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noisy love songs (for george dyer)

finally it’s official…! my second album on tzadik will be released this march…! the follwing are the track listings and musicians involved…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. one hundred years old rain (the same river twice)
2. upon a fallen tree
3. kung
4. saeya saeya
5. white night
6. danji
7. roundabout
8. bodies
9. silenced answer
10. steely morning (bonus track)
11. yellow river

cornelius dufallo – violin
peter evans – trumpet
okkyung lee – cello
craig taborn – piano
satoshi takeishi – percussion + electronics
christopher tordini – bass

ikue mori – electronics (on steely morning)
john hollenbeck – percussion (on steely morning)

modern life…

before i moved to new york 10 years ago, i’d never imagined myself writing blogs, updating my website, finding friends on facebook, uploading music to myspace, checking my emails every 10 minutes, sending text messages to friends all over the world, talking to my family via skype and twitting little silly things to say and chatting online for hours… in a way it’s really taking my life over… yes, i can turn it all off and live my life but as we all know this shallow (not all the time obviously) satisfaction of being “connected” to the outside can be so comforting and assuring… but then also it can be turned into some kind of vague fear that you might be missing out on something… but even when you are not constantly sending out the signal that you exist, the world is not going to disappear on you… it’ll still be there when you “reconnect” through all these various and mysterious technological outputs… yes, i know… but still…

ah, modern life…

hallo again…

hmm, it seems like it’s been ages since i posted my last blog… well, a lot has happened since then for sure… i’ve been traveling even more than last year and actually i spent more than half of my time outside new york this year…

also i started to spend more time in berlin which is becoming my second home these days… as a matter of fact, my visa to us got delayed over the summer and i decided to stay put here until i go on a tour with spencer and peter in mid october…

this summer i did my first ever residency in krems, austria which was a great experience… and it was topped with this great encounter with korean traditional percussion group sonagi, led by magnetic jae-hyo jang along with great hahn rowe… that was my very first time collaborating with korean traditional musicians fully and sure hope to continue doing more…

also i had my very first “vacation” in years… i think the last time i had something similar was when i was 18…? and it was this crazy trip i took with my mom as part of korean tour group… you know, a large group of people traveling in buses and go to millions of tourist attractions in such cramped schedules…? i swear we went to five different countries in one week… funny thing is that we were always led to korean restaurants for meals… other than that i barely remember anything… however i’m happy to report that this vacation i took this summer was a real one… spent most of time in northern italy basically doing nothing but strolling around old towns, beaches and eating lots of yummy food… ah, how did i get so lucky…? i even got to see this amazing meteor shower one night and it sure was magical… was even better than the time i went to central park and waited until 4 am many years ago… made me understand why people used to think stars were hanging from the sky… they were so close as if i could just reach out and touch them… just lovely…

oh, another achievement this summer… i learned how to ride a bike…! it took me only a few days surprisingly… and now i’m even brave enough to ride bikes on the streets… of course i’m still tense and scared riding it next to cars or fast bikers but what a great way to navigate around in berlin…!

hmm… i guess i had a pretty good summer… even though it got kind of screwy at the end with visa and some other stuff but still… it’s nice to have sweet memories to look back at…

now i cannot wait to go out on the road again…

whew…

for some reason i haven’t been able to sleep all that much for last few days… i do occasionally go through semi-insomniac stage so not too alarmed about it though…
have to say last few weeks have been pretty intense for me emotionally and somewhat physically… at the end of last month, i was going through yet another phase of self doubt, as a person and as a musician… felt the enormous depth of music and found myself feeling so small and invalid… on top of feeling already exhausted after putting myself through 3 somewhat important (?) projects which two of them came out somewhat short, i was not on the top of the world then…
however my encounter with glenn gould changed it in such a way i could go on doing what i do… sounds so silly… guess while reading “the loser” by thomas bernhard, i got so intrigues by glenn gould whose name gets repeated non-stop… then realized i had never seen him play so had to look him up… and watching this genius playing on youtube somehow made me reconfirm my belief in life… his pure joy in music and intimate relationship to the piano was so touching and complete i couldn’t help feeling wanting to be there… don’t think i can ever get close to the purity of music as much he did but at least i wanted to try… that place nothing exists but music and one self…
then playing at wels was yet another great opportunity for me… first of all being surrounded by all these amazing people – musicians and people involved with the festival and even (!) the audience – came together to celebrate this music… sounds so damn cheesy but it really felt like such a joyous occasion… and i couldn’t help feeling happy and content… each night i found myself finding that space between me and my cello even a little bit… i really loved playing my cello… and i didn’t want to stop… some of you might say (if there is anybody reading this, ha…!) “isn’t it normal that you like playing cello…?” but i have to admit that sometimes i had been taking it for granted… not that i wasn’t enjoying playing my cello but rather didn’t appreciate the joy of it as much… but at wels, i was feeling that joy 200% surrounded by this perfect environment, making it so easy and simple and pure… then while listening to the ex, jumping up and down non-stop, i thought “this is what i want to do until i die… and i am super lucky to be able to do it…” yes, sounds super cheesy (as you know that’s typical of me) and cliché but what can i say, that moment felt so real and alive…
even after coming back home, i was fortunate to play with some amazing musicians almost non-stop, playing more than ever and loving it… and catching up with new and old friends… still feeling quite high and content, i feel like i can do this… continue my journey to reach that space… content, pure, simple, honest and happy…
i used to say happiness was overrated… guess as i get older i know better…

