One of South Korea’s foremost indie bands is Kiha and The Faces (장기하와 얼굴들), and for the KCC UK’s K-Music Festival 2013 they were bought over to rock the UK crowds. With unique lyrics and catchy tunes, the band shot to fame in the late 2000s and have since then have been unleashing their fun and playful creations on the world. Not only are their songs a masterpiece of entertainment, but Jang Ki-ha himself directs their innovative and enjoyable music videos too, make sure you check out all their fabulous MVs, many featuring Ki-ha’s self-confessed sexy hands!
After an awesome rehearsal for the debut London stage, we got a chance to sit and have a quick chat with the band about their gig in London and discover just who is Ki-ha and the ones behind the handsome Faces. We were also joined in this coffee table interview by Hellokpop, whose questions we’ve included in our transcript, so don’t forget to check out their site too to find out their experiences.
KCM: I wanted to start by asking a bit about yourselves. How did you all meet and come together as a band?
Jang Ki-ha: We were actually all in different bands, I was a drummer in a band previously. I wrote all my own songs and decided to form a band and gathered them all together.
KCM: Your songs are quite focused on lyrics, so I was wondering how do you compose new tracks, do you all play a part in making new tunes?
Jang Ki-ha: I write the melody and lyrics, then the band gets together and arranges it to fit their own instruments.
KCM: All your music videos have very fun and unique concepts, and I know that you [Jang Ki-ha] direct them. How do you come up with the ideas, is it just you or do the members get involved too?
Jang Ki-ha: Yeah, I direct the music videos all myself. I play the music in my head and try to fit the music into a theme for a music video.
KCM: The band name is ‘Kiha and The Faces’, do the other members ever want to be referred to as anything else?
Jang Ki-ha: [laughs] A lot of Koreans ask us this.
Lee Jong-min: We always answer we don’t have a problem with it [laughs].
Translator: I think he’s being a little sarcastic though.
Lee Jong-min: Do you have any alternate recommendations?
KCM: [panics] Kiha and the Handsome Faces? [KCM note: Don't judge me!]
Kiha and the Faces: Haha, thanks.
Hellokpop: You’ve got some critical success, do you think that’s changed your music in some way as you became so successful so fast?
Jang Ki-ha: No, it’s all fun. I don’t know about other people, but being able to have as big an audience as possible is good. If a lot of people know our music, it’s good.
Hellokpop: Do you think this success allows you more creative freedom or do you have more responsibility to create music that will be well received? Do you think you can experiment more with music, being so successful?
Jang Ki-ha: We can’t help but always remember the fact that we have to remember our fans who have always bought our music. But if our music changes because of that, it will make us losers. The great bands we look up to have always produced great music, with or without popularity.
Hellokpop: Which bands?
Jang Ki-ha: A lot of bands. A lot of Western bands. Definitely The Beatles, The Doors, Talking Heads, Roxy Music…
Lee Jong-min: The Beatles…
Jang Ki-ha: [laughs] I’ve already said that!
KCM: It seems more recently Korean indie has been getting more recognition. How can bands emerging onto the scene establish themselves?
Jeong Jung-yeop: Well, we didn’t actually think we’d be this successful…
Jang Ki-ha: It’s very simple, they have to make good music and be lucky. We were both, making good music and lucky.
Jeong Jung-yeop: It would also be good not to listen to the music that’s trendy and try to not follow a trend.
Hellokpop: In the UK on the Korea Rocks tour we had Gate Flowers, Apollo 18, Goonam and Galaxy Express come over. Do you think as a band you represent the Korean indie scene when you come here for this festival? Do you think when you come here for this festival you’re promoting the Korean indie scene or yourself as a group?
Jang Ki-ha: Obviously we’re here to promote ourselves, but if it all goes well we would become a representative of the K-indie scene as well.
Hellokpop: Do you think joining this festival here will have any impact on your popularity in Korea? I asked the bands on Korea Rocks and they all said playing abroad was a huge step for them, like being an ambassador for Korean indie music.
Jang Ki-ha: It doesn’t happen very often that we get to represent Korea in a different country through music. When we get back to Korea everyone will just think “well done”.
KCM: How did you choose your set list tonight? Did you think about the fact that there would be English speaking people in the audience or just choose songs you liked?
Jang Ki-ha: We were conscious of the fact that there would be a lot of English speaking people in the audience, and so we kept this in consideration when we were arranging our set for tonight. However, we did pick the ones that were perhaps less familiar to the audience from Britain and ones that had a lot more Korean in them.
Hellokpop: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Jang Ki-ha: When we return to Korea, we’re going to work on our third album and we’ll play at City Break which is a rock festival. We’ll be playing with Metallica and Muse who are headlining.
KCM: While you’re in London, is there anything particular you want to do? Will you have time to explore?
Lee Jong-min: I want to meet pretty girls!
Jeon Il-joon: I wanted to ride Brompton bikes but couldn’t. [KCM note: Brompton bikes are a type of fold up bike]
Jang Ki-ha: I really like British ale so I’ve been having a pint or two everyday, and plan to continue this. [laughs]
Hasegawa Yohei: I want to buy vinyl records, I’m a vinyl collector from the 50s or 60s. Mono records, not stereo.
Jang Ki-ha: He’s especially into mono vinyls.
Hellokpop: Do you maybe dream of being produced by Brian Eno or Brian Ferry?
Jang Ki-ha: Yeah, that would be amazing.
Annnnd before we knew it, we’d run out of time! Kiha and The Faces were all great to chat too, always interacting with each other, making jokes and being playful. They have great energy together, and this also translated into their live gig later where they completely shone. Kiha and The Faces are definitely a band that will appeal to the UK music lovers with their hyper vibe and performances. Many thanks to Kiha and The Faces for taking the time to talk with us, they were super busy before their gig so it was much appreciated. Also thanks to the KCC staff for organising everything! And we hope Jong-min managed to meet many pretty girls!