A sense of freedom, an abstract wave of emotions, and an out of body experience: phrases that, while accurate, do not even begin to describe what it's like listening to Leesuho's latest album, Monika.
An all-around creative and an artist in every sense of the word, the Korean act has always put together a world of wonder in his music but his sophomore album takes it to a whole other dimension. Traversing new sonic landscapes, Leesuho delivers an experience that goes way beyond physical limitations, leaving its true interpretation to the listener.
"I've answered questions about this album several times but it's too abstract for me to feel. I think it's a feeling that's hard to express in words. When I was making music, those moments came sometimes and I wanted to convey them," he tells Bandwagon.
Expanding his musical palette, the album tracks Leesuho's tumultuous journey in the three years told through a series of distorted synths and eclectic makeup of electronic beats. Monika comes as the artist's first release since joining alternative K-pop collective, Balming Tiger.
Following the release of his latest album, Bandwagon caught up with Leesuho to talk about inspirations, creative process, and the inner workings of Monika.
Hi Leesuho! Let’s start from the beginning, how did you first develop an interest in music? What motivated you to pursue a career in music?
I suddenly moved to Mexico around the age of 15, but unlike Korea, the speed of the Internet there was too slow to play online games. As a result, I listened to a lot of music on YouTube and naturally started music as entertainment, thinking that I should try making it. It was a kind of game for me, but as I kept playing, it came now.
Who are some artists you are inspired by, both locally and internationally?
I think the music of Aphex Twin, OPN, Arca, Sophie, and PC Music influenced my taste a lot. Simo and Kim Ximya in Korea.
Congratulations on the release of Monika! Could you tell us more about the album and what story it tells?
Thank you! What I tried to express in the album was the same moment when the body disappeared and only the mind remained. Something like a sense of freedom.
I've answered questions about this album several times, but it's too abstract for me to feel, so I don't know exactly what I'm saying. I think it's a feeling that's hard to express in words. When I was making music, those moments came sometimes and I wanted to convey them.
Walk us through the creative process behind Monika. What were some highlights and challenges you faced while working on the album?
It took about three years to make an album. Due to financial problems in the middle, I think I had to focus a little more on producing music videos than working on music for about a year. Otherwise, I could have released it a little faster.
And I remember spending about six months on mixing work, and I'm so grateful to Kim Doeon for his hard work.
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Monika comes as your highly anticipated sophomore album, following Entertain. Since 2018, how have you’ve grown as an artist?
Before 2018, everything in life was difficult and uncomfortable. I think it's a process of getting more comfortable little by little.
That's the case with making music and dealing with people. I have good colleagues around me, so I get a lot of good influences. And I try to thank you every day for doing what I want to do and making what I want to make.
Outside of music, you are also a sought-after visual artist and director. How does your creative process differ when working on music and when working on videos? Do they influence each other in any way?
When I work on music, I have a strong feeling of inviting other people to my world. On the other hand, when I work on videos, it feels like I enter the world of clients and speak my thoughts in their grammar.
Music and video, as well as both, affect each other in that they are time-based art. While editing the video, I learned about the breathing of music, and I think there was the opposite case.
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You’ve recently joined Balming Tiger, what motivated you to join the group? What do you hope to achieve as part of the artist collective?
I was also a huge fan of Balming Tiger, and even before I joined this team, I somehow felt that the members treated me like a family.
I'm not sure what I want to achieve here, because we didn't get together for a purpose – isn't it just showing a lot of good and fun things?
In the next five years, where can we see Leesuho?
I feel like I can go anywhere in five years but I don't want to decide. I'm just living as it goes.
Share with us any upcoming plans you have in terms of your music.
I'm going to release a vinyl for this album, and I think there will be a few more live clips and music videos.
Dive into Leesuho's Monika here.
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