Posted on January 25, 2019

Band Introduction

Winters music, Kim Sawol

The chilly winds of winter are beginning to have us huddle over and penetrate our bodies. When this kind of weather hits, I like to spend my time curled up in a blanket listening to music doing nothing else at all. Of the songs I like to listen like this, I would say that the music of Kim Sawol fits particularly well with the chill of the winter air.

What are the strengths that lie in her music? She writes songs that faces head on the truths we try to ignore the most. Her words act like eyes seeking out to boldly pull and poke at the secrets we hide in the back of our minds. Her music contains honest lyrics about moments in daily life that we all experience, yet would would usually pass us by. I would like to introduce to you Kim Sawol, a singer songwriter who tells stories about sweetness, loneliness, and desperation through her music.


Kim Sawol made her debut in 2014, as part of the duo ‘Kim Sawol X Kim Haewon’. Their first album [Secret] won ‘Rookie of The Year’ and ‘The Best Folk Album’ at Korean Music Awards. In 2015, she released her first solo album [Suzanne], which also received the award for ‘Best Folk Album’ at the Korean Music Awards. After this she continued with her solo works, and released [7102] in 2017, and [Romance] more recently in September 2018. When the weather is cold these days, I recommend you take a listen to one of those two albums.

On her Writer’s Note for [7012] she writes:


“The reason I made this album is that because we are always changing. I wanted to make a memento of things how they are right now. I recorded my 12 favorite stories in 5 different spaces I like. The first track ‘Sweet’ is sort of an ending for [7102]. I hope that, through my music I can share these sad, yet lovely experiences I’ve been through and reach the ending together with you. I would like to express my gratitude to all those who came to my live shows, the staff, the friends, and those who supported me from afar as well”


[7102] has the tracks arranged in the reverse order and thus, as she said above, the first track ‘Sweet’ is actually the ending of the album. I can’t say it a happy ending either. She seems to spend a lot of time blaming herself in the songs ‘Too Much Love’ and ‘Burden’. In ‘Heart Break Hotel’ though, she longs to be with someone again. On the other hand, in the song ‘My Love’, she express fear of getting too close with somebody. The songs Snow Field’ and ‘Snow have monologue feel of wandering around in the cold. The remaining songs ‘Phone Call’, ‘Map of Dream’, ‘Her’, ‘Freak’ and ‘Confession in An August Night’ might make you feel like crying quietly.

Going back to the first track on the album, the song finishes by saying ‘I want to believe that everything is possible.’ It’s like she is hoping for some kind of improvement in her life, however small it may be. She serenely tells us about her will to improve, but in the end we never know if anything changed because that song ends and the next track starts.


This video below is the title song ‘Someone’ from the album [Romance] released on September 16th, 2018. I think this song expresses Kim’s charming voice the best. Her deep voice reminds me of waves on the beach gently lapping around my feet.
As you can probably tell from the album’s title [Romance], the main theme of this album is love. When it comes to love, we usually think of it as beautiful and sweet, just as the media portray it to be. However, in this album, love is a shapeless illusion which drags you down deep on a journey through your emotions, eventually pushing you into darkness. In the album the singer seems to be going through a tough time (perhaps a break up?), but still misses that person and wants to love and be loved again. Then it is back to self-deprecation, and the whirlpool of emotional cycles that makes this album what it is. When [Romance] first came out, I had been looking forward to new music from Kim Sawol, so I was really stoked when it finally arrived. When I saw the title of the album, I knew there was going to be a certain charm about her taking about love in her music, of course it turned out even better than I could have imagined.  

To finish, a video that has 3 more songs from the album [Romance] – ‘Let It Die’. ‘Really Bites’, and ‘Kiss’ (they are the 10th, 11th and 12th tracks on the album). The start of the album looks at a more fantasy like version of romance, but as the listener moves into the latter tracks on the album those ideas begin to break down and become more about the collapse of those ideas. The three songs on this video deal with that collapse.


The lyrics of ‘Let It Die’ tear at one's heart line by line. ‘I couldn’t find anyone to trust me / I never loved myself / The wise people didn’t stay by me / I tried to give my heart away, but they didn’t want to take it / I couldn’t die, why couldn’t I die? / What am I expecting to get better?’; It’s a short song, but it is one of the most direct and emotionally lingering song on the album.


In the song ‘Really Bites’, she sings ‘the only certain thing to an uncertain person like myself is wandering’. She sings the words ‘destruction’ and ‘wandering’ throughout the song in a meek voice. It feels like each of the tracks on the album are somewhat like a footstop on the path along which she is wondering. The more you follow the footsteps, the more unclear it all becomes but once you start, you can’t stop listening.


The last track ‘Kiss’ feels like the kiss that signifies the end of the world. She sings about giving ‘a peaceful death to you.’ It’s the end of that love story, but not the end of her wandering. She implies that another journey is about to start by singing ‘will I even be able to tell if this long life ends’.


That is an intriguing though, we we be able to tell when the end has come? Will we even know it happened?


Kim Sawol often uploads her demos to Soundcloud. Although unfinished, the songs have their own unique vibes, so I recommend you take a listen to some of those as well. Even in an unfinished state, they all have the unique feel of a Kim Sawol song. Be warned, once you start to understand the feelings in her songs, you won’t be able to stop listening. She is always making and releasing new music, but I am always hoping for more. I can not wait to see which direction her next footstep goes in.



Written by: Soyeon Kim
Translated by: Songhee Roh
Edited by: Patrick Connor


Kim Sawol


comments powered by Disqus