in this case the excellent melodic-grunge band Guten Birds, is able to blast those notions apart and create their own definitions and their own aesthetic context. Guten Birds are quickly gaining popularity in the Korean indie scene. DoIndie sat down with the band to discuss their upcoming Birthday concert, gender politics in music, creating music, their upcoming plans, and who inspired them to play music in the first place.

Hello! Thanks for taking the time for this interview! So, first off, please tell me a bit about your process when you are writing/practicing/playing. What challenges or limitations do you face technically or with available equipment? Do you feel like you are able to make the exact type of music you want, or do you have to make due because of some practical concerns?

Guten Birds : Recently we started a different way of creating songs, a member of the group will bring something (a riff or an idea) to the practice room and we will all jam it out together and work on it until we can turn it into a song. Before we started making songs like this, one person would make the whole song, the new method takes longer and is more difficult for us but we like all three members adding their musical input / musical taste to the songs. There are times when we want to create new sounds and effects within our music, but to do so we would need to buy new equipment. Sometimes of course, we can do that, but it’s not always possible to go out and buy new gear so we do our best to create the sound we want with that we have. We are only a three piece band so in order to create a fuller sound also use loop station or use two guitar amps set on different settings to help us create a bigger, fuller sound.

So what are the details on this birthday concert? Will you have Paris Baguette cake with Guten Birds written on it? Will you play a rock’n’roll happy birthday song for yourselves?

Guten Birds : haha. Well, to celebrate our birthday, we have also made a mini album to release at the show as well. It consists of three new Guten Birds tunes and we will be selling it at the show. More than anything else, the show is really just about showing everyone what Guten Birds is about. The cake is a good idea though, we will have a think about that! haha.

I think one of the most unique aspects about Guten Birds is the strong female character of your band. Not in a traditional gender role sort of way, but with the idea that grunge is a pretty testosterone heavy genre and you guys make no apologies and go at it full-throated. You might call this a type of feminism as it is the perfect idea of shedding gender roles and achieving equality. Do you think about your place in that battle, or is it just about the music for you?

Guten Birds : We are three girls together, so we have a very strong female character. haha

Actually, we are a girl group, so we get asked this kind of question a fair bit. But, we don’t really ever think about the feminine / masculine concept all that much. We think more about personal values among one another. Musically, when we are making music, we discuss everything as a band together. More than anything else, we don’t ever do anything we don’t want to be doing. Our band is made up of a strong voiced singer, 모호 (Moho) who is very mischievous. Our drummer (무이) play’s gorgeously and delicately, but she doesn’t smile much. She has a cool personality. Guten Bird’s bass player, 서현 is always bright and cheerful with great rhythm on the bass. She has quite a shy personality. As you can see, all the members of Guten Birds are indeed female, but each of us has really different personalities, I think our music is just the same. We are just people playing music, we don’t ever think about ourselves as being a ‘female band’ or worry a great deal about feminism, but … if via our music we are somehow helping to shed gender roles and improving equality issues between males and females, we would be really happy about that.

Do you draw any inspiration from other musicians? If so, who and what do they mean to you?

Guten Birds : I really like bands like Fugazi, Nirvana and the Pixies. I draw inspiration from bands like this, and it is thanks to them that Guten Birds came to exist.

There is a long history of sexual harassment against female musicians from all sides; fans, musician peers, and record companies. Is this an issue you find yourself confronting or dealing with as you move forward? Does it affect the way you make music, and how?

Guten Birds : Of course, we have heard about and indeed experienced some incidents. If we ever come across anything like that, of course, we can overcome these things, but surely it is more important to educate the people who are responsible for creating these kind of problems. I guess everything in life has an affect on our music.

We mentioned that grunge is a male-dominated genre. What drew you to playing this style of music in the first place? Do you feel playing grunge as opposed to twee or folk, or any of the more historically female-friendly genres is any more difficult in terms of image procurement, gaining respects, etc?

Guten Birds : We started playing this kind of music purely because this music suits our taste and it was our desire to do so. We listen to a diverse collection of music and actually, we don’t just play grunge music either. Because our music genre is mainly male dominated we never worry about image procurement and gaining respect. Is this be something we should be worrying about? If so, what should we do?

After this showcase show, what do you have planned for the band?

Guten Birds : After this birthday party show we will take a little break. The we have the Doindie Fwd Vol.3 concert and Zandari Festa in October. After that, I think we will start work on a full length album. We want to show everyone our new Guten Birds tunes, made with our newest member, Seo Hyeon.

Finally, and most importantly, if you could have any type of super-power, which one would you choose and why?

Seo Hyeon : Teleporting. For me the commute to our practice space from my home is really long and I have loads of work to do, it think it would be so helpful to be able to teleport. That would give me more time to practice, do work etc. Wouldn’t it be pretty cool to go anywhere, anytime you wanted?

Mohho : I’d want the power to make everyone come and enjoy our Guten Birds Festa!

Thank you very much for talking to us today! Good luck with the concerts!

Interview : Alex Ameter
Translation : Patrick Connor / Doyeon Lim

For more information on the band, check them out at the following sites :

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Guten Birds

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