this morning…

walking down the street this morning with my cello on my shoulder, this guy handed me a glossy card that says XXX something… he said “hey, miss, if you are ever interested in recording something, this is a studio nearby…” i replied with simple no thanks after glancing at it… then as soon as i said it i saw that he had a young daughter with him and felt slightly guilty… but was too late to take that card from him…
i could have just taken that card and thrown it away at the end of that block but i didn’t want to pretend as i was really interested in his studio… but then i could have just pretend only for a few seconds to make him feel not “rejected” especially in front of his daughter… or send out any negative energy… but then i’m sure i’m thinking too much about it already… then why not…?

a side trip…

it’s bee a while since my last blah blah blah… well, it’s been an interesting summer, not seasonal one at that… guess things have been a bit off… like the stars were not lined up properly for me… i think it’s hard time for many people for some obvious reasons and some not so obvious ones… the obvious one being the financial strain which i don’t need to go into any details since we, pretty much all of us, are experiencing it…
the less obvious ones, rather more personal reasons are more related to my identity… well, kind of sick of “i” and “my” but still…
guess it all started with the death of former korean president, roh moo-hyun at the end of may… i was already thinking that there had been lots of death of well known people in the world… starting with heath ledger’s death from last year… i read the news of the suicide of that korean president and couldn’t help being drawn to the incident… considering that i hadn’t paid all that much attention to what was happening in korea for almost 16 years that was interesting… it started with me reading every single articles about him i could find on the internet both in korean and english learning a lot about him in such a short time period… then after discovering many korean tv programs on youtube i totally found myself deeply immersed in those clips for days and nights… i think the most intriguing thing about his death was just like with any other suicides was how much personal pain that he must have gone through… and especially it involved a president, once the most powerful, whatever that means, person in one country who also carried so much responsibility on his back… more and more i read about him i realized how different he was with all other presidents i grew up with who were mostly dictators and typical politicians who would lie about anything and everything in order to obtain the power… obviously this former president roh had succumbed into the cycle of corruption but the scale was so much smaller compared to the other presidents ever in korea… not saying that should excuse him from it but just letting you know that still he was not like the others.. also the fact his political history began way back in the ’80s helping labor unions and students movements, it made him a totally different kind of politician… yes, all the politicians do play the game and some of them are really convincing to make you think they are really there for you… for some reason i trusted this guy was really there for the people by just listening to his election speeches… like how many of us here in the states felt listening to obama speaks… and as we all know, that’s already a lot…
also while watching all those tv programs talking about his background, i began to remember all that student movements i witnessed while in middle school… i lived in this area called shin-chon where 4 universities were located close to each other during the peak of student movements in late ’80s… walking in the street filled with broken bottles, air filled with tear gas, surrounded by riot police in their armor is not an experience you can forget that easily… especially if that happened practically everyday for a long while… i was not living with my parents then because i was attending this arts school in seoul… so i didn’t really have that many adults to talk to… i wanted to know what the hell was going on with all this but no one explained it to me… other than brushing it off as some crazy students wasting their time and energy… i tried to read news papers but there were just so many references i didn’t know…
then it happened one morning… around 5 in the morning i was woken up to a guy shouting something running up and down the allies outside… it was very vague at the beginning and couldn’t make anything out of it… then his voice got closer to outside my window and finally heard that he was announcing a death of a student who had been injured by police… his voice was coarse from shouting and filled with certain sadness… and even i still didn’t understand what they were fighting for yet i knew that there was something seriously wrong that someone had to die from it… and the cause must be something important…
that’s one of the memories i’ll always have about korea… along with its beautiful mountains and rivers and food…

