Posted on December 09, 2014
As a passionate supporter of the Korean indie music scene, there is no band which has meant as much to me as Kingston Rudieska, Korea’s authentic ska pioneers. It was this (9-member strong) band of brothers which first led me to Hongdae after seeing them by chance many years ago, and they have remained the most likely to bring a smile to my face and a shine to my dancing shoes. Similarly winning fans wherever they go—be it festival stages, small punk clubs, national TV, the big screen or over the course of 4 full albums and several EPs—it is no surprise that 2014, their 10th anniversary, has been their most successful yet, involving growth in several new, exciting and outward-looking directions. Spring saw their first international collaboration with German ska legend Dr Ring Ding, which later resulted in their first vinyl recording, and summer saw the release of their indie film debut (“Golden Chariot in the Sky”). Over the past autumn they worked on their latest album, “Everyday People”, under the guidance of veteran producer and engineer, Brian Dixon (former member of LA ska band The Aggrolites, who had worked with many other well-known artists), which was officially released on December 1st. Finally, this winter, Hongdae is set to rock all night at Kingston Rudieska’s 10th anniversary party, a big celebration to tie in with the new album release.
One of Kingston Rudieska's strengths has always been a willingness to experiment and improvise with the ska and reggae genres, staying true to their Jamaican influences while often infusing their music with a uniquely Korean twist. Never has this trait been pushed as far or displayed as gloriously as on “Everyday People”, their first double album and a sign of their growth as a band. Member Oh Jeongseok (trumpet, flugelhorn) explains the title: “This album is for usual people - for everyone to enjoy. The album includes sad songs, happy songs, and songs about our lives. We tried to come up with a name that could reflect that.” While far from usual, I will agree that there truly is something for everyone on this album, for newcomers to the ska genre to jazz lovers, yet old fans will surely be kept happy despite the new directions. Each instrument is allowed its chance to shine as always, and new ones are introduced: guest Tommy Tornado on saxophone on the track “Never No More/사랑은 없어”, Kim Violin’s soothing strings on “On the Beach/그리운 해변” and Choe Hwi Seon’s Korean yanggeum on “East Meets West”. The usual Kingston Rudieska authentic ska sound is mixed up with some old school ska jazz, a Latin flavor on “Que Bonita”, two dub mixes, and several lover’s rock tunes , romantically crooned by vocalist Sugar Sukyuel, bringing in a taste of his other project Sugar, Come Again. Saxophonist Sung Nockwon, currently working on his debut solo album, gets a chance to show off his own soul-inspired vocals and writing on a track called “You Are the One”. However, the most interesting track for me, as it was for producer Brian Dixon, is “Sailor’s Chant”, which, more than any other track on this album or its predecessors, is a truly inspired adaptation of a traditional Korean melody, and will make for a very exciting live performance.
The new mature sound and unmistakably tighter nature of the band on this album seem to be a direct result of the recording process and the mastery of producer Dixon. They spent ten days living and recording together at a beautiful new studio on the banks of the lake at Chuncheon, and despite their worries about being creatively pushed in this way, explains Jeongseok, “it worked out well because it forced us to really collectively focus on the music we were making. It was a fantastic experience, and it made us feel like we were one.” Dixon’s plan was to take the highly unusual step of recording the whole band together in one room, playing in a circle and watching each other, without headphones, as opposed to the usual method of recording each section separately. This forced the musicians to focus on the collective “feel” of the music rather than getting tied down by individual technique, which led to some inspired improvisation as well as a new warmth and unity. It also harked back to the recording process favored by the original Jamaican ska bands of the 50s and 60s. Jeongseok continues, “This way, we could read each other’s feelings more easily, give and take energy from one another, and thus, produce a more natural sound. We used a minimal mike setting … so our sound on this album is more blended and natural like we’re on the stage. I would describe it as a kind of live recording album. We wanted to show people that this is really what a band sounds like when they play together, so the sound is not manufactured.”
Our readers will have a chance, however, to actually hear what the band sounds like when they play together, on December 13th. The concert being held in honor of both the album release and Kingston Rudieska’s 10 year anniversary has been planned as a true family-style celebration; more of a joyful party for both audience and musicians than a formal show. The venue is the former club space of Yes24 MUV Hall, which played host to the successful Rise Again 2 reggae festival last summer, so expect plenty of dancing and drinks, as well as a three-stage party. The first half of the concert will be the live first performance of the new songs off “Everyday People”, including guest appearances by artists who feature on the album, such as Walter H. Dunn and Lim Yoonjeong of Soul Train. In the second half Kingston will play some of their greatest hits of the past ten years, again joined by many musician friends, such as indie songstress Yozoh and reggae diva Jang Goon of Ninando Nanda. No doubt there will be plenty of surprises in store! After the show, however, the celebration doesn’t stop, as selectas DJ Smiley Song and DJ Bombed You will play their usual quality ska, dub and reggae tunes to accompany the after-party until midnight and beyond. Don’t miss this once-in-a-decade music party!
Article : Rock ‘n Rose
Korean Translation : 조재윤 (Jo Jaeyoon)
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