Seoul Underground Electronic Musicians: Saebyeok

Saebyeok Rises from the Ashes of Her Past

Q72C6433 She is a well-spoken young lady. And cheerful. I did not see her frown or furrow her brow once during the night. She is Saebyeok, or Miss Dawn as I like to think of her. As she sat with me for a good 20 minutes or so, we shared a mutual love for music and she shared her long journey back from a disappointing effort four years ago. Although this was not her first live performance, she was making her debut appearance at We Are The Music Makers, aka WATMM, the artist resource group that sponsors monthly indie musicians at Club Mudaeruk near Hongdae. As a music major in college, she studied electric bass and contra-bass, and on this night it was her first time to play bass and sing. She admitted to a love of funk, and especially British-pop, whatever that is. I challenged her to a drum and bass battle some time in the future. I hope we do, maybe at Mu.

She had been interviewed recently prior to my meeting her this night, and was very happy that I had taken the time to read, study and listen to her before tonight’s show. She was first to take the stage on a short list of four acts for the entire night. At 30 minutes per, that doesn’t leave much time to make an impression, or an impact, or an effect on the audience. But this audience was especially gracious, supportive, and non-judgmental, and also is the glue of the underground electronic music scene in Seoul. She was warmly encouraged with soft applause, which mirrored the gentle vibe she was spreading throughout the room. Standing under a single bright spotlight, she hugged her bass and kept her composure in front of a breathless crowd of close friends.

This is not an interview so much as it is my experience with enjoying Saebyeok and her friends and colleagues. As I watched her play her electric bass and gently croon soft melodic waves, I let the smoothness and softness settle into my heart, enjoying the serenade of her quiet voice. She was just like her recent album Rise From The Ashes, released in May of this year, and available on Bandcamp . She was soft and smooth, using some light funk-trip synth ryhthms to propel her sighing vocals. She prefers a drum machine to real drums, offering the biased observation that not too many Korean drummers are able to perform well. Okay…and I must say, she keeps the ‘drums’ understated and beneath the melodies such that there is no struggle to enjoy her soft lyrics. The piano on ‘Shine’ is strong and supports the melody in balance with her lyrics. She sings in both Korean and English, which is a pleasant talent, regardless if you can understand completely, because her voice is so sultry, smoky and smooth. Kind of like a well-aged whiskey, and I know she will appreciate the compliment.

“This album took four years. I am very proud of this one – this is me!” She was not really feeling her first compositions, and described them as ‘not fitting me.’ There is a new fire for Saebyeok, and she has left her ashes behind, risen up, and new passion is burning in her. “The lyrics are touching me.” She smiled brightly as she spoke of her joy and pride in the new album. ‘Save Me’ is my favorite on the six-track CD, which I received gratis and now have loaded onto my ‘gentle mix’ list. She has a Pensher Remix of the same track, and both are cool and delicious.

She will travel to Chicago, Illinois in the U.S. this fall, her first time to visit the States, and is hoping to line up gigs to play there. She should have no trouble with her solid English speaking ability, only occasionally being assisted by her musician friend, Brian. Thanks, Brian, for your translation services!

She will participate in Japanese artist Unii’s tour in Korea this summer in Daegu and Seoul. She told me she’ll be using controllers and performing without the bass (guitar). Look for her and go enjoy and support her. I really enjoy this musician. She has found her passion, and she is a star in my book. Her talent on the bass, synth, drum machine, and keyboards all go to show her instrumental depth and talent. Keep rising, Saebyeok. Each new dawn, keep rising.

Dr. Dave