while deeply immersed in this sentiment, a friend of mine from korea who i’ve never met in person but only through music and emails, sent me an entire book of cartoon… which finally closed that circle that i had been carrying deep inside me… as i said the memories i have about those student movements were still not complete since i never got the explanation… and after reading this cartoon, i finally filled that gap… why those people had to throw themselves like that in order to have the truth revealed… and how awful the truth was and how i, along with many other people, was kept from it for a long long time… it was about gwnag-joo protest in 1980 where horrible incident took place just like chica’s tiananmen square protest in 1989… thousands of innocent people including women and children were killed by the dictator and his army because they were asking for true personal freedom and democracy… later the korean government covered it up as necessary killings since those people were the “reds” and it remained that way until years later when the university students finally stood up… it just never got enough coverage from the west when it happened because it just didn’t have appeal to others’ benefit… it sounds cynical but how true that is with so many other hideous crimes being committed all over the world… that was what i was living through almost 20 years ago…
it was like an electric shock to me to have that missing part finally revealed… i suppose if i stayed in korea i might have learned it a lot earlier but as i said after i moved here i was just not there both physically and mentally…

then more personal revelation came afterward when i started to poke around and finding all this youtube clips of korean singers, most of them dead, ha, and i couldn’t stop listening to those songs… as if i was back in my high school period… re-listening to the melodies and lyrics and realized how much of those songs had influenced me as a musician and a person… maybe i never really grow up from then… then moved on to reading all this internet based cartoons, in korea they are called web-toons, why not and found one author whose cartoons made me cry for hours… ha ha ha…

now i stopped reading korean news papers obsessively and feel like i’m more back to the “reality” i belong to… however that little side trip i took down on the memory lane was definitely something rewarding and in a way complete certain part of me as a korean person… and finally i know what really had happened… i just hope people will never stop fighting for the truth and democracy in korea and all other placed in the world…

wow…

encounter #1
was sitting at a jazz club in west village… overheard this guy who supposedly writes for a small jazz paper talking to a friend of mine… “if you want to have your cds reviewed, the most important thing is to write up an impressive press release… because most of time, i don’t even listen to the cds but just copy what’s written on the press release so it’s really important you make is impressive…” he was admitting it so freely… i knew that we were never going to be friends… later that night, i was saying goodbye to my friens outside the club… this guy who didn’t say a word to me came up to me the last minute and asked me whati did… “i play cello…” i answered… he immidiately went on saying “i love cello…! we should play together sometime…!” which i replied with “well, you’ve never even heard me play…” he looked confused and asked “why, what do you play…?” and i said “i play noisy stuff…” he started to make some stupid gestures with his hands and said “you mean like this…?” with a weird expression on his face… i didn’t bother to say any further… wasn’t going to waste my energy… but he sure made an impression…

encounter #2

the other night i was doing a gig as a “favor” for the same friend from encounter #1 which wasn’t really a good idea… it was at a bar and i really don’t like playing in that circumstance anymore… on top of that it was supposed to start at 11 pm but we didn’t get to start until 12:30 ish… i was exhausted and resenting the whole situation… i know many of my friends don’t mind playing at bars and even like it… good for them but i just cannot handle… anyway… the gig didn’t stop until 1:30 and my right thumb was bleeding from rubbing and was having a hard time with the balance on the stage… but still i did my best trying to make music… i think there were maybe 6 people in the audince left at that point which was fine… but i guess i didn’t look so thrilled when the friend i was playing for announced my name on the stage… so after the gig, i was sitting outside and this guy from encounter #1 came up to me… he said “i really liked your playing but you should show more appreciation to the audience…” i thought about swallowing up my words but then i didn’t know why i should let him lecture me after playing my ass off, trying to make the best situation out of the whole thing… who was playing on the stage, excuse me…? so i said to the guy “dude, i just finished playing and really don’t need you to tell me what i should be like on the stage…” and his response was “oh, it was light hearted… didn’t know you were going to take it that way…” and he left red faced…

so to sum it up… i don’t like this guy… i’m just glad none of my friends are like